My husband, two children (ages 4 and 6) and I just returned from a 2.5-week trip through Croatia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro, coordinated by Ala and her fabulous team. The trip was, in a word, perfection—so thoughtfully planned out and orchestrated, with amazing guides, fabulous restaurant recommendations, and superb on-the-ground service. It was the first large international trip we’ve taken with our two kids, and it ended up surpassing all our expectations. My older child kept exclaiming, “Mom, Croatia is paradise!” They’re not wrong.
Ala did a wonderful job of recommending hotels that were family-friendly, given the constraints she was working with (some areas in Croatia really just don’t have true luxury hotels yet like I am used to). One highlight was the Relais & Chateaux property Maslina, on the island of Hvar, which is a true gem—everyone should splurge and stay there. It’s located a 20-minute walk from Stari Grad (there’s a beautiful paved path that winds along the coast), had exceptional food, great rooms with gorgeous views, a truly attentive staff who took care of everything, and two great pools for the kids to enjoy—along with a kids’ club which my two children loved. While on the island we also had an incredible full-day private boat charter to the Pakleni Islands, fully arranged by Ala, and it was magical—we swam in beautiful azure waters, saw fish (it was my older child’s first time donning goggles to “snorkel” and they loved it!); and took in incredible views. Many times, we were one of only a few boats located in our swimming area. We also enjoyed an amazing meal at a restaurant in Hvar town with a beautiful, quaint outdoor terrace area, which was easy to settle on as Ala’s team provided a full suite of restaurant recommendations in each area we visited.
One of the things our family most appreciated about Ala was her ability to pivot on the fly and suggest plans that would work best for our younger children, as we were not sure what would and wouldn’t work for our kids. In Split, for example, Ala put us in a charming hotel right in the historic palace area, but its size and location meant it lacked the amenities my kids like (think pools, beach access, etc.). When I inquired about a good public beach to visit, knowing my kids would want some beach time on this stop, Ala was quick to help us set up an afternoon at Le Meridien outside of town (and coordinate transportation for us as well)—all on an hour’s notice. While not a traditional activity that most would plan—and not something I would have found on my own—it was perfect for my family, as the kids spent the day being fishes and I spent the afternoon reading a book seaside.
As I mentioned above, this was our first large, multi-country trip with our children and we didn’t know exactly what to expect—we were learning as we went. Ala made herself and her team available at all times—via WhatsApp or phone—to pivot and make changes as I requested. And, while I didn’t expect to, I ended up making multiple change requests! We were able to shift tour start times to better align with our schedule once we ended up on-continent, and we added / subtracted items as we realized what worked best for our family. On our drive to Herzegovina, Ala was happy to flex our schedule on a day’s notice so that we could stop at Kravica waterfall, where one can swim at the base of the falls—something that our two kids really enjoyed! We bought small nets from the vendor at the base of the waterfall and one of my kids “caught” their first fish—a huge moment for them! Our tour guides flexed their schedules to accommodate our children’s interests (or lack of interest in history), and were quick to share advice with us about local restaurants, things to see or do, etc.—in Mostar we ended up attending a Bosnian Street Food festival one evening, complete with a DJ and a bouncy house (something my kids were thrilled about!) because our guide made sure to mention it to us and show us where it was set up—it wasn’t something we ever would have found on our own. Our guide in Mostar also took us back down the residential streets to our hotel, passing a huge street art installation she knew was being worked on that day, simply because I mentioned how much I was enjoying the street art we passed.
The level of attention to detail and full-service offerings from Ala and team just made this trip such a dream. Our family had the best time and our two children are already asking to go back (especially to Maslina and the One&Only in Montenegro!). While there are many other places on the planet I long to visit, I am sure that we will return to Croatia in the future and when we do, Ala will be the first person I reach out to. If you’re considering a trip to Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Montenegro, do yourself a favor and contact Ala—she will ensure it is the trip of a lifetime.
