Executives are a famously busy breed, but in the summertime some of them manage to abandon all thoughts of P&L, BD and ROI for some well-deserved R&R. Here, local CXOs share their top summer vacation spots, from the beaches in North Carolina to the pristine beauty of New Zealand.
High-level executives may have a reputation to uphold as globetrotting jet-setters, but that does not stop some of them from spending their vacation time in the great nation of US of A. Paul Fernandes, chief operation officer at STG Inc., for example, does not travel far from the Washington, D.C., metro area, but still manages to escape the big-city buzz.
“My favorite summer vacation retreat is Nags Head, N.C.,” he said. “The weather is always nice, and it is a comfortable drive from the metro D.C. area. At Nags Head, the beaches are large and significantly less crowded than others in the area, the accommodations are first class, and there are plenty of places to eat.”
For occasions when there is more time to spare, Fernandes and his family head to the beaches of Kiawah Island, S.C., which also is also famous for its golf resort.
“There are some excellent restaurants and plenty of golf courses and spas when we are not soaking up the sun on the sandy beaches,” he said. “Kiawah is great, because you really feel like you are away from it all and can truly relax.”
Another domestic summer traveler is Austin Yamada, senior vice president of strategy and business development at QinetiQ North America. Yamada, who worked as a ski instructor before pursuing a successful career in counterintelligence and counterterrorism, said his top summer vacation spot is Montana’s Glacier Park, “believe it or not.”
And it is not hard to believe it: In addition to stunning scenery, this national park in northwestern Montana is distant from any major cities and offers historic landmarks in the form of hotels and chalets. It is a perfect getaway for stressed-out executives who are looking for a nature retreat filled with serenity.
Gail Forrest, senior vice president of human resources at CACI, is another executive who appreciates being surrounded by Mother Nature. Originally from the Midwest, Forrest spent her summers in Wisconsin, where she today has a cabin in the woods.
“It's only one cut above not having running water, so it's very rustic, but it's on a lake and that's my very favorite place to go and spend time with my family,” Forrest said.
For executives who are looking for something a tad more exotic, but still close by, Carol Lane, vice president of corporate strategy and federal relations at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., has the perfect solution.
“Last summer, my daughter and I went to Canouan in the Grenadines,” she said. “We were the only Americans staying at this particular resort. The temperature is generally not that different from the beaches around here, but it is not very crowded and the scenery is beautiful. Since it isn't crowded, the service at places [is] really pretty good as they seem to go out of their way to cater to the few guests they have. And best of all, it's usually a very good deal!”
Dennis Stolkey, senior vice president of the public sector at HP Enterprise Services, agree with having a Caribbean adventure.
“I love the Grand Cayman Islands – one of the best places in the world for scuba diving,” he said. “I also enjoy Hawaii, Maui in particular. And the southern coast of Spain in the summer is beautiful.”
But if the Caribbean archipelago with its 7,000 islands and aquamarine waters fail to tempt, why not take a transatlantic flight and make use of those bazillion frequent-flier points earned during business travels?
Crossing the Atlantic is something Mary Good, senior vice president of human resources at SRA International, has done numerous times. She picked not only one but a couple of her favorite overseas locations, as well as a U.S. beach resort
“There are so many places across the U.S. that I enjoy, including one of our closest beach towns — Rehoboth, Delaware,” she said. “Two places I love internationally are Kyoto, Japan and the Basque region of Spain. The food, culture, history and architecture in both places are wonderful contrasts to the rural farm area where I grew up in southeastern PA.”
Another Europhile is Donna Ryan, CGI Federal’s senior vice president. She is planning her dream vacation that will take her to the Old World and require more moving around than most conventional respites.
“My husband I are planning to take a bike trip in Europe this summer,” she said. “The trip will be from Prague [in the Czech Republic] to Vienna, Austria, along the Danube, and I am praying that we do not have any accidents during our pre-trip training.”
For Ryan, accidents are not just the standard worst-case scenarios worries accompanying pre-vacation jitters: Two years ago, she and her husband had to cancel a bike vacation along the Adriatic coast of Italy when her better half crashed his bicycle and broke both of his elbows the week before the trip. However, Ryan tries to brush aside those fears in anticipation for her getaway that could perhaps entail a little bit of indulging.
“This will be the vacation of my dreams, and I hope to expend enough calories during the trip to make up for the wonderful wines and pastries that I will consume!” she said.
If Europe is not far enough for you, how about traveling to the other side of the world, with a stopover in-between to explore the striking landscapes of Africa? PV Puvvada, part-time globetrotter and full-time vice president and managing partner of federal systems at Unisys, has traveled extensively with his family and plans to make the next journey to the world’s second-largest continent.
“[Our] next big trip is going to be to Africa to go on a safari and experience the wonders that the continent provides, especially in places like South Africa and Zimbabwe,” he said. “That's what we’re planning on, and we're really excited that we get to experience the diversity of this universe and what different continents have to offer. It's a great learning experience.”
Looking back at all his country-hopping, when it comes to favorite vacation spots Puvvada chose what the indigenous MÄori call Aotearoa–the Land of the Long White Cloud.
“[We] spent three weeks about a year ago in New Zealand,” Puvvada said. “We visited both islands, but our unscripted part was in South Island in New Zealand. Wonderful place, beautiful landscape, excellent scenery obviously, and all of the people are really friendly. It's just pristine beauty and what you get to experience is an amazing, lifelong experience for all of us.”