Hopping around the world with Mary Kalymnou

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Mary Kalymnou commenced her aviation career in 2006 and has 10 years of hands-on customer service experience in both commercial and corporate aviation worldwide.

She is qualified as a high standard cabin service attendant and freelances on business jets including the ‘Gulfstream’ 450/500/550, Embraer Legacy, Falcon, B757, Global Express and Cessna Citation, where she has repeatedly hosted high-ranking international clientele including members of royal families, heads of state, CEO’s and several celebrities.

In 2013, she started a Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Blog ‘Maryhop’ where she shares insider tips on the finest places to eat, sleep, shop and stay at around the world and this year was awarded Best Travel Blog by Marie Claire. 

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Mary continually inspires hundreds of people to follow their dream in pursuing a career in aviation and her strong influence lead her into taking her next career step- creating The VIP Excellence in Greece- where she now hosts an array of seminars and personal development courses for flight attendants.

Mary recently spoke to GCT about her passion for aviation and some of her favourite spots around the globe. 

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 1.12.21 PMWhen did you begin working as a flight attendant?

I started my aviation career back in 2006. My first employer was a Swedish operator and I was performing charter flights within Europe and the Middle East. I jumped from commercial to corporate aviation very soon, only one year later, when I entered the world of the VIP jets.

Have you always had a passion for travelling?

Definitely. But I couldn’t travel easily before 2006 - I could only do short hops. I remember myself being in an escape mode since I was a little girl and new experiences was my favourite thing. Travelling came into my life when I entered aviation, and this is when I actually started living my dream. New people came into my life, people from all over the world and nothing seemed the same anymore.

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What do you love most about your career?

Somebody could easily say "travelling" - but no, not only that. What I love most about this job, is the customer service part of it. Being a flight attendant is a multi-tasking job, it requires lots of skills, strong personality, flexibility, availability and of course high levels of professionalism, politeness and above standard common sense. I love being a multi-tasker, offering my services and being part of other people’s journeys - which makes me feel I create memories for them en-route.

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Who are you currently working for?

The past 4.5 years I work as a freelance flight attendant, meaning I fly for different operators but I mainly work for Swiss based companies. As a freelancer I do not have exclusive contracts with any of them, so I am actually free to schedule myself according to my wishes but always trying to cover the operator’s needs.

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Tell us about your blog? 

Maryhop is a Luxury Travel & Lifestyle blog, founded in April 2013. After many years of travelling I decided to share my passion for travel with the public, as I wanted to help them to travel more frequently, travel better, travel wiser. My blog is all about providing inspiration for luxury travel- based on the finer aspects in life, like luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, five star services, premium products, first class airlines, airport VIP lounges and so on.

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Did you think 'Maryhop' would take off so soon?

This year Maryhop was awarded Best Travel Blog in 2016 by Marie Claire, following my double nomination last year - one for Best Lifestyle Blog by Marie Claire and Best for Travel by Cosmopolitan UK. After 3.5 years of blogging, researching and hard work, I believe my blog deserved to be awarded. I work hard every day, I respect every single message I get from people who follow me, I reply to all, I try to be PR active, so I think in my case, hard work has paid off. Blogging is not easy - not easy at all. It needs high levels of professionalism and it requires you to be punctual and honest with your readers - this last thing is the hardest in our times, so I think I am on the right route, since I am always honest and transparent.

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Name a few of your most loved destinations around the world?

I love the Americas, I love Europe, I love Asia and Africa. I think each side of our wonderful world has its own beauty, so it would be unfair to name only a few. But in general, I would say that I love to experience something different, something that has a unique piece for me, even if that’s a special food, or a tradition, or the language. Please don’t tell the world, but my favourite city is San Francisco and my favourite food destination is Beirut.

Favourite places in Greece?

The whole country maybe? Well, Greece has so many great places to offer. From little, isolated villages up in the mountains, to cosmopolitan islands in the Aegean sea. You can easily find five star places in Greece, depending on your taste of course. I think Peloponnese made a huge step into the five star industry with Costa Navarino, like Thessaloniki - my hometown- does with so many other great spots. I love Cyclades, I love the countryside, I love the mountains. Monemvasia, Thessaloniki, Nafplio, Santorini and Athens are some of my favourite ones.

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Tell us about your new business venture The Vip Excellence?

The Vip Excellence is a Greek based Career Development Center founded in April, that combines customer service excellence courses and one-on-one consulting with worldwide flight attendant recruitment, for both new and existing corporate and commercial flight attendants.

After being in aviation for 10 years, my mission now is to maximise the level of professionalism and ensure all candidates meet and exceed the highest service standards. We’re working in small groups of 8-10 people, allows us to pay special attention to each participant's needs and questions while creating an excellent and friendly atmosphere in our private venue in the center of Athens.

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Is this only for Greek flight attendants or can anyone around the world attend your seminars?

Anyone could attend from any place in the word. The VIP flight attendant seminar can be performed in Greek and English, so there’s no language barrier. Plus, the consultancy sessions, like the CV Writing or the Interview Coaching can be done via Skype, so they don’t have to be in Athens for that.

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Best international hotels to stay?

My first favourite is Plaza Athenee in Paris but I love so many others, like the Renaissance in Sao Paulo, Four Seasons in Washington, Cavo Tagoo in Mykonos, Mandarin in Malaysia, Grande Bretagne in Athens, Baur au Lac in Zurich, Sangri-La in London or Four Seasons in Seychelles.

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Where to next for Maryhop?

My job is full of surprises, I rarely know my next to destination- but I am planning a trip to South America end of this year, so this is the only sure thing for now. You might find me tomorrow on the other side of the world but that’s what Maryhop does - hops around the world!

You can follow Maryhop here maryhop.com

For more details about The Vip Excellence thevipexcellence.com

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.