We had a wonderful trip to Croatia with our college-aged son. Ala’s team arranged every transfer, hotel and tour. All travel went seamlessly, which seems near impossible in this travel climate. We appreciated both of our very knowledgable tour guides (Split and Dubrovnik) and learned a great deal about the history of the area and some Game of Thrones filming sites. Hvar was charming and gorgeous. Our final day on a chartered sailboat was truly special. I would recommend Ala and her team with high marks!
We had a great family heritage trip to Croatia. My husband Mark Vidovich’s family is from Lovran, Croatia. We traveled from July 1- July 9 with our kids. Our travel planner, Ala Osmond, did a fantastic job planning and arranging the experience. The hotels, especially the Grand Park Hotel in Rovinj, were spectacular. Croatia is a beautiful country, and the people are wonderful. One fun excursion Ala planned was a trip to a family farm near Dubrovnik, where we took a cooking class. We all really enjoyed ourselves and the family was so warm and inviting. I highly recommend this to anyone visiting that area. Restaurant 360 in Dubrovnik was a must-do. The food and service were the best.
My wife and I traveled to Croatia from June 25, 2023, returning July 4, 2023. We worked with Ala Osmond. We stayed in Dubrovnik (Hotel Excelsior) for 3 nights, HVAR (Maslina Resort in Stari Grad) for 4 nights and Split (Santa Lucia Heritage Hotel) for 2 nights. All 3 hotels were excellent, and the Excelsior and Maslina Resort were both on the water. The Santa Lucia Hotel was in the main square about 3 blocks from the water. We wanted to relax, so we did minimal sightseeing. Instead we did 3 boat trips (1 sailboat and 2 motorboats), 2 cooking classes, and several wine tastings, which we enjoyed very much. The people of Croatia are very warm and genuine people, and we loved the country. The drivers and tour guides selected by Ala were on time, very knowledgeable, and very nice. One day we were scheduled to leave at 10 AM for an 8-hour boat trip to Vis Island. The night before I received an e-mail from Ala’s team that there would be bad weather the next day, so she pushed the boat trip to start at 2 PM. We woke up to thunder, lightning and rain, but it was clear when we left at 2 PM, and we had a great afternoon. We received a refund for the lost time on the boat before we arrived home from our vacation. The whole trip was a highlight, but I would say the top 2 were an 8-hour sailboat, where we then stopped for lunch on a small island, and the cooking class in Split. The food was excellent throughout. The best 2 restaurants we went to were Restaurant 360 in Dubrovnik and Zoi in Split. I would highly recommend Croatia, and specifically Ala and her team, to anyone who is considering their next vacation.
We had a lovely, romantic trip down the coast of Croatia from May 28th to June 6th planned by Ala. Since my husband loves Roman and medieval history, and it was his first trip to Europe, we asked for a mixture of knowledgeable guides and fun activities. Our itinerary did not disappoint.
We started in Split. Ala recommended that we should see the Roman ruins at Salona in addition to the tour of Diocletian’s Palace. This escape from the city and the crowds turned out to be the highlight of our time in Split! After a couple of days in Split, we took the ferry to the island of Hvar. Every touchpoint in our transfers from location to location was carefully orchestrated by Ala and her team. We felt extremely taken care of.
Hvar was the definite highlight of our trip. I’d love to come back and just spend a week at the Maslina Resort. Our room and private patio had gorgeous views, the resort was quiet, and the service was excellent! After hearing that we love (casually) biking, Ala put together a 22-mile custom bike tour for us on Hvar. My husband and I agree that the bike ride through the island’s small towns, followed by a picnic lunch cooked by a local farmer on her coastal olive farm before we rode back along the coast, was an absolutely unbeatable experience.
We wrapped up the trip in Dubrovnik, immersing ourselves back in the history of Croatia. We especially liked the immaculate breakfast on the terrace at the Hotel Excelsior. Throughout the entire vacation, Ala and her local team were very responsive to our feedback. They also went above and beyond to make up for an unfortunate error on one excursion that was in no way their fault by offering us a sailing trip on our last day. It was a lovely way to end an excellent trip.
