Youngest American to Visit Every Country in the World, Entrepreneur, and TV Personality
Lee Abbamonte has traveled to every country in the world as well as both the North and South Poles. Lee is a multimedia travel expert, national television personality, author, speaker, adventurer, entrepreneur and founder of www.LeeAbbamonte.com. Lee has appeared on and been featured everywhere from CNN, Fox News, and Travel Channel to the New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post. Lee’s travels around the world have inspired millions of would-be travelers and he has been called the “Marco Polo of the 21st Century” by Arthur Frommer.
COO, Go Touch Down Travel and Tours, African Travel Specialist
Deon Barnard is the COO for Go Touch Down, African Travel Specialists. He oversees the Sales and Marketing operations in the USA, Canada, and Indonesia.
Born and raised in South Africa, Deon and his family have been living in Sarasota, Florida since 2009. He is extremely knowledgeable not only about his native South Africa, but also about destinations across the globe and how best to navigate to, from and within them; however, going on Safari remains his first and favorite love.
Deon has been immersed in the travel industry since 1988. As COO of Go Touch Down, he has attained his vision of developing affordable, inclusive, and award-winning tours of South Africa. Tours leave weekly year-round and include daily excursions, must-see attractions, and value for money. “South African vacations are filled with lifetime memories; we simply made it very affordable for everyone,” he says.
Husband, father and business leader, Deon is also a passionate speaker and skilled trainer. He draws from his roots plus experience in business and in life to show us not what can be done, but more importantly why it should be done. His enthusiasm is contagious, and his compelling talks are energy-infused and laced with sharp wit and unexpected humor.
Director of Sales, Cruise Planners
Laura Blanco is Director of Sales at Cruise Planners where she manages the strategic industry relationships and key accounts while helping the brand’s cruise and land sales grow exponentially. Awarded the “Glittering Star Award” MVP three times, which is voted by the Cruise Planners travel agents, Blanco continues to be a go-to resource for Cruise Planners travel agents. Blanco comes with many years in travel sales having worked for Costa Cruises and Sandals Resorts as a Business Development Manager, which makes her an ideal liaison between preferred partners and travel agents.
Owner, Debauched Desserts
Christina Brown is a local baker specializing in alcohol infused desserts. In 2017 Christina’s love of desserts while sipping on some delicious cocktails led to a great conversation. The libation filled conversation inspired a creative euphoria which led to an amazing idea of infusing desserts with cocktails and thus Debauched Desserts was born. Cheers!
Host, Places to Love
Travel expert and television host Samantha Brown has been hosting TV travel programs for 18 years. During her time at Travel Channel she created 10 original international and domestic travel series generating over 170 hours of television. In 2017 Samantha moved from the Travel Channel to PBS and her new series Samantha Brown’s Places to Love will make its premiere in January, 2018. In Places to Love, Samantha will feature the destinations, experiences and most importantly the people that make us the traveler feel like we belong to a place. In Season 1, Samantha will feature 7 U.S. and 6 international destinations including Houston, Switzerland, Brooklyn, China, Orange County and Big Sur, CA.
Samantha is known for getting to the emotional heart of travel by focusing on the people, their culture, and the privilege of spending time in their everyday lives. Viewers passionately follow Samantha and her expert advice not only because of her experience and knowledge, but also because of her warmth, genuineness and love for travel.
Samantha grew up in New Hampshire and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and 5 year old twins Ellis and Elizabeth.
World Traveler, Travel Expert, Writer, AngelsTravelLounge.com
Angel Castellanos, (www.AngelsTravelLounge.com) is a passionate world traveler, travel writer, influencer and nationally recognized speaker dedicated to help people travel smart, well and often. He has over 15 years of experience in the travel industry as a tour guide, retailer, buyer, travel consultant and brand consultant. Traveling to over 55 countries on 5 continents (and counting), Angel travels 8-10 weeks internationally each year and draws on his experience and frequent travels to teach “Smart Travel” and equip travelers with the skills they need to make travel easy and enjoyable. He bridges the gap between the practical, common sense advice he’s learned by traveling the world and the new savvy tips and experiences that has helped his generation revolutionize travel. Angel has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Fox News, Univision, Frommers Radio, USA Today & Travel & Adventure Show as “America’s Newest Travel Expert”. Most recently, Angel completed an around-the-world trip by traveling over 9,000 km overland by train from Beijing to London.
