San Antonio native Laura Worth now proudly calls Houston home, after having spent years working in New York, San Francisco, and abroad. She is a strong advocate for Houston’s arts and culture, its food scene, and above all its people. “I find Houstonians, both native and transplants, to be so welcoming, and so energetic about their work and passions. It is a dynamite combination, fostering an environment that is supportive, engaging, compelling, and authentic.” Laura is actively involved in many groups in Houston, is a certified art appraiser, a protocol expert, a trained wine specialist, and she serves as a founding member of GHWCC’s Arts Council.
So what has it been like to be a travel advisor, running an international company during a travel-restricted year? “NOT easy!” jokes Laura. “It has obviously been a very different year for us all, but it’s been encouraging to witness across the board the coming together and resilience of people, and the quick response to the need for creative innovation and ingenuity.”
When this all began, Laura refused to take sympathy from people who were focusing on how devastating Covid-19 would be for the travel industry, and the arts. “I just knew that if this thing was as big as it seemed, it was going to affect us all, not just travel. I could not allow myself to get buried in it, that is only negative and unproductive to mire in. I’m a person who operates best off of energy in creation and hope, so I poured myself into research, collaboration, and calls for action. Now, after countless zooms with museums, curators, hotels, collectors, foundations, airlines, trustees, directors, programmers, consultants, and so on – we’re in a great place for launching new trips once it is safe again. We are anticipating an avalanche of renewed interest once people feel ready to travel.”
In addition to running Art & Travel, LLC, which organizes luxury international trips for art patrons, museums, and cultural institutions, Laura is an affiliate of Embark Beyond, an exclusive luxury travel advisory based in New York, dedicated to designing experiences that go ‘beyond the destination’. As their arts specialist, she creates itineraries for clients worldwide, and helps to open doors (and eyes) to new cultural experiences. Embark’s unique model brings together the world’s top advisors, top vendors, and most exclusive destinations, to provide clients with the best possible experiences.
“2020 has given the travel world a chance to reinvent, renovate, and find ways to inspire digitally, responding to the unusual demands of the time and providing cultural engagement for travel-lovers even within their homes,” says Worth. “We have seen a shift in demand – more asks for private charters and booked-out resorts, long-stays and relocation plans, assistance in arranging for exotic remote-work destinations, and distanced-learning from worldwide experts curated by our international partners and consultants.”
Want a Parisian chef to teach a Zoom course on French pastries to you and your family? What about a language specialist in Cartagena to help your kids in learning dialects, culture, and vocabulary? Or piano lessons? Even lessons in environment and sustainability from specialists in Africa and the Maldives, or economics from professors? Laura knows the possibilities are endless, but more importantly, how to get them organized both in person, and in these days, online. “It’s an exciting world online, offering nurturing substitute experiences that keep our minds sharp, our hopes up, and our appetites whet for trips to come.”
When it is possible again, Laura maintains, “Arranging memorable trips is about curating an authentic, immersive experience, activating place and impact. Our trips are culturally dense, exciting and inspiring.” Plus, as Art & Travel founder Carol Neuberger often says, “our trips combine content with hoopla!” These legendary sojourns offer countless ‘wow’ moments, with special events, and lots of fun. “Typically with Art & Travel, we travel with a curator or art expert, offering in-depth learning and connoisseurship, as well as luxurious private dinners, exclusive museum and gallery previews, private art collections, private foundations, private sculpture gardens etc. And we luxuriate during down times in the BEST hotels. Art & Travel has an avid following, ranging from our Houston neighbors to international jet-set clientele. The unifying element is curiosity and a love for arts and culture.”
What are her plans for the coming months, while we’re all still advised to stay quarantined? “We are already booking out to 2024, while following the pulse of all travel advisory and art world happenings. It’s my job to be the most up to date possible and to best provide quality service. … Weeks are shockingly busy! Days will be full of OVRs [online viewing rooms at art fairs], museum lectures, and travel vendors’ digital tours and symposiums, then evenings booked with online ballet and music performances, networking events, and committee meetings. It’s actually very exciting, and almost too tempting to cram too much in! So some days, I need a digital detox and a walk around Memorial Park, just to recharge.”
Laura’s quarantine tips? “I’ve worked from home most of my life, so that was not a challenge for me – but getting dressed and doing something remotely active or outdoors each day really helps.” Also writing letters. “It’s a lost art. Sit down, and actually hand-write a letter. It’s such a fun practice, and it can really make people’s days.”
Another wonderful, unique thing about Laura and her business? A portion of all her profits goes to foundations and charities.
For more on Laura’s work, or for any questions you might have about the future of travel, please visit www.artandtravel.net and www.embarkbeyond.com/Laura-Worth or contact her at email@example.com, or follow Laura’s adventures at @littleblackdresstravels