We traveled from June 2 – 11, 2023, to Croatia, a beautiful country—natural beauty, historic cities, and charming people. Ala did a fantastic job curating the trip and Natasa was helpful every day on the ground with small changes and all arrangements. Highlights included the Mestrovic gallery in Split and the Krka National Park, Hvar Island and the gorgeous bike tour of the island, and Dubrovnik, and our full-day tour of the Elaphiti Islands. I highly recommend Croatia for any couple or family, and Ala as a trip planner. She did a fabulous job creating wonderful experiences and memories for our family.
Our 8-day Croatian getaway can be summed up in 3 words: breathtaking, relaxing, and luxurious. This was our family’s first time using Wendy Perrin and a travel advisor, and we will undoubtedly use them again. With limited time to explore, Ala curated a perfect experience, combining beautiful scenery, convenient transport, knowledgeable guides, and time for relaxation. Our stay at the Maslina resort in Stari Grad was particularly notable and was the perfect destination for zen and to soak up some sun. Our on-site contact, Natasha, was equally impressive. She maintained regular contact with our drivers, guides, and hotel to ensure that any issue was resolved immediately, even coordinating a room change when we ran into issues at the Excelsior hotel in Dubrovnik. Our drivers and guides were top-notch. Milenka showcased the human-side of history in Split, making for a fun and engaging tour. Likewise our Dubrovnik tour guide Petra relayed the historical gossip and was easygoing and funny. John, our Hvar island driver, was exceptional. He was prompt, courteous, and engaging. He went out of his way to show us the breathtaking views of Hvar and to make sure we had everything we needed when our ferry was unexpectedly delayed. Lastly, our captain Sergio took us on a stunning sailboat ride through the islands surrounding Dubrovnik. He was calm, capable, and welcoming and ensured that we made the most of the last day of our vacation. Overall, I can’t say enough good things about the trip and I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for all the hard work that went into planning it. I will surely be using Wendy Perrin and Ala in the future!
Our 16 amazing days basking the natural scenery and beauty of Croatia all came together seamlessly. Thank you Ala and team for providing us your expertise, guidance and knowledge!
Our private guides, especially in Dubrovnik (Anna Maria) and Mostar (Borat?), were exceptional! It’s like walking with local friends. So perfectly matched to our personality. Guides in Split, Zadar and Plitvice NP (PNP) were all good too. We enjoyed the conversations and interactions with our local drivers. All were courteous, polite and professional. We felt safe with them. However, shout-out to Emmanuel for taking us to scenic Marjan Hills while waiting for our scheduled ferry to Hvar. And to Lojze for sharing his life story growing up during Tito’s regime. The drive from PNP to Ljubljana was full of laughter and banter—thank you Lojze!
We were upgraded to a corner suite in Excelsior with epic views of the Old Town and Lukrom Island. Thank you Ala! Your excellent relationship with this establishment benifited us. We loved the previlaged locations, views and lovely rooms of Hotel Adriana (Hvar) and Hotel Degenija (PNP). And due to a missed ferry pick-up arrangement, Santa Lucia Heritage hotel (Split) upgraded us to the presidential suite. A suitable trade. Hotel Almayer (Zadar) was a major let down. The hotel entrance (in a small, unattractive alley) smells of cigarette smoke all the time. Right outside the entrance door is a small table with two chairs where the receptionist or hotel employee lit up. Our room is tiny but with nice linens and amenities. To be fair, an upgraded room was offered that we declined due to the bathroom arrangement. The only saving grace about Hotel Almayer is the lovely garden restaurant…loved the food and service!
We loved our experiences and time in beautiful Croatia. Tons of exploring and soaking in its medieval Old Towns, from the walls of Dubrovnik to Korcula to Mostar to Hvar to Split and Zadar. We truly indulged in the local seafood scenes and amazing wine culture. Visited both the ultra-scenic PNP and Kra NP. Must-sees in Croatia!