World Traveler & Travel Consultant, Travel Expert for The Islands of Tahiti
Chloe has been sharing her travel experience and passion for The Islands of Tahiti with travelers for over 15 years. Chloe, along with her team of Certified Tahiti Specialists, offers expert advice and recommendations to assist travelers in crafting the perfect customized itinerary to The Islands of Tahiti.
Adventurer seekers, divers, sailors, foodies, cruisers, beach lovers, romantics, friends, families, singles and groups – the Islands of Tahiti truly offer a unique experience for everyone!
A Chicago girl at heart, Chloe now resides in Austin where she’s happy to have traded her snow boots for cowgirl boots.
Tourism Development, and Sales Manager, Visit Anchorage Alaska
As a lifelong Alaskan, Tia Froehle knows her home like the back of her hand. Her love for the outdoors and adventure has allowed her to explore this amazing state of Alaska, from hiking in the Chugach Mountains, to fly fishing some of our amazing rivers. Tia has worked in sales and marketing in the Alaska tourism industry for over 18 years with companies such as Gray Line of Alaska/Holland America Line and The Hotel Alyeska, Alaska’s premier year-round Resort. She currently works for Visit Anchorage as part of the Tourism Development & Sales team for the past 4 years. Tia received her Bachelors of Science degree in Recreation Management with a minor in Tourism from the University of Idaho. Now she wants YOU to come explore Southcentral Alaska and check it off your bucket list!
Emmy Award-Winning Investigative Reporter and Producer and CBS News Travel Editor
A multiple Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is Americaʼs most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the travel editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and Sunday Morning, among other broadcast platforms.
The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Greenberg hosts the television show, “The Travel Detective with Peter Greenberg,” airing on Public Television. The series offers 42 half-hour episodes with cutting-edge travel information and insider tips you need to know before you ever leave home, plus in-depth reports on the good, bad, and yes, even ugly aspects of travel.
Greenberg also produces and co-hosts an ongoing series of acclaimed public television specials, “The Royal Tour,” featuring personal, one-on-one journeys through countries with their heads of state. Along with such figures as the King of Jordan, Prime Minister of New Zealand and presidents of Mexico and Peru, Greenbergʼs newest special features the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Among other television projects, Greenberg is creator, co-executive producer and host of CNBCʼs specials “Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life” and “Cruise Inc: Big Money on the High Seas,” and is co-executive producer of “Baggage Battles,” airing on the Travel Channel, and The History Channelʼs two-hour special “Lost Magic.” On radio he hosts the nationally syndicated show “Peter Greenberg Worldwide,” broadcast each week from a different remote location worldwide, and is heard on hundreds of radio stations across the U.S.
Greenberg is also author of The New York Times best-selling Travel Detective series. His most recent book, The Best Places for Everything, comes in the wake of such titles as Donʼt Go There! and The Complete Travel Detective Bible. Currently editor at large of Global Business Travel magazine and a contributing writer to Watch, he has also been a featured guest on CNN, “The OʼReilly Factor,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “The View.”
Travel Weekly named him one of the most influential people in travel, along with Bill Marriott and Richard Branson. In 2012, he was inducted into the U.S. Travel Associationʼs Hall of Leaders for his contributions to the travel industry. Among his other honors, Greenberg received a News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the “Dateline” team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
He began his career in journalism as West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He won a national Emmy Award (Best Investigative Reporting) for his ABC “20/20” special on the final orphan flight out of Vietnam, “What Happened to the Children?” He also is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and an Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Aviation Space Writers Association of America.
Greenberg is a sought-after expert speaker and moderator. He is a keynote speaker at annual summits for the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Global Business Travel Association and Virtuoso. He is also one of the chief moderators at the World Economic Forum and the Global Tourism Economic Forum. Along with a recent TED talk, he is a guest speaker at events which have been hosted by Visa, Bloomberg, AARP and numerous other B2B and B2C organizations.
His website, PeterGreenberg.com, is one of the leading travel news resources for consumers and industry insiders alike. When he is not traveling the globe, Greenberg also serves as an active volunteer firefighter in New York.
Chef Brenton Hammer came to us by way of Los Angeles and Santa Monica where he worked at Viceroy and Westside Tavern. Arriving in Dallas, he was the chef of Hibiscus before going to Whiskey Cake in Plano. Brenton finally made his way here to Oak.
Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia
Seila is a Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia. He has joined the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia since 2003 and has extensive experiences in promoting Cambodia tourism both in Cambodia and abroad.
Seila is a frequent speaker and lecturer for many tourism seminars as well as tourism schools both home and abroad in Cambodia. Prior to the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia. Seila spent almost ten years in the United States of America and holds Master Degree in Marketing from Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Host, Creator and Executive Producer, National PBS Television Series “Family Travel with Colleen Kelly”
Colleen Kelly is the host, creator and executive producer of the popular National PBS Television Series “Family Travel with Colleen Kelly”. The show airs in over 96% of the country to 17 million viewers, and is currently in production of its 5th season. As an Emmy-nominated executive producer, family travel expert, and engaging television personality, Colleen Kelly is sought-after for her expertise in the area of travel. She has been a featured speaker at high-profile travel industry events and has appeared in numerous radio and television broadcasts, presenting the latest and greatest travel tips, products, services, and hotel/vacation deals for all types of travel including couples, families and multigenerational. Since 2012, Colleen has been a Travel Editor for Family Fun Magazine. Colleen is also the co-creator and co-host of her and her sister’s newest girlfriend getaway series “Trip Sisters”, working with Travel Channel’s digital side as live correspondents for their 3.5 million Facebook followers, as well as Instagram. Colleen resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and their two daughters.
Tourism Development & Sales Manager, Visit Anchorage Alaska
Juno Kim – originally from Seoul, South Korea, Juno set off for the wider world to pursue her passion for travel and storytelling. Since leaving her engineering job, she has traveled the world as an award-winning travel blogger and photographer, witnessing the everyday life of different cultures. During her seven years of digital nomading, Juno visited Alaska and fell in love with the place instantly. Her passion for Alaska never stopped and she considered herself an unofficial brand ambassador to the Last Frontier. Finally, she and her husband packed their bags and relocated to Anchorage, the first place she called home after leaving South Korea. Juno now officially promotes the beauty of Alaska as part of the Tourism Development & Sales team at Visit Anchorage. Her goal is to spread her love of Alaska to the world, introducing hidden stories of her new home.
Account Executive, Puerto Rico Tourism Company
With more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry Ms. Lugo has been effectively in charge of the marketing and promotion for Puerto Rico in the southern states and previously in Southern California.
Prior to this position, Ms. Lugo initiated her relationship with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company as a Sales Manager, based in Los Angeles, CA successfully developing the southern California market.
She started her career in the hospitality industry working for the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association and at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, PR.
In 2000 Ms. Lugo received her BA in Business Administration with a Major in Tourism from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart University) in San Juan, PR and in 2016 she completed a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO
Marketing Specialist, Tours By Locals
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Iain discovered his passion for travel in his early twenties after completing university. Over the next eight years, he travelled to over 50 countries, including an extended stay in London where he began his Marketing career in the long hours of London Marketing Agency work. After three years in London, he realized that it was time for a change in scenery, and spend some time living in Guatemala where he set up an online Spanish School which was targeted at teaching beginner Spanish to travellers. Craving another adventure, Iain moved to Vancouver where he has been living for the past five years. To be able to combine Marketing and the Travel industry has always been Iain’s dream, so working at ToursByLocals headquarters for the past two years has been a perfect fit.
Executive Chef, Jamaica Gates Caribbean Cuisine
Barbara was born and raised in Portland Jamaica and has enjoyed cooking all her life, in fact as the eldest of seven, she did most of the cooking and kept the family well fed and happy! Keeping the family fed and happy continued as she raised a family of her own. Her home in Jamaica was always the place where her sons friends would hang out and look forward to a great meal.
One day following the tragic events of September 11th Barbara moved to Texas from New York to be with her two sons Errol and Teno. There the tradition continued where everyone gathered at her home to share Jamaican stories and eat. Everyone was so impressed with her cooking that they suggested that she should charge a small fee for her meals and they would come and eat every Saturday. Unfortunately due to health regulations she was not allowed to charge. Fast forward seven years later the opportunity came where her son and wife Michelle were able to invest in what has become well known as Jamaica Gates Caribbean Cuisine.
Chef Barbara or Miss B as she is affectionately known has compiled all of her favorite Jamaican recipes and now offers Jamaica Gates as the gateway to experience a true taste of Jamaica.
Located in the heart of Arlington, the restaurant is 4 miles South of AT&T Stadium which is home to the World Famous Dallas Cowboys. It is also just 3 miles south of the University of Texas at Arlington; and 3 miles North of the Parks at Arlington Mall. Close proximity to major highways I-20 & SH360 make Jamaica Gates an easy destination to get to.
Miss B has been featured in and has received accolades from numerous media and print outlets. A few of those are:
• Food Network’s Diner’s Drive In’s & Dive’s
• Channel 8’s Good Morning Texas
• FW Weekly’s “Best Of” winning Best Caribbean Food 2008 to 2013
• Panache Magazine
• Travel Host Magazine
• EATS 24
Bestselling Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in The USA & Canada Before You Die
Patricia Schultz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. A veteran travel journalist with 30 years of experience, she has written for guides such as Frommer’s and Berlitz and periodicals including The Wall Street Journal and Travel Weekly, where she is a contributing editor. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel television show based on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Her home base is New York City.
Chef Ancilleno Solomon
CEO of Ice Chef Bahamas Catering & Events
Ancilleno Solomon is a native of New Providence(Nassau) The Bahamas. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts & Food & Beverage Management from The University of the Bahamas in May 2010 and his Ice Carving Certification in March 2012 in Fresno, CA. He is currently pursuing his CDM (Certified Dietary Manager) University of Florida. Ancilleno is also a member of Houston’s area Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals, The bahamas Culinary Association and the Culinary Federation of America.
Ancilleno works as a Director of Dietary for Cornerstone Hospital Bellaire. Prior to his employment with Cornerstone, he worked as an Executive Sous Chef for Grand Hyatt @ Baha Mar in Nassau, where he spearheaded the Garde Manger kitchen in the Event center.
Ancilleno has been a member of HAULYP since October 2017. He is the CEO of Ice Chef Bahamas Catering & Events located in Houston, with over 9 years in the Food & Tourism industry Ancilleno bring the Bahamas to Houston.
Favorite Quote: “Excuses are the tools of the incompetent used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of Nothingness.”-Barack Obama
CNN Journalist, Executive Producer and Host of “The Wonder List with Bill Weir”
Bill Weir is an award-winning broadcast journalist and the executive producer, writer and host of the CNN Original Series “The Wonder List with Bill Weir.”
Any given week, his search for stories that matter can take him from hurricane zones to a divided heartland, from battlefields of war to corridors of power.
Known for his distinctive storytelling style and lush photography, Weir joined CNN in November 2013 after a decade at ABC News.
As an anchor at “Good Morning America” and “Nightline” he was among the first reporters into the floodwaters of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Japan’s tsunami zone during the nuclear crisis of 2011. He dodged Taliban bullets in Afghanistan, led network coverage from Iraq and was the first American to broadcast live from Tibet.
In 2015 he created “The Wonder List” and began a three-season journey across two dozen countries in search of people and places, cultures and creatures on the brink of seismic change.
Driven by curiosity, empathy and the hunt for adventure, Bill takes the viewer into the most extraordinary corners of the planet. With stunning cinematography, he helps us savor our natural and man-made wonders and with engaging lessons in history, science and politics, sounds the alarm of their demise.
Before joining ABC News, Weir wrote and hosted projects for the FX and USA Networks and was an anchor/reporter in Los Angeles, Chicago, Green Bay and Austin, MN.
He lives in New York, has one daughter, a four-pound dog named Burt and sincerely believes he could escape from prison if the need ever arose.
Founder and Editor of Wanderlust and Lipstick WanderTours
Beth Whitman is the Chief Wanderer at Wanderlust and Lipstick (http://wanderlustandlipstick.com) and WanderTours (http://wandertours.com). She began traveling 30 years ago as a backpacker—taking solo trips throughout Asia and the U.S. She has expanded on her love for travel and now leads tours, takes hardcore adventure trips, is the author of several books and runs a non-profit that helps women and children in developing countries.
Beth has twice completed the 25-day, 220-mile Snowman Trek in Bhutan (considered the most difficult trek in the world); ridden a motorcycle solo from Seattle to Panama; spent a year traveling through Pacific Rim countries before it was fashionable; and is the founder of the WanderWorld Foundation (http://wanderworldfoundation.org) which helps women and children around the world. She now hosts the Be Bold podcast (http://beboldpodcast.com/), featuring extraordinary women doing Bold things.