Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

The Secret to Extraordinary Travel: Here’s Proof That The WOW List Works

Wendy Perrin | March 20, 2018

How to maximize your experience of a destination?  Know the right fixer. What will the right fixer do for you? Read on.

Here is a continually updated sampling of the reviews that your fellow readers have posted after returning from trips that were arranged by Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts and monitored by Wendy.  These reviews illustrate how the right fixer transforms a trip from average to extraordinary.

Patagonia, planned by Tom Damon


Our 2017 trip had to be cancelled at the last moment. We contacted Tom and he immediately addressed our issue and promptly rescheduled our trip for the following year with minimal effort on our part.

Now that we have returned from the rescheduled two week trip to Patagonia and have had time to reflect on the majesty of the experience, wed like to take this opportunity to thank Tom for his support and share some comments.

Tom listened to our needs and wants and architected a super trip that touched on every one of our requests. The areas we visited, the lodges he selected to include ideal rooms and cabin locations, the transportation between venues (both plane and car) were all perfect and the logistics executed flawlessly. The local guides picked by Tom were all very professional, friendly and tireless in their efforts to share with us the history of the area. We cant imagine a better way to experience Patagonia than the trip itinerary laid out by Tom.

Lastly, Toms team came to our aid at the very end of the trip when our homeward flight we booked was suddenly cancelled. His team negotiated with the airline staff on our behalf and secured hotel space, meals and local transportation. The last thing you want after enjoying a wonderful trip is a hassle trying to get home.

Many thanks Tom and yet another “trip of a lifetime” created by one of Wendys talented TTEs.

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Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Cambodia planned by Sandy Ferguson


Sandy and his team listened to what kind of trip we wanted and planned it exactly according to our interests. Every place we stayed was amazing. All the guides highly qualified and all the logistics went off without a hitch. The pre-trip communication was excellent as well.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Sandy and his team.

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Caribbean beach vacation, planned by Lindsey Epperly


My husband and I were looking for a true getaway…escape from cold and snow in New England. Realizing that the Caribbean had been hit hard by storms last fall we needed a true and honest opinion of where to go. Lindsey and her staff came to the rescue! She totally got everything we were looking for and sent us to the Curtain Bluff in Antigua which was the perfect fit! We loved it so much we ended up extending our stay! Lindsey and her staff were clear communicators, returned emails promptly and assured us the resort would be a good fit. We would absolutely use them again for our next Caribbean vacation and we will definitely be back to Curtain Bluff…we can’t wait! BTW, we also received an amazing room upgrade upon check-in which I’m certain she had something to do with!

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Egypt, planned by Jim Berkeley


We loved the trip. It was especially meaningful for our friends who had this on their bucket list for 20 years but had been afraid to go. When we jumped in and told them we had a fantastic travel specialist that we found through Wendy, they were ready to go. I am truly grateful that for them it was so special as my girlfriend is picky! We were upgraded on more than one occasion and stayed in a true historical suite which was fantastic. We went to Cairo, Luxor and Aswan in February. It is a great time of year to go and you want guides at all of these places. My biggest tip to you is take lots of $1 bills and use this travel planner. Tell them exactly what you want so they can do what it takes to get it for you!

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Hawaii, planned by Jay and Dani Johnson


I have never posted a public review before but feel that Dani Johnsons travel assistance to us compels me to step out of my comfort zone to provide feedback. Danis insider knowledge in Napa and Maui not only helped me plan an outstanding trip to celebrate my husbands’ retirement – we also were provided extraordinary upgrades at our resort in Maui due to her connections and relationships there. We truly felt like VIPs in every venue arranged by Dani – she surely has clout that is far-reaching in California and Hawaii!

Dani was a dream to work with and made this special trip one of our most memorable. My husband and I have traveled extensively, and I have always acted as the “travel agent” making all of the arrangements. Since this was a special trip, celebrating my husbands’ retirement, I reached out to Wendy, who I have followed and read in CNT for years and was connected with Dani Johnson. She contacted me immediately and worked patiently with me to help plan an itinerary that was perfect for us. The sense of security we felt as we traveled was quite unique for us – knowing that Dani was checking in on us along the way, touching base with our resorts to make sure that they were prepared to greet us and provide us upgrades and top-flight service. It is hard to imagine ever going back to making all of our own arrangements again – now that we are spoiled with the “Dani touch!”

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Disney World, planned by Michelle Allen


I’m an experienced traveler, but I’d never cruised on Disney before or stayed on property at Disney World, so I thought it might be wise to get some advice from experts. That was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made, at least when it comes to travel. Michelle and her team at Travel Magic were responsive to every question and helpful every step of the way, from advising us to split our time in Disney World between two resorts (something I would not have considered and that worked perfectly) to getting a set of Fast Passes for us that were the envy of everyone we encountered. I’m used to doing all the planning, and it was a joy to be able to put those plans into someone else’s hands and know everything would turn out wonderfully – as it did. Plus, they could not have been nicer to deal with. I know at some point we’ll return to Disney World, and I know when we do, we’ll use Michelle and the team at Travel Magic. Oh, and in case this matters – I spent 31 years as a professional critic, with a reputation for being fairly tough. I didn’t hand out 4 Stars often, but were I awarding them now for travel agents, Travel Magic would get them.

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India, planned by Sanjay Saxena


Sanjay Saxena made my trip to India the trip of a lifetime! I went from February 6 to March 3, 2018. As part of his planning, Sanjay had us end the trip in Jodhpur where there was a very special celebration of a Hindu festival on March 2. He made it possible for our trip to include a few off-the-beaten-path places in which I was interested and where few organized trips go. He also suggested places and activities which were marvelous. All the hotels he picked were perfect and we often got upgrades because of his contacts. On the ground, our arrangements were handled by an excellent local company and we were completely taken care of, even pampered, from beginning to end. It was clear that Sanjay stayed on top of them throughout and he contacted us regularly as well. This amazing trip would not have been possible without Sanjay!

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Costa Rica, planned by Irene Edwards


Our family traveled to Costa Rica in December 2017 on a trip that Irene Edwards planned for us. It was my third trip to Costa Rica, my husband’s second trip, and our children’s first. Irene put together a perfect itinerary that allowed us to explore destinations that none of us had been to before, and that was not overrun with holiday travelers. On Irene’s recommendation, we traveled to the Osa Peninsula and to Nosara. The trip was the perfect mix for us of jungle and beach time. The wildlife viewing in Osa was amazing, and we all had a blast learning to surf in Nosara. Irene arranged for stays in great eco-lodges, advised us on tours, checked in with us during our trip, and was very responsive to our questions prior to and during our travels. All of our air and land transfers went very smoothly. We would gladly work with her to plan another trip.

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St. Lucia, planned by Jill Taylor


Jill Taylor and her associate Peter Tibble were terrific! I had planned this trip to celebrate my 50th birthday. I had actually originally planned to go to Anguilla and then Hurricane Irma hit and Anguilla was heavily damaged. For months Jill and Pete were in contact with my hotel who kept saying they thought they’d be reopened by Mid February. They finally told us they wouldn’t be reopened in time so we had to rebook. So we switched to St. Lucia. So Jill basically booked two trips and then Pete was so great with following up to make sure the first hotel refunded my deposit. While in St. Lucia Jill was in contact with my husband making sure surprises she had planned happened as well as surprises he had. I didn’t know any of this. Upon arrival, I had champagne and fruit from Jill waiting for me but then during the trip, Jill surprised me with a fabulous spa gift certificate for my birthday which was so generous and really amazing. It was so clear they wanted this birthday to be special and it was. They did a fabulous job!

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Mexico, planned by Zach Rabinor


From start to finish, Zach Rabinor and his team was absolutely fantastic. They listened to all our ideas and concerns for our family vacation, and then tailored an incredible itinerary that satisfied all five of us (parents and three boys ages 16, 13, and 8). In fact, it was perhaps a little too incredible. So I was really impressed when they were able to suggest ways to bring the trip within our budget and still have some great experiences. Once we decided on the itinerary and moved into the planning details, our travel specialist was always accessible, timely with her communication, and clear on what was needed to finalize the trip. On the trip, everything went according to plan. But we wanted some last minute changes, like making dinner reservations at certain restaurants we had just heard about, or–much more complex–taking a day trip to a couple of towns a few hours away. Our travel specialist was able to work quickly to set things up and accommodate us. Here are the things we did on the Yucatán Penninsula (Mexico): hiked and swam through a cave with an underground river, visited two important Mayan ruin sites, floated down a beautifully clear Mayan canal, took a short jungle walk through a nature preserve, stayed in a family-friendly resort with beach access & a range of activities for the kids & GREAT food, spent a day exploring two beautiful colonial towns where we hunted for traditional textiles and folk art. We did all of this in just a week. There is no way we would have been able to do all that without Zach and his team’s help. They arranged transportation and a guide (when appropriate), knew just how to time our activities to

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Norway, planned by Jan Sortland


We just returned from a trip we planned with Jan Sortland to see the Northern Lights in Alta, Norway and wanted to tell you that he is fantastic! What a pro. Everything was perfect. I highly recommend Jan, and thank you so much for what you do as you made it very easy for us to find him! We saw the Northern Lights 4 nights in a row (unbelievable experience), we dined with one of the world’s great chefs, went dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cruising the fjord sand more, and loved every minute of it. Jan was great to work with from start to finish.