And thank you Wendy for our perfect sunny day exploring the Elafiti Islands in a private sailboat with el capitan. WOW Moment indeed! Truly magical! And so much fun….
We can’t wait to go back to Croatia and explore more. Thank you again Ala and team!!
Ala Osmond planned a fantastic and detailed trip for our family of five to Croatia this past June. We had a tight timeframe to squeeze in seeing Hvar, Split and Dubrovnik, and Ala managed to organize boats and drivers to move us around and maximize our time soaking in the history and beauty of Croatia. Our accommodations were outstanding, but Maslina Resort on Hvar was just incredible. We are still talking about the location, beauty of the resort, and incredible customer service. Ala took care of scheduling our private bike ride, cooking class, private guides and multiple boat trips around the islands. Plus each restaurant that Ala recommended was truly enjoyed by our family. Our youngest daughter celebrated her birthday while we were in Croatia and Ala made sure that it was celebrated more than once! We were also surprised with a WOW Moment, enjoying a private sailing trip while in Dubrovnik. This was so special and we sailed around new islands we hadn’t seen on any of our other excursions. I would absolutely book another trip with Ala Osmond and highly recommend her services.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our September 2-11 trip to Croatia: Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik. This was our first time using Wendy Perrin and our first experience with an outside travel advisor. We were very pleased. Ala Osmond set up lovely hotels for us. The pace was ideal and having a restful 3 nights at Masalina Resort in the middle was perfect. She was very wise to suggest that we avoid the crowds in Hvar town itself. The guides that Ala used were excellent and extremely knowledgeable. The one glitch (if you want to call it that) was almost missing our pick-up at Stari Grad because we were looking for a golf cart rather than an SUV. It was comical, actually. Covid was really not an issue in the planning phase or once in the country.
Ala planned a wonderful trip for us in Split and Dubrovnik in late August. It was a combination of relaxation and sightseeing. Alas team on the ground, Natasa, was extremely helpful from the day that we departed to Croatia until the day we left. We had an issue with our connecting flight from Rome to Split, and we had to take a different flight to Dubrovnik and be driven to Split late at night. Natasa was on standby throughout the night to ensure we were connected with our driver after landed in Dubrovnik and safely arrived at the hotel in Split at 3am.
Both Ala and Natasa were quick to address requests while we were in Croatia which included organizing a full-day private sailboat excursion in Dubrovnik and making last minute restaurant reservations for us. Throughout the trip, the guides and drivers assigned to us were extremely knowledgeable, engaging and accommodating.
Lastly, Ala’s restaurant recommendations were spot on and it is as if she knows my taste in food. We loved the hotels that we stayed at during our trip.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I had a 5-week break between jobs and planned to “panic travel” because I knew it would be a long time until I could travel again. Ala was a lifesaver in helping plan an unforgettable, truly relaxing 10-day trip to Croatia—all on 2 weeks’ notice! She listened to our needs and wants and put together a seamless itinerary that not only gave us an incredible experience but also done in a way that avoided any unnecessary travel (i.e. we got to spend all of our time enjoying ourselves in the way we wanted!). The itinerary included Split (2 nights), Hvar (3 nights), and Dubrovnik (5 nights). The hotel recommendations were spot on (especially Maslina in Hvar and Hotel Excelsior in Dubrovnik), and we loved the activities she organized. The cooking class in Dubrovnik was second to none—such a great family, immersive feel. And the two days we took on private boats (one from Hvar and one from Dubrovnik) fully exceeded my expectations in terms of quality of the boat and where we traveled. And I have to agree with others: One thing that stood out to us in particular was how well organized the logistics were—transfers, guides, activities. Everyone was working in concert (and also so hospitable), and it was pretty amazing. We didn’t have to worry about anything! While I know I gave Ala few options due to how last-minute our trip planning was, she did help plan the best 10-day trip between jobs that I could’ve imagined. I would highly recommend Ala for any trip you are planning to Croatia!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I recently returned from a fabulous vacation planned by Ala Osmond to Slovenia and Croatia.
