Today we’d like to introduce you to Sheree Miranda Mitchell.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sheree. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was asked to design and lead a two-week Spanish language immersion and community service program to Costa Rica for a small group of college students during my first year of graduate school. The program was created to provide an alternative to the semester and year-long study abroad programs for the students who could not be away for so long. At first, I had no idea how I was going to make it happen as I’d never done anything like that before, but I accepted the task anyway and kept my fingers crossed that it would all work out. I was already a confident and seasoned traveler and I knew Costa Rica very well since I used to spend my summers studying Spanish.
It was definitely much more work than I imagined, but I found it exciting and gratifying. I quickly realized something that I didn’t know before: there was a market for tailor-made travel programs! I continued to create these types of programs until I finished my Masters. I graduated and moved on to teach in a college preparatory where I continued to design language and cultural immersion programs abroad. There I had the opportunity to work with both incoming (coming to the US) as well as outbound (traveling abroad) programs.
Years later, after a career change and personal and professional “burn out”, I realized that I needed to do something different (and drastic). So I gave up everything (job, apartment, comfort) and took off on a year-long solo sojourn around the world. Just after the first six weeks, I felt rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to design a new life for myself that was more in sync with the person I had become.
It was during this time that I finally had the courage to act on a dream that I’d had for over ten years: I was ready to transition my on-again-off-again curated travel program project into a proper full-time business. That’s when Immersa Global was finally born.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The short and honest answer is: No, it has not been a smooth road. It has, however, been an interesting journey filled with many life lessons that have pushed me to grow in ways that I’ve never imagined. You learn about having faith in your crazy idea when the naysayers are present and loud. You learn how to cope with physical and emotional stress because if you don’t, you’re doomed. You also learn, as a new entrepreneur, that the lines between your personal and professional life are blurred so what happens in one affects the other. On the other hand, it’s also fair to say that I’ve had moments that can only be described as purely magical. These were times when things not only fell into place, but the right people at the right time showed up to put them in place! In the end, I know that this rollercoaster is not over. Luckily now, I’m a little better equipped to deal with the surprises.
Immersa Global – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I design unique travel experiences that are only available with the support of tight local networks in the destinations. Unlike the old-school travel agency model that mainly retails non-personalized travel programs, Immersa Global curates its own high-end local experiences with people and places that I know personally. Our goal is to make our clients feel like they have a really good friend from the host country who’s putting together an unforgettable experience just for them.
For example, for our Portugal-bound clients who are hard core food and wine lovers, we set them up with private visits to boutique wineries where the families have been producing wine for generations or we send them to off-the-beaten path local restaurants that are impossible to find on your own. None of these businesses are listed in guidebooks and many don’t even have websites in Portuguese, much less in English. For VIP clients, we also offer a very exclusive private dinner with Portugal’s version of Anthony Bourdain or with the country’s most famous bon vivant who’s a thought-leader in contemporary art, food, and wine throughout Europe. For our more personal-development minded clients, we still offer our tailor-made Spanish language immersion programs in Costa Rica that I started over 15 years ago. These clients take private classes in a boutique language academy four to five days a week and then travel around the country-side on the weekends. They also have the option of living with a local family to get even more exposure to the language.
What are we proud of? We’re extremely proud of how well we know the people and places that we work within each destination. We’re also proud of how we make conscious efforts to create sustainable programs that will directly benefit the local economies.
What sets us apart from others? To our knowledge, there are no other boutique American tour operators offering the type of service that we’re providing at such competitive rates in our destinations. Normally highly-curated theme-based travel is considered a luxury tourism product, but we’ve found a way to keep it accessible without losing quality.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My definition of success has changed over the years. My most current one probably resonates more with me than ever before. I define success as the sweet spot between living authentically, being happy, and having the resources to do the things that you love.
- We take care of everything: We prepare all the detailed arrangements in the destination. All the client has to do is sit back and enjoy. Average price of an 8-day exclusive food and wine experience with 4+ star accommodations and private ground transportation is $5,500 (not including roundtrip airfare).
- DYI (with our support): For the clients who like to be in complete control, we prepare a detailed list of off-the-radar local experiences based on their interests, special local VIP contacts, as well as 24/7 assistance during their trip. The client then takes that information and executes the travel program independently. The fees for this service vary, but the average price tends to be around $175 per day, per program. (This does not include any trip expenses.)
- Website: https://www.immersaglobal.com/
- Phone: 305.776.5202
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mitchell chatting with well-known Portuguese journalist and local food expert, Paulo Salvador Mitchell enjoying lunch with a local group at Quinta da Côrte in the Douro Valley Mitchell with Portugal’s Secretary of State of Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho Mitchell with a group of local business leaders at a networking event at Torel Palace. Mitchell with Frederico Lobão of Gerações de Xisto learning about Douro Valley white wines Mitchell as keynote speaker at Travel & Adventure Show in Philadelphia
Mitchell as guest speaker at Douro TGV (Tourism, Gastronomy, & Wine) Conference in Vila Real, Portugal
Mitchell with local driver António Ferreira in Cascais, Portugal
Paulo Salvador and Sheree M. Mitchell. Photographer: Paulo Petronilho