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Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador planned by Marisol Mosquera


I confess I had a complicated wish list — start in the Atacama (Chile), spend time on the Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia) and end in the Galapagos (Ecuador). Fortunately, Marisol and Mark Green on her team were up to the planning task. They accommodated every request — including finding a star-gazing experience on the Atacama during the almost full moon (hard to come by) and setting up a three-day stay in an Airstream parked in the middle of the Salar de Uyuni. The “in-betweens” were mini-adventure unto themselves. From the Atacama to the salt flats, we drove through the Andes with stops to walk in a geyser field and see the Red Lagoon. So too, Bolivia to Galapagos leg allowed for time to see La Paz and Quito and learn a bit more about the history and culture of both Bolivia and Ecuador. All of our guides were terrific — knowledgeable and accommodating us if we had requests that were different from our planned itinerary. The M/Y Grace in the Galapagos provided the perfect ending to a well-planned trip. Marisol and her team definitely delivered an adventure where we could focus on the beauty and wonder around us. Simply put, it was amazing.

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India, planned by Bertie and Victoria Dyer


This is our second trip to India with Victoria and Bertie Dyer and we plan to use them again on our return to visit Southern India.

The trip was beyond extraordinary. The guide (Harsh) was beyond amazing and became a trusted and loyal friend during our 21-day adventure. The hotels were perfect (Oberoi, Raas, Imperial) and the planning fast-paced but exactly the way we like it. As we had done this trip before, perhaps the comments of the two friends that went with us would be more useful…”Once in a lifetime trip…am I in heaven?…is all of this for real?”

Everything from the arrival to the final days in the Thar desert was magical. Thank you Victoria and Bertie…you two do deserve to be on the WOW list, because you made all of us say WOW, WOW, WOW!

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London walking tour, planned by Paul Bennett


Paul Bennett, his team, and our guide, Peter Currie, were absolutely wonderful. I will admit – I contacted Paul last minute, asking for a very specific time frame and tour, and my contact there – Grace – was more than accommodating. She was always extremely responsive to any email I sent and set up everything very easily.

On the guide side, Peter Currie was absolutely fantastic! Our morning with Peter was our favorite part of the trip. Not only was Peter extremely knowledgeable about the topic at hand (WWII and the Churchill War Rooms), but was knowledgeable about any facet of history we chose to ask about. We were so impressed to learn that our guide had graduated from London School of Economics – talk about being qualified! And what really topped it off, was how personable Peter was. Beyond the history, it was simply lovely talking to him. So outgoing, so kind.

I would definitely recommend Paul and his team, to anyone.

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Ireland, planned by Jonathan Epstein


My son was studying in Cork for a semester so we(my husband and two other adult children) went to visit over Thanksgiving. We had a great time visiting several areas of Ireland (our first trip). The guide and hotels were fabulous! Jonathan made sure we had plenty of activity and unique experiences.

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Chile and Argentina, planned by Jordan Harvey


I’m happy to note that our 17-day South American trip planned by Jordan Harvey and his staff (Chile’s Pucón and Puerto Varas followed by Argentina’s Bariloche, Mendoza, and Buenos Aires) was delightful. This is the latest of several trips (at least New Zealand, Hawaii, British Columbia and Eastern Europe) organized for us by your recommended experts, and you may recall that you helped us switch early on in our South America planning from Maita to Jordan.

Like a lot of professionals who have led or run organizations, we have high expectations and are detail oriented. At the same time, we think that travel should be great fun, we love meeting people, and have established persisting relationships through travel over the decades with people around the world.

Here are some of the things I’d note about Knowmad:

— MOST IMPORTANT: RELIABLE JUDGEMENT: Jordan and I initially had a long conversation discussing our style, hopes and (some physical) limitations, and those ideas were beautifully realized in the selection of locations, lodging, activities, and guides. Although such discussions are pretty typical when planning a trip, sometimes details aren’t noticed, are misinterpreted, or aren’t weighted properly by travel planners. Jordan’s choices were pretty much exactly what we were after given our taste, range of experience and budget. In my opinion, this ability to accurately “read” clients is arguably the most important characteristic of a travel planner.

— RESPONSIVENESS: Jordan and Krista, his administrative assistant, were immediately on top of things that we perceived as problems during planning or that arose during the trip itself. For example, we had difficulty scheduling a meal for New Year’s Day in Mendoza for a variety of reasons: because most places were closed for the holiday; the fact that establishments in that region tend to take a very casual attitude toward longer-term (like six weeks…) planning; and the (bordering on comic) expense of being transported on New Year’s. Krista made numerous contacts over months to arrange what became a lovely cooking demonstration and meal at a vineyard, with transportation at about one-third the originally quoted price. We also have relatives whom we wanted to visit spread through Buenos Aires and she was able to arrange private transportation that was punctual, convenient and cost less than the standard taxi services.

— INTERACTIVE EASE: I found Jordan and Krista very easy to relate to verbally and digitally. They always seemed to easily grasp what I wanted and were timely in addressing all issues.

— QUALITY OF GUIDES/TRANSPORTATION: We have traveled extensively and have cultivated, formally and otherwise, a good bit of historical, artistic and cultural experience/knowledge. Because I love expanding my knowledge base, it bothers me when I feel that I may know more about his/her subject than a guide or when he/she is repeatedly unable to address topical questions. The guides arranged by Knowmad were top-notch in terms of both professionalism and scholarship, and very consistent with our style, and the character of the associated transportation and the drivers’ ability to work well with the guides was exactly what I expect from a quality planner. Example: We were usually short of cash because the banks that we visited, especially in Argentina, limited the amount that could be withdrawn from an ATM daily and per visit (apparently related to older currency stabilization laws/regulations that had never been modified). The guides/drivers were both aware of the withdrawal rules and had a circuit of ATMs that they’d weave into the plans for adventure activities.

In sum, we were delighted with Jordan and Krista and would engage them again for South American travel without hesitation.

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Argentina and Uruguay, planned by Maita Barrenechea


Maita Barrenechea and her team made our trip to Argentina and Uruguay outstanding! Superb guides and recommendations in Buenos Aires hit the mark on all counts. We had wanted to go to the Salta region but given weather/time of year, the suggestion that we go to Uruguay was made and our stay at Finca Narbon was one of the highlights of our trip! A private cooking class for our daughter and I at Malman’s restaurant at The Vines was a fantastic experience. Each step of the way Maita and her team were in touch with any changes or available to immediately deal with a few small glitches. Over the years, 7 trips taken and two more are currently planned with WOW experts. Always easily planned by staff who listen well to our goals.

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African safari, planned by Linda Friedman


Linda Friedman is perfection. She planned a 10 day trip for my wife and I with nothing left to chance. Her people on the ground were excellent including David, our guide in Amboseli, and Wilson, our guide in Kichwa Tembo. Lodging was perfect. Time in each camp was perfect. Interim arrangements in Karen and the Boma in Nairobi were perfect! In fact, both my wife and I had the best massages ever at the Bomas spa when we had a few hours to kill. Linda even thought to give us a free cell phone to use. I told her we would never need it but we had an issue at home and it sure came in handy. I would have zero reservation recommending Linda to plan a safari to Kenya.

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Antarctica cruise, planned by Ashton Palmer


There are not enough superlatives in the world to describe the trip we just experienced. As Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton said, “Tongue and pen fail in attempting to describe the magic of such a scene.”

I cannot thank Ashton, Olivia, and Sarah enough for helping us organize the trip of a lifetime with A&K on Le Lyrial. They were with us every step of the way. From the beginning, they assessed exactly what we were looking for (down to what interior design style we preferred in hotels) and made informed recommendations for us. They are meticulous and organized–I especially appreciated all of the documents they have detailing hotels, ships, etc. and the dropbox with everything we needed! When we had to change our itinerary and switch ships entirely, they gladly handled it and made everything seamless. They truly want you to have the best trip possible and their passion for the destinations is obvious.

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Greece, planned by Christos Stergiou


Our July 2017 trip to Rhodes (Rhodes City and Lindos) and Patmos was flawlessly executed. Our hotels in Patmos and Lindos were particularly phenomenal, and all of the small pesky details that can sideline a trip were managed perfectly (transfers, ferry etc.). On Lindos, the hotel hosted a cooking class for us with our kids, which we really enjoyed – the Melenos Lindos is an amazing, not-to-be-missed hotel. On Patmos, in particular, the hotel selected for us was run beautifully, and we appreciated the small personal touches of being able to take breads and sweets from the hotel to the beach at no charge (from breakfast) and of the excellent recommendations where to visit on the island, to say nothing of the lovely pool and views from our room balcony. Our catamaran ride from Patmos to some uninhabited local islands and then to lunch on a small remote paradise was fantastically memorable and very worth doing….getting to Patmos takes effort but its absolutely worth it and truly makes you feel like you’re seeing “real Greece”.