We first spoke with Ala in January to start planning this trip for June. After our initial call, Ala quickly sent some suggestions to us to review and consider. As she has traveled extensively in these countries, she has a wealth of knowledge and connections with guides, drivers, restaurants and hotels. We wanted to incorporate fly fishing and hiking as well as cultural experiences and she included all in her recommendations.
We flew into Venice and our driver greeted us and drove us to Ljubljana, about 3 hours away.
Loise was very pleasant and shared the history of his country, Slovenia, with us along the way.
Loise was our driver for the 6 days we stayed in Slovenia. In Ljubljana we stayed at a recently opened boutique hotel called Zlata Ladjica. I highly recommend it!
Slovenia is beautiful. It is also the foodie capital of Eastern Europe! Ala was able to arrange a lunch reservation at the much in demand restaurant, Hisa Franko in Kobarid, just named again to the top 50 restaurants in the world. We stayed 3 nights at Nebessa in Kobarid, an amazing property with 4 cottages overlooking the Soca Valley. Ala was spot on with this recommendation! We loved it so much that the owners arranged for delicious dinners from a local farm to be delivered to our cottage on 2 of the evenings we stayed there. Fly fishing in the Soca River was beautiful. The water was crystal clear and our guide knew the spots to put us on to catch fish.
We also visited Lake Bled and the Balkan lake while we were there, both beautiful. We also had a personal tour of the WWI museum and site of a major battle with the former director of the museum. He was very passionate about this important part of history in his country so if you go there, my advice is to make sure you make it clear how much time you would like to spend there because there is much to see, including a trail you can hike.
Slovenia is a small country with immense natural beauty and a fascinating history.
We next went to Rovinj on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. Again, at Ala’s suggestion we stayed at the Grand Park Hotel, opened a few years ago in Rovinj. It was close to the old town, however not too close, which was perfect. We could walk to the town and then get away from the crowds after. Rovinj is such a gem. We had been to Croatia before, in the south on the Dalmatian coast, however, Istria is a well kept secret!
Our guides in both countries were pleasant and knowledgeable and we had the right amount of time with them. Our drivers were also very good. It was nice to relax and enjoy the scenery without worrying about getting lost!
Our contact while traveling, Natasa, was excellent. She answered any questions or requests we had. Of course, there were few because Ala saw to all the details ahead of time and once again, Wendy Perrin’s recommendation to reach out to Ala was perfect! We would absolutely reach out to Ala again.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I am so glad that we traveled to Croatia this year and that we went when we did. We were there from June 10 – 19. Ala Osmond was our trip planner and she encouraged us to go before peak season if at all possible. That was great advice. We stayed in Split, on the island of Hvar and Dubrovnik and loved them all, but I can see how Split and Dubrovnik especially might feel a bit overrun with tourists by mid-summer.
Based on our desire to have some time to relax while traveling, Ala recommended we only spend one night in Split, then four nights at a resort in Stari Grad and three nights in Dubrovnik. That felt like the perfect amount in each and the hotels she recommended were great. We were especially happy she recommended the Hotel Maslina where we were able to rent a villa that was large enough for our whole family.
One of the things that stands out about the trip was that the logistics — the transfers, the guides, the dinner reservations, the activities we had scheduled — all came off without a hitch. Also, it seemed that the people we encountered from our drivers to the hotel staff seemed to know our itinerary and were helpful and friendly at each turn.
Ala offered us the option of a private boat transfer from Hvar to Dubrovnik instead of boating to the mainland and then driving. It was a splurge, but well worth it in that we had a day on a lovely boat on the Adriatic and were able to stop in Korcula for lunch. We also loved the cooking class we took just outside Dubrovnik as well as the day we spent cycling on Hvar Island. Our tour guide in Dubrovnik was one of the best we have ever had and did a great job explaining Croatia’s history — which is complicated!!
