NEW YORK -- Before cutting the ceremonial ribbon on Monday at Valerie Wilson Travel's new office at 605 Third Ave., founder and CEO Valerie Wilson said her company's 10.5-year lease at the space was an indicator of the health of the company.

"Signing a ten-and-a-half-year lease at this stage in time when everybody starts talking about whether a travel agent or advisor is still going to be around, we made the decision we would be around 11 years from today and longer," Wilson said.

For 33 years, the company was headquartered at 475 Park Ave. South. Finding a new home, which it officially moved into in February, was a years-long endeavor.

"I was relatively reluctant to leave the building," Wilson said to laughs, especially from daughters Kimberly Wilson Wetty and Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, both co-owners and co-presidents of the company. "Jennifer and Kimberly said, 'Well, let's go looking in New York City and see what we can find. So two years ago, we started looking downtown to uptown to west side to east side, and we settled on 605 Third, and I want to say I'm thrilled with the place."

The office is outfitted with new furniture with the exception of some chairs "and my office," Wilson quipped.

Wilson-Buttigieg took a moment to reflect on her mother's legacy in the travel industry and, specifically, luxury travel.

Wilson was a "pioneer" in the luxury space, Wilson-Buttigieg said. When she first started in the industry more than 30 years ago, Ritz-Carlton hadn't yet been formed. Four Seasons only had two hotels. American Airlines had just started its frequent-flyer program.

"Val, you are an icon in this industry, and one to be reckoned with every day of the week," Wilson-Buttigieg said.

Wilson Wetty thanked Valerie Wilson Travel's employees, whom she said make the company a home.

"You are the ones who make Valerie Wilson Travel truly what it is, and this home is your home for the future," she said.


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