Our Founders

To build a truly transformative company, it takes a unique group of leaders and a dedicated team willing to rewrite the playbook rather than simply follow the rules. One thing that unifies our team is that Randle, John, Patrick, and Tracy share a passion for travel and an understanding of the world. They are fascinated by culture, history, and cuisine. Their travel bucket lists are driven by curiosity, hope for a better tomorrow, and the belief they can come to a deeper understanding of a place and its people. You can read more about our team’s values and perspectives on our blog page.

Randle Roper

From his earliest days at Universal Studios to his years with Atlantis Events, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and later as President of RSVP Vacations, Randle has over 25 years of experience in entertainment, hospitality, and LGBT travel. However, he was actually a late bloomer in regard to his wanderlust passions. Growing up just outside New Orleans, his family’s idea of adventure was the occasional weekend trip to the Florida panhandle. While Pensacola and Panama City are certainly lovely, they didn’t exactly stoke his fire to see more of the world. All that changed at the age of 27. It was July 1998. 6:30am. The moment his life was forever altered. It was hard to understand exactly what was happening in that instant, but the truth would quickly reveal itself: Randle was suffering a massive stroke. Laying in the intensive care unit of Burbank’s St. Joseph Medical Center, he couldn’t believe his travel experiences had been limited to Fort Walton Beach and one lucky trip to Walt Disney World oh so many years ago. So the life negotiations began! He made a promise to himself that if he recovered, he’d see the world. The thought of dying without ever having seen anything much beyond Florida and Southern California, where he currently lived, was just too much to bear. So he set two very specific goals that fateful day: to fully recover and then to visit 100 countries before turning 40. Ambitious? Absolutely. But the fire those goals set inside him burned brightly, powering him through the intense physical and speech therapy. After a year of recovery, his adventures began. He got his passport and set off for Turkey! That trip to mystical Istanbul was an eye-opener – so foreign, so completely new – and it started his life on its current wild and wonderful course. He’d beaten death. And now he’s become one of the most well-traveled people on the planet, having journeyed to all seven continents and 123 countries and counting. He’s now got his eyes set firmly on visiting EVERY country on the globe! To reach Randle, simply email randle@myvacaya.com. Follow Randle on Insta @ vacayarandle.

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John Finen

For as far back as he can remember, John has always had the travel bug. After moving from Nashville to NYC to pursue a career in the arts, he found his first professional gig touring around the US with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. Eleven thousand miles in a U-Haul truck that season was just the beginning. Combining his love of dance and travel, he spent 10 years on the road with the modern dance company MOMIX and many others. In the space of 5 years he’d visited and performed on 5 continents and over 100 countries. During his many years on the road, he was always able to find the most interesting places to eat and drink in any town. Dragging along fellow company members in his adventures earned him the nickname “Map Man” and he gained a trusted loyal following willing to share in his quests for adventure just off the beaten path. It was this international production experience and love of dance that ultimately led him to cruise ships and producing the largest LGBT parties on the seven seas. In fact, John has produced over 100 charter events with a diverse range of companies from Coachella and The Groove Cruise to Atlantis/RSVP. For John, email john@myvacaya.com. Follow John on Insta @ john_finen.

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Patrick Gunn

Patrick caught the travel bug while on a European tour in high school, which led to his interest in attending a college study abroad program called Semester at Sea. The semester consisted of a 100-day voyage by ship around the globe, stopping in 10 different countries along the way. Having his eyes opened during his first global circumnavigation, he volunteered to work on his second Semester at Sea a few years later. His job on the ship was to help the students plan their in-country travel. Patrick credits his travels with helping to find the courage to come out to his friends and family, a major step in any gay person’s life. Patrick has visited over 50 countries and grown from each experience. He now has a passion for traveling with his husband, Michael to places where being gay is less accepted. His hope is that living out and proud will lead to acceptance around the globe. Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and an MBA from the University of San Francisco. Early in his career, he held various marketing leadership positions with Procter & Gamble, HP, EA, Disney, Yahoo!, and later with Atlantis Events and RSVP Vacations. Patrick can be reached at patrick@myvacaya.com. Follow Patrick on Insta @ carpe_diem_47.

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Tracy Terrill

For 18 years, 3 months, and 20 days Tracy dreamed of a world bigger than the one he knew. Tracy grew up in Boron, California, a remote mining town in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Boron doesn’t have traffic lights, has a population of less than 1000 people, and is 35 miles from the nearest grocery store. Tracy’s mother would often highlight AAA travel guides with dream trips. After considerable saving, Tracy and his mother embarked on a life-changing three-week vacation around the United States to celebrate his 14th birthday.  As a boy who always knew he was “different,” that vacation introduced Tracy to an entirely new world of possibilities. Life beyond Boron was full of complexity, diversity, and beauty. He returned from that vacation with a predisposition to ask, “why not?” and to reach further than he ever dreamed possible. Tracy particularly treasures two photos from that trip. The first is of himself and his mother in the heart of the French Quarter. The second is Tracy standing in front of the White House fence. 14-year-old Tracy could never have imagined that one day he would work on the other side of that fence, for the first African-American President of the United States, as an openly gay man.

Tracy holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Sonoma State University and an MBA from the University of Southern California. Early in his career, he held various marketing and technology leadership positions with Universal Music Group, Universal Studios, and Warner Brothers. Tracy spent nearly a decade as the Chief Technology Officer of LegalZoom and most recently served in the Obama Administration as the Chief Digital Officer of the Small Business Administration. Get in touch with Tracy at tracy@myvacaya.com. Follow Tracy on Insta @ tracy.terrill.
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Our Family

Eric Hodgson

Eric was born and raised in Northern California. His passion for travel came early in life. At the age of 12, he stepped aboard his first cruise ship during a family trip to the Mexican Riviera. Two more cruises soon followed... a Caribbean trip out of Florida and a journey through the Panama Canal. It was through cruising that Eric was first introduced to the world, and it’s remained his favorite way to travel throughout his life. The idea of unpacking just once while having his room travel with him has always been his favorite thing about cruise life.

During a summer vacation while in high school, Eric traveled to Europe for the first time with a student tour group. Without the safety (or restrictions!) of his parents, Eric took his first steps out into a much larger world, spending two months discovering six countries through backpacking, riding public transportation, and interacting with as many locals as he could. It was a dream come true. In the years since, Eric’s love of discovering new wonders and his appreciation of the transformative power of travel has only grown. And it is with this passion that Eric joins VACAYA. He loves the idea of not just exploring the world with other like-minded travelers, but making new friends, learning from new experiences, and creating new memories that’ll last a lifetime. Reach out to Eric at eric@myvacaya.com. Follow Eric on Insta @ traveler.eric.

Justin Sprague

Justin grew up in the scorching hot deserts of Arizona soaking up the sun next to the pool and daydreaming of where he could travel next. In college (Go Sun Devils!), he discovered the crossroads of spontaneity and travel, planning quick weekend trips to California or last minute flights across the country to visit friends. And now that passion for travel has gone international! Living on the East Coast, he’s only a hop, skip, and a jump across the pond from Europe or a short plane ride away from his beloved Florida and the Caribbean. He’s got a hard case of FOMO when it comes to travel, so he’s always looking for that next adventure. He can’t wait to share that enthusiasm with fellow wanderlust travelers as a Vacayan! Follow VACAYA's Millennial Strategist Justin on Insta @ prezjustin.

The Vacayans

Each VACAYA trip is supported by a group of paid staffers affectionately called “The Vacayans.” This warm and friendly mix of gentlemen and ladies are a bit less Star Trek than their name might imply, but they are stars, nonetheless. They play the role of the ultimate camp counselors, there to ensure each and every moment of your vacation exceeds expectations. We’ll introduce your trip-specific Vacayans online shortly before we depart – giving you a chance to connect with them in advance. You’ll then meet them face-to-face on the first day of your trip. They’ll be ever present throughout your journey with us – ready to lend a hand in a moment of need, sensing and responding to everything going on around you, and adding to the general merriment (and occasional silliness) that is VACAYA.