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Cuba, planned by David Lee


I did a lot a research on Cuba travel specialist before selecting David Lee through Wendy Perrin. I never thought that in my lifetime I would have the opportunity to travel to Cuba and with the relatively new opportunity to do so, I wanted to be very careful in my choice. This was a trip that I wanted planned vs just winging it on my own. I felt I had made a wise choice before we left for our trip and it was absolutely confirmed after. Every day was planned to encompass a variety of Cuba cultural, food and entertainment. We would not have seen or done half of what we did if we had “winged” it. We would have missed so much. A side benefit was how close we became to our guide and driver who were married. We became family. Since we were on a private tour with just my daughter and myself, the four of us got to know each very well. We truly got to experience the Cuba culture with intimate conversations and experiences. I know this could not have been experienced if we had been with a large or larger group. With David Lees’ tours, they are a maximum of 14. This allows you to have access to the paladares which are private, smaller restaurants. With large groups, you would be eating at government run restaurants. David took the time to call me on two occasions prior to booking. I was able to ask as many questions as I had and he was a wealth of information to set my mind at ease to book with his company. David Lees’ Cuba tour was the best decision I made for our trip. Outstanding communication, follow-up, accommodations, guides, tour experiences and restaurant choices. If you are thinking about a trip to Cuba, you will be in good hands with David and his team.

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The United Arab Emirates and Oman, planned by Lindsey Wallace


This has been the 10th trip my wife and I have been on, using Wendy Perrin recommended experts and it was SUPERB. We went to the United Arab Emirates and Oman in early-mid Dec 2017. It was a relatively last-minute decision and Lindsey Wallace did a masterful job quickly putting together a perfect itinerary. Hotels, transfers, guides, restaurants etc were all pre-planned by him. We questioned a few suggestions but we allowed him to make the final choices and we were not disappointed with anything. He alternated stays at magnificent resorts (beach, desert, and mountaintop) with city touring (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat). Each person we interacted with and every hotel and resort was superb. We have nothing but the highest praise for him and recommend him and his services without reservation!

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Paris, planned by Jennifer Virgilio


Nancy and I just returned from a one week trip to Paris that Jennifer and her team arranged. The planning stage of the trip with Jennifer was enjoyable and easy. Jennifer listened to what we were seeking and then offered us various options from which to choose. This ensured that we experienced the Paris we wanted. Jennifer suggested 5 hotels for our stay. We ultimately chose Le Burgundy which was a small boutique hotel offering a great location, plenty of services and a very helpful and caring staff. Jennifer also matched us with our tour guide, Tatiana. This was a great match as we spent 4 days with Tatiana where we learned a lot, saw a lot and spent time conversing with Tatiana about the culture of Paris. Jennifer also arranged a fun day of going to a market with a chef and then going back to a cooking school to make lunch with the ingredients we bought at the market. I would also recommend seeking dinner suggestions from Jennifer before leaving for Paris. We ate well when in Paris and we did this and various types of restaurants from a bistro to a couple of Michelin starred venues. Finally, Jennifer and her team were constantly in contact while we were in Paris in order to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and if there was anything else we needed. I would highly recommend Jennifer to anyone seeking a special vacation in Paris. Jennifer is great. We will definitely use Jennifer and her team when we return to France.

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Japan, planned by Scott Gilman


We enjoyed the trip immensely and felt the service we received from Scott Gilman was outstanding! The guides provided were not only extremely knowledgeable, they were lovely people and very enjoyable to spend time with. The accommodations we had at each location, were superb and we couldn’t ask for anything better. The private events we did were the highlight of the trip for each family member. From the cooking class to the drumming lesson to meditation with a monk — all were outstanding and quite memorable. We were able to cover a great deal of ground because of a well-coordinated process and appreciated having prompt and reliable drivers throughout the journey. We were also extremely impressed with the Japanese people and their culture – vowing to go back again.

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Southeast Asia, planned by Andrea Ross


It was wonderful working with Andrea to plan this trip! She was amazingly responsive and truly understood my needs and desires as we planned the trip. She was completely flexible in reworking the itinerary when some obstacles forced a change in plans. As for the trip itself – it was excellent!!! Our guides were the most important “make or break” part of the trip, and they were superb. As we flew to different locations we had new guides, but all of them were full of knowledge, kind, warm, open and their insights and warmth provided for a stellar trip. We felt like we were leaving friends as we moved on through the country. Every guide took great care of us ensuring we were checked into our flights and making sure that we were carefully handed from one location to another. I couldn’t have asked for more and we wouldn’t hesitate to work with Andrea and her team again.

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Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, planned by Pierre Gédéon


Pierre was totally instrumental in helping us plan our 15 day Holiday trip which began in Nicaragua, then a few days in Costa Rica and finally a few days in Panama. We Skyped with him early in the planning stage and he listened carefully and then expertly matched the activities to our interests. He is a true professional and even met us in Nicaragua after several days into our trip to check on how the trip was progressing. In Nicaragua we took the ferry to Ometepe and stayed at a nice eco-lodge there; our guide Eric there was fantastic, spoke English well and showed us “his island”. Back in Granada, our guide Gustavo and his driver Roberto were both excellent and a highlight of the trip was a day we spent on a private island near Granada in Lake Nicaragua. In Costa Rica, we first went to Villa Blanca(a hotel that was the former home of the president) in the Los Angeles cloud forest where we stayed in a lovely private casita; after that, we traveled further north to La Fortuna and stayed at the fantastic thermal spring & spa resort, Tabacón. We had a 2 bedroom suite that we shared with our son and his new wife and that was incredible…huge with a canopy bed for the newlyweds, jacuzzi, etc. The pools and food there were excellent as was our day rafting the Rio Balsa with our private guide Jonathan Morales(he really made the trip special for us) of the Desafio company there. After a few days at Tabacón, we flew to Panama City and our guide introduced us to the Panama Canal…another highlight. We did not do a boat trip thru the canal at Pierre’s recommendation (so as not to inappropriately waste time in a boat) and that was definitely a great idea. For the final few days(including New Years Eve & Day) we were at Boquete in the mountains in the west of Panama; a beautiful town with nice hiking, cooler days, and a wonderful hotel, Panamonte. All in all a GREAT trip with terrific guides and superb planning; we would consider going back to Nicaragua using Pierre to plan a trip further north to the cigar tobacco region(Estelí) as well as Leon and Volcan Momotombo. Prices are very reasonable in Nicaragua, and the people, while poor, are very nice and accommodating, and there is plenty to see and do.

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Australia, planned by Stuart Rigg


New Years Eve in Sydney. A bucket list item! Despite us being late In being able to make arrangements Stuart and his colleague Jane helped guide us to the perfect choice -on the water, in the middle of the action. And we had the best table right at the bow of the boat.
What a night to remember. The fireworks were everything I hoped for and more. A huge tick on that bucket list!

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South Pacific cruise, planned by Meg Austin


I have worked with travel agents and travel specialists throughout my adult life on trips spanning several continents and complicated itineraries. In short, Meg Austin is THE best in every aspect of planning a trip from start to finish. I’m not sure if I’d be classified as “high maintenance”—you’d have to ask Meg that—but I ask a lot of questions and require a lot of information and guidance in every step of planning a BIG trip like the one my husband, daughter and myself planned through Meg. It was our first cruise and Meg guided me through every aspect patiently and expertly. Meg knew exactly which cabins to book for us, which flights to put us on, when and how to reserve our excursions and dining options so there would be no FOMO. Meg is incredibly well connected with insiders, so she was able to pull strings to get us everything SHE wanted us to have in our tour package—items I didn’t even know to ask for, but thank goodness Meg did. She handled me with humor, grace, zip-quick responses, and was always one step ahead of me.

It will take a long time to fully process and digest the breathtaking beauty of Tahiti, the graciousness of its people—including every crew member on the Paul Gauguin—and how perfectly Meg took care of my family through every step. This was a trip of a lifetime, and it’s going to take a lot to top this week.

No hitches or hiccups at all, anytime, period. Once onboard the ship, I followed Meg’s guidelines to a tee and booked our dinner, diving, and excursion reservations—which were all about timing, as the ship was fully booked. No problem for us—we had Meg Austin as our travel guru.

Meg could not have picked out a better cabin for us and our daughter. It was everything she said it would be—fantastic location for viewing breathtaking scenery, and the cabin amenities were wonderful. Cabin service twice daily! Fresh towels and stocked refrigerator throughout the day!

The food throughout the cruise was only exceeded by the professionalism and warmth of the Paul Gauguin staff. We made fast friends with the ship’s captain, so we were treated to tours of the bridge and engine room, and of the galley with the executive chef. The only way I didn’t roll home was due to all of the activities and excursions I went on that were so well organized and staffed. The snorkeling was excellent, as were the guides. My husband and daughter enjoyed terrific dives—four divers to a divemaster, unheard of on a non-liveaboard diving trip. Nothing was lacking. Everything exceeded all of our expectations. We met lovely guests from around the world. Yes, the ship was fully booked, and there were a lot of kids and family reunions, but we did our thing and they did theirs. Maybe next cruise I’d opt for adults only, but that’s just me. Even my previously Cruise-Averse Husband was completely won over by this Paul Gauguin cruise experience. You’d have to be insane not to have felt this way. It was luxurious beyond words.

We are Meg Austin lifers—if she’ll continue to have us. I actually helped some of the guests with information that Meg gave me that they didn’t know! I guess that makes me a Meg Austin protegee!

I tell everyone about the Wendy Perrin website and WOW List… and I suppose I also have to now share Meg Austin as well. I have not had one iota of disappointment with either.

