We work with a global network of dedicated travel professionals who we consider to be the ultimate go-to people for our expeditions. They bring to our programs a wealth of destination knowledge, and experience and expertise in managing luxury educational expeditions by private jet. Our Seattle-based office staff also work in the field, assisting our expedition leaders and working behind the scenes with local experts.
Our expedition leaders are the gracious hosts and consummate managers of our programs. They are passionate and knowledgeable travel companions who orchestrate the infinite logistics of our innovative itineraries on the go.
Our assistant expedition leaders are essential to the success of each TCS & Starquest expedition. They work tirelessly behind the scenes to support the expedition leader and ensure that luggage, visas, and passports are handled seamlessly.
Our advance staff work in each destination several days ahead of the expedition, reviewing routes, refining timings, inspecting rooms, arranging for travelers’ special requests, and putting the finishing touches on plans for unforgettable, special events.
Our scouts help us develop new itineraries and enhance existing ones. They are tireless seekers of hidden gems such as a private estate with an exquisite art collection or an Egyptian desert oasis frequented by royal families. And they look for new ways to experience familiar destinations such as having tea with a family in their traditional home or exploring the temples of Angkor by elephant.
Together, our expedition staff works to ensure that your experiences are just as we had planned, while still allowing for the unique, personal, and serendipitous moments that make our expeditions truly extraordinary.
Eszter Foldvary is one of our most experienced expedition leaders. After graduating from tourism school in Hungary in 1978, she began leading expeditions all over the world by train, cruise ship, and jet. She led her first expedition for TCS & Starquest Expeditions in 1993 and has since taken our guests to nearly every continent by private jet several times every year. Eszter is fluent in English, French, German, and Hungarian. Her interest in the history of art, culture, and human achievement, along with her excellent organizational skills and calm demeanor, serves our guests well. Eszter lives in Budapest, Hungary and spends her free time with her husband and two children, with whom she also travels throughout the world.
Micheline Place has been successfully leading trips to the far reaches of the globe for more than 25 years. She led her first expedition for TCS & Starquest Expeditions in 1991 and has been taking our guests around the world each year ever since. Her keen attention to detail and passion for world cultures serves our guests very well. She is fluent in French, German, and Italian, and lives in Paris, France, where she regularly guides select groups throughout her home country. Click to hear more from Micheline on how TCS makes each journey special, and to learn more about TCS & Starquest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s7IFhfEuFQ&feature=youtu.be
Amanda Ellerbeck Butler has led trips on all seven continents and visited 165 countries. Her travels have taken her on in-depth explorations of Easter Island and Africa, and several TCS & Starquest private jet expeditions, including Lands of the Midnight Sun. Her wealth of experience, organization skills and sense of humor make her an asset to any program. She currently lives in southwest England with her husband and two children.
Susan Cegavske left the corporate world to pursue her passion for travel and has explored many countries throughout Asia and the Pacific including Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, New Zealand, and Australia. She lived in India to study yoga and Sanskrit, Italy to study art history, and the Alaskan bush to enjoy the land and work at various luxury lodges. She has been an Assistant Expedition Leader on numerous private jet trips and did advance work in Cambodia and Easter Island. She is a graduate of Oregon State University and, when not traveling, lives in Albany, Oregon, where she is a yoga instructor.
Rachel Dicker took her first trip to China in 1979 and has been traveling ever since. She joined the tour industry in 2000 and has done a lot of advance work throughout Asia and South America for TCS & Starquest Expeditions. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts and speaks Mandarin, German, Spanish, and English. Prior to moving to her current home in Austin, Texas, Rachel lived in China for 12 years.
Johanne Demers Gordon has been in the travel industry since 1992. She has extensive experience in both cruise and private jet travel, having participated in more than 20 journeys to more than 100 countries on all seven continents. She graduated from the University of Montreal, in her hometown of Montreal, Quebec, and now lives in Crestline, California.
