Considering what we’ve all been through in the past two years, it feels more important than ever to celebrate joyous milestones. To help you remember what that feels like, we’ve collected these unforgettable romantic vacations enjoyed by your fellow WOW List travelers—both during and prior to the pandemic. They remind me of my own starry-eyed trips way back when—such as my first date with my husband, which happened to be at the Cape of Good Hope, or the time he surprised me with a ski trip to Andorra, which was our first trip alone together after our babies were born. The following trips were all designed and arranged by destination specialists on Wendy’s WOW List, a group which I’ve road-tested and rigorously vetted (with readers’ help) and which I’m now also monitoring for their Covid-travel readiness. If you’re not sure who’s the right specialist for you, contact me at Ask Wendy and I’ll give you a personalized trip recommendation. Here’s to future travels!
“They surprised us with cards, wine and cookies to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary…”
“We chose southern Spain because of its high vaccination rates and relatively warm late Fall weather. Virginia planned a wonderful 11 day trip that included charming hotels, skilled guides, and an itinerary that exposed us to the incredible Andalusian architecture and landscapes. We felt safer from contracting COVID in Spain that we would in the US as the Spanish are “religious” about wearing masks both indoors and outdoors and are constantly sanitizing all surfaces in restaurants, museums, and other public and private facilities. A few truly special aspects of our trip:
The Urso Hotel in Madrid is a wonder. When our room wasn’t ready upon our arrival, we were upgraded to a better room. Our stays in Madrid bracketed our trip and when we returned we were given the same room. The entire staff were invariably warm and resourceful. They surprised us with cards, wine and cookies to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary and then to top off our stay allowed us to keep our room a few extra hours (w/o charge) to accommodate our departure schedule. Please, when can I move in?
We worked with 5 different guides and each was knowledgeable about their subject area, and passionate about “their” city and its sites. Some of the best guides we’ve ever had.
Virginia, Clare and their team supported us in various ways throughout the trip. They sent updates regarding Spanish and US health and travel regulations. (The requirement to be tested for Covid w/in 24 hours of traveling back to the US occurred while we were in Spain). We changed the terms of our car rental and struggled a bit with pick up and drop off and received prompt assistance.
We look forward to working with Virginia to plan our next trip to Spain and Portugal!” —Ruby Sinclair
“It was a 60th birthday celebration for Jessica and a pre-wedding, postponed 3x, gathering…”
“We just returned from an extraordinary WOW trip to Tulum, Mexico (Nov 23 – 28, 2021). Our trip planner was Zach. His assistant planner, Patricia, was truly helpful and incredibly responsive throughout. We had a challenge: A blended family with 5 grown kids from all corners of the country and with different backgrounds, interests and styles. It was a 60th birthday celebration for Jessica and a pre-wedding, postponed 3x, gathering. We wanted exquisite beaches, Mayan history, a private villa with chef for Covid reasons and planned, safe activities as well as private beach. Zach found it! Casa Ixchel took our breath away and exceeded all our expectations. The accommodations were spectacular, everyone had a gorgeous, well appointed, beautiful designed room, the Casa had marvelous open common rooms with views of the gardens, pool and beach, the beach itself was beyond imagination, and our excursions were marvelous. We spent one half day biking at the Coba ruins and another day snorkeling off Cozumel island. The other two days, we had free to ride bikes, walk on the beach, lounge at the pool and just be together. The meals were beyond delicious—and accommodated a variety of dietary restrictions! The villa staff was professional, kind, helpful and responsive. Zach’s team arranged for a doctor to come to the villa to perform Covid testing a day before departure and all airport transfers, cars, trip drives felt very Covid safe. Mostly we had a beautiful, breathtaking week. It was a trip we will cherish and remember always. Thank you Wendy! Once again, we couldn’t have done it without you.” —Jessica Tolmach
“Kleon provided everything we asked for, small quiet resorts on 4 islands and one atoll, ocean front & spacious bungalows with privacy, all with snorkeling, great food and wine and friendly congenial staff…”
“Our trip to French Polynesia on October 9 to November 3, 2021 included the islands of Tahiti (Intercontinental), Huahine (Lapita, and Le Mahana), Vahine motu near Tahaa, atoll Tikehau (Pearl Resort) and Morea (Sofitel), all highly recommended.
