Renaissance Tours was founded in 1996 by director Hugh Hallard, with a tour to the Chicago Lyric Opera’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for the Patrons and Friends of Opera Australia. Since then, a long term association between Opera Australia and Renaissance Tours has formed, with over 100 opera tours arranged to date.
1999 saw the first of our ballet tours, designed to introduce ballet lovers to the world’s great ballet and dance companies, including international and domestic tours for the Patrons and supporters of The Australian Ballet.
In 2001 Renaissance Tours began a program of music lover’s tours, featuring performances by the great orchestras, conductors and soloists of the world – all in the company of music experts.
From our first tour to Russia and the Ukraine in 2002 for the members of the Art Gallery Society of NSW, Renaissance Tours has steadily developed a specialised program of art, architecture and cultural tours, led by academics from Australian and international universities, curators and staff of the Art Gallery of NSW and two of the country’s leading art critics.
After numerous requests from clients, the recent introduction of our Garden Discoveries, Short Breaks and Cultural Voyages by sea and river, have contributed to what you see today – Australia’s finest collection of unique, expert-led cultural and special interest experiences for the discerning traveller.
The Renaissance Tours office is located in the heart of the Sydney city centre and is open
Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5:30 pm.
Level 4, 47 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 5068, Sydney NSW 2001
Toll Free: (AU) 1300 727 095
Toll Free: (NZ) 0800 403 621
Tel: + 61 (02) 9299 5801
Fax: +61 (02) 9299 5805
Hugh Hallard – Director
Hugh, founder and director of Renaissance Tours, has a keen eye for creating cultural and special interest journeys. He established Renaissance Tours in 1997, a company dedicated to high quality, expert-led arts, music and cultural tours. Hugh enjoys all the arts, has learnt Russian and Italian, has an expert knowledge of opera houses, concert halls and art museums around the world, and a knack for bringing quality and culture together.
Catherine Griffiths – Product Manager
Hailing from Melbourne, Catherine plans and creates new tour concepts to different countries, while negotiating with suppliers, to create tours of uniqueness and exclusivity. She enjoys bushwalking and has also initiated ongoing support for a community village in Uganda.
Lissa Sharp – Product Manager
Raised in Italy, Lissa plans and conceptualises unique cultural and arts tours, all the while negotiating with tour suppliers, for discerning members of the Art Gallery Society of NSW. Fluent in Italian, she loves coffee, has been to most countries on the globe, and has a deep passion for pasta.
Lindy Lawler – Writer
Born in South Africa, Lindy is our Writer – creating detailed tour documentation, editing bodies of text, writing about destinations around the world and producing surveys. She creates tribal sculptural artwork, and has a passion for photography, mythology and cultural handicrafts sourced from far flung places.
Greeba Pritchard – Special Projects
Greeba looks after our Special Projects and has a keen eye for organising groups. Formerly Patron Manager for Opera Australia, she has served as Tour Manager on many of our opera and music tours. She enjoys good food and wine, travel, music and golf. She recently completed the Camino de Santiago walk across northern Spain.
Filomena Maio – Travel Team Manager
Filomena manages our Travel Team and Customer Service. She works alongside Gaetan, ensuring clients request are handled efficiently and accurately. Filomena enjoys cruising holidays, loves exploring new cultures and is a self-confessed gym-junkie.
Athina Koutsougeras – Operations Team Leader
After 14 years in Greece (where she worked for an upmarket tour operator), Athina returned to Australia several years ago and joined the Renaissance Tours Operations Team. Athina loves travelling, inspecting fine hotels and restaurants, and ensuring our tours run like clockwork. After some initial scepticism, she has recently become an ‘opera buff’, in particular the works of Richard Wagner.
Natalia Goussevskaia– Operations Tours Manager
Russian-native speaker, Natalia looks after tour operations, taking over co-ordination and logistics of the tours, once they are produced by the Product department, and advertised in brochure format. She has lived in the Middle East and Asia, and has a soft spot for cats, the theatres and a hot climate.
Carles Gil Pujals – Operations Team
A bilingual Spanish and Catalan native speaker from Barcelona, Carles worked as a holiday representative in Mallorca and Jamaica, offering sightseeing advice, organising excursions and ensuring holidays ran smoothly. He also liaised with accommodation owners, agents, restaurants and coach companies. Before moving to Australia he returned to his homeland to work as an Incoming Operations Agent. He is passionate about life, enjoying all types of music as well as Caribbean rhythms, and loves living next to the sea.
James Cao – Operations Tours Manager
Born in Inner Mongolia, James works in our Operations Department, creating and operating special interest tours to mainland China and beyond. He spent his childhood travelling, with his doctor mother, to remote areas of the Mongolian countryside, developing a love for nature and animals, having no playmates around. He has a BA in Hospitality and an MBA in Tourism Management and is able to communicate in many local Chinese dialects. He was trained as a dancer and swimmer from a young age, and is knowledgeable in Chinese ballet, Beijing Opera and Chinese classical literature.
Bryan Griffin – Operations Team
Bryan, from Papua New Guinea, moved to Australia in the late 70s to complete his education. He is as passionate about travel as he is about entertainment – in the past combining performing on cruises as a Cabaret dancer with travelling to exotic destinations. Bryan is well-versed in the South Pacific region, having worked at Hoot Holidays (formerly Specialist Holidays) for over thirteen years. He enjoys art, cooking, sports, experiencing different cultures and having a good laugh.
Sheridan Packer – Graphic Designer
With over 20 years’ experience in publishing and graphic design, Sheridan loves Flamenco dancing, soccer and archaeology – her interests in the Byzantine Empire piqued after a recent trip to Turkey. She has snorkelled with sting rays in the Great Barrier Reef, surfed in Biarritz and flown over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon. Inspired by street fashion in Paris and Milan, she enjoys artisan coffee and is happiest with bare feet and salty hair.
Karin Segundo – Graphic Designer
Our Graphic Designer, Karin, is from Brazil and looks after our web and brochure design, as well as our image collection. She enjoys creating recipes with wholesome, organic produce, live music, yoga, and dancing under the moonlight.
Anika Garnady – Company Accountant
From Indonesia, Anika is our company accountant, and she is a Qualified CPA who looks after the financial side of the business. She started her accounting career in 2007, and has been in accounting in the travel industry since 2010. She loves her 2 cute dogs, eating delicious food at different restaurants and travelling.
Daniel Gao – Assistant Accountant
Born in China, Daniel arrived in Australia at age 16, where he studied and graduated from UNSW. He started with Renaissance Tours as an intern, and was later offered a permanent position with us – his very first job. Daniel looks after financial transactions, and helps Anika in maintaining our company accounts. He loves to travel, and his favourite sport is Soccer.