Meet the Team
SALLY HAUSER - GRJi MANAGER
I have been managing GRJ independent since 2015 and have been in the travel industry for over 16 years, so have a solid portfolio of putting holidays together for customers.
I studied in France, and lived in Australia and Israel as well as visited 36 different countries; so I have a wealth of world-wide geographical knowledge and love to share it! France, Spain, Belgium (notably the WW1 and WW2 Battlefields) are my particular areas of interest and expertise, but I have also travelled on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from Venice-London, the Blue Train in South Africa and the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada so can give first-hand accounts and guidance.
The rest of the team are also well-travelled experts - all of them have been selected and trained according to their knowledge and expertise to enable us - although we are a small team - to provide a personal, first-rate service.
LAURA STRAWINSKI - GRJi ASSISTANT MANAGER
Hi, my name is Laura Strawinski. I studied at York University for 3 years before becoming a member of the GRJi team in November 2015. I divide my time equally between managing the day-to-day operations of the department and planning holidays around the world. My friends and I organised a 28-day rail-based itinerary around Europe in 2014 which ultimately became my first true experience of rail travel. We started by flying to Amsterdam where we began our clockwise route, taking in Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and finally France. My personal highlights include the glorious Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, and the picturesque Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. I have also been lucky enough to experience sunrise and sunset visits to the majestic Taj Mahal and, by stark contrast, travel on the scenic Glacier Express from Chur to Brig which incorporates Andermatt, the highest point of the journey.
JAMES STARKIE - GRJi RAIL SPECIALIST
Hi, my name is James and I have been working for GRJ Independent for over 2.5 years now. My main job role is to book all of the rail tickets for our customers' holidays and assist with any rail related queries or issues. I also support the reservations team with quotes and bookings and double as a Tailor-Made Holiday Specialist.
The job satisfaction in this role is very high, as it is a great feeling to be able to work somewhere that creates lasting holiday experiences for our customers. Working here has also given me plenty of travel inspiration to visit new destinations and I am always thinking about where to go next!
One of the highlights of the job has to be the educational trips that are arranged through our suppliers, allowing us to test our products first-hand and make sure they're suitable for travellers. I was lucky enough to do a once-in-a-lifetime trip with Rocky Mountaineer last year and have
MARK BRENNAN - GRJi TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY SPECIALIST
I've been working for Great Rail Journeys for the past three years, with experience in both the escorted side of the business and independent travel. During my time with the company I have been lucky enough to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer, throughout Switzerland including journeys on the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express, and my personal Highlight, spending the night on board Venice Simplon-Orient Express.
Before working for Great Rail Journeys I travelled the world extensively, working and living in locations throughout Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. Over the years I've racked up visits to 39 different countries, which has enabled me to build up a vast knowledge of world-wide destinations that I would love to share with you.
JAMES EATON - GRJi TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY SPECIALIST
I started working at Great Rail Journeys in August 2009 within the escorted holiday reservations department. Here I gained invaluable experience about all types of train holidays which helped me enormously when I transferred over to the highly-trained GRJ Independent team. I've travelled on train all across the world the most impressive of which, in my opinion, were in Alaska, Canada, Switzerland and the deep south of America. I have a real passion for helping fellow travellers put together their dream holidays and thrive on creating both simple and complex itineraries. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than hearing about how much people enjoyed the holidays I helped to arrange once they're back at home.
BETH ZIMMERMAN - TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY SPECIALIST
I have been an administrator at GRJ independent for five years, coming from a background in retail. I have visited all the great cities of Europe, travelling by rail and ferry.
I have a more practical role than my colleagues in the reservations team, ensuring that the holidays booked run smoothly and live up to the full potential of the customer, as well as the Tailor-Made Holiday Specialists' inspiration.
On a day-to-day basis I book hotels and make certain that reservation payments are organised, and create personalised itineraries and ticket packs, which include day-to-day instructions, maps and anything else required to make the logistics of the holiday as simple as possible and remove any possible anxiety for our customers.