What a pleasure it was to have Kleon arrange another vacation trip for us to French Polynesia in October 2021. Kleon had organized a memorable wedding anniversary trip to Tahiti for us two years ago, so in early 2021, expecting that the Covid-19 pandemic with its associated lock-downs would hopefully soon be over, we asked Kleon, through Wendy, to arrange another trip to Tahiti with the excuse it was to celebrate a significant birthday.
We had very specific requirements for our trip: about 4 weeks long with stays in about 5 different islands or atolls, small resorts, quiet, all within our budget, but with the option of exceeding the budget for something exceptional. Leading up to the trip, Kleon kept us informed about changing requirements for entry to French Polynesia, so we could get prepared and schedule any required tests.
Kleon provided everything we asked for, small quiet resorts on 4 islands and one atoll, ocean front & spacious bungalows with privacy, all with snorkeling, great food and wine and friendly congenial staff. Kleon also arranged for a very appropriate WOW Moment, two bottles of French wine and a massage. It was such a pleasure to make the trip arranged by Kleon, because we did not have to worry about any of the details: internal flights between the islands were all pre-booked, the transfers between the airports and the resorts mostly private…..no more having to deal with aggressive taxi drivers or overloaded vans, or wondering how to get to the next location…….It was all seamless: we got off the plane, were met by a driver and van or a boat, and were promptly delivered to our next location.
Of course, the concern about Covid-19 was everywhere, but we felt safe and secure thanks to Kleon’s advice and familiarity with the resorts. At all the resorts we visited, guests were required to wear masks when in contact with other people (even if most of the guests were double or even triple vaccinated), and certainly ALL the staff we encountered in Tahiti wore masks.
Getting our Covid-19 test before leaving Tahiti was of great concern to us. We had to get the Molecular PCR test to enter Canada, which usually takes 24-48 hours. It just so happened that we were leaving on a Tuesday evening, and the labs were closed on Sat, Sun, and Monday since it was a Tahitian holiday. Kleon overcame all obstacles about getting us the test. We were staying at the Sofitel on the island of Morea, and Kleon arranged for an early Tuesday morning taxi to take us to the testing lab for our Covid PCR tests. When we checked out of the hotel at 4 pm same day, the hotel’s reception, plus the concierge, each handed us copies of the Covid test results. We would not have been able to get that organized without Kleon.
Thank you, Kleon, for another great trip.” —Rose Inger
“His expertise took us to gardens and museums before the crowds arrived and he knew the best shop owners to get quality goods.”
“Go, go go now! We just got back from Morocco after putting it on hold for a year. Helen planned the perfect trip. Most everything was open except for a few monuments. Tourist are coming back but not in droves so the medinas and souks were busy but with locals. Tour busses were hardly seen. Our guide, Said, enjoyed showing us his country and seeing colleagues he hadn’t seen in almost two years. His expertise took us to gardens and museums before the crowds arrived and he knew the best shop owners to get quality goods. The itinerary Helen planned was perfect. One day would be spent on a city tour and the next we were hiking in the mountains, then there would be a travel day so no two days were the same. Said would hire local guides for certain hikes or village tours, which gave us a personal insight into the area. We stayed in small riads from the North to the South. All of them unique. Everyone from the hotel staff to the shop owners were so happy that we were there. People smiled everywhere we went. COVID-19 was not issue. Morocco has a high vaccination rate and everyone in the tourist industry was vaccinated. The hotel restaurants were all open air. Helen arranged for a COVID test the day before we left to return to the States. It couldn’t have been easier. Dar Alham in Skoura was our last stop and what a way to end the trip. Not only was it relaxing lounging by the pool but the staff would organize special outings for their guests like a tea ceremony at sunset high in the mountains.
Loved everything about this trip, timing, itinerary and the people!.” —Leslie Enlow
“The highlight of the trip might have been the first two nights at Chef Massimo Bottura’s Casa Maria Luigia and dinner at his acclaimed Francescana. We met both Chef and partner/wife Lara.”
