Meet Our Team
Kirk Demeter, President
Hometown: Kirkland, WA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: The Kimberley region of Western Australia, Queenstown New Zealand, and the Whitsundays.
Favorite Food: Mexican and Vietnamese. In New Zealand, nothing beats the lamb!
Favorite Wine: Red: Grant Burge “Meshach” Shiraz. White: Leeuwin Estates “Art Series” Chardonnay.
Favorite Music: Ryan Adams, Brandi Carlile, Vampire Weekend, Kathleen Edwards, Neil Finn.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: The Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, the western side of Tasmania, and the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island (where I’ll be spending my Christmas break).
Travel Tip: Premium Economy is similar to what you’d experience in a First Class seat on flights in the USA – only better. That extra comfort and upgraded food and beverage service really makes traveling to the South Pacific that much better, and it is surprisingly affordable. Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Qantas all have truly excellent Premium Economy cabins.
Kate Lawry, Reservations Manager
Hometown: Stone, Near Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England
Favorite South Pacific Destination: New Zealand of course!
Favorite Food: Mexican – tacos in particular smothered in guacamole!
Favorite Wine: a nice New Zealand Sav Blanc!
Favorite Music: Coldplay and I think Philip Philips from American Idol is going to be a star – he is awesome!
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: BBQ in my back yard overlooking Mt Maunganui – who's coming?
Travel Tip: Always stay longer than you think you should – you will be glad you did!
Kim Faucette, Reservation Supervisor
Hometown: San Diego
Favorite South Pacific Destination: My two favorite destinations are Fiji & Darwin/Top End. I think Fiji is the most romantic place on earth and the people are so incredibly hospitable and nice, it makes me smile whenever I think of them. I fell in love with Darwin and the National Parks because the landscape is so diverse and the wildlife is plentiful.
Favorite Food: King crab legs most definitely. Dipped in some browned butter, they just melt in your mouth! I also love chocolate and definitely prefer the treats from Australia & New Zealand.
Favorite Wine: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Favorite Music: R&B, Pop, Top 40, Rock, Jazz, Motown
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Wolgan Valley, it may be a trek to get there but it’s absolutely stunning and worth staying a few nights. Iron Bar in Port Douglas, a great hangout with the locals.
Travel Tip: Try to fit in something you wouldn’t normally do. It’ll make your trip that much more special & memorable.
Allison Hogan, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Alstonville, Nr Ballina/Byron Bay, Northern NSW, Australia.
Favorite South Pacific Destination: The Great Barrier Reef is really one of the most beautiful places in the world and is probably my favorite destination. I did my PADI Dive Course on Heron Island in 1980 and I have scuba dived in the Fiji Islands as well as the Cook Islands. I have been to Tahiti many times, and I have been to Samoa. They are all different and equally wonderful. The majority of the itineraries that I create are for people traveling to New Zealand and Australia. I always encourage them to think about an island stopover.
Favorite Food: While in Australia: King Prawns fresh off the Ballina trawler boats with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
While in New Zealand: Roast Lamb with all the trimmings with a NZ Hawkes Bay red wine.
While in Tahiti and Fiji: Fresh fish with home grown vegetables and salads.
Favorite Wine: NZ Sauvignon blanc.
Favorite Music: Anything from the 1970s and 1980s – bands like The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, The Eurythmics.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: You don’t have to tip unless the service is extraordinary.
Travel Tip: When in Australia, end words with an e or an o and you will sound like a local. Examples: Breakfast – Brekkie, Afternoon – Avo, Postal Employee – Posty, Football – Footy, Service Station – servo.
In all seriousness, make sure you know your airline luggage limits and pack sparingly. Take half of what you think you need and have fun !
Chris Mead, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia. More and more cosmopolitan and international every time I return, love it!
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Great Ocean Road Lorne, could look at that ocean all day.
Favorite Food: Anything my mum cooks, especially a roast, lamb shank and braised short ribs.
Favorite Wine: Any drop from Western Australia. Any Molly Dooker wine from Australia. Hawkes Bay, NZ Sav blanc, and Pinot Noir from Central Otago NZ. Spanish Rioja’s. Can’t beat a good Bordeaux. Not shy on grabbing a straw for a Napa Valley Cabernet.
Favorite Music: oh boy, another buffet here. Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassy, Etta James, U2, Eskimo Joe, Sting, Duran Duran, Toni Childs, Rush, Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley oh and I’d better say my hubby’s band, The Silence.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Queenstown, New Zealand. A mini Switzerland without the price tag. People, adventure, food, wine, beer and scenery all makes you want to stay forever. A must do is a helicopter tour here, no matter what your budget, it will be the pinnacle of your trip!
Travel Tip: Don’t sweat the small things, after all you are on holiday, absorb and relax
Emma Leon, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Born in Launceston, Tasmania but consider Adelaide, South Australia my hometown.
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Tasmania is unforgettable. Untouched wilderness, wildlife, wineries and friendly locals.
Favorite Food: Cheese, Cadbury’s chocolate and Sausage rolls
Favorite Wine: Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from New Zealand.
Favorite Music: Top 40, 80’s, anything I can sing my heart out to – when I’m alone of course!
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Adelaide is such a vibrant city with a great culture of the arts. There is usually a festival happening, offers great food, has fabulous wine regions close by and Kangaroo Island just a short hop away.
Travel Tip: Don’t fear the travel time to get to Australia, once you’re there you’ll not regret it!
Karen Thoresen, Destination Specialist, Groups
Hometown: Waikato, NZ
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Any place in the South Pacific that has ‘Island’ after its name
Favorite Food: Too varied to pick just one favorite. Eat like a local and don’t be afraid to try something you normally wouldn’t while abroad … be adventurous!
Favorite Wine: Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs especially Dog Point and Seresin
Favorite Music: From Classical to Heavy Alternative Rock. At the moment I love listening to Matthew Houck aka Phosphoresent
Best Kept South Pacific Secret:Wainuioto Bay (New Chums Beach) and Whangapoua in the Coromandel.
Travel Tip: Pack lighter than you think could, you can always buy extra clothing on your trip and stay longer than you think you should. Lastly, consider travelling in the less busy shoulder seasons … Spring or Autumn.
Nora Gregorian, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Glendale, CA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Australia and Fiji
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Wine: Malbec
Favorite Music: Jazz and Classical
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Tasmania
Travel Tip: “Travel like Ghandi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind.” - Rick Steves
Sue-Ann Hime, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Mmmm.. have not lived in Australia for 17 years. Used to live in Dimbulah; parents live in Gympie, I grew up in Yeppoon. A true Queenslander through and through.
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Queensland
Favorite Food: Seafood
Favorite Wine: Something Australian. Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz
Favorite Music: Alternative
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Lord Howe Island
Travel Tip: Always take a small towel on the plane- much nicer than having to wipe your face with the paper towels.
Tess Toting, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Los Angeles
Favorite South Pacific Destination: All of them but Fiji and New Zealand are close to my heart. Fiji, aside from the amazing beaches, it is the people, the Fijian are the friendliest and most welcoming people on earth. New Zealand because of its landscape, spectacular scenery, history & culture and lots of adventure things to do.
Favorite Food: Vietnamese and Thai Food
Favorite Wine: Cabernet Savignon
Favorite Music: Jazz and music from the 60’s and 70’s
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: The Coromandel Peninsula
Travel Tip: Travel light and pre book your tours prior to departure otherwise you’ll be stressed out trying to book them upon arrival – Time is gold.
William Wright, Destination Specialist
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: IIt is all amazing but I would take my bags off the bus in Wanaka, New Zealand and never leave. It is a quintessential mountain town with amazing people, great food & cafés, not to mention the plethora of activities from jet boats, 4x4’ing, cruising, exploring unique wildlife, hiking on glaciers, and the Puzzling World (very cool for the inner child inside) to name a few.
Favorite Food: While Traveling…the local specialties ie. New Zealand-lamb and seafood and Australia-beef. Besides that, it depends what kind of wine or beer I am drinking.
Favorite Wine: Quintarelli 'Primofiore' Corvina/Cab Sauv Blend, Negrar 2010 from Northeast Italy, absolutely wonderful and unique. That being said, I love the wine coming out of Australia and New Zealand. Did you know the vines in South Australia are some of the oldest in the world as they were never touched by the blight that wiped out the European vines in the 1800’s.
Favorite Music: Eclectic, but favor classic rock and country
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Not sure if it is much of secret but the Marlbugough Sounds on the South Island of New Zealand is a treasure trove of relaxation and exploration waiting to happen.
Travel Tip: I have two: First - Smile, learn hello, please, and thank you in the local lingo, and be willing to try new things; you never know where a little extra courtesy will take you. Second - Always live in the present time zone. Don’t think about what time it was yesterday or at home, if you think about the time differences then your mind will focus on them and jet lag stays an issue.
Linda Furber, Marketing Director
Hometown: Toowoomba - and then all over the place after that!
Favorite South Pacific Destination: The Cook Islands - the people are friendly, the beaches are great and the lagoon is breathtaking.
Favorite Food: My mums’ Roast Pork and Vegies, Lambs Fry & Bacon and Red Rooster
Favorite Wine: Malbec for winter, Sauvignon Blanc for summer - and Jim Beam year round!
Favorite Music: Anything from the 80’s, Nickelback, some Country, Classic Rock
Travel Tip: Always have some local currency on you when you land in a new country; we can never guarantee warm sunny days - so be prepared for anything and unlock your cell phone so when you travel to other countries, you can buy a local pre-paid simcard - saves a lot of time and money!
Loran Sullivan, Marketing Assistant
800-889-1464 x 201
Hometown: Great Falls, MT
Favorite South Pacific Destination: The top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Favorite Food: Anything Italian
Favorite Wine: White wine
Favorite Music: Non-twang Country and Pop
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Palm Cove is a great base for your Tropical North Queensland travel. The boutique beach village feel is great for relaxing and alfresco dining and you are still close enough to all the top attractions of Cairns.
Travel Tip: Plan activities before you leave but also allow time in your schedule to explore.
Jeff Adam, Director of Sales
Hometown: Adelaide, South Australia
Favorite South Pacific Destination: I honestly can’t answer that! Each South Pacific destination has its own intrinsic allure and all need to be enjoyed in one’s lifetime.
Favorite Food: You can’t go past an Aussie seafood platter with dripping with tiger prawns that are like shrimp on steroids and a mountain of Moreton Bay Bugs that just melt in your mouth, washed down with a Hunter Valley Chardonnay at the Restaurants of the Rock on Sydney Harbor.
Favorite Wine: OK my absolute all-time favorite is a Grange Hermitage and as Australia’s best red wine for the last 50 years it comes at a price, but it’s worth every cent. I am sure they were referring to Grange when the phrase was coined “it’s like drinking liquid velvet”.
Favorite Music: I have a wide array of favorites but the artist that made a major impact in my formative years was Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Il de Pins or Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. Picture this…lagoons like Bora Bora with mushroom like protrusions of bleached white coral that have strange finger like pine trees that are 3ft wide and 50ft high on top. So I’m in a native sailing boat called a Pirogue and we pull up to a sugar white sand beach and I set out to explore the islands interior where I come across a stream of salt water lined with a rainbow of coral which I follow until it meets the ocean where there is a French couple eating crayfish (lobster) and drinking beer called Number One. So I join them sipping beer, eating crayfish and watching a lone fisherman cast his net for baitfish, when we I ask my French friends how long they have been sailing the world to which they say…twenty five years! Yes that was a good day but can you imagine doing it for a lifetime!
Travel Tip: Don’t rush your vacation in the South Pacific, take your time, listen to the locals and learn from them, mix and mingle as much as you can and immerse yourself in the culture. For while the physical beauty of traveling Down Under is alluring, the Answer to truly fulfilling vacation lies in the hands and the hearts of the locals who will leave you yearning for more.
Jane Moore, Sales Coordinator
Hometown: Adelaide, Australia
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Sydney! Love everything it has to offer, so cosmopolitan. What a welcome you get just flying in to Australia with the most beautiful harbour. (When I fly in, I know I’m Home!)
