As a child, Lee Robinson wanted to be a veterinarian. Today, as managing partner and travel consultant for Belle Meade Vacations, she has the career countless others dreamed of. It was the Harpeth Hall Winterim trip to Europe she took — “with Miss Patty and Mrs. Manier as chaperones!” — that sparked her interest, and she’s been in the travel industry since graduating from The University of Alabama.
Traveling seven to eight weeks each year to exciting international destinations and posh locales closer to home is glamorous, but Lee is always working. BMV is a member of Virtuoso, a global luxury travel network, so she’s always seeking out exclusive amenities, upgrades and experiences to tailor the next trip. Lee uses that wealth of knowledge to plan dream vacations for clients, and fortunately she also shares it with the Swan Ball. She just started her 10th consecutive year on the Auction Committee as a working member soliciting donations and as an advisor guiding scores of volunteers as they put together trips.
Not surprisingly, Lee had just returned from a days-long excursion to Peru when she answered a few questions for us.
Profession/Title: Managing partner/travel consultant
Zip code: 37205
Years in Nashville: All my life
Number of countries visited: 53
What was one of your favorite trips? New Zealand, South Africa and Botswana, Tahiti, Italy, Peru ... incredible beauty and amazing sights. And I’ve met some wonderful people while traveling in these areas.
What do you always travel with? Books and hand sanitizer
What is your favorite city and what would you recommend someone do if they only have 24 hours there? London, Prague, Venice, Amalfi are some favorites. If you only have 24 hours, get a game plan for sightseeing and getting around. Become educated about the destination and make plans — all before you go!
What’s one of the first things you like to do when you arrive somewhere you haven’t been before? I usually skip unpacking and just get outside. Whether it’s going to the beach, walking around a city or on a cruise ship, I just want to get started exploring. In hotels and resorts, I always talk to the concierge for local maps and suggestions.
What’s one thing you want to cross off your bucket list? Egypt. It’s been on my travel wish list ever since I was young and saw the movie The Ten Commandments.
After a long trip, what do you do to unwind? I like to get back to my usual routine at home so I try to completely unpack, wash clothes and watch all the shows I taped while I was away.
When you have out-of-town guests visiting, where do you take them? Lower Broadway
What’s your favorite restaurant for dinner?Sperry’s — I love their steaks, and it’s a fun place to run into friends. Lots of great memories from Sperry’s through the (many) years.
Where do you like to go for cocktails? I love Bourbon Sky, with that incredible view.
What’s the best place to buy a gift? I’ve had great luck at the Belle Meade Plantation gift shop lately.
What’s your biggest pet peeve? Being around someone who loudly chews and pops their gum
What’s your favorite local event? The Swan Ball and Steeplechase
What's one luxury you can’t live without? Spa days with facials and massages. As I get older, I pretty much consider these necessities.
What’s the one thing you hope never changes in Nashville? Our friendly, small-town feel