Next stop the moon

Alyssa Schaier of Courtyard Travel Ltd. sampling fried tarantula. Photograph courtesy of Courtyard Travel Ltd.

“What’s nice about Courtyard Travel is that it has all the resources that come with being part of a major company yet all the service of a boutique hotel,” Alyssa Schaier says.

Schaier handles marketing and sales for the “ultra-leisure, luxury” business, part of Tzell Travel Group, the fourth-largest travel management company in the United States, with annual sales of $4 billion. While based in Great Neck, New York, Courtyard has clients around the nation. Three of its 39 employees serve the Westchester-Fairfield market. 

Recently, Courtyard has collaborated with Neiman Marcus Westchester on two events — a travel fashion trunk show featuring travel expert-entrepreneur Wendy Knecht and Regent Cruises; and a barre class spotlighting instructor Lori Laub and Oceania Cruises. (See related stories.)

More recently, Courtyard president Sheila Yellin was slated to do an event at West Point on stress-free travel for military families  — “I’m honored to see if I can help” — and an “exciting” one with foodie cruise line Oceania at the 92nd Street Y with chefs Jacques Pépin and Anthony Bourdain.

Relationships are what it’s all about for Yellin, who founded the company “at least three decades ago.” She met Schaier at a promotional event and brought her on board. 

“We have global relationships with resorts, hotels and tour operators to get clients VIP treatment,” Yellin says. “We pride ourselves on service. We’re not just order takers. We’re always here for the clients….It’s a 24-hour service. If someone needs help, I get the call.”

Adds Schaier: “Everyone thinks he’s a travel agent just like everyone who reads WebMD thinks he’s a doctor. But the computer is not going to understand nuances if something is wrong.”

The result, Yellin says, is a sense of security with Courtyard from the moment you leave your home to the moment you return, whether you’ve traveled to Portugal, Malta and Croatia or the Maldives or Argentina.

These are the hot destinations this season, she says, along with river cruises. France, Italy, Greece and the Caribbean remain popular as well. Asia is also on the radar of those looking for something new, Schaier adds. “Part of it’s value,” Yellin says. “But part of it has to do
with adventure.”

Schaier knows all about adventure. In Vietnam, she sampled fried tarantula legs. ”They were kind of crunchy.”

There are some limitations, she adds: “We’re not going to North Korea — yet.” Or any place with a government warning, Yellin says.

Otherwise, the sky’s not the limit.

Says Yellin: “To use Alyssa’s phrase, ‘Next stop the moon.’”

And maybe Mars?

For more, visit courtyardtvl.com or call 800-437-9685.

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