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Mary Tilson

Experience2 Years

Mary’s adventurous spirit has sparked an unconventional career path from corporate office in Chicago to International Retreat Leader and Bali-based Travel Designer.

Her career in travel began with what was only intended to be a three-month sabbatical to explore Southeast Asia – but the fascination with the world only grew stronger. One of the many highlights has been three years working at Nihi Sumba, Indonesia named “#1 Hotel in the World” by Travel+Leisure alongside an international team who has set a new standard for barefoot luxury. As a certified Yoga Teacher with over 1,000 training hours, Mary specializes in wellness travel and has led luxury retreats across Southeast Asia, Africa and the Americas. She is passionate about discovering unspoiled destinations, local culture and ultimately, weaving together the perfect itineraries for her clients.

How do you prepare for trips?

First it’s reaching out to a shortlist of friends that always have the tips that can’t be found anywhere else – the blind Shiatsu masseuse in Cambodia with the most intuitive, healing touch or the Peruvian guide in the Sacred Valley who will take you to his family farm for lunch. It’s those precious insights that always make the best memories in my experience. Once the itinerary is in place, I love choosing outfits that suit the destination (last minute shopping if needed) and then making sure all loose ends are tied with work, so I can be fully present during my trip.

What’s your most memorable travel experience to date?

What’s standing out at the moment is my most recent trip to Raja Ampat, Indonesia. As the epicenter of marine biodiversity, the diving and snorkeling is unlike anywhere on earth, including night dives with bioluminescence lighting up the ocean! The thousands of uninhabited, jungle encased islands felt like a journey back in time, and at the same time, the level of luxury offered on board Rascal Voyages, our “floating villa” for the week made the whole experience deeply restorative. Raja Ampat also has an inspiring conservation success story and focus on empowering local communities, which paves the way for a more responsible approach to tourism. It really ticked all the boxes!

Favorite Travel Tip

Be in the moment. At a time when there are endless distractions fighting for our attention, we really can’t be reminded enough!


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