As for covid, we were not overly concerned about it by the time we travelled — flight requirements for negative tests had been lifted in both the US and Croatia. With that said, almost all of our dining was outdoors as were most of our activities so even if we had been concerned, I would have felt like we’d chosen a good destination. And as it turned out, we left for Croatia in good health and came home that way.
I would recommend both this trip and Ala Osmond.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We (two couples) just returned from a spectacular 12-day trip to Croatia arranged for us by Ala Osmond over 18 months ago. Our ambitious itinerary was meticulously planned with short stays in Istria, Plitvice, Hvar, Split and Dubrovnik, including a small number of guided historical tours, a truffle-hunting demonstration, a 6-mile hike in Plitvice (breathtaking, unspoiled beauty), two half-day private yacht excursions (totally indulgent and totally worth it), two wine tastings (one would’ve been sufficient), a fantastic cooking class in Split (do not miss this under any circumstances, even if you don’t cook–Chef Jzelko is great), oyster tasting in Ston (do not miss this either, the fresh cooked mussels are delicious too). Each of these activities exceeded our expectations.
There is no shortage of good food in Croatia and the list of restaurants provided by Ala was extensive. Every place we went to had courteous staff, interesting takes on fresh seafood and often the owner was working the tables so we got first-hand insight to preparations, technique and often, free wine, prosciutto and grappa samples. The Croatians (all speak English) are enthusiastic about their food and wine, as are we, so that added another dimension to the experience. Do go to Giaxa in Hvar, Tramonto in Istria, Bokeria in Split, Konoba Dubrava for peka and Proto for seafood, both in Dubrovnik.
The hotels were also excellent, offering 5-star service and amenities with easy access to the Adriatic (Istria, Hvar, Dubrovnik) as well as the pool and short walks into town. The staff were attentive, rooms were clean, views were gorgeous. The Grand Park in Istria and the Excelsior in Dubrovnik were our favorites but we are really splitting hairs. They were all top-notch.
Despite the complexity of our itinerary, Ala and her team ensured that we had flawless connections and transfers, even arranging a last-minute pick up in Venice to get us to Istria after a missed connection that was supposed to get us to Zagreb (a very long and stressful story–get the full Cranky Concierge flight monitoring service–indispensable these days). Cannot emphasize enough the importance of the drivers–they take all the stress out of making connections so that you can focus on your trip. Talk to them, they are eager to brief you on local history and are a lot of fun to chat with. Would also like to make a special shout-out to Natasa Lovic, Ala’s “in country” contact. She was essentially on-call for us and really saved the day with our blown connection. What could have been a nightmare turned out to be a non-event thanks to her. She also took care of a number of last minute restaurant changes and other items for us. Invaluable resource–very responsive and always had a solution.
As with previous trips, all of our guides were engaging and very knowledgeable, especially when we asked questions and showed some genuine interest in Croatia’s history, which is very complicated. This is the key to maximizing your experience with the guides and it adds a whole new perspective to your trip.
All told, Ala and her staff put together the complete experience for us. We cannot say enough good things about her and our trip. None of us wanted to leave, which is the hallmark of a successful vacation, and Ala made it happen. Can’t wait to go back.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I traveled to Croatia with 5 girlfriends to celebrate my birthday and our friendships in May 2022 for a week. We started in Split and went to Dubrovnik with a stop along the way for a wine tasting and snacks in Ston. The whole trip was absolutely fabulous and our trip planner, Ala, did an amazing job. I told her what we were interested in doing and what our “travel style” was and she developed an itinerary that wowed us. When she found out that we loved cooking, she suggested an amazing truffle hunting experinece in Split along with a cooking class in Dubrovnik. All of her recommendations from activities to restaurants were wonderful and made this a trip of a lifetime for me and my friends. I cannot thank her or recommend her enough. Thanks for introducing us Wendy!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Ala was amazing, she organized a trip for 13 people (in Covid times) and it went perfect. Hotel selection was awesome, last minute changes (which we did a lot) were executed flawlessly and tour guides went above and beyond. We can’t wait to book another trip with her.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina in September 2021 was a long time in the planning stage. Due to Covid 19, it was postponed and in working with Ala Osmond we had to pay close attention to the changing requirements.