Timothy Pappalardo

Tim is INCREDIBLY EXCITED to be joining us on both our inaugural cruise to Ptown and at VACAYA Oasis @ UNICO 20°87°! Tim hails from New York and grew up near the Port Jefferson Ferry, which takes passengers across the Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, CT. He credits those early ferry rides in fostering his love and excitement for travel and for being on the open seas. Before 2001, Tim never stepped foot off American soil, only ever really traveling to Green Valley, AZ and Pompano Beach, FL to visit his grandparents. But that all changed in 2005. Tim became the Event Manager for a non-profit called GLSEN (which works in safe-schools legislation and community engagement), managed 25 events a year, and began his career as a “Professional Traveler." Since then, Tim has traveled across the US and visited 35 states, Canada, Mexico, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Peru,  UK, Portugal, Madrid, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, China, and Taiwan! When not supporting VACAYA, Tim is the Senior Director of Global Accounts for HelmsBriscoe and handles the hotel site selection for a variety of clients and programs, serves as the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors at CM Performing Arts Center (Creative Ministries, Inc) in Oakdale, NY, and is in his 6th season performing as a Supernumerary (actor) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City! Follow Tim on Insta @ timothypappalardo

Aaron Kuehnert

Meet Aaron, or as we like to call him, Daddy Delta. Between his time in the Disney College program and sashaying down the runway with Delta airlines, Aaron is an experienced sailor of the gay seas and can't wait to expand his LGBT+ horizons! With years of bringing fun under the sun, Aaron is super excited to be able to deliver some of that first class service on the upcoming Ptown Cruise. If you don’t know Aaron, then you don’t yet know that if it’s fun and flirty, it MUST have his name on it... kind of like that husband of his, Kevin (also a Vacayan)! It’s always a good time when The Kuehnerts are around. From competitive axe throwing to playing with elephants in Thailand, these boys are always up to something. Aaron is more than ready to ditch the apron, dust off the ol' speedo, and bring you a vacation experience like you’ve never had before! Follow Aaron on Insta @ akuehnert.

Kevin Kuehnert

Uh oh... here comes trouble! Meet Kevin, who is SUPER excited to be joining The Vacayans on our upcoming Ptown cruise! And if having Kevin wasn’t enough, he's joined by his devilishly handsome husband, Aaron. So don’t miss the opportunity to hang and party with this dynamic duo! When they aren't out kayaking or cheering on the Orlando City Soccer Club, they're crossing off yet another travel destination from their bucket list. Like Aaron, you can find Kevin at 39,000 feet attending the friendly skies, but don’t let those looks fool you... while Kevin is a Flight Attendant for Spirit Airlines, he's recently earned his Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Central Florida (GO KNIGHTS!). Follow Kevin on Insta @ thekuehnerts.

In Memoriam

Matt Palazzolo

In our earliest days, there was one individual who helped bring VACAYA roaring to vibrant and brilliant life. His name was Matt Palazzolo. Matt was an extraordinary light in a world which needs millions more like him. Kind. Gentle. Charismatic. Passionate. An advocate. An artist.

Matt died in January 2018 doing what he loved best – exploring this incredible planet of ours. He lived and breathed discovery. And he happily joined the VACAYA team because he could sense that same thirst for adventure within us. Matt’s final life works were VACAYA’s brand video and the video supporting our ReachOUT program. When we first explained VACAYA’s mission to Matt, he immediately understood us. He saw the vision and completely comprehended the story we were attempting to tell. His works were vital to our early success and we miss him every day. We make this promise to you, Matt… you will never be forgotten, and your spirit will live on within each of us as VACAYA strives to change the world one kindhearted act at a time. Meow.