jHow to maximize your experience of a destination? Know the right fixer. What will the right fixer do for you? Read on.
Here is a 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.
Costa Rica, planned by Irene Edwards
JOHN ALLEN MIXON | DECEMBER 14, 2017
When we approached Irene in order to plan our trip to Costa Rica, we had no idea what we were looking for, where to go, or what to do. Irene was quick to lift that burden by discussing with us in great detail about our lives, hobbies, and passions. When her proposal came in, it was above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined planning. (and somehow still in our budget!) We wanted an authentic and adventurous trip, where we could immerse ourselves in the local culture and experience the stunning nature and wildlife of Costa Rica. She did not disappoint. We began our trip by flying into San Jose, where we were met by Mauricio. Let me stop here to discuss Mauricio.
He was by far one of the most knowledgeable, caring, funny, and genuine persons that I have ever met. He would point out historical landmarks, native plants, animals, mountains, lakes, etc. and tell you the history and everything there was to know about them. My wife gets car sick easily and he was very accommodating, making frequent rest stops to catch some fresh air and explore local markets in between the winding roads. He never allowed her to feel sick, and consistently checked to make sure she was having a pleasurable car ride! At one point on the trip, I needed to withdraw cash due do card difficulties, and so we stopped in a local town. I attempted to go into a bank to make a withdraw, and after waiting for a while was unable to do so. At this point Mauricio walked me in the rain from bank to bank, negotiating and translating for me, until we finally were able to complete the transaction (about 2 hours later). He was so patient and positive the entire time, and I would not have been able to do it without him. I could keep going on and on, but long story short, he was one of the best parts of the trip, and someone I hope to visit many more times!
We began by going to Dona Mara’s Home (Irene’s Mother) on the way to the Arenal volcano region after San Jose. She taught us how to prepare homemade tortillas, and prepared an amazing Costa Rican lunch filled with Gallo pintos, chicken, yucca, etc. (and made Mauricio, and I wear “cute” aprons and hats that my wife got a kick out of). She was so welcoming, and invited us back anytime! Next, we continued on to the Arenal Region of La Fortuna with Mauricio. Here Irene arranged a beautiful hotel for us at the base of the volcano amongst the natural hot springs. The hotel was Hotel Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa. The staff was professional yet very friendly. It was not your average tourist all inclusive ( which I consider basically America but in another country and a waste of a trip) but a rather authentic Tico experience. Pura Vida all the way. In the Arenal area, Irene arranged for us to go Ziplining, white water rafting, rappelling, and on a hanging bridge and wildlife tour. All in three days. It was amazing!!! We then got back in the van with Mauricio and headed to Nosara Beach on the Pacific side. This was the relaxation portion of our trip, where we were able to arrange our own activities, and surf as we pleased. The area was everything that we could have wanted. It was a vibrant local beach area without major resorts or attractions. Most everyone traveled by ATVs, which we rented from a local surf shop along with boards. We also got to see thousands of sea turtles arriving to lay their eggs, which only happens once or twice a year, for a few days! We surfed every day and ate at local restaurants and bars with some other tourists from our hotel. The Hotel was Olas Verdes and was right on the beach. It was all open air, with a different menu each day, and amazing staff. They stored our surfboards for us so that we could go whenever we pleased! This was the best trip we have ever had and was entirely hassle free ( minus my own banking issue) thanks to Irene and her staff. All of the transportation was safe, comfortable, and private!
Irene truly cares about the experience of her clients, and personally takes the time to get to know you. She sat through hours of calls with us in order to ensure we got the perfect honeymoon. We now are hoping to make this trip at least every 2 years, and would not dream of doing so without Irene and Mauricio. We promise you will not be let down!!!
Israel, planned by Joe Yudin
MORTON BAIRD | DECEMBER 14, 2017
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.
Christmas Markets River Cruise, planned by Tom Baker
DAVID AND TAFFY LOCK | DECEMBER 11, 2017
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!
France, planned by Jack Dancy
PATRICIA CAMPBELL | DECEMBER 11, 2017
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.
Kenya, planned by Linda Friedman
GERI KRAUSS | DECEMBER 10, 2017
We have only the highest praise for Linda! Linda planned a trip to Kenya this past summer for my husband and myself, our second trip to Africa. With both an office and phenomenal staff on the ground in Nairobi, Linda not only had personal experiences and relationships with every place we went, but her up-to-the-minute knowledge of both the events we wanted to see (migration) and those we wanted to avoid (security concerns, especially since we were there during the election) was impressive and reassuring. In fact, she and her organization were there to assist us every step of the way and address any issue that arose (and a couple did) on a moment’s notice.
Having been to Africa before, we had some sense of what we wanted to do and the kinds of places we wanted to stay. From the start, Linda was extremely responsive and spoke to me for as long as it took to describe to me in detail what she recommended and to answer my many questions. She also – and this is to me a very big plus – did not mince words in providing her opinions of places or lodges I asked about. In the end, we went with all her suggestions, visiting four locations after a brief stay in Nairobi: Ambeseli (Tami Lodge), Chyulu Hills (Ol Donyo Lodge), Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Sirikoi) and Masai Mara (Angama Mara). Each was different and so very special in their own way. The lodges all had fabulous views and the people were extremely friendly and totally accommodating. At Tami Lodge, the elephants spent hours at the waterhole “spa” giving themselves and each other mud baths and showers — a very entertaining sight. Ol Donyo and Angama Mara were both exceptionally striking, perched high up on the cliffs overlooking the vast plains beneath. At Ol Danyo, our room was itself wide open to nature (and we did have a nighttime visitor) as it was only enclosed by three walls. Sirikoi, however, was perhaps the most special. It is hard to even put into words what it is like to be sitting outside on the veranda having breakfast right across from the watering hole, watching mama and baby elephants eating and stripping bark from tree branches, zebras rolling in the sand, and baboons skipping along the edge in an atmosphere of virtual silence, sunshine and a gentle breezes. So serene, yet so breathtaking. The lodge is also completely self-sustainable, with all meals – which were the best we had (including one specially arranged for us out in the bush) – coming from the gardens that are cultivated on site. They even get their charcoal by processing the branches the elephants have stripped of bark!
The most amazing experience, of course, is the opportunity to observe and photograph the wildlife. For this, the drivers and guides Linda arranged for us were the best. They not only were able to find spectacular sightings, but managed to get us there before or after other jeeps found out about them. In Masai Mara, Linda arranged for us to be guided by David, a safari guide who works just with her (and was also with us in Nairobi), and was, without a doubt, the best of the best. David has spent his life learning about, observing and being around wildlife, so much so that he was able to predict where the animals were going to be or what the animals were going to do before the animals knew it! Because of his perceptiveness, we were in the right place at the right time for some very special viewings.
Overall, the trip was just fabulous and we highly recommend Linda. I say this as someone who has been to all seven continents, worked closely in planning trips with numerous travel experts, and asks a lot of questions in doing so. Linda answered them all with aplomb and provided us with a spectacular and safe adventure.
India, planned by Bertie and Victoria Dyer
LINDA EVASIUK | DECEMBER 3, 2017
The prospect of sorting through the chaos of options for exploring India was overwhelming. Victoria and Bertie were recommended through Wendy Perrin and made excellent suggestions with a range of options. I wanted heritage or boutique mid-range hotels options, all of which were excellent. Travelling as a solo woman in Mumbai and Rajasthan meant I was an oddity. The various guides and drivers made me feel safe while exploring back streets or tourist spots. They always checked that the itinerary was tuned to my wishes each day. The Mumbai by Dawn and Dharavi Slum tours they arranged with No Footprints were the best tours I’ve ever experienced. The cooking class organized at Diggi Palace in Jaipur with the Diggi family was stellar. Meeting the family and being invited to watch their daughters’ classic dance performance was a highlight of my India trip. My Jaipur Guide, Harsh, even arranged for his family Astrologist to do a reading based on my kids birthdays. My favorite hotel was 47 Jobner Baugh in Jaipur, which I would never have found on my own. Shiva and his family offer a very classy boutique experience and John looks after guests making everyone feel special. There were delicious vegetarian meals too. I did not miss being a carnivore on this trip.
Thank you for making this trip extraordinary.
Vietnam and Cambodia, planned by Sandy Ferguson
PAM LASSITER | NOVEMBER 30, 2017
As an organized person who has a lot of attitude about where I go/stay on vacations, I don’t want to spend precious time and $ on travel mistakes. I also love for someone else to do the organizing. I’ve found My Man with Sandy Ferguson.
The trip we just went on with Sandy (Nov 2017) to Vietnam and Cambodia was flawless, and my saying that is rare. I gave Sandy our time constraints and “must do’s,” including breaking off from his plan for 3 days for a Mekong River boat trip, and he hit all of our goals plus more with a quality and cohesion that I couldn’t have managed. He knows the cultures and the expertise of the guides so that flexibility and education are built into every day. One guide even stayed overnight in the area when we were on another boat in Ha Long Bay just to make sure she didn’t run into weather or traffic problems retrieving us when we returned.
Our group of four couldn’t even choose our “most favorite thing” at the end of our trip because there were too many winners. If you’re looking for a seamless, high quality vacation that gets you away from the hordes and gives you insights and experiences into the culture you’re visiting, Sandy’s your man.
Brazil, planned by Martin Frankenberg
SARA GOWING | NOVEMBER 29, 2017
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!
England, planned by Jane McCrum
FRANK RICHARDS | NOVEMBER 27, 2017
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.
