A Canadian national, Kylie Shaw grew up in Toronto, but has since called an astonishing number of countries around the world home. Aged 16, she moved with her family to Dubai to support her father, an airline pilot, and she credits the move with igniting her passion for the travel and tourism sectors.
“I still tell my father to this day that I feel so lucky that he literally opened up the world to me,” Shaw told Hotel Magazine. “I always wanted to incorporate some travel with some tourism, and I was drawn to the like-minded people that you meet in this industry.”
Since then, Shaw has lived in London, France, Croatia, and in Canada’s mountainous west, where she pursued her lifelong twin passions of skiing and snowboarding. In fact, it was these very pursuits that first brought her to New Zealand in 2007, chasing the powder.
“I had my ski instructor certification, so I would arrive at the border in New Zealand and get my visa the very same day, because there was such a shortage,” Shaw explained. “As soon as I arrived here, I just loved it – there are so many similarities between Canada and New Zealand, I think, whether it’s the mountains, the people, or the culture.”
After many years spent in perpetual winter, moving back and forth between Canada and New Zealand, Shaw decided to seek out a more permanent working environment, and joined Heritage Queenstown as a reservations team member in 2016.
She was quickly poached by Hermitage Mount Cook, a hotel she had worked for some years before, and took up a position as a sales executive before the opportunity to rejoin the Heritage family presented itself in Auckland last year. Shaw was initially employed as a conference sales executive in early 2019, but in October she was promoted to her current position of corporate sales manager.
“A lot of people have said, ‘Kylie, you’re doing it the wrong way, moving from Queenstown to Auckland!’ But I love Auckland, there’s always something going on. Plus, being able to work up here in our national office and having the opportunity to represent all our Heritage properties nationwide was a real attraction for moving up here.” Of course, relocating to the big city has not been without its learning curves, not least of which has been negotiating Tamaki Makarau’s bustling highways and, at least in comparison to Queenstown, proliferation of traffic lights. But the move for Shaw represents the next step in a career path that has exposed her to more of the world than most.
“I followed the snow for so long, but I came to realise that I couldn’t just keep up that jet-setting lifestyle, moving back and forth across the world,” she explained. “In the hotel sector, there are so many great options, and you can actually go from working on the front line to the back of the house. Especially with Heritage, there’s so much variety – our properties aren’t cookie-cutter, and each has its own story, which I just love.”
Though she sees less snow these days, Shaw is rediscovering a love for another decidedly Kiwi pursuit – tramping. She recently completed the infamous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and has plans in place to explore more of New Zealand’s iconic Great Walks. From her home in Manukau, she’s also been dusting off the cobwebs on her bike.“We’re actually a partner with Nga Haerenga The New Zealand Cycle Trail. With us being so connected through the North Island, and with so many cycle trails across the country, I find that now without skiing and winter I’m getting out and about on my bike more.”