It really says it all just in our name. The Florida First Travel Company is not so much a title as our DNA. We live, breathe and sell the Sunshine State. In fact, you could call us Florida cheerleaders, as we are all long-time, dyed-in-the-wool fans of holidays in this remarkable state. Between us we have more than 100 years’ experience of this part of America, and that translates to a rare level of knowledge and expertise.
That means you can be 100 per cent confident in getting the very best insight, knowledge and service when it comes to booking a holiday with us. From our tech team to our sales agents and resident experts, we are all fully invested in the Florida vibe and are passionate about our whole-hearted support for this superlative destination, in all its multi-faceted grandeur.
With that in mind, we thought we’d introduce you to the team who bring all this travel magnificence into play:
Hi, I’m Gary. I first visited Florida in 1982 on what was then an Intasun 14-night package holiday. So much to see, so many experiences. We knew straight away we’d be coming back – and did the next year, and the year after that. I have lost count of my many visits since, both on business and holidays with family and friends. We always find things to see and do, plus, over the years, have explored most parts of Florida. Orlando still holds a fond place in my heart but, as a family, we also frequently visit the Naples area on the Gulf Coast. Perfect anytime of the year.
Favourite beach: I’m torn between the wide Clearwater Beach with its clear waters and the white talcum powder sands of Lido Key, Sarasota.
Favourite visit with a difference: That would be St Augustine. Take a trolley tour then explore this quaint town on foot. A fascinating historic story, but I won’t spoil it. Find out for yourself!
Wow, where do I start? I have more than 40 years’ experience in the travel industry, including being European Director of Florida Tourism (later Visit Florida) from 1987-2016 and 17 years with British Airways. I was heavily involved in all the marketing, promotions, public relations, and advertising efforts for Florida in that time, and I’ve also been a member of various advisory committees, in Europe and the US, updating the tourism industry on trends and factors influencing international travel. The Sunshine State is firmly in my blood and, just as importantly, I’ve made it my mission to try to visit as many of Florida’s great beach bars as I can (and I heartily recommend www.floridabeachbar.com).
Favourite beach: Grayton Beach State Park, next to the cute town of Seaside in Florida’s Panhandle.
Favourite golf course: Crandon Golf Course on Key Biscayne, a public course open to everyone close to Miami. Fascinating fact – there are more than 1,500 wonderful courses in Florida. A lot of the world’s top golfers live here, including Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, for that reason.
Favourite city: Miami. I helped to secure the Only Fools and Horses Christmas Special here in 1991, as well as Postcard from Miami with Clive James.
Hello! I’m Debby, an award-winning travel agent with over 20 years’ experience within the industry. I use my extensive knowledge to find the very best deals for Florida First clients. I’m extremely well-travelled and have the back-up of a friendly team of experts to advise on the best destinations and hotels to meet your requirements. If I haven’t stayed in one of our fabulous properties, I know someone who has. I pride myself in creating your perfect, bespoke trip, but it doesn’t stop there. I will personally contact your hotel to introduce you as their guest and make sure they know all your requests. If you’d like recommendations of days out or a great local restaurant, please ask. I want you to have the best of times!
Favourite Place in Florida for a trip with the girls: South Beach, Miami.
Favourite Place in Florida for a trip with my family: Universal Orlando.
Hi there, I’m Jo! I have spent the last 17 years promoting the incredible and diverse range of Florida destinations to UK travellers. Both personally and professionally, I am a huge fan of the Sunshine State and have been lucky enough to explore it many times, from Jacksonville all the way down to Key West. My love affair with Florida hit a high on Thanksgiving Day in 2018, when my now husband proposed to me on Neptune Beach, Jacksonville, as the sun was setting.
Favourite Beach: Neptune Beach, obviously 😊
Favourite City: Key West. I have travelled to the subtropical island chain many times, and it’s still my favourite city in Florida, if not the world. It’s quirky, vibrant, relaxed and fun; I feel very much at home there.
Hello, or maybe I should say Greetings@Nathan.com! With more than 25 years’ experience, I am Florida First’s in-house website and digital design leader, with a career that has also spanned all the traditional disciplines of design, print, photography and broadcast advertising. That means you’ll nearly always find me either on my Mac, up a mountain or relaxing with a cold glass of cider. There are no mountains in Florida, of course, but I’m very happy with the beaches!
Favourite beach: Siesta Key, because of its proximity to my favourite city…
Favourite city: Sarasota. Just a cool place to hang out (with some great bars and, yes, craft cider!).
Digital Marketing Magician
And hello from me, too! I’ve been in the travel industry since 2008. After getting the bug and travelling the world as a windsurfing instructor, I eventually came back to the UK and moved to London where I began digital marketing for a ski holiday company. I now live on the south coast of England, right next to the ocean, where I can mix working behind my laptop with the sports I love to do. I have visited and lived in some incredible countries, from Brazil to Barbados, Sri Lanka, Australia and many more destinations. However, having soaked up the Sunshine State vibe with Florida First, I’m definitely ready for my next holiday…
Favourite beach: St Augustine. I’ve heard the surf is great here!
Favourite city: For a true Florida and American experience, Miami is my city of choice.
Simon & Susan Veness
Living the Dream
A big “Hello” from both of us! We are well known as the authors of the Brit Guide to Orlando and Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World book series, and we are lucky enough to live in Florida itself, in Orlando, close to all the many and varied attractions. We are still finding new discoveries and new corners of the state to enjoy after more than 25 years of exploring and writing about it for sources as varied as The Telegraph and The Sun, and we are genuinely living the Sunshine State dream. We’re also the primary content providers for Florida First as their resident experts, and we’re always happy to share our enthusiasm and knowledge with all-comers!
Favourite city/beach/attraction: No, we can’t single out any particular place from such a rich array of destinations, all of which have their charms. But do be sure to read our regular Blogs for our latest views and insights.