“Needing an extended get-away after our son’s wedding (which Maria planned their honeymoon), my wife and I took a three week cooking excursion to Northern Italy. We had travelled with Maria on two prior occasions, so hectic-ness of the wedding dictated that we left almost all details to her. We were so pleased! We went to the less travelled areas of Italy’s cooking fame; Modena, Bologna, Parma and finished in Lake Como. The highlight of the trip might have been the first two nights at Chef Massimo Bottura’s Casa Maria Luigia and dinner at his acclaimed Francescana. We met both Chef and partner/wife Lara. Their hospitality was everything we could hope for…. one of the most enjoyable stays of my life. Fantastic location to unwind from jet lag. My wife is a chef and cooked twice with two fabulous cooks, Cristina in Bologna and Stefania in Parma. Both experiences were highlights, as well as glimpses inside their lives in both their wonderful homes! Ending the trip in Lake Como at the fabulous Grand Hotel Tremezzo was the bow on the present. Splendid! We felt safe the entire time and our drivers were impeccable. Thank you for this incredible journey and taking care of the details for us!” —Alton Kelley
“We thought we would be having a simple picnic lunch…”
“Our favorite experience in Peru was on the afternoon of our 10th wedding anniversary. We thought we would be having a simple picnic lunch, but when we arrived at our picnic, we were amazed to see a canopy tent popped up in a field that overlooked the Andes. The table was tastefully decorated with linens, lace, fresh flowers, and local decor pieces. Wow! A three-man cooking team prepared a lovely four-course meal in a separate tent while we sipped wine. There was even a portable toilet in a third small tent! Nothing was overlooked. In fact, during our ten-day trip arranged by Marisol, no detail was left unturned, from our beautiful accommodations to our awesome local guide to the snacks in our vehicle. We had an incredible trip.” —Erica Stanforth
“We wanted luxury lodges and unique experiences…”
“Stuart planned the perfect trip for our 30th wedding anniversary: We spent three weeks in Australia, taking multiple in-country flights and visiting Melbourne, Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Uluru, the Daintree Rainforest, and Sydney. We wanted luxury lodges and unique experiences, and our expectations were exceeded. Stuart must have told everyone that we were celebrating an anniversary because, at each location, we received not only cards and good wishes but sometimes cakes or champagne or chocolates. But this is what blew us away: In Tasmania, at Saffire Freciynet, we tasted several excellent local gins one evening and commented to the staff on how much we liked them, and when we reached Sydney at the end of the trip, there was a gift of three bottles of gin and a lovely note from Stuart. That is one of the above-and-beyond gestures that made this trip extraordinary.” —Robin and Josh Madden
“Everyone knew it was our anniversary!”
“While we take fairly involved adventure vacations (safaris, a dog-sledding expedition, and scuba diving, rafting and trekking trips), none have involved the degree of planning that our recent Disney trip did! Disney World can be overwhelming: To maximize your time there, you need to carefully plan out your schedule for each day and manage restaurant reservations, show times, and Fast Passes. Michelle’s advice was invaluable in this regard. She took into consideration that this was an adults-only vacation and made great suggestions such as visiting a practically empty and childless Magic Kingdom with an After Dark ticket. She managed to fit in a coveted reservation for Be Our Guest, and her recommendations for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival helped us navigate that fun event. Michelle’s hard work enabled us to have a wonderful anniversary trip—and everyone knew it was our anniversary because Michelle told them!” —Barbara Sheridan
“A celebration trip for my son and his wife for their 2nd wedding anniversary…”
“I used Pablo to arrange a celebration trip to Spain—Barcelona, San Sebastian, and Madrid—for my son and his wife for their 2nd wedding anniversary. One of their interests was to try different exclusive restaurants and wineries, and Pablo was able to secure reservations at three Michelin-star restaurants. He arranged tours of boutique-style wineries, including a special wine-tour bike ride in Barcelona. Since my son is a guitar enthusiast, Pablo arranged for a Spanish guitar lesson and also got him into a special Flamenco show. Pablo had the ability to secure unique, private, and culturally enriching activities, allowing my son and daughter-in-law to experience Spanish cuisine and culture in a way that I am sure would not have been possible otherwise.” —Jeffrey Bernfield
“I would surprise my wife with a ring in a renewal proposal aboard a private yacht…”