The trip was very well organized. The drivers and the guides in each country were superb. While planning the trip we indicated that we love history, culture, nature and of course food and wine. Ala found the perfect balance between the two. Walks in amazing natural beauty in Slovenia and Croatia (Truffle searching with dogs, though none were found), wine tasting and a lot of history. What we found probably the best part of the trip was how knowledgeable the guides were. At the end of our almost 3 weeks, we felt that we had a great understanding of the complicated history of the region, which each guide and driver, with their own point of view and personal experiences shared with us.
Ala recommended and reserved great restaurants for us and everyone of them was a “hit”, as was the opera in Ljubljana.
While Ala planned an amazing trip for us, our contact “on the ground” Natasa, was very responsive when I had a few questions.
Throughout the whole trip, special attention was paid to compliance with each country’s Covid regulations. Drivers and guide always wore masks in the car, all were vaccinated, hotels and restaurants all took the necessary steps to minimize our risk of infection.
A great trip all around, with memories (and pictures) for a lifetime.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL She was excellent. The trip was well planned and placed and we’d use her again in a minute. Two thumbs up!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Ala planned such a wonderful holiday for my family of five in Croatia. From start to finish we ate well, travelled well, saw beautiful sights and everything went seamlessly. Even when the airline lost one of our suitcases Ala’s team figured out a solution in minutes. To be honest the trip was so well planned we hardly needed the travel team once we were in Croatia but anytime we did they were immediately available and helpful. We would love to do it all again!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We found Ala by listening to Wendy’s WOW Week webinar, indicating the countries open to U.S. visitors. We had never thought of going to Croatia before, but Wendy indicated “now” would be a great time to visit, especially without the usual Summer European crowds. We contacted Ala through Wendy’s website, and within 24hr. our Zoom conference was set. We told her we wanted to spend one month in Croatia, and thereafter, we were using another Wendy expert, Karen, to spend another month in Turkey. We stressed that we needed our plan “immediately,” since we were ready to leave in two weeks. The travelers would be me and my spouse, David, as well as my cousin, Barrie. The program would need to be for three adults.
From the very beginning of our conference, we could tell Ala knew all aspects of this complex culture, especially in light of the severe history of religious and culture war. Ala assured us, however, that this would be a great time to visit the country, especially due to a lack of crowds in key cities, such as Dubrovnik. Ala was absolutely right. We are so glad we listened to her advice and visited Croatia without all the cruise ships and summer crowds.
Our first concern was obviously Covid. Ala assured us that each property was on top of the latest health issues, and our experience was the same. We felt safe at all properties. We were actually surprised that the level of health readiness was better in Croatia, than in the U.S.
Ala discussed the very different areas of Croatia, from the North to the South; inland and from the Sea. We decided on a tentative itinerary, based upon Ala’s recommendations. However, before doing so, Ala provided an extensive written description of each area, along with very specific photos, descriptions, costs, etc., that each property or experience would provide. After reviewing those descriptions, we narrowed down our favorite choices. Remember: this is all “last minute,” since we were several weeks out from a month long trip in Croatia.
Ala and her team were remarkable, confirming property and restaurants as we had requested. During this process, we had several more Zoom conferences with Ala, to fine tune properties, restaurants, and the program. The itinerary we received ended up being a wonderful trip. We would not have been able to put this trip together, with all the best properties and restaurants, without Ala and her team.