Mari Hunyadi embarked on a career in the travel industry after years of inspiration in the form of postcards she received from friends and family traveling far and wide. Determined to see those places for herself and to learn the local customs and traditions, she set out to explore the world. She then went on to work for TCS & Starquest Expeditions as an advance person in Ethiopia and Morocco, and as an assistant expedition leader on many private jet expeditions. Mari is fluent in English, French, and Hungarian, and, when not traveling, is a preschool teacher in Budapest, Hungary.
Leslie Knopfler’s career in travel and hospitality spans more than 20 years. After working and studying in Napa Valley, California, she went on to lead wine tours in South Africa, South America, New Zealand, and Australia; manage corporate travel programs; and plan hospitality programs at world-class events such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the World Cup. Leslie supports our private jet expeditions both in the air and on the ground with her trademark attention to the tiniest detail. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech, and is a certified sommelier with a passion for regional food specialties and cooking methods. She currently lives in The Outer Banks, North Carolina.
Jill Peacock began her worldwide travels with a trip to study Spanish in Central America at age 15, and as a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas in Venezuela while still in high school. Later, upon completion of her studies in Santa Barbara, California, she backpacked her way throughout the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America, in between stints living and working in England, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand. She then went on to live in the Caribbean, where she received her Dive Master Certification; trek through the Himalayas; and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. She has since been enjoying her work as an international tour director and event coordinator, including work as a scout, advance person, and assistant expedition leader for TCS & Starquest Expeditions. When not traveling, Jill resides in Petaluma, California.
Ester Pereira has several decades of experience in expeditionary travel. She has worked in the airline industry; led ship expeditions in all oceans, including the Arctic and the Antarctic; and served as assistant expedition leader on numerous private jet trips for TCS & Starquest Expeditions. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian, and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology with a special interest in sustainable tourism. Originally from Portugal, Ester now lives in North Bay Village, Florida.
Joe Razim has traveled throughout Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, and has been an assistant expedition leader on several private jet expeditions for TCS & Starquest Expeditions. He has a Master’s degree in journalism; speaks Czech, Russian, and Polish; and has a special passion for natural history, navigation, boating, and snorkeling. Originally from the Czech Republic, Joe lives in North Bay Village, Florida.
Neil Holbrook-Smith has more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry. He has visited 200 countries, has scouted and performed advance work in dozens of destinations, and has led groups all over the world on private ships, trains, and jets. Neil also has the distinction of having led two major firsts in overland travel: he led the first European group from Kathmandu, Nepal to Tibet; and he led the first European group through Pakistan’s Khunjerab Pass and Karakoram Highway. Neil speaks English, French, and Spanish, and lives in London, England.
John Thiede has worked as a naturalist and guide on numerous expeditions throughout the world since 1992. He has been an invaluable staff member on many private jet programs, lending his expertise and trademark sense of humor to TCS & Starquest’s South America, Africa, Antarctica and Around the World expeditions. He has a B.S. from Arizona State University and currently resides in Eagle River, Alaska.
Mary Wakefield was born and educated near London and traveled extensively with her family as a child. She has worked as a travel manager since 1995, and began assisting with private jet expeditions in 2004, with the Empires and Explorers program. She has since worked on many Around the World expeditions for TCS & Starquest Expeditions, and done advance work in some of our more remote destinations, including Papua New Guinea, Easter Island, and Ghana. Mary currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she runs a small tea business that was inspired by her travels in Sri Lanka.
Sunny Yanfeng graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University in 1993 and has been a professional guide in China ever since, regularly escorting alumni groups from Harvard, MIT, Yale, and other organizations throughout her home country. She has traveled to over 30 countries, and, since 2007, has done advance work for TCS & Starquest Expeditions within China and throughout Southeast Asia. She currently lives in Beijing, China.
Let expedition leader Micheline Place, who has over 25 years experience leading tours worldwide, tell you why there is simply no other journey like a TCS & Starquest trip: click here to link to video.