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The Galapagos Islands, planned by Eric Sheets


Our family trip to the Galapagos Islands was fantastic. We decided to take this trip with little time to plan. Eric and his colleague Nils did a nice job of planning a diverse trip for our family of 5 (teenage boys ages 18, 16, and 13). The naturalists that were on our daily trips with us were fantastic. We loved the Galapagos Safari Camp on Santa Cruz. The food was unbelievable and staff very helpful. The Iguana Crossing on Isabella was a nice change of pace to be right on the beach. We enjoyed time to walk on the beach as well as into town. It is hard to pick our favorite day-trip. We were surprised with a last-minute surf lesson, which was such a treat! I highly recommend this trip.

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Israel, planned by Joe Yudin


What an incredible trip, tailored to our interests and implemented with such grace and skill by the extraordinary Joe Yudin and his staff and guides. We were two couples with mutual interests in history, culture, music, Israel’s military, and all interesting detours. In just 10 days, we climbed Masada, viewed Syria from the Golan Heights, floated in the Dead Sea, waded in the Jordan River, marveled at the wonder of Petra, met with IDF military trainers, shared breakfast with an Arab Israeli journalist, prepared a meal with a charming and beautiful Druze woman, touched the rock of Golgotha, ate street food that spanned the culinary landscape, toured the Judean desert, sipped delicious wine next to vines planted and tended by an intrepid winemaker, and the list goes on.

A special thanks goes to the agent assigned to make all the arrangements, Monika. She’s a gem and charming. Finally, the guide assigned to us, Bena Mantel, was perhaps the best we’ve ever encountered: funny, resourceful, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. Thank you, Joe Yudin and team for making our pilgrimage something we’ll think and talk about for the rest of our lives. We want to return and when we do, it will be through Joe Yudin and his staff.

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Danube river cruise, planned by Tom Baker


My daughter and I just returned from the Christmas Markets River Cruise on the Danube with Amawaterways. It was a special Mother-Daughter trip for us as we do something together every November and this was our 15th year. As a very big Wendy Perrin fan, I reached out to TTE Tom Baker for his expertise as this was our first river cruise – right from the start it was apparent that we had made the right choice. Tom and his assistant Ian were professional and committed to what they do. I had lots of questions and they were answered fully and in an amazingly timely fashion.Communication and details are very important to me so this was much appreciated. We had a fantastic time and would not hesitate to use and recommend Tom Baker and his team again!

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France, planned by Jack Dancy


Jack’s colleague Simon put together a fabulous French trip for my husband’s 70th birthday. We wanted to attend the annual Christie’s wine auction benefiting Hospices de Beaune, and knew we would need expert help as we’d tried, with no success, to get in on our own. Simon took care of everything for us.

We were in a beautiful hotel (his pick), he got us lunch/dinner reservations in the most fabulous restaurants, and best of all he got us tickets to the wine auction and tickets to the incredible Dinner of the Dukes at Drouhin Cellars. And if that wasn’t enough, Simon set us up with a private guide to go to the Montrachet villages and have private tastings. Sublime!

We ended our trip in Paris, and although we had told Simon the hotel and restaurants we wanted to visit, he set everything up and made sure the hotel knew it was a birthday trip. Everything was fabulous.

We had great drivers picking us up and transporting us from airport to train station to hotel, and back. We had phone numbers at our fingertips in case anything was not right. All in all, we were taken care of beautifully and loved every minute of the trip.

Thank you, Wendy Perrin, for introducing us to Jack and Simon.

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Brazil, planned by Martin Frankenberg


Martin and his staff (we worked with Tamaris and Charline) were very responsive throughout the planning process and during our visit Brazil, which was in November 2017. The itinerary they put together was the perfect combination – 3 nights at a luxury jungle lodge to explore the Amazon, then 4 nights in Rio, where we got to enjoy both the old and new aspects of the city. They recommended a day trip to the charming coastal town of Paraty, where we enjoyed a few hours exploring the shoreline on a boat. The highlight of our trip was a sunrise visit to Corcovado Mountain, to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. They were able to arrange for our visit to be private – just the 4 of us, watching as the first rays of sunlight hit the statue, and the city of Rio awakened below. Yes, it was as spectacular as it sounds!

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England, planned by Jane McCrum


We went to England over Thanksgiving and used Jane to plan our trip. As always Jane and her staff are amazing. She arranged spectacular tours for us including an early entry and tour of the Tower of London, a spy adventure at the British Museum and a half-day movie making throughout London. The latter involved us going around London and having movies shot of the children at various locations where Harry Potter was filmed with the children having wands and capes. They will then put this together into a film.

The highlight for me was the tour of the Churchill War Rooms with the director emeritus of the War Rooms that took us behind the scenes and allowed us to sit in the actual chair that Churchill sat in.

Ruth our guide, Andy our driver and the “spies/movie directors” were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable and did an excellent job getting the children involved and engaged.

This is the second time we have used Jane and I cannot recommend her more. We also had the pleasure of having tea with her and she truly is a wonderful person. The access and contacts she has throughout the country are just spectacular. One of the children asked if she had ever met the Queen to which she replied a number of times. We definitely plan to use her again when we go back to England.

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Sicily, planned by Marcello Baglioni


I cannot say enough wonderful things about Marcello and our fabulous girls trip to Sicily. Right from the beginning Marcello was responsive and put together a great itinerary. We went through several rounds of revisions and I have to say we pretty much ended up very close to what Marcello had originally proposed. We traveled in November – no crowds and luckily still nice weather.

One of the best decisions (though pricey) was to hire a private driver. Not only was Gianni so sweet and easy to be with, it took out the stress of driving and parking and allowed us to drink fabulous Sicilian wines at lunch and dinner!

We had one disappointing hotel but I think that was more a function of the available options in that locale than anything else. The other 2 were fabulous! Villa Athena was a dream and Ortigia Charme was a delight with the most warm staff. Restaurant recommendations were spot on. If I could make one suggestion it would be to put all the documentation (perhaps with a little more description) in a printable .pdf format in addition to the google map.

While we were there we were lucky to get a Wendy Perrin “wow” moment – a reception in a private villa overlooking the Duomo in Ortigia. It was a lovely surprise. I will say, however, that every day of this trip had a wow moment – touring Agrigento at dusk with virtually no crowds, discovering the beauty of the mosaics at Monreale and Villa Romana de Casale, a lunch in Modena, a chefs tour and private cooking class in Ortigia, the list goes on. What made these places so special were the guides that Marcello has cultivated. They were all specialists in their field and were wonderful to be with.

Marcello kept tabs on us at all times and made sure our itinerary went off like clockwork. By the end of the trip, we’d start to giggle every time our driver or guide took a call from Marcello. They all clearly enjoy working with him.

Thank you, Marcello, for showing us such a perfect week. Can’t wait to go back!

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New Zealand, planned by Donna Thomas


Usually, my wife and I plan our own trips and enjoy the challenge. We like to travel nicely without wasting money. We decided we needed help with New Zealand so we contacted Donna. We are so glad we did! Some agents want to put you in expensive hotels with drivers taking care of your every need at $1,000 plus per day. Donna found us wonderful B&Bs where we had dinner with the host, our guides were the best and most knowledgeable we have experienced (as lawyers we can ask a lot of questions). Her suggestions add so much value to our trip. We have recommended her to several people and would not travel New Zealand without her thoughts. She is a real pro.

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Madagascar, planned by Cherri Briggs


Katie on Cherri’s staff planned our trip in Oct. 2017 to Madagascar and was really great to work with! We spent a lot of time talking on the phone and corresponding back and forth via email, in the beginning, to really get a feel for what we wanted to do. The discussions continued during the planning stages as well. This is all very important to me because I really want them to know what I want. Failure at this stage leads to the most disappointment for me by a long shot. None the less, she was very in tune our wants. The paperwork sent to us before the trip was helpful and complete. The execution of the trip was also nearly flawless, which is saying a lot in a place like Madagascar! Our guides were excellent which is another exceptionally important part of a trip for me. To sum it up- we had a wonderful trip and we would definitely work with Cherri and Katie again!

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Spain, planned by Virginia Irurita


Virginia and her staff took our needs/suggestions and created a plan that they were willing to “tweak, edit, change and refine.” They helped us take our “dream trip” and make into a realistic, yet aspirational trip that was fairly seamless. Every driver was 15 minutes early. Every tour guide was prompt, extremely knowledgeable, personable, interested in us, willing to share their perspectives and lives, engage in both academic AND humorous conversation and really facilitated our ability to take a thousand years of history, begin to understand the vast historical implications on today’s world, and step into the perspective of real people, living in towns and villages throughout Spain. No small feat. What a marvelous way to travel.

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France villa vacation, planned by Annie Flogaus


St. Remy de Provence.

We’d highly recommend renting your pied a terre in Provence through Annie Flogaus. She has access to so many wonderful properties and was extremely helpful in finding the exact right fit. She knew every facet of each property we were looking at and answered every query we had in detail. When our first villa canceled our reservation 5 months ahead of time because the owner decided to sell, she quickly rebooked us into an even more fabulous home and secured compensation from the initial owner to more than cover the difference in cost. We will definitely use her services again!