Australia, planned by Stuart Rigg
JAN HEININGER | NOVEMBER 27, 2017
My husband and I spent 5 weeks in Australia in September-October 2017 on a spectacular trip planned and executed by Stuart and Debbie. We had long wanted to visit our seventh continent but quickly realized that even with 5 weeks we couldn’t see the entire country. My top priority was to see The Kimberley, a very remote area in northwestern Australia that even many Australians never get to. After phone conversations and emails, we ended up dividing our interests into two trips. For the first one, we chose to do what we called our Australia Bush Safari and we are intensely grateful we did so. Next time, we’ll do the southeast coast — what we call — “where the people live.” This trip, we went mostly to where few of the people live. If we’d done it the other (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania) — I doubt we’d ever have gone back to do what we did this time.
There is no way we could have planned this trip ourselves. The trip encompassed 18 flights and 14 places to stay. The first week we drove ourselves south from Perth to Albany and then back to the Margaret River region. Then we flew north for stays at three different places in The Kimberley (Cable Beach Club in Broome, El Questro and Berkeley River Lodge.) Then across the top end to Darwin and a safari lodge on a cattle station (Bamurru Plains), then three places in Queensland (Cairns, Lizard Island and Silky Oats Lodge), finishing with a stay in Uluru (Longitude 131). The logistics were complicated, entailing many tiny charter planes, helicopters and lots of transfers. Once Stuart figured out what kind of trip we wanted and the kinds of places we were interested in staying in, he put together an itinerary and made all the arrangements for a trip that exceeded my expectations. All the places he chose for us were excellent. Many were among the country’s most unique and/or luxurious (Como The Treasury in Perth, El Questro’s The Homestead, Longitude 131 in Uluru); one was a B&Bs with an owner who made some of the best omelettes we’ve had and did laundry for free after I slipped off a log and got coated in mud (The Beach House at Bayside in Albany). Others while more rustic had their own charm — at Karri Valley Resort, Lincoln race Ringnecked Parrots hung over the roof edge of our lakeview terrace. The full-day birding guide Stuart arranged for us in the area of Daintree National Park — Del Richards of Fine Feathers Tours — was terrific. Even the place about which I had reservations after our arrival (Berkeley River Lodge, which has the most uncomfortable dining room chairs ever and outdoor toilets — albeit private — I could have done without) became a place I have fond memories of because of the excursions we took and the fellow guests we met. And our transfer to and from Cairns and Silky Oats Lodge was via a stretch white limo that was superbly comfortable for my extra tall husband (and had a great driver).
We could not have had a better trip. That it was topped by one of Wendy’s WOW moments (a not-to-be-missed helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta) is just one more reason why Wendy Perrin’s trip experts are the best. The attention to detail Stuart and Debbie gave to our trip, the flawless execution of everything from hotels to lodges, private charters, drivers, airport transfers, private guides and reams of useful information ahead of time was something I was aware of before the trip — but could not fully appreciate until we were on it.
Wendy’s experts all share two essential traits — attention to detail in planning and careful execution of arrangements. I know I can trust that if I use one of her experts (and we’ve used a lot of them), their advice and planning will be excellent. But where they — and Stuart Rigg — are unmatched is in their ability to intuit what their clients want, need and most important, will delight in. Kudos.
Nicaragua, planned by Pierre Gédéon
BOBBI MALZMAN | NOVEMBER 19, 2017
Our trip was perfectly planned and every detail ran 100% well. We spent 3 nights at beautiful Jicaro Lodge, an eco-lodge in Lake Nicaragua, it was over the top well done. It was a great base to tour Grenada, the volcano, and a lovely boat ride. Then we went onto the amazing Mukul Resort, this Auberge Resort is beyond beautiful, words can not do it justice, golf, food, beach, pool, views, service. We were completely overwhelmed. Every guide was smart, timely, efficient. All transportation went without a hitch. I give Pierre Gédéon a five-star review!
Sicily, planned by Marcello Baglioni
KATHERINE BARDEN | NOVEMBER 16, 2017
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!
Northern California, planned by Jay and Dani Johnson
LINDA BROWN | NOVEMBER 15, 2017
I found Wendy Perrin via a web search and was tentative, but submitted my information anyway. And I am so glad that I did. From my first phone call with Dani Johnson, I could tell I was going to be in good hands. We had spent a lot of time in Northern CA wine country but wanted to try something new to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I set a high expectation for this trip and was nervous about going to an area I had never been before. We had heard great things about Southern CA wine country but when I started researching things I wasn’t finding the “splurges” I was looking for this time. Dani provided great suggestions. Each resort was exactly what I wanted. Ken our wine guide was spectacular and so happy now to have a new friend. The restaurant reservations were made and each one was fabulous. We travel often and I like to splurge occasionally on some of the experiences. Well at the end of the trip I said to my husband, each upgrade was worth it. It ranks up there as one of my favorite trips we have taken so far. Thank you, Dani, for listening to what I was looking for and coming through with suggestions I would never have found on my own. I know that we planned things late, but you still made it all happen. We are already recommending you and your services to friends that want to take the trip that we continue to talk about. The best suggestion I have for people considering working with Dani is, be honest about what you want, set the expectations and leave the planning to her and her team. I would definitely use Dani Johnson again and would also contact Wendy Perrin when we plan our next adventure. Thank you.
New Zealand, planned by Donna Thomas
CARL PEDIGO | NOVEMBER 10, 2017
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.
Madagascar, planned by Cherri Briggs
AMY EVERS | NOVEMBER 6, 2017
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!
Spain, planned by Virginia Irurita
KYLA SCHNEIDER | NOVEMBER 5, 2017
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.
France villa vacation, planned by Annie Flogaus
ANNE LLOYD | OCTOBER 31, 2017
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!
South Pacific cruise, planned by Leslie Fambrini
ALISON FIELDS | OCTOBER 29, 2017
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.)
Ireland, planned by Jonathan Epstein
CAROL COZEN | OCTOBER 31, 2017
Jonathan put together a fantastic trip with just more than two months notice. After a half hour of preliminary conversation, he was able to garner a quick read of our travel style (quick moving, long days), including the types of hotels and rooms we like, and preferences for guides and touring. We were thrilled with the results: loved the hotels (we were upgraded in all properties) and our driver guide (highly recommend for Ireland) was a perfect fit. I should also mention that Nicole, Jonathan’s assistant, is incredibly responsive and a pleasure to work with.
We expected rain on our trip but did not anticipate a hurricane! While we only lost one day of touring (spent a relaxing day in the spa), we were not aware that our next hotel had closed due to lack of power. Lucky for us, Jonathan and Nicole were right on it and had us booked with an upgrade at another 5 star property.
I would definitely use Jonathan for a future trip and highly recommend him. Be prepared to provide an honest view of how you like to travel and he will tailor an experience to meet your needs.
Rome and Venice, planned by Maria Landers and Brian Dore
DANIEL WESNER | OCTOBER 27, 2017
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.
Italy, planned by Andrea Grisdale
SCOTT LICHTIG | OCTOBER 25, 2017
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.
St. Lucia, planned by Lindsey Epperly
ALLISON MANN | OCTOBER 24, 2017
I was very happy with Lindsey. I thought she listened to what I wanted for our anniversary trip. Lindsey and her assistants helped plan our initial trip to Turks and Caicos and then the hurricane hit so we changed islands to St. Lucia because Lindsey highly recommended the resort, Sugar Beach Viceroy. Everyone in Lindsey’s office responded promptly to any questions. Our trip was amazing as the resort was everything it was described to us. There was champagne and fruit in our room when we arrived. We spent the first night at one of the cottages with a private plunge pool. The next day the resort upgraded us to a beach bungalow which was so great as we could walk to dinner and walk right out to the beach. I would say that the upgraded room was my husbands favorite part of our trip. Our butler was so wonderful as was all of the people at the resort. Our butler arranged a boat tour for just us that brought us to Marigot Bay for lunch and then snorkeling at two different places on our return back to the resort. The restaurants and food were very good. It was a great getaway.
Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, planned by Greg Tepper
JOHN, JULIE, AND MATTHEW SCHAIBLE | OCTOBER 23, 2017
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
Grand Canyon river rafting trip, planned by Mindy Gleason
NANCY DAVIS AND RICHARD D. ASHMORE | OCTOBER 19, 2017
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
Sri Lanka, planned by Miguel Cunat
SHELLEY DEVINNY | OCTOBER 16, 2017
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!
Calgary, Canada, planned by Sheri Doyle
PHYLLIS BOSSIN | OCTOBER 11, 2017
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.
Colombia, planned by Eric Sheets
ALISON BAGLEY | OCTOBER 9, 2017
Ali Bagley here, we traveled to Colombia Sept-Oct 2017
I worked mostly with Nils and Filomena on Eric’s team, for this trip. It was a great Itinerary. They really tried to make the most out of our time in Colombia. It was our 15th-anniversary celebration and they went over and above in every aspect. We were greeted on our first night with flowers and champagne! very nice touch. I got to tell you that they worked hard on this…the whole time we were traveling! We had some hiccups, There was a pilot strike on the airline we had booked 3 out of the 4 interior flights while there. We had to rebook all of them! And even on the new one there were delays to the point of changing our itinerary completely, But Nils was on it!! Thank god he was there to keep the craziness at bay. I would definitely recommend these guys service!
Greece, planned by Christos Stergiou
CHRIS STOLL | OCTOBER 8, 2017
Our group of three couples just returned from a magical week on the island of Santorini. The magic was largely made possible by Christos Stergiou. He recommended Astra Suites for our stay; a regular topic of conversation among the group was how wonderful our rooms, the service, and the pool were. The resort is perfectly located to enjoy the stunning sunset each night. And the breakfasts on our private terrace gave us that feel-good feeling every morning. Christos suggested and organized fun and interesting activities which included a private guide to show us the best parts of the island and a catamaran sail giving a different perspective of Santorini. Any questions we had were quickly answered by Christos’ team. It was a seamless experience making it possible to experience the best Santorini had to offer.
Arctic cruise, planned by Ashton Palmer
PHILIP GOLDMAN | OCTOBER 2, 2017
Ashton Palmer and his team are first class. We travel widely and I personally have visited over 80 countries for work or pleasure. Ashton’s team helped me and my family to arrange our single most rewarding and enjoyable trip by far — a Lindblad cruise to the Arctic. We have since booked two additional trips with him (Galapagos and Alaska), and are in the process of booking a fourth. Ashton spent a lot of time learning about our family and its preferences. He has access to a wide arrange of options and made sure to tailor them to our needs. Every detail is covered with each booking. Our itineraries were highly organized and provided to us both electronically and in hard copy. Ashton’s team also provided us with extensive information on each trip to help us to prepare and made sure we met every key deadline. Friendly and responsive, Ashton’s team always goes the extra mile, helping us to secure an airline refund for a trip segment that was canceled in Alaska due to weather. If you are considering an expedition trip or cruise, you just can’t do any better.
Southern Africa, planned by Julian Harrison
HOWARD AND JUDY HUGHES | SEPTEMBER 25, 2017
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.
Normandy, France, planned by Jennifer Virgilio
FRANK RICHARDS | SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
Jennifer Virgilio and her team, arranged for some great experiences including a private cooking class with a top chef, a cheese (Camembert) and apple (Calvados) tour with a an agronomist who was truly fantastic that included a picnic lunch he had prepared, and a very informative D-Day tour with an English gentleman who was extremely knowledgeable. All the guides were personable and very knowledgeable. In all cases, they had arranged for a lunch and we asked that they join us – talking with them and hearing their stories, for us, is important.
Also, we would highly concur with her recommendation to stay at the Villa Lara in Bayeux (where we were upgraded to a suite) and her restaurant reservations.
We hope to go back and would use her again.
Alaska, planned by Judith Root
BARBARA AND CHARLES YELVERTON | SEPTEMBER 13, 2017
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.
Nice, planned by Philip Haslett
WENDY HALPERN | AUGUST 27, 2017
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.
Bali, planned by Diane Embree
JESSICA MCCOMB | AUGUST 23, 2017
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!
Black Hills, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Jackson, planned by Marty Behr
CAROL SCHACKMAN | AUGUST 13, 2017
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.
Tahiti and Bora Bora, planned by Kleon Howe
RENEE ROUSSELOT | AUGUST 12, 2017
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.
Big Sky, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, planned by Caroline Wood
KATHERINE BARDEN | JULY 18, 2017
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.
Italy villa vacation, planned by Mara Solomon
CAROLINE FENN | JULY 17, 2017
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.
Peru, planned by Marisol Mosquera
SHARONNE HAYES | JULY 16, 2017
We truly had a wonderful Peru experience. The range of activities, environments, and experiences was remarkable. We spent time in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, a few days hiking the Andes (starting at 14,000 feet and ascending to almost 17,000), and finishing it off with a perfect Amazon cruise experience on the Delfin. All connections, guides, facilities, and food were great. We are so glad we used an in-country travel agent. The expertise was invaluable in light of the fact we had two families traveling for part of the time together, part of the time apart, and for part of the time, adult children having yet a third itinerary. Pleasing two families with ages 17 – 63 is an art, and we appreciated Marisol’s advice. We didn’t have any issues for her team to “fix” but were pleasantly surprised to have not just a car and driver, but the use of a guide and on-the-fly help with dinner reservations while hanging out in Lima before our overnight flight home.
Paris apartment rental, planned by Madelyn Willems
SUSAN HENDRICKSON | JULY 10, 2017
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!
Peru, planned by Tom Damon
BRIAN MCCAFFREY | JULY 1, 2017
Brian McCaffrey – May 2017 – Peru including Puerto Maldonato, Cusco/ Sacred Valley/ Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca. Travel was a two-person trip with an accent on active experiences such as hiking and sea kayaking. Tom worked with us to construct a tailored itinerary for a two-week adventure-filled trip. The in-country experiences were extraordinary in all aspects – we stayed at beautiful properties, the guides and drivers were knowledgeable and friendly, and the individual unique experiences we planned were incredible including a cooking class in Cusco, a stay in a tree house one night in the rain forest, and a 2.5 hour sea kayaking excursion on Lake Titicaca. Due to a late schedule change, Tom needed to advance the entire trip itinerary 2 weeks. He successfully rescheduled everything and still got us into his preferred properties. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Peru and would use Tom again to plan our next adventure to South America.
Newfoundland, planned by Jill Curran
LORI RYERSON | JUNE 7, 2017
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.
Berlin, planned by Gwen Kozlowski
MARSHA FRIEDLI | MAY 25, 2017
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.
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.
Southeast Asia planned by Antonia Neubauer
RICHARD MORGENTHAL | MAY 7, 2017
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.
Portugal, planned by Mike Korn
ADRIENNE AUERBACH | APRIL 25, 2017
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!
Mexico, planned by Zach Rabinor
KATHERINE BARDEN | APRIL 21, 2017
We had a fantastic vacation planned by Zachary Rabinor and his team in April 2017. After spinning my wheels for several weeks searching for the perfect Mexican villa to celebrate a 50th birthday, I called in the experts at Journey Mexico. In very short order, they found us the perfect villa – one which was not listed on the other public sites. It had all the amenities we had asked for and was available during a busy holiday week. As always, the more specific you can be in your requests, the more satisfied you will be with the result!
The planning process went very well. Zach’s staff took care to get all the needs and preferences of all attendees prior to the trip. The villa was stocked with our favorites. Excursions were planned and enjoyed – catamaran snorkel and a multi-stop day tour along in and around Tulum, golf, massages etc… The highlight was a float on the sian kaan biosphere. One note, we use private guides on almost all our trips and they are often a highlight. However, while our guide that day was pleasant she did not really connect very well with the group.
The villa was perfection – location, beauty, and most importantly the incredible staff that took care of us. Also, Journey Mexico always had a local representative available to us for any changes/requests once we departed. They were all exceptionally courteous and helpful.
I would not hesitate to recommend Zach and his team and would use them again for future vacations.
Cabo, planned by Julie Byrd
MICHELLE SULLIVAN | APRIL 19, 2017
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!
China, planned by Mei Zhang
LISA DETTMER | APRIL 10, 2017
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.
Southeast Asia, planned by Andrea Ross
JESSICA ISAACS | MARCH 30, 2017
My wife and I (then fiance), found Andrea Ross after browsing your “Wow List.” We were skeptical about using a travel agent for our honeymoon because I’m a planner and love planning all of the trips we take. But between planning our wedding and wanting a truly elevated level of service where we wouldn’t have to be stressed at all on our honeymoon, we began the research.
We “interviewed” several companies and weren’t impressed. Some even connected us with agents that had never traveled to SE Asia! And then we found Andrea and her colleague April Cole, who is a superstar. From our first prelim conversation, she just “got it”. She asked all the right questions and within 3 days, we had 2 different itineraries that were pretty much right on the money. After some very collaborative tweaking here and there, we had the trip of a lifetime on paper (Thailand and Cambodia for 2 weeks).
Julie and I just got back and can say without a doubt that Andrea and April over-delivered. The hotels, private guides, activities, excursions, meals….everything was over the top and by far culminated in the best trip of our lives. Our goals were to somehow be very active and in that participate in activities that were unique and we hadn’t done before (hike through the jungle, elephant sanctuary, private romantic dinner in Cambodian rice fields, ATV through Cambodian villages) and spend the rest of the time in total veg-out, relaxation mode in a very romantic setting (5 star hotels, incredible service, sunset dinners, etc). Andrea and April checked the boxes on all. Not to mention, they were always available from a communication standpoint with their folks on the ground always a phone call away, and that we were able to give back to the community in small ways through participating in activities via NGO’s.
This is a long testimonial, but I think it’s important for you to know that we a) appreciate your strong recommendation because we wouldn’t have had this experience without your nod of approval, and b) that we strongly suggest you keep recommending them to your travelers in need of a travel specialist that focuses on SE Asia.
Thank you sincerely for your WOW List and for helping to connect us with the best travel specialists we could have asked for.
Asia cruise, planned by Mary Jean Tully
JOHN COLLINS | MARCH 29, 2017
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!
Japan, planned by Scott Gilman
PAM MACKEY | MARCH 22, 2017
Everything went very smoothly. I can honestly say that Makiko was the best guide I have ever had. She was friendly, funny, very smart and knowledgeable, and made sure that we saw and did everything on our list. She found the best places for a quick lunch. Our drivers were also wonderful, especially the driver in Kyoto (I think his name was Hiashi san). He was so considerate and went out of his way to show us where to try the best mochi in Kyoto and to see a gorgeous cherry tree that was in early bloom.
Our hotels were also superb. I am glad that I returned to the Park Hyatt. The service and accommodations were top notch. I am also glad that I returned to the Ritz in Kyoto. It is a wonderful hotel and the staff is very attentive. The Ryokan was another excellent experience. Our onsen and the room were lovely, and we especially enjoyed the town of Shuzenji – very charming.
Even the train transfers at Tokyo station went well, in spite of the mob scene there. Our transfer guide expertly navigated us through multiple halls and elevators. I don’t think we could have managed without her.
We also enjoyed the visit to the Ghibli Museum. My daughter was thrilled to see the notebooks and sketches from the movies and to see how the master worked behind the scenes. He is truly a living legend in Japan. The guide had some interesting anecdotes about him- he can be found in the morning sweeping the streets in his neighborhood!
Eating fresh sushi at Tsukiji was a special treat. The Zen meditation session at Taizoin was unique and I am glad we experienced it and saw the temple. The session put my daughter in a Zen mood for visits to other gardens.
Besides the tea ceremony, which was very nice, we had a special and unexpected tea making session with the funny and friendly tea master at Ipppodo, who has his own techniques for making the best tea.
Thank you to Scott and his team for arranging a wonderful trip. Now if you could only figure out how to eliminate jet lag and get more of those cherry trees to bloom early!
Cuba, planned by David Lee
MARC KENNETH | MARCH 12, 2017
David Lee took information from us and then planned a trip based on our personal interests. He booked us in the best hotel in Havana and set us up with a terrific guide and driver. We were only 4 people on a private tour so we were able to alter the itinerary at our whim, and our private guide helped us do exactly what we wanted to do. Our guide Lianette helped us find venues for things that we wanted to do after “tour hours” as well. For example, if we said we wanted to listen to an authentic Cuban band after dinner, she found the venue and walked us to the door. We asked for a red Cadillac convertible to drive us through Havana and she got us a red Cadillac convertible and even followed us and took a video of us riding in the car. Excellent tour.
Myanmar, planned by Lorenzo Urra
RON KLAUSNER | MARCH 9, 2017
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.
Siem Reap and Hanoi, planned by Andy Booth
JOELLEN SHELDEN | MARCH 1, 2017
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.
Buenos Aires, planned by Maita Barrenechea
SANDRA QUINN, STEPHEN THOMAS AND BRIAN QUINN | JANUARY 16, 2017
We have planned trips with multiple WOW list agents and as always, our trip with Maita met our expectations for thoughtful planning, great guides, and an overall wonderful trip. I talked with Maita, Santaigo and other staff early in the process to discuss our interests and then we worked well on email to nail down the specifics. One of the things I appreciated was receiving the pre-trip packet of information on traveling to Buenos Aires; that was very helpful. When we arrived, our driver met us and handed us a full packet of other materials to help us enjoy the city. As professors, we like having a real depth of information and resources to read.
One highlight for us was our evening with Fabrizio at a milonga. He was a thorough teacher in explaining tango and how milongas operate in the city. That was a fascinating look at tango and the culture that surrounds it. He is very well known in the tango world so we met other people who came to greet him and were clearly excited to see him. We decided once we were in the city to have a private tango lesson and Santaigo responded quickly and set it up. We really enjoyed that experience. I had worked with Maita to identify several museums to give us a breadth of experience in the city; we found MALBA very thought-provoking, the Evita museum a must see, and the El Zanjon de Granados colonial houses fascinating for its look into the citys development. Other highlights included excellent restaurants and lovely guides who were knowledgable, engaging and fun to be with. Maria took us to her favorite empanada restaurant so that we could try empanadas as they are made in the region of the country in which she grew up.
Finally, Santiago checked in with us via the phone on several occasions, and on Christmas Eve, there was a staff person on call who responded in a timely way to a question. We felt we were well cared for throughout the trip by Maita and her team. The experience really whetted our appetite for another trip to Argentina at some future date and without question, I would work with Maita again.
Fiji, planned by Lynette Wilson
JEN GREEN | OCTOBER 25, 2016
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.
Turkey, planned by Earl Starkey
SUZANNE ILGUN | OCTOBER 18, 2016
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.
Barge cruise, planned by Ellen Sack
JERRY HULLER | OCTOBER 7, 2016
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
British Columbia, planned by Marc Telio
JANETTE GILL | OCTOBER 2, 2016
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.
Egypt, planned by Jim Berkeley
LAURA MANTELL | JULY 31, 2016
Jim was a pleasure to work with and he put together an incredible trip. My husband and I often tell others that our trip to Egypt was the trip of a lifetime (we are well traveled). One of the Egyptologists who guided us (he had also worked with the BBC and National Geographic) was encyclopedic about ancient Egypt. Because the ancient Egyptians documented everything, their culture becomes palpable – I remember being read (hieroglyphs) an IOU written on a stone from one neighbor who had borrowed wheat from another promising to pay it back!