Favorite Food: Pavlova (Dessert)
Favorite Wine: Elderton Estate Wines (Barossa Valley, South Australia) - Shiraz
Favorite Music: Motown
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Try and select your vacation down under when the festivals are happening! There is always something going on somewhere. It is fun to mix with the locals and a great way to meet new friends and immerse yourself in their culture! The weather is usually pretty good at these times too! (Need help finding out when festival are happening? Contact us we’ll help you)
Travel Tip: Always pack a hat! In the winter, a knit hat will keep your head warm and takes no room, and in summer, a brimmed hat can help save you from the sun on your face. In either case, it will save you when your curling iron doesn’t work and you’re having a bad hair day, your good to go!
Carol Fox, Northern California/North Nevada Sales
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Australia
Favorite Food: Pastitsio at Christo’s in Minneapolis
Favorite Wine: Cabernet
Favorite Music: All Good Music
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Australia’s National Parks – Try Grampians in Victoria
Travel Tip: My vacation travel planning is done with a travel professional. I save time, get the best prices and see the best of the destination. Also, pack your bags then remove about ½ of the clothes and shoes. You probably don’t need that much stuff.
Jan Hauer, Colorado & Utah Sales
Hometown: Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, I now call Denver and the magnificent Colorado Rockies home.
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Australia, as this is a country that offers such incredible variety. Whether experiencing the myriad activities in and around Sydney - active or cultural, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef or getting up close and personal with the unique wildlife, this is one extraordinary destination. There is truly something for everyone.
Favorite Food: Seafood, especially in bouillabaisse, paella, or a lovely soupe de poisson with a dollop of rouille!
Favorite Wine: Tough question, as there are so many great choices from around the world. Pinot noir, however, captivates me the most and is the wine I prefer when curling up with a good book.
Favorite Music: Classical music touches me in a very special way, and it's the music I listen to most - followed by jazz and funk.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Ningaloo Reef, a beautiful 200-mile long reef near Exmouth in Western Australia. While remote, this stretch of the Indian Ocean is pristine and offers scuba diving, snorkeling with sea turtles, and the amazing experience of swimming with whale sharks. With Perth to the south, this part of Australia is worth the extra time traveling west.
Travel Tip: Keep a pack of wet cleansing tissues on hand at all times - for keeping germs at bay, cleaning fingers after eating, and for make-up removal on longer trips. My favorites are green tea tissues by Cala. And don't forget Ear Planes, the funky little ear plugs that will help on landings in the event you develop a sinus infection or congestion en route.
Karen Trecartin, Southern California Sales
Hometown: Coronado CA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: New Zealand’s South Island
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Wine: Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough, New Zealand region
Favorite Music: Classic 60's 70's 80's
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Hunter Valley and Tasmania
Travel Tip: Fill out the DUA packing form as you pack, keep it with your passport, and if your luggage does not arrive, you have a list of everything in your suitcase to give to the airline
Larry Covell, Pacific Northwest Sales
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Queenstown and Palm Cove
Favorite Food: Hokey Pokey ice cream & meat pies and of course a nice glass of Aussie Shiraz
Favorite Wine: Any Aussie wine will do and a cold VB
Favorite Music: AC/DC
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Thala Beach Lodge in Port Douglas and the Whitsunday Islands
Travel Tip: Get off the beaten path and explore. Try staying in a Bed & Breakfast - you will love it!
Nolan Mitchell, IS Manager
800-889-1464 x 292
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Favorite South Pacific Destination: I have not traveled in the South Pacific yet but look forward to experiencing the many different destinations in the region.
Favorite Food: Something Healthy
Favorite Wine: I’m more of a vodka drinker but I enjoy a nice white wine
Favorite Music: All types, anything that keeps the party moving
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: I’ll get back to you on this!
Travel Tip: Learn a few key phrases of the native language
Anita Lan, Ticketing Manager
Favorite South Pacific Destination: New Zealand
Favorite Food: Taiwanese snacks - pancakes, spring rolls & Dan-Bin
Favorite Wine: Taiwanese Beer formerly Takasago Beer
Favorite Music: Alternative & Taiwanese
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: The food and the friendly people!
Travel Tip: Book early so you have a choice of airfares and seats on the plane!
Elicia Edwards, Product Coordinator
Hometown: Duvall Washington
Favorite South Pacific Destination: My favorite destination is New Zealand. It has some of the most incredible scenery that I have ever seen.