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South Pacific cruise, planned by Leslie Fambrini


Leslie Fambrini is fantastic. We are very experienced travelers – over 130 countries visited — and seldom use travel agents, usually arranging our own trips or traveling with affinity groups. But since we were doing an expedition cruise that wasn’t sponsored by an affinity group, we decided that to deal with Silversea we should use an agent. For this Micronesia-Melanesia Silversea trip, Leslie got us a discount on the great cabin she recommended, found out the group pre-cruise hotel early enough to avoid the high Silversea price with an internet price, and got all our information to us early since we were leaving 13 days before the cruise. Silverseas transfer prices are ridiculously high but in expedition ports, there are often no taxis available. Leslie went out of her way to find a transfer agent in Port Vila, Vanuatu, (not a place she would normally deal with) and arranged our ship to hotel transfer for “free”. Two issues arose on our trip. One: I had to supply a copy of our flight ticket leaving Vanuatu to the ships financial officer for the Vanuatu visa. Somehow in transferring all my documentation from my home computer to my traveling laptop, the flight out of Port Vila did not transfer. An e-mail to Leslie got a copy of the flight info in less than an hour. Not a big thing unless it is the night before the immigration officers are due on board. Secondly, we were traveling without our i-phones. We discovered the morning we were to disembark that our ship was not arriving at the usually port but at an out of the way one and we had no way to contact the transfer agent (the ships reception people being busy with other duties). We e-mailed Leslie again and she contacted the transfer agent. They were there waiting for us when we arrived. Perhaps they had already checked without her input but it was so reassuring that we would not be standing in the pouring rain with no taxis available wondering what to do. These may be minor things but as people who usually seldom use travel agents, not having a moments worry (well the 20-30 minutes between e-mails) is worth a great deal to us (I might add that on a previous trip that we booked through Leslie, much went wrong due to the expedition staff. I complained to Leslie and received a generous credit from Silversea due to efforts.)

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Rome and Venice, planned by Maria Landers and Brian Dore


My wife and I met with Maria via conference call to discuss what we wanted to our trip. She listened and asked very good questions. She came back with an itinerary that perfectly matched our discussion. Every aspect of the trip was perfect. The guides she booked for us were fantastically educated professionals. We had an absolutely fantastic trip. We would definitely work with her again and recommend her to anyone looking for a fabulous trip to Italy.

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Italy, planned by Andrea Grisdale


We made changes during our trip, which were taken care of quickly and with a smile. We also had to return a few days early from our pre-paid trip, due to a medical emergency. Andrea was able to secure some of our pre-paid money back, although it was not technically due us.

Also, the rooms at the hotels chosen were magnificent. That is what we like: not just detail in picking the right hotel; but the very special room at the special hotel. We could not ask for more.

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Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, planned by Greg Tepper


Before we contacted Greg and Natasha, we did research on sites, restaurants, and experiences we did and didn’t want. Our son is very knowledged in WWII history, tanks, and aircraft, so we wanted extensive coverage of these topics. Besides the tank museum at Kublinka the largest in the world and aircraft museum at Monino, Greg and Natasha suggested other sites— Stalin’s bunker, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, and a Cold War nuclear bunker in which we turned the keys to launch ICBMs. Our guide, Tatianna, met us daily and took us and translated for our private guides at each site. One of our favorites was a night at the circus. We had reserved restaurants beforehand so our stay in Moscow was wonderful. We took the Sandan bullet train to St. Petersburg which was the only disappointment as we thought we were booked in 1st and instead were in a cramped car without foot room and roaming children. Ted, our guide in St. Petersburg, was like Tatianna, a gem. Like in Moscow we dispensed with the churches and visited Peterhof, Catherines Palace where the famous Amber Room is with a special appointment in the amber workshop, the Cruiser Aurora, the Naval Museum, and the Artillery Museum, where my son took apart an AK-74 and put it back together. Ted and I wandered the Hermitage and the annex for Impressionist paintings. All of our needs were carefully thought out with Greg and Natasha before our plane left the ground, and now I wouldn’t do it any other way. Impressive!

Moscow and St. Petersburg

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Grand Canyon river rafting trip, planned by Mindy Gleason


Recently we took a 15 day raft trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon arranged by Mindy. Being in the Grand Canyon day and night for two weeks was a magical experience. We were enveloped in beauty and majesty. The crew members, led by Billie Prosser, were all strong, competent, knowledgeable, and dedicated people, who were also extremely nice human beings. They took good care of us. And they take good care of the Grand Canyon. On the coffee cup that each passenger got at the start of the trip was inscribed “Leave no trace.” And our crew made sure that we did not leave a trace. Each night when we arrived to set up camp the site was in pristine condition, and it was just as pristine when we left the next morning. Thus, the crew gave us the gift of experiencing this great natural wonder, and they did everything they could to make sure that the Grand Canyon would remain beautiful, clean, and natural.

Grand Canyon Raft Trip, from Lees Ferry (Mile 0) to Diamond Creek (mile 225)
September 18 to October 2, 2017

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Sri Lanka, planned by Miguel Cunat


Miguel and his team (specifically our consultant, Shalini) did an amazing job planning our honeymoon to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. We provided them a rough idea of what we were looking for (combination of relaxation, adventure, culture, food, and luxury) and they put together an outstanding trip. Neither of us had used a travel planner before, so we did not know what to expect. We both were extremely pleased with the level of organization and thought that went into planning a perfect trip. Not having to think about the itinerary, timing, schedule, etc is a luxury in itself! We simply were told when to show up and where and then went along for the ride! Miguel and his team were also extremely helpful in arranging our accommodation in the Maldives- even negotiating an upgrade to half-board. I highly recommend working with Miguel and his team! I am not sure if reviewing a country is appropriate here, but I cannot resist! Sri Lanka, for those that are considering, is a special country that blew us away. It is amazing how so much history, culture, and diverse scenery fit into one tiny island. The people and food (food!!) were also a delight. We traveled the end of September through the first week of October which was considered “shoulder season.” We had AMAZING weather that was not too hot/humid and only experienced a spot shower or two. The crowds were light, so we never felt like cattle call through the sites. I cannot recommend visiting this nation enough… especially before more catch on to its charm!

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Calgary, Canada, planned by Sheri Doyle


Sheri was fabulous to work with. She sent us a wonderfully detailed itinerary with her personal comments and suggestions all along the way and with links to multiple websites (maps, restaurants, things to do). Her notes about things to do and see were incredibly helpful and we used the itinerary constantly. She included her favorite hikes and we did most of those as well. She had suggested downloading the Gypsy guides for parts of our drive, which we did and which we loved. She was reachable and accessible at all times and was a pleasure to work with. She was extremely attentive to detail and there was no stone left unturned.

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Southern Africa, planned by Julian Harrison


Julian Harrison is definitely the one to go to for an incredible trip to southern Africa. Our August 2017 trip to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe was our trip of a lifetime. We saw so many animals that we can’t list them all, but the close-up encounters with the leopards, lions, and elephants were astounding. Our trip went perfectly and this involved several light plane trips to five different camps. We could not have asked for more.

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Alaska, planned by Judith Root


Judith listened to the type of Alaska experience we wanted to have. She and I had a couple of long conversations about an active holiday and an overview of Alaska. She planned an amazing, unforgettable trip for us. She was always available. I would recommend Judith to friends and anyone wanting an awesome, flawless holiday. Carol Wilson also was a partner to Judith in making our holiday to Alaska absolutely memorable. We already want to plan another adventure to Alaska. We are hooked. It was FABULOUS!!!  And due to the professional aspects your company we will be using your professionals for a trip to eastern Canada.

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Nice, planned by Philip Haslett


Philip Haslett and his associate Judy were resourceful and creative. My boyfriend and I enjoyed a spectacular cooking class the first day in Nice, which was a smart decision. The chef, Rosa, educated us on the flower/ produce market of Nice, selecting the ingredients for our 5-course meal, and teaching us about the rich culture of Nice. This experience set the tone for the trip. Philip and Judy were instrumental with their other recommendations including the hotel, excursions to Eze, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, transportation. Philips personal touch, connections, and contacts made a huge difference. We ultimately were a little too booked and needed to relax, so we couldn’t get to every activity we desired; this knowledge of how we like to travel comes with travel experience! I highly, highly recommend Philip.

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Bali, planned by Diane Embree


Diane Embree was excellent in all stages of the planning process. She knows Bali inside and out and is a wealth of information. Even with a time difference, she was prompt to respond to my emails, answer questions, and have numerous phone conversations with me. We spoke so many times and she never hesitated in answering any of my questions. She even sent us a packet of helpful information to help prepare us for our trip. It’s obvious that Diane loves Bali and is eager to share her love of Bali with others. She has many contacts in Bali and is an expert at what she does.

I am so happy that I found your website because without Diane Embree there would have been no way that I could have planned a trip to Bali on my own. Thanks, Wendy!

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Black Hills, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Jackson, planned by Marty Behr


We had an amazing trip! This was our first experience using a Wendy Perrin WOW list travel agency. It was too logistically challenging to plan on our own. Marty and Mindy did an outstanding job with routing, planning, private guides/experiences that we would not have figured out on our own. It was worth the fees to have experts plan this trip for our family. I highly recommend using them, especially after we had a bad fly-fishing experience.  When I emailed them, their response was immediate and included a full refund for the fishing. That alone made using Marty and his team completely worthwhile knowing they stand behind what they book and have a certain level of expectation from their vendors.

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Tahiti and Bora Bora, planned by Kleon Howe


Kleon Howe planned our trip perfectly. The first part of the trip was a no-brainer. We stayed at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora as this was the one request my 12- year-old daughter made. However, our family is more adventurous than that and the trip only got better from then on. For the next portion of our trip, Kleon persuaded us to charter a catamaran. I was skeptical about this as I was concerned we would not have enough to do or that we would be bored. Kleon assured me otherwise. He advised me that we would experience the culture and geography much differently by doing this. He was right. We loved this portion of our trip. The final part of our stay at a high-end eco resort was extraordinary. Kleon was always informative, collaborative and cheerful in my dealings with him. He knows the area extremely well. He had many suggestions but carefully listened to what each family member wanted from our trip and then came up with an itinerary that suited us well.

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Big Sky, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, planned by Caroline Wood


We had an amazing adult family trip to Big Sky, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole and Caroline Wood and her team were everything we were looking for in a travel advisor. Right from the start, Caroline got on the phone with me to ask questions and find out all our wishes. She then laid out some great options on accommodations and activities – all exactly as we had discussed. We did not need to have extensive back and forth – she just got it. In our final conversation before departure she made sure all of my questions were answered.

As for the trip itself, all was seamless. Caroline and her team laid everything out day to day, involving drives, tours, rafting, hiking, fishing and delicious meals (including a private chef at home after a long day of touring). All top notch. We did not have one snag. As the travel planner, she made me look like a hero. The tools they used and all the back-up information on all the locations seemed to anticipate all our questions (lunch, where to hike, etc..) We rented a fabulous home in Big Sky and stayed in a wonderfully, fun inn in Jackson Hole. I would not hesitate to use Caroline again.

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Italy villa vacation, planned by Mara Solomon


I started working with Mara Solomon, a year prior to our trip. I would work with her again in a heartbeat. Mara and her team are consummate professionals – highly skilled, super knowledgeable, fun and warm. They think of everything and do so with finesse and flair. Mara very quickly figured out our hopes, taste, and interests, beyond what I was articulating, and steered us toward several excellent villa options. In planning our excursions and villa experience, she offered unerringly sage advice and suggestions and listened intelligently to my responses. She also has a great sense of humor, for me a huge plus. It was clear I’d landed with the A-team. As a result, I relaxed and confidently put myself in their hands. Working with Mara was an effortless pleasure and the result was spectacular. We spent a week in Tuscany with a blended extended family of twenty-five and to a person, we had a joyful, exciting and refreshing time together exploring the countryside and savoring the many treasures of the villa, while reconnecting with loved ones and deepening our ties to each other. Mara anticipated potential pitfalls and prepared me for them while planning to prevent them. It worked. She suggested ways to add small joys to our days together. Those also worked. Our trip was for us just the right balance of art and architectural history, nature, exercise and of course, great food and wine along with lounging by the pool, playing cards and sharing stories. Whats remarkable in my view is that the planning itself was such a pleasure. That is entirely owing to Mara and her staff. I want to plan another villa stay in Italy if only to have the opportunity to work with them again.

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Paris apartment rental, planned by Madelyn Willems


Madelyn and her team made everything so easy! All of their apartments looked fabulous and the one we chose—the Clairette—certainly was. I thought it would be nice to have a view of the Eiffel Tower, as suggested by an article by Wendy that I read, and in reality, it was so delightful to wake up and see each morning and say goodnight to each evening. Our apartment also had a really nice, spacious shower, A/C, and a washer and dryer, all of which made the 98 degree heat wave we experienced in Paris much more bearable. The location couldn’t be beat—within two blocks were at least two each of boucheries, patisseries, boulangeries, and chocolatiers—and thanks to Maddy’s neighborhood guide we had suggestions in where to hit for what. We could walk to the Metro, the Eiffel Tower, and the Seine.

We also highly recommend making your life easy and clicking through her menu of choices. With four of us it made sense to have a wifi hotspot and why hunt it down at the airport when for a discounted price your greeter can hand it to you at your apartment when you arrive. Same with your museum pass, Seine boat ride tickets, and Metro cards. We also booked a Versailles bike tour through Maddy — for the same price as Viator and others — and she set us up with a company walking distance from the apt on the day of the special food markets in Versailles and we got the veteran guide Frazor who was the best tour guide we’ve ever had. My family is still doing Frazor impressions. We also booked a photo shoot through Maddy’s staff and now have gorgeous photos of all four of us and our girls at ages 13 and 16 for the same price as a photographer in SF. That package promised a little tour guiding Ali G with the photos, but our photographer wasn’t super at history or Paris facts.

All in all I can’t recommend Maddy’s staff highly enough. We never waited more than an hour for a response while planning. They make Paris EASY and delightful. Their apts were comparable in price to Airbnb but I think much better, as they are set up for vacationers – even full of Paris DVDs and 20+ Paris and France guidebooks. Plus you’ve got a staff in Paris you can call about anything – free landline calls to them and to the US. Maddy and her staff gave thought of everything you need to be perfectly set up just to enjoy your vacation!

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Newfoundland, planned by Jill Curran


Jill Curran helped me plan a marvelous trip to Newfoundland in mid-May 2017. I’m a fine art photographer, traveling with my adult cinematographer son, who gave me only 11 days of his time to accomplish a bucket list trip for both of us. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Jill made extensive notes of our wants, likes and dislikes at the get-go, and every step of the trip was planned with those criteria as the filters. She managed to pull a few rabbits out of hats and made some arrangements for us that we simply couldn’t have accomplished without her broad on-the-ground network in Newfoundland. She also monitored us all along the way, including changing our travel plans over a national holiday weekend while she was away with her family when our transportation was canceled due to high winds. She contacted the places we were to be, rearranged the bookings, and continued to stay in touch with us right up to the end of our trip. Since Jill lives there, she is more acclimatized to the weather quirks of Newfoundland, and won’t notice the cold as much as those from away. We would suggest that even as late as May, winter coats should go in the luggage (we wore ours every day of the trip, and we ARE Canadian, but it is still cold at that time of year!) The kindness and generosity of Newfoundlanders are legendary, and Jill is definitely a standard-bearer for Newfoundlands reputation.

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Berlin, planned by Gwen Kozlowski


We used the recommendation of Wendy Perrin and used Gwen Kozlowski and Silva on her team for our three days stay in Berlin this past April/May. They were able to get us to the sites we wanted to see all the while working around our tight schedule and a major European holiday, May Day. Additionally, a surprise to us was that most stores and such are closed on Sunday as well. It was unfortunate that we could not change our travel dates so be aware of holidays in other countries before you book anything. However, they were able to help us plan and maximize our time with seeing the sites we wanted to see. Gwen and Silvia were able to provide us with hotel recommendations that were able to make use of our time in that the hotels were in the hub of ‘tourist/historic’ area. Easy walk to the Brandenburg Gate at sunset. Easy walk to the Island Museums, which were open on Sunday and the holiday!

Also, the guide that was arraigned for us was excellent. I cannot say enough positive things about Daniel. His excellent command of English, his in-depth knowledge of history and culture of Berlin and Germany were a highlight of our trip. He helped us navigate the subway, trains and other transportation as well. Some of the little-known facts about Potsdam and St. Catherine’s Palace, Daniel could relate them and provide insight that you just can’t get from a book. And for me, Daniel was able to fit in a stop at the wonderful department store KaDaWe. Fabulous!

I would definitely use Gwen and Silvia again. Silvia is a foodie like me so do schedule enough time to enjoy the food at KaDeWe. And Silvia was also able to get a reservation for us at the top of the Reichstag for lunch at the restaurant and enjoy the view on a beautiful spring day.

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Serengeti Safari, planned by Nina Wennersten and Dan Saperstein

LEAH JACOBS | MAY 25, 2017

Wendy, thank you for creating and maintaining The WOW List. We have used your recommended experts four times now, and I’m sure we never would have enjoyed the wonderful experiences that we have without these amazing professionals. Our latest trip, a safari in the Serengeti, was a bucket list trip for both myself and my husband. Now that it’s over, I’m not sure there will be one better — until, of course, we visit Africa again.

Dan Saperstein quickly reached out to discuss all aspects of our safari, guiding us, if you will, to the best possible itinerary. As my husband abhors small planes, Dan recommended a driving safari throughout different sections of the Serengeti region. Furthermore, based on our preliminary conversations, he also thought we’d really enjoy the tented camp experience. He was absolutely right on both counts.
Our driver/guide was nothing short of amazing. In addition to sharing his seemingly boundless knowledge of all things safari, we appreciated hearing him talk about what everyday life is like in Tanzania.

All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend Dan & his team.

Again, thank you—many of our travels have no doubt been elevated from good to extraordinary because of The WOW List. I know when we are ready to go on our next adventure we will turn to a WOW expert.

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Southeast Asia planned by Antonia Neubauer


Response time was immediate.

There was an ease and smoothness of every connection during a 5 week trip through three countries in Southeast Asia.

Always going above and beyond.

Finding us unique situations and people to meet.

Having a true understanding and care for the local people.

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Portugal, planned by Mike Korn


We had a wonderful, worry-free vacation to Portugal courtesy of Mike’s expertise and connections. Every driver and guide was punctual and knowledgeable, our hotels were fantastic and reasonable and our itinerary allowed for lots of learning and exploring. We can’t say enough about Carla, our guide in Lisbon. She was absolutely fantastic. Thanks, Mike!

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Cabo, planned by Julie Byrd


You know that expression “the second time’s the charm?” Well, that is certainly true when booking with Julie! My son loved his Cabo trip last year that Julie arranged so much, he wanted to go back again. This second vacation was the Spring Break trip of a lifetime for my son and his friends. At Julie’s suggestion, she put them right in the middle of all the action – they stayed at a beautiful, all-inclusive resort that was safe and fun. Julie booked airport transportation, knew where to put the kids so they’d be in the “best” area, told them about the “new” hot spots, gave them a list of great restaurants and clubs, and everything else they needed to ensure a wonderful trip. Thanks, Julie, you did it again!

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China, planned by Mei Zhang


Mei and Jenny on her team far exceeded expectations (which were already pretty high). They had terrific advice during the planning phase of the trip, had creative and novel travel ideas, and we felt like they were following our daily progress throughout the trip. The hotels, guides, and activities were at the highest level and were great fits for our tastes, style, etc. And they surprised us with a WOW Moment that definitely met the “WOW” standard. In short, we were extremely pleased, and we’d recommend them highly.

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Asia cruise, planned by Mary Jean Tully


Mary Jean Tully exemplifies everything luxury—or, shall I say, over the top.  The level of service and the experience we had with her company were exceptional. Cruise and land experiences were simply over the top. Note that this firm is not for the couple traveling in coach but, rather, a six-star team that goes over and above to ensure your holiday expectations are exceeded. As an example: She flew into Beijing, met our ship (Crystal Cruises’ Serenity), and invited the 44 guests they’d booked on the Serenity to join her at the #1 restaurant as a thank-you for our business.  PLUS, if that wasn’t enough, they created a separate itinerary for those same 44 guests the next day to travel with her privately to the GREAT WALL, to a more secluded and spectacular spot—and, once at the top of the wall, we got a catered lunch complete with white tablecloths and great wines. How does one do that??  Then after two days of ensuring her clients were happy, she flew back to North America. I’ve never seen anything like it before!

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Myanmar, planned by Lorenzo Urra


We originally contacted Lorenzo Urra about a trip to the Philippines. After we spoke, he suggested that I go to Myanmar instead, He planned the entire six week trip to Myanmar January 25-March 6, 2017. With one exception, I would have planned everything exactly the same. The one portion we would not have planned we changed, mid trip, so the end result was perfect! He made the change seamlessly.

My advice for future travelers who use Lorenzo is not to be afraid of his suggestions. Also, let him know as much as possible about your desires.

Lorenzo responded to any and all requests for information from me pre and during the trip most expeditiously. In fact, no matter when I contacted him he would respond, in detail, within one hour. That’s service.

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Siem Reap and Hanoi, planned by Andy Booth


We traveled last summer with Andy Booth from AboutAsia to Siem Reap and Hanoi. Our trip was phenomenal. With the exception of Angkor Wat Temple we almost never felt the crowds. We saw and did more than we ever could have imagined. We traveled in August and while it was hot, we had a steady stream of cold towels and cold water. We loved our hotels in both cities with my favorite be the Raffles Hotel in Siem Reap. This hotel was a great location and a quick $3 ride from downtown. The grounds of the hotel were amazing and the staff welcoming. Andy’s team listened to all our concerns, wishes, and requirements and curated a perfect trip. The price was extremely reasonable for what we received. We shopped for art & antiques, crafts, ate amazing local cuisine, learned about the local life and customs and visited more temples that we had planned. I cannot say enough about Andy’s team. We hope to use them again to return to the area.

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Fiji, planned by Lynette Wilson


Lynette is amazing! There are so many different resorts in Fiji on different islands in different price ranges. I tried finding the right fit for our interests and budget, but it was really daunting. After a quick phone call with Lynette, she suggested the perfect place for us, Savasi Island just outside Savusavu. Our friends and family thought we were crazy for working with a travel agent outside the NYC area, but Lynette actually lives in Fiji and really knows her stuff. She really listened to us and then used her connections in-country to put together the exact experience we were seeking.

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Turkey, planned by Earl Starkey


This is the 2nd time I have used Earl Starkey and his team to plan our vacation in Turkey with my Turkish husband and in-laws. Earl and his team exceeded our expectations in planning and executing our itinerary. Earl is gracious, quick to respond when contacted, knowledgeable, and well connected. We switched some of the itinerary around at the last minute which Earl and his team handled seamlessly.

The hotel we stayed at was a perfect match for our likes. We had the best room location in the hotel.

The driver, Ali, did small extra touches for us without us asking. The guide, Burju, was excellent. She is well versed in ancient history, modern history, as well as open and willing to talk about any question we asked. She shared with us local cultural highlights. When we went to a restaurant that did not have the menu items we were looking for, Burju and Ali were able to quickly take us to another that was exactly what we were looking for. In addition, I asked Burju to simultaneously translate for me stories being told by a native Turk at one of the sights we were visiting which she did flawlessly. This enabled me to participate in the conversation as if I was a native speaker and part of the group. I felt like a local. This was a priceless experience that can only be done with a top-tier guide.

Traveling in Turkey with native Turks provides an extra challenge for any travel expert as Turks are very discerning clients. As they are native speakers as well as familiar with the country and culture, a travel expert, driver, guide, or hotelier will be quickly spotted if anything less than top-notch service is provided. My Turkish family raved about all facets of our trip. We will be contacting Earl again for our next family vacation in Turkey.

If you want to have a wonderful trip to Turkey, feel well cared for with all your desires met, then without a moments hesitation contact Earl Starkey to plan your trip.

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Barge cruise, planned by Ellen Sack


My wife and I were quite pleased with our interactions with Ellen Sack and her team. Because we were new to barge cruising (having only done ocean and river cruising before), Ellen helped us narrow down options and select what we consider an ideal barge cruise for us. We selected the Savoir Vivre. It carries 8 passengers. What we especially liked is that we got to dine at a different place, in a new town, each night.

The cruise surpassed our expectations. The ship captain Richard, the hostess Marie, and the guide Laura (“the crew”) were awesome. We felt pampered. We were impressed with Marie fixing a delicious breakfast and lunch for us, while still tidying up our cabins. We wanted to take her home with us. Laura was vivacious and engaging, and made history come alive for us on our tours. Richard was friendly, helpful, and low-key. He served as our driver to and from the train station and the restaurants at night. On our trips off the barge, we drove around in a spacious minivan. Richard and Laura arranged to have the van at the location where the barge docked each night, so that it was close by when needed.

We liked the casual atmosphere of barge cruising. It was more low-key than river cruising. We did one excursion a day for only a few hours. That gave us time to relax on the barge, chat with our new friends, walk along the Burgundy canals, or bike along the canal and into the towns. We also got to help open and close the gates at the numerous locks along the canal. Before or after an excursion, we would hang out in the common area at the front of the ship.

Before the cruise, I worried a little about the bikes. They are fold-up bikes, and I was concerned that they would be uncomfortable. I am 6 feet, 2 inches tall with long legs. My worries were misplaced. I didn’t have a problem. I could comfortably pedal for the several miles we traveled.
We would consider doing another barge cruise in a different area. Barge cruising is a great way to chill out—and make new friends—after doing lots of (hectic) sightseeing in another part of the country. We were a little sad to depart our new little family at the end of the cruise.

Contact Ellen and her staff if you’re interested in trying out a barge cruise. They will help you find something that fits your needs and travel style.

Southern Burgundy, Escommes to Fleurey-sur-Ouche

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British Columbia, planned by Marc Telio


Marc Telio and his friendly/knowledgeable staff planned and executed a very memorable trip to beautiful British Columbia for my family of four this summer. Since we have two very active teenage children, like Marc, he understood our need to balance adventure with a little relaxation. Several of our favorite activities that Marc and his team orchestrated included a family cooking lesson with a pastry chef, a private foodie tour of Granville Island Market with a personal chef, and a very memorable trip to Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort.

Marc recommended for us to experience a private heli-fishing tour during our stay at Nimmo Bay, a very remote luxury resort in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. We were first a little hesitant due to the cost, but now we can honestly say that this was by far the highlight of our trip to BC! Our heli-adventure with our pilot/guide, Trevor, began with a very scenic ride out to an isolated stream where we fished for pink salmon under the watchful eyes of bald eagles that were nesting in the trees above. The looks on our daughter’s faces were priceless as a mama black bear and her cub ventured to the other side of the stream for a drink. Next we flew past majestic waterfalls to a glacier where we ate a delicious, gourmet picnic lunch followed by a short hike around the fields of flowers and streams. Our adventure continued as the helicopter landed on a very small sandbar on the side of a rushing river to fish for coho salmon followed by another scenic ride back to the resort. Thanks, Marc, for helping to give us memories that will last a lifetime!

It’s these little touches from Marc and his relationships with his service providers that made our vacation to Canada go from good to GREAT…hotel room upgrades, restaurant recommendations and reservations, a personalized foodie tour of Granville Island Market with a personal chef, a candy bar and birthday celebrations for our girls, and a delicious cheese/fruit tray for my husband and I.