“I wanted to make the most of a short trip to Paris to celebrate my wife’s birthday and to present her with the diamond ring she never got when we first got together 10 years ago. Jennifer made a variety of suggestions, and we decided I would surprise my wife with the ring in a renewal proposal aboard a private yacht. I had originally requested a Venetian boat, but at the last minute it had mechanical problems, rendering it unavailable. Jennifer quickly replaced it with Sophia Loren’s private yacht and assured me that the furnishings and seating would be altered to make it more intimate and romantic. The result was spot-on, resulting in the highlight of our trip.” —William Harwayne
“Our favorite day of the trip, and arguably in our lives, was…”
“My husband and I rarely use a travel agent because we love to do the research and plan every detail of our vacations. However, this trip to Capri and the Amalfi Coast was for our 10-year wedding anniversary, so we wanted the ultimate luxury experience without having to worry about anything. Andrea really listened to what we wanted and tailored the trip accordingly. And there wasn’t a minute of it that went by that my husband and I didn’t think, ‘This was worth every penny and more.’ From the knowledgeable drivers to awesome tour guides and boat captains, it was beyond perfect. Our favorite day of the trip, and arguably in our lives, was when our boat captain picked us up in Capri, toured us around the island, let us swim in the grottos, and eventually dropped us off for the rest of our stay in Positano. The views were stunning, but the captain really made our experience so special. Andrea has the connections with all of the right people, which makes the entire experience unlike any other.” —Meredith Still
“We had our 50th anniversary dinner in the two-Michelin-star restaurant…”
“My husband and I asked Philip to help us plan a week in Provence to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We stayed in the countryside in beautiful old hotels and especially loved the Baumanière in Les Baux. I originally thought it would be too fancy for us, but Philip persuaded me that it would be perfect, and it was. We had our 50th anniversary dinner in the two-Michelin-star restaurant there, complete with a chocolate anniversary ‘card.’ We particularly loved our canoe trip to the Pont du Gard and the private tour of the top level of the aqueduct—a perk not available to the general public. One whole day was devoted to a tour of the Luberon, including the towns of Lacoste, Menerbes, Gordes and Roussillon. It was a wonderful trip, perfectly planned and executed, and a memorable celebration for us.” —Barbara Rabin
“Bali was perfect for celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary…”
“Our trip to Bali was perfect for celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Diane lined up affordable luxury with a fascinating itinerary. We took in many diverse sites in the Ubud area from our base at the Komaneka Resort at Bisma, and the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa upgraded us to a lagoon-access suite, which was very relaxing. Diane lined up the perfect English-speaking private guide and driver, and she also introduced us to Nadya, a clothing designer whose home we got to visit. Our trip was a great balance of guided travel and looking around on our own. We felt truly fortunate that we could make use of Diane’s excellent insight. She is a gem. Thank you!” —Charles Barber and Carolyn Roth
“It was a great trip packed with hiking, a sunrise visit to the top of Mt. Haleakalā and…”
“We used Dani’s help to put together our trip to Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. It was a great trip packed with hiking, a sunrise visit to the top of Mt. Haleakalā and a subsequent bike ride down, surfing lessons in Lahaina, and a helicopter tour of the Big Island, including the active volcano. Dani was in constant contact with us throughout, which was greatly appreciated, as we had questions about various things while we were there. We had mentioned this trip was a celebration of our wedding anniversary, and at both of our hotels there was chilled champagne and sweet treats, courtesy of Dani. She even managed to snag us an upgrade to a suite at the Four Seasons Hualalai, which was a pleasant surprise.” —Joseph McBrine
“We were a family of 10 traveling for my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary…”
“We were a family of 10 traveling for my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We had first-time cruisers and seasoned cruisers, and we wanted an itinerary that would enable us to spend time together as well as enjoy personal time. For our specific needs, Tom suggested Celebrity Cruises, and we selected an itinerary in the ‘ABC islands’ with several days at sea. Everyone was very happy. Both the sea days and the days in port offered everyone enough sightseeing, shopping, and relaxation options to keep as busy (or not) as we wanted. Some of us went to the beach, while others went to town and sightseeing. We all met for cocktails in the Martini Bar before our family dinner each night. It was a fun and successful cruise for everyone, and my parents especially appreciated the special touches that Tom provided—including champagne, flowers, and a delicious chocolate cake in their cabin.” —Lorraine Victor
We’re Here to Help
Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes.