12 Jul Member Spotlight: Ilja Chapman
When I completed my bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management in the Netherlands, where I was born and raised, I told my parents I would travel for one year. Twenty-seven years later, I have visited all seven continents, which have given me unforgettable memories, tubs filled with photo albums – and Brad, the love of my life. We met on the romantic island of St. Lucia and have been happily married since 2003.
During my travel years, I lived and worked in the Amazon of Ecuador, London, Spain, St. Lucia, and the Cayman Islands. To understand the different cultures, it does help to speak four languages fluently!
My husband and I had the amazing opportunity to work together aboard cruise ships and landed in the United States in 2007. After having managed a country inn in New Hampshire, we moved to Key Largo in 2013 and I focused all my passion into my travel planning business.
When attending an Upper Keys Business and Professional Women Christmas party in 2013, I felt immediately at home. Soon after, I joined and quickly became involved in several leadership roles. I just completed two terms as president of BPW/Upper Keys, and I am grateful for all I learned and the people I have met.
What I love about BPW is offering business-minded women a platform to educate themselves in a friendly and fun environment. Working at home in my virtual office, with my husband and our two cats to keep me company, it is important to have a social network and tribe to keep us motivated. Being part of an organization like BPW gives me that energy.
Often, you will find me walking the neighborhood early mornings, swimming laps in the local pool or standing in front of my computer, working. My happy place is scuba diving with my husband out on the Florida Keys reef.
Every April, I travel to Holland to visit friends and family. I combine it with work as I welcome U.S. clients in private groups to my hometown, showing them the famous Dutch tulips and the country’s rich history, and helping them experience food and drinks like a local.
You can follow my travel adventures and advice on Facebook – do not give up on your travel dreams!
I am honored to serve as the BPW/FL Vice President for 2021-2022. Looking forward to connecting with my BPW/FL tribe and continuing to expand my horizons.