ABOUT THE TEAM
If you’re like us, you live for travel to exotic lands. You live for packing up your things and jumping on a plane bound for “that place you’ve dreamed of visiting for years.”
If you’re like us you live for food. Exotic food, traditional food, even the old stand-bys. If you’re like us you want your food fresh and local.
If you’re like us, you want unique, authentic experiences, immersion in local cultures, and unparalleled local access, because your vacation time is too precious for anything generic.
If you’re like us, you’ll appreciate why we’ve stepped off the beaten path to create a travel company that enables you to explore exotic cultures through cuisine.
Guiding & Chef TEAM
Graduating from the high cuisine school of Cuba Sergio Perez, he worked for 5 years at the elegant La Guarida before becoming the head chef at La Fontana. He is thrilled to share his Cuban cooking expertise with private cooking classes for Access Trips guests!
Cuba Guide Azaris is part of our wonderful support team working on the ground with Access Trips guests. Azaris graduated from Havana University with a degree in English Language arts and has worked both as an English teacher in Cuba and a guide, for several years.
Previously a physics teacher, he shifted his focus in 2001 to become a private guide and has never looked back. He speaks Spanish and English and is a treasure trove of information on all things Cuba. He is also a warm, generous, and witty human being which makes him a perfect guide for our tours!
Fernando is leading an organic farming revolution in Cuba. Seeing a need for fresh ingredients to inspire the stagnant culinary history of Cuban cuisine, Fernando is looking beyond rice, beans and plantains, to the vast world of agricultural opportunity around him, and Cuba’s year round growing conditions. He is a wonderful part of our Access Trips team.
Haja has been cooking for as long as she can remember and the proof is in the pudding, or in her case the pastilla. She is looking forward to sharing the traditional way to prepare one of the most delicious Moroccan dishes – chicken almond pastilla!
Youssef is fluent in English, Arabic, and French, and an overall wealth of knowledge about Morocco. He shares his culture with our guests and is a guide of the highest caliber. Chances are that if you travel with Youssef, at the end of the trip you’ll considered him a friend.
An incredible guide, Youssef speaks fluent English and has led many, many of our tours. He is open, warm, engaging and most importantly, a great representative of the Moroccan culture.
ROLY, CUBA GUIDE
Roly is a retired bartender from none other than the famous El Floridita Bar in Havana. Your Cuban cocktail needs will be joyfully met by this delightful man as mixes and stirs his way into your heart.
Ms. Nguyen Dzoan Cam Van was born in a Confucian family in Hanoi. She is a talented and renowned chef, revered in Vietnam for her nearly 40 culinary books and her own TV cooking show. You will love this tasty cooking class in her serene outdoor kitchen.
Duc is a very talented and eclectic chef, who has cooked all over the world. Currently, he owns an innovative restaurant in Hoi An and is inspired by the bounty of fresh produce and seafood available in this ancient town.
Yui, an international TV chef, began teaching Thai cooking in 1999. Her unique teaching style truly makes cooking each delectable dish exciting, fun, and easy to follow. You are sure to impress your friends back home with her tasty Thai recipes after this class!
Pat has over 20 years of experience as an English and French speaking guide, serving many areas of Thailand. His warm character fits perfectly with Access Trips and our guests are well taken care of in his company. Born and raised in Chiang Mai, and with a degree from Chang Mai University, Pat is a wonderful resource of local information and Thai cultural history.
A graduate of the Culinary School of Agadir, and with over six years of professional experience, Nadia is head chef at Riad Mimouna. On our tour, she will teach you the secrets of making one of the best fish tagines you will ever eat!
MANAGEMENT & ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM
TAMAR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Tamar has been lucky to turn her passion for travel into her career, managing marketing and ecommerce for travel industry leaders such as Lonely Planet, Travelocity and American Airlines. She grew up jetting between the Middle East, USA, and West Africa. That laid the groundwork for a lifelong desire to explore that has taken her to almost 60 countries. Among her favorite places are Tibet, which is possibly the most stunning place on earth, and Vietnam, where she fell in love. Tamar earned a BS in Mass Communications from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband and two beautiful children, and loves kayaking, hiking, and photography.
VICTORIA, CO-FOUNDER & ADVISOR
A sports enthusiast with a love of snowboarding, rock climbing, surfing and mountain biking, Victoria has a passion for traveling. She has traveled extensively in South America, Europe, North America and Australasia. A native of New Zealand, she moved to the United States when she was 17 to attend the United World College, an international school in New Mexico. She then went on to complete her university studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, USA, where she graduated summa cum laude. Upon graduation, Victoria was accepted for a financial analyst position in the media group of New York investment bank, Morgan Stanley, where she worked until deciding to co-found Access Trips. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and also has a BA degree in psychology. Victoria speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and has worked and volunteered extensively with teenagers during her summers.
ALAIN, CO-FOUNDER & ADVISOR
Growing up in the Swiss Alps, it`s no wonder Alain developed a passion for snowboarding. All the hours he put into becoming a world-ranked, widely-published and sponsored snowboarder didn`t stop him from pursuing other interests, however. Nor did it cause him to shirk on his studies. After finishing high school in Switzerland, Alain was accepted to Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, USA, where he earned his Bachelors degree in economics. He then went on to win a financial analyst position with New York investment bank, Salomon Smith Barney, where he spent two years as a financial analyst. During his time in New York, he managed to qualify for the US National Halfpipe Snowboarding Championships and made plans to co-found Access Trips. Alain has an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, is an avid traveler and has extensive experience in working with instructional trips.
Jen is originally from Rhode Island and went on to graduate from University of Arizona (Psychology/Sociology), as well as working on a Masters at San Francisco State. She has two kids, loves to travel, and has been to several of the countries Access Trips visits, including Mexico, Morocco, and Cuba. Jen makes her home in Sonoma, CA and is an expert in all things Access Trips.
HEATHER, TOUR OPERATIONS
Heather comes to Access Trips with 17 years of experience in tour operations and event management. Her love of travel to far off places started in high school with a trip to Mexico City and Oaxaca. Since then she has traveled to over 35 countries on six different continents, exploring historical sites, cultures, cuisines, and landscapes. Some of her fondest travel memories include cooking classes and visits to local markets in Barcelona, Laos, Peru, and Sri Lanka. When she’s not globetrotting, Heather enjoys spending time with friends, watching football and taking in the music and food scene in Seattle.
JULIA, GUEST SERVICES
Julia was born into a family of sailors and travelers, giving her a proclivity for adventure right from the start. She grew up either traveling or thinking about traveling, so it wasn’t a shock to anyone when she decided to move to Switzerland for university, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies. Julia’s love of people, cultures, and languages drives her to explore the world and help others travel through her work with Access Trips. Her favorite life experiences so far are seeing the northern lights in Iceland and dancing with locals in Malawi.
MICHELE, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
Michele’s passion for travel and adventure began at the age of 12 working at her family’s travel agency in Palm Beach, Florida. After graduating from Vanderbilt, she landed a job in the cruise industry — and for the next 16 years traveled the globe while providing her marketing expertise for four different cruise lines: Sitmar, Princess, Renaissance and Silversea. Among her favorite far-flung places are Chile, Kenya and Bali. When she’s not working, Michele loves snow skiing, pickle ball and hiking in the Cascades with her yellow lab.
MELONI, CONTENT WRITER
Meloni is a trained chef and published writer with a thirst for travel. She has lived in snowy Michigan, California’s Wine Country, the sunny shores of Hawaii and now on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she conjures up tasty words for Access Trips. When she’s not typing away at the keyboard or mixing it up in the kitchen she can be found skiing, hiking, and paddle boarding with her two kids. She’s traveled to multiple cities throughout Mexico, Canada, Scotland, and England, and always with a culture’s food in mind. Her dream is to trace Julia Child’s path through Paris. Bon Appetit!
Minh heads our online design and development efforts. Relying on over 15 years of experience in web design and media production to create unique solutions, Minh combines technical know-how and creative thinking to leave a lasting imprint. Minh has a B.A. in Communications Studies, and studied in the fields of multimedia, marketing, and video production.