Favorite Food: I love food and enjoy trying new things! My favorite would probably be Italian.
Favorite Wine: There are not many wines that I do not enjoy! But my favorite is a red blend from the lake Chelan area.
Favorite Music: I like a lot of different types of music but I mostly listen to Country.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: I found Freycinet to be stunning with the white sand, red colored rocks and turquoise water!
Georgia Beitzel, Document Support
Hometown: LaConner, Washington
Favorite South Pacific Destination: I have always dreamed of going to the South Pacific, but have never been. However learning so much here at Down Under Answers, my next big vacation of course will be to Australia. Now if I could pin point where. So many things to do, so many places to go?
Favorite Food: Mexican food for sure. Love authentic!
Favorite Wine: I pretty much like any white wine, but give me a cold beer is good also.
Favorite Music: Really any kind of music, as long as it’s not hard rock!
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Then it would not be a secret!
Travel Tip: Don’t try and do too many things in one trip, relax and enjoy. Which means you have to go again to see and do something new.
Lisa Etelamaki, Reservation Support
Hometown: Holt, MI
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Australia! Since I was a little girl, my dream was to go to Australia and hold a koala. I have been able to travel there 2 times now, and hold a koala both times.
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Wine: A good New Zealand Pinot Grigio or a local MI wine
Favorite Music: Top 40 and Country
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Get out and meet the locals! They can give you the best advice of great food in the region, or that one place that most tourists don’t know about, but is a must to see.
Travel Tip: Pack light! You can always pick up some great wearable souvenirs along the way. Don’t sweat the small stuff, you are on holiday! It’s time to relax and enjoy! And always be prepared for weather.
Mark Peters, Product and Database Coordinator
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Fiji
Favorite Food: Meat Pies
Favorite Wine: Do not drink
Favorite Music: 50’s and 60’s
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Vanuatu
Travel Tip: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti there is a lot to see and do. Do not rush your vacation.
Melodie Webster, Reservations Support
Hometown: Monmouth, Oregon
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Sydney, best city I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to a lot!
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon
Favorite Music: Almost everything
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: I can’t tell you…I’m good at keeping secrets!
Monique Jackson, Reservations Support
800-889-1464 x 320
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Solomon Islands
Favorite Food: Teriyaki
Favorite Wine: Chardonnay
Favorite Music: R&B
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Matafonua Lodge
Travel Tip: Always have lots of money
Sara Ostlund, Quality Control/Documents Support
Hometown: Bellevue, WA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Fiji
Favorite Food: Waffles.
Favorite Wine: Chardonnay
Favorite Music: I little of everything, but mostly indie-alternative and edm.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: I don’t know if it’s much of a secret anymore but Vanua Levu, Fiji is my favorite South Pacific destination.
Travel Tip: Don’t over plan your trip. Allow yourself down time, you’re on vacation!
Whitney Palmer, Accounting Manager
Hometown: Issaquah WA
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Favorite Food: Italian food
Favorite Wine: Malbec
Favorite Music: Latin
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: Looking forward to discovering the cultures and traditions of the South Pacific Islands.
Travel Tip: Always be prepared for bad weather!
Martin Moore, Chief Financial Officer
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand.
Favorite South Pacific Destination: Hard to choose but if I was forced to I would say the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. Unbelievable beauty but a relatively short distance to town.
Favorite Food: Lamb salad, with fresh New Zealand produce, lamb medium-rare. And I must put a word in for Vogel’s Bread.
Favorite Wine: Pinot Noir from Rippon Winery, Central Otago, New Zealand.
Favorite Music: Popular Rock. Favorite musicians are Beatles, Bowie, U2, Neil Young, Mutton Birds, Split Enz, Finn Brothers.
Best Kept South Pacific Secret: That travel to and from Australia/New Zealand and the USA is not the arduous journey that many think it is. Those that say it are the ones that haven’t been! Both ways are “red-eyes” meaning most of the time is spent asleep, and although there is a day difference the time difference is minimal so acclimating to local time is a synch. And the service while in the air – the best in the world.
Travel Tip: Take the guided tour if it is an option. Always worthwhile, this ensures you won’t miss anything, and the stories that come with any attraction are sometimes more interesting than the attraction itself!