In the past, I have typically researched, planned, and executed our own trips, but for the last five vacations we have taken, I have utilized the services of the travel experts recommended by Wendy Perrin’s WOW List (which have included Judith Root, Michael Kaye, Andrea Grisdale, Pierre Gedeon, and most recently Marc). I HIGHLY recommend the personalized services of Marc Telio and these other travel experts to anyone looking for a unique, customized travel experience. I’m looking forward to working with another expert from Wendy’s WOW List to begin planning my daughter’s high school graduation trip along the California coast this summer! Safe travels.

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Mongolia, planned by Jalsa Urubshurow

SALLY LEE | JULY 25, 2016

I traveled with a friend to Mongolia for 8 days in June 2016 and used Jalsa and his team to help plan my trip. I highly recommend both Mongolia as a destination and Nomadic Expeditions as an excellent travel company. We spent most of our time in the Gobi Desert, although everyone should spend at least a day in the capital, Ulaan Bataar, as well. UB as it’s known, has great museums, the Choijin Lama Temple, the Gandan monastery complex, shopping, as well as some nice restaurants. It can also be used as a base for the nearby national parks. The Gobi Desert is spectacular, with varied landscapes and national parks, and provides an opportunity to learn about the nomadic lifestyle. We also attended the Nadaam Festival in the Gobi and it was a special experience. The trip was WONDERFUL!!! So much fun and it exceeded my expectations.

After deciding to travel to Mongolia and, more specifically, the Gobi Desert, I spoke w/ Jalsa about what to see and do. He had wonderful ideas and suggestions – his enthusiasm is contagious! After learning more about what our interests were, he created an itinerary for us. It was perfect – felt like we saw so many things, each different. Highlights included camping at the foot of the Hongoryn Els, the massive and beautiful sand dune range at the base of the Altai Mountains, the local Nadaam Festival, and stopping in to visit w/ nomadic families we saw along the way. All of the logistics went off flawlessly – we were very well taken care of. Our guide, Amraa, was excellent. I learned a lot from him and appreciated his kindness, thoughtfulness, patience, and even gently pushing us from time to time to make sure we got the most out of each experience.

Our home away from home in the Gobi, the Three Camel Lodge, is – amazing. So beautiful, so unique, so comfortable. The level of service we received was very high – and the staff were so kind and interesting and interested in us as well. The dinner at sunset at the Flaming Cliffs, musical and dance performances by local children, and watching night fall/stargazing while sitting in the swings on the front porch of the lodge in the evenings, all were so appreciated.
The logistics were executed flawlessly. We traveled with a guide and also had a driver in each location. All were excellent. In particular, our guide was very thoughtful, altering our itinerary to add the Fine Arts Museum in UB after noticing how much we enjoyed the historic Choijin Lama Temple (also a museum). Or inviting the on-site biologist in Hustai National Park to join us and help us track the reclusive Takhi horses. The biologist knew where to look for the horses and also taught us much about them and how they differ from other horses. We actually saw multiple herds with both adults and foals grazing or racing across the landscape. At the Nadaam festival, the guests of the Three Camel Lodge had a special tent w/ water reserved for them so one could take a break and escape the sun when needed. One of the Nomadic Expedition guides who was with a family from Houston, made sure that their teenage son had his picture taken with the winning wrestler, quite the photo op! I dont know if he would have done that on his own, and you could tell he was having a great time.

Call Jalsa – go to Mongolia!

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Uzbekistan, planned by Zulya Rajabova


Zulya arranged for us to have lunch with her family in Bukhara. It was amazing. Her mother taught my son how to make Palov. The lunch was a true feast with about 20 family members. After lunch we all got up and danced together. It was an experience my wife, son, daughter in law and I will cherish forever.

Zulya also arranged for a wonderful guide to accompany us throughout Uzbekistan. She stayed with us day and night, shared meals and her culture and helped us navigate a very foreign language. Needless to say, Zulya also followed us during our entire stay, keeping in touch with both us and our local guide. Any problems (very minor) were immediately addressed. I would not only highly recommend Zulya to anyone planning a trip to Uzbekistan I would also recommend Uzbekistan as a travel destination.

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Costa Rica, planned by Michael Kaye & Natalie Ewing


WOW truly sums up our experience with Michael Kaye and Natalie Ewing of Costa Rica Expeditions in planning and enjoying our recent two-week trip to Costa Rica. They not only met the very high standards required to get a spot on Wendy’s list (and we know how high those standards are having planned wonderful trips with several of her experts)—they managed to exceed them. (As they may well attest, I am not an easy client, so this is really very high praise!) At the planning stage, Natalie did a masterful job in putting together an itinerary in which my husband and I were able to see the vast variety of wildlife and nature Costa Rica offers and experience the very special lodges she suggested—all specifically tailored to our interests and requests. Two things were particularly noteworthy about the planning process. First, I asked about an accommodation I had read about that CRE had not used before. Before booking us into it, Natalie travelled there herself to check it out and make sure it was a place that CRE could stand behind. I have never had a travel agent do that before! Second, Natalie took the time to have detailed discussions with me and was able to communicate to me exactly what the nature of the accommodations and the activities were in each place so I could make knowledgeable choices. All expectations were perfectly managed.

Once we arrived, the trip was flawless. CRE’s special touches and relationships were apparent everywhere we went—from insuring that we were assigned to rooms with wonderful views, to surprising us with meals planned especially for us in beautiful locations, to stocking our room with food and wine. In fact, every lodge knew our food preferences before we even arrived! The guides and drivers CRE provided were superb and truly taught us to see and appreciate nature and wildlife in new ways. One thing that was very special was the opportunity to participate in a program sponsored by CRE in a local village assisting the children there with English language skills. The kids were incredible! From the beginning to the end, CRE was instantly available to answer any questions, provide for any needs, or just check in to make sure everything was OK. By the end of the trip, we viewed Michael and Natalie as friends and we have continued to keep in touch. We recommend them highly.

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St. Barts, planned by Peg Walsh


I have rented from Peg many times and have never been disappointed. Our last trip was this past year during the Christmas/New Year holidays. Her staff, both in the U.S. and in Gustavia, answered all of my questions and were very helpful. I especially like that St. Barts is the only island where they rent villas. They know the owners and all of the areas of the island. They constantly update their helpful hints. I have recommended St Barth Properties to friends with no qualms. I will continue to rent a villa from them in the future.

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New Zealand, planned by Jean-Michel Jefferson


We are fully back to reality and our daily lives, but our trip to New Zealand was truly an incredible and memorable experience. We couldn’t have asked for more… except another week or two or three!

I’m a big proponent of honest feedback in order to help improve businesses and services. It is rare that I don’t have something to provide in the way of constructive criticism. In this case, I honestly can’t think of anything that I could complain about or even suggest for improvement. All aspects of our experience with Ahipara were top-notch and all the providers of lodging, guides, and activities that Ahipara partners with were outstanding. I usually can point to pricing or cost as some sort of issue, but I truly felt all prices and costs were reasonable and now after our vacation I feel we truly got our money’s worth and more!

When we were first considering a vacation to New Zealand and being practically on the other side of the globe, I knew we’d need local help. However, we’ve never been the type of people that go with average and never go with generic or crowded “tourist” tours. Finding Ahipara was a stroke of luck and research and gut feeling.

The entire cycle of vacation and trip planning to execution and logistics to providing unique experiences with professional and personal touches was fantastic and high caliber.

I know Ahipara is a team effort and I want to thank Jean-Michel for the initial vacation ideas and overall owning and operating a great firm. Much more though I want to thank Zuzana for all her help and hand-holding, outstanding planning and service, and great personal touches, sense of humor, and attention to detail.

All the activities we jointly planned were awesome, and we loved (yes.. Loved!) The Dairy and Paul and Matt, and Silverpine (Mike and Sue were great, but Roy the dog stole the show!). We didn’t miss a beat in the planning of the trip and a close to last minute adjustments of the itinerary turned out even better than original plans (the Middle Earth helo-hike with Mark and Alpine helo was unbelievable!). Once we landed and began our vacation, it was really nice to be checked in on and when weather impacted you were well ahead of things and coordinated adjustments without missing a beat. Ahipara’s “partnership” and skills and welcoming personality really made our vacation unforgettable and the experiences and memories we now have are priceless.

We hope to someday return to New Zealand and hope to stay for a bit longer! I have no qualms in recommending Ahipara highly and enthusiastically.

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1 Comment

  1. George Anifantis and Jill Gapper

    We really didn’t know what to expect when we booked a safari this year. Our must haves were game viewing, Victoria Falls, visit Cape Town, and enjoy good food and service. Dan planned our trip for us and he more than met whatever our expectations were. Leopard Hills accommodation and service were remarkable. When we left, it felt as if we were leaving family, even after 3 days. The guides were knowledgeable and made sure that we saw as much as we possibly could in our time there. It truly was one of our favorite trips and we travel quite a bit. Dan did a fine job with all our accommodations and activities; coordinating and planning with very little back and forth. The service everywhere, from housekeeping, to guides, transit buddies, to hotels was noteworthy. We took plenty of pictures of our villa on the Zambezi as it was indescribably gorgeous and our deck was right on the river. For 2 weeks, we had an experience that will be forever in our hearts and memories. We felt like we had the best of the best thanks to Dan’s efforts.

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