I don’t know what it’s like to be in Egypt now, but I trust Jim not only to deliver a unique adventure in one of the world’s most fascinating places but also a safe one.
The Maldives, planned by Lindsey Wallace
LINDA FONTAINE | JULY 26, 2016
We are a family of 4 with 2 pre teen boys that travel out of the USA about 3-4 times a year. Lindsey Wallace was the first agent we have ever worked with that we felt heard what we wanted out of a trip and made it happen. Not a single email felt prewritten or part of a form letter. The accommodations were over the top and the service was stellar. Lindsey arranged for us to charter a private Dhoni which we loved and then we followed up at a resort. The combination of the 2 experiences made for a great trip to fully experience the Maldives. Lindsey’s connections in the area allowed us to stay in accommodations of a better class than what we would have been able to secure ourselves and the staff at the resort could not have been more welcoming knowing we were guests of Lindsey’s. We cannot wait to come back!
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!
Uzbekistan, planned by Zulya Rajabova
RON KLAUSNER | JUNE 29, 2016
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.
Rome walking tour, planned by Paul Bennett
ISA ENGLEBERG | AUGUST 12, 2015
On our way to Sicily, we did a stopover in Rome to return to the Vatican museum and see several sites we had never visited. We booked several tours with Paul’s team at Context Travel. Two were outstanding, in large part, because the guide was outstanding. We have nothing but praise for the personable, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic Dony.
The Appian Way tour proved more interesting than we thought it would be. After all, the Appian way is just a road. But it’s a real road of great significance, parts of which are in wonderful condition. Dony helped us imagine what it would have been like during the peak of its use. Even more enchanting was the tour of the Baths of Caracalla. We’d read about them, but were amazed by the scope of the complex, its ingenious heating systems and salons, and the preserved mosaics.
The absolute BEST tour was the first-of-its-kind, customized Tosca tour in Rome. We had told Context Travel that we love opera, but nothing was playing during our few days in Rome. They asked Dony to design a tour in which we would visit the actual sites depicted in each act of the opera, Tosca. Dony had done his homework, brought along an iPad filled with music, and began telling the story as we visited the glorious Church of Sant’ Andrea of Act I. Here is where Angelotti hid, where Tosca and Cavaradossi sing their love duets, and where the Te Deum is sung. We then went to the front of the Palazzo Farnese (Act II) where the diabolical Scarpia met his end at Tosca’s hands. Finally, we walked through a maze of fascinating streets to the Act III prison at the Castel Sant’ Angelo where Tosca’s lover Cavaradossi awaited execution. Dony played the final arias as we walked the steps and hallways that led to the top of the castle. The statute of the archangel Michael loomed above us—as itdoes in the final act of the opera. And we could look across Rome as Tosca did when she jumped off the parapet to her doom. Bravo Puccini. Bravo Dony! If you love opera, you’ll love this tour. And you’ll love Dony too. Bravo again.
Disney, planned by Susan Kelly
JEFFREY BERNFIELD | JULY 17, 2015
We have used Travel Magic for two separate vacations and they are currently planning a third trip for us now. As a family, we have been to Disney over 25 times over the years but decided to use Susan and Travel Magic for the last three trips. No one knows Disney as well as Travel Magic. Everything is seamless from the planning to check-in and checkout. They spend hours finding out your personal tastes and preferences and they schedule your FastPasses, dining reservations and activities. They seem to have access to dining times that we could not get ourselves. Travel Magic is relentless in making sure that your experience is “magical” in every way. As seasoned Disney travelers, our experiences have only been enhanced by using Travel Magic and we will continue to do so. We have used many, many of Wendy’s travel experts and Susan and her other experts at Travel Magic rank near the top of all the different agencies we have used over the years.
Costa Rica, planned by Michael Kaye & Natalie Ewing
GERI KRAUSS | JUNE 20, 2015
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.
India, planned by Sanjay Saxena
TAFFY & DAVE LOCK | APRIL 2, 2015
We were on a magic carpet ride! We have just returned from a 5-week trip to India, professionally executed in flawless detail by Sanjay Saxena and his team at Destination Himalaya. Our experience using their services was nothing short of amazing—from the pre-departure document to the final bulletin, everything was laid out and quality advice given so we could get the most out of our trip. We had the best guides and the best drivers—all orchestrated behind the scenes to share their passion for incredible India and give us wonderful spontaneous experiences which can be one of the greatest joys of travel. The accommodations were outstanding and became our oasis at the end of very busy days. If you want a meaningful, unique and memorable travel experience contact Sanjay at Destination Himalaya for his expert planning and in-depth knowledge of India.
St. Barts, planned by Peg Walsh
JEANNE GIBBONS | MARCH 4, 2015
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.
New Zealand, planned by Jean-Michel Jefferson
C & S, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA | DECEMBER 10, 2014
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.