Lara Stevens is a consultant for Apps Stevens & Turner Travel Associates in East Gosford, New South Wales. This boutique-style travel agency puts together fantastic experiences for those looking for something extra special on their travels, whether it's a special interest tour or luxurious cruise.
With many years of experience in the travel industry, Lara has helped countless people jet around the world in style and is an expert at creating incredible travel itineraries.
Lara still remembers when it all began. She was studying for a hospitality management diploma and was driving to her morning job that started at 5.30 a.m. Her car was stopped at the lights. A travel agent's sign caught her eye, and she had the thought it might be an interesting career to venture into. She researched the job possibilities a bit more, got started working in the industry - and the rest is history.
Having worked for various travel companies across Australia, Lara has now been with Travel Associates since the end of 2013 and is loving the experience. She had heard great things about the company and wanted the opportunity to open a store and progress even further in the industry with the freedom to do things her own way.
"We wanted to do our own marketing plan and do our own thing, but with the backing of the group," Lara said of her and her business partner. The fact that she can take the lead on implementing plans and making decisions was one of the biggest draw cards of the brands and why she found it so appealing in the first place - and it hasn't disappointed.
"Its been a fabulous brand to work with and I've got nothing but praise for it," she said.
Working in the travel industry, Lara has naturally also travelled around the world herself, recently returning from a trip to Asia with her family. They visited Malaysia and Hong Kong and had a range of memorable experiences there. Travelling to Sabah was one of the highlights.
"I was so impressed," said Lara. "We did a few day trips where we went out to villages to see how the locals lived, and we went and saw the proboscis monkeys in their natural habitat, which was incredible."
Other memorable experiences included a nighttime river trip that included fireflies gathering around the family and landing on them, which was a great experience for everyone - topped off nicely with a local Malaysian buffet!
They also visited the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre, which she described as a beautiful experience. Here, the animals roam freely within a forest reserve and research and conservation efforts are undertaken.
Lara and her family stayed at both Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Rasa Ria Resort, and recommends splitting time between the two beautiful destinations for a well-rounded experience of the area.
During their time in Hong Kong, they also visited Hong Kong Disneyland, and Lara says a day spent there is enough time to experience the highlights.
Lara flew with Air Asia, and was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the service and amenities. She booked an extra seat for their family, and recommends others do this too. The additional fee is only small, but as the plane's seats come with limited space, having the extra room made a world of difference.
If you're interested in how Travel Associates can help you plan the trip of a lifetime, don't hesitate to get in touch.