Northfield native and current Winnetkan Brittney Magner’s favorite three sojourns, in no particular order:
France, France, and France.
And not just because the 1995 Denison University graduate majored in French in Granville, Ohio, and is “still fluent enough” to communicate comfortably with Parisians.
“I love the history of that country, the city of Paris, the restaurants, the beautiful countryside … everything about it,” says Magner, in her eighth year with Winnetka-based Royal Travel & Tours.
But Magner’s primary focus in this developing, uncertainty-filled Coronavirus Era is to radiate a sunny outlook in a world stuck indefinitely on PAUSE.
“We will bounce back from this,” the everpositive Magner, 46, insists. “Our community, our country, the world—everyone will rebound, and we’ll return to normal. I’m hopeful people will then be even more eager to travel.”
Magner, a regional director of luxury travel sales and Royal Travel & Tours’ first North Shore employee, has between 120-150 clients. Her specialty is arranging unforgettable domestic and international trips for families. But she also works enthusiastically and tirelessly to prepare unique and elevated VIP travel experiences for couples, groups, honeymooners, and anyone interested in arriving at a Bucket List destination.
Royal Travel & Tours customizes journeys, partners with the world’s best hoteliers and suppliers, and educates its clients well before they fasten their seatbelts and make sure their folding trays are in their full upright position.
Magner had put together 60 trips for families in March alone. But many of those had to be scrubbed or rebooked because of COVID-19 concerns. The resilient and ardent Magner threw as much energy into pivoting herself and repackaging trips for her clients as she had while working for them before the onset of the pandemic.
Reality this Spring Break season means parents must interact and bond with their homebound children over jigsaw puzzles and board games instead of over meals and beaches at picturesque vacation spots. Magner gets that, accepts that.
The New Trier High School graduate and Winnetkan also looks forward to the time families will get to resume packing suitcases and escaping to stunning settings. You can’t put a price tag on a family’s shared moments in another state or country.
“Creating memories with family members is one of the best reasons to travel,” Magner says. “I love to travel with my family [husband and Providence College alumnus Kevin, 17-year-old twin daughters Caroline and Molly, and daughters Katie, 14, and Riley, 12]. Travel gives you an appreciation for other cultures, other people. It pushes you out of your familiar bubble and allows you to explore.
“It feeds your soul,” she adds.Magner was a media buyer in advertising before opting to devote all of her attention to raising her daughters. Eight years ago she expressed a desire to reenter the workforce with good friend Kendra Thornton, whose parents, Larry and Kay Berke, founded Royal Travel & Tours in DeKalb in 1972.
Thornton, a national television travel and lifestyle expert, now serves the top-notch travel agency as its owner and president. Royal Travel & Tours is a proud member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and Signature Travel Network, with exclusive partnerships—with Four Seasons, Rosewood, Peninsula, Ritz & Marriott Luxury Brands, and Abercrombie & Kent—allowing the agency to offer its clients a VIP experience, including additional and unique amenities.
Magner joined the Royal Travel & Tours staff in 2012, launching its Travel Luxury Team on the North Shore; seven of the agency’s 18 professionals serve that crew, which meets with general managers, hoteliers, suppliers, and other partners. Royal Travel clients then receive redcarpet treatment from hotel personnel. Magner has been a regional director of luxury sales since 2019, managing the exclusive hotelier and supplier partnerships, in addition to working with the agency’s most discerning clients with their annual family trips. Luxury Travel Advisor recognized Magner as one of its inaugural “Trendsetters” in 2016. The magazine annually names and spotlights the industry’s new and veteran advisors “who do things a little differently.”
“I love that [Royal Travel & Tours] is a smaller agency that has been around for so many years and that we are awarded by our suppliers for all of our hard work,” she told LTA. “Royal Travel has received all of its accolades due to the quality of its people.
“Kendra Thornton,” Magner continued, “has been incredible with updating the agency to be more current with the luxury brand.” Magner has visited 12 countries to date. At the top of her Must Visit For the First Time list is Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. A safari trip with her family would fulfill another quest.
Brittney, a tennis and basketball player during her New Trier days, did not have to travel too far to bump into her future beau/husband. Kevin grew up in Winnetka and attended Loyola Academy in Wilmette. They started dating as seniors, went to different colleges—separated by 698.2 miles—and got married in Kenilworth, in 1998. He’s still an ace in golf, a sport his wife plays regularly.
Two of their daughters aim for flagsticks; the other two grip rackets and rip shots on tennis courts.
“My parents [Northfield denizens Butch and Susie Honaker] instilled good values in their children,” says Magner, the oldest of her parents’ three daughters. “It’s what my husband and I are striving to instill in our daughters. My parents—they were my major influences in my early years, and I felt fortunate to have been able to grow up and attend schools on the North Shore.
“It’s still such a special, special place, with wonderful and caring communities,” she adds.
The Magner family’s nine-day trip to Paris and London in April won’t happen. Count on Brittney Magner to collaborate with her family to come up with other ways to create memories in Winnetka.
“You know what the heart of it all is?” Magner says. “It’s live your life, love your life … every single day. Isn’t that the best outlook?”
Royal Travel & Tours is located at 1001 Green Bay Road, Suite 310 in Winnetka, 815-217-0608, royal-travel.com.