We always say a travel agent shows their expertise more when problems arise, than when everything is running smoothly. Well we did have a hiccup on our trip. After several weeks in Croatia, my cousin, Barrie, slipped and fell. She was unable to walk. Barrie still had to be moved from the mountains of Istria, to Split, where she could obtain medical attention. Ala made this a smooth transition. We sent Barrie back to the U.S. immediately, since the Croatian doctors indicated an operation was necessary.
Moreover, even though the contract with Ala indicated all services are “non-refundable,” Ala was successful in obtaining a $2525 refund. The surprise refund tells me Ala has some amazing relationships with her properties.
For one property, we could not decide the rooms we wanted to book from the online photos. Ala actually had the manager Facetime a video of the rooms for us, so we could select. No detail was left undone by Ala.
During our Zoom conferences, we provided Ala strict parameters for certain aspects of our trip. As an example only, we told her driving time from destination to destination could not exceed 2 hrs, and that we wanted to be booked at several Michelin starred restaurants (which were difficult to get into). Ala clearly listened. Everything was set like clockwork.
Clearly, we would not have experienced Croatia, in all its splendor, without Ala and her team. And I mention the “team,” because we had an opportunity to see the “team” in action. At the very last minute, just before getting on the plane from the U.S., we still had a few changes to make. This was the only time we could not reach Ala directly. However, we spoke with one of her team members, who ultimately made these “last minute” changes happen. We were impressed.
We send out a BIG: THANK YOU TO ALA AND HER TEAM!! Our trip was remarkable.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We want to thank Ala and Natasa for putting together an amazing 9 days on the Dalmation Coast and a very special WOW Moment!!! After a VERY long and frustrating flight into Split, we were welcomed with big smiles, cool face towels and yummy ginger lemonades at the Maslina in Hvar. This hotel quickly became one of our favorites! The general manager greeted us daily, the entire staff not only knew our names, but would continue conversations with us from the day before. We ate at the restaurant every morning and a few times for dinner. Top notch food and service every time! One of our excursions was supposed to be a half day boat ride and swim around the local islands. As we were speaking to our skipper and learning about the area, we asked if we could extend to a full day and visit Vis and the Blue Caves off of Vis. Within moments, he called Natasa and the new plan was in place. The last minute change was seamless. We later learned that the Blue Caves often get up to 2000 boats a day and sometimes people wait in an hours-long line to have a brief visit inside. We had no reservation, pulled up and hopped in a waiting dingy to enter. Our caves guide allowed us to stay as long as we wanted, as we were the only people around!!! It was unbelievable!
After several amazing days on Hvar, we headed to Split. The Judita Palace hotel could not have been better situated for touring. With the extreme heat going on, we loved being able to pop into the room for a break during our days. Our guide on the first day got into a car accident on her way to meet us….she was not hurt but couldn’t give us the tour. A replacement guide arrived within minutes of our scheduled time and gave us a comprehensive city tour. She was filled with personality.
Split was an excellent juxtaposition from a few days in Hvar. As we headed down to Dubrovnik, we stopped for a detour in Ston. I was a bit skeptical because I don’t eat mussels or oysters but was assured by Ala that the experience is worth the visit even if you don’t eat the local delicacies. Dennis and his daughter greeted us and took us by boat to their tiny island. They had a magnificent set up of an outdoor kitchen and picnic tables. We learned all about oyster farming and the family history in the area. Eric had the best oysters and mussels of his life! Dennis grilled up vegetables with homemade olive oil, bread, grandpa’s wine and cheese. We had big smiles and filled bellies! After the experience with Dennis, our driver knew that Eric loved wine and he took us to his favorite wine maker in the area. This was not a planned stop, but we spontaneously had a wine tasting and tour with the owner. It ended up being our favorite and they were able to ship to the States. We never felt that our driver was in a rush to get us from point A to point B. He genuinely wanted to share the beauty of his country with us and even told us about his days of living in Dubrovnik during the war in the 90’s.
We arrived at The Excelsior in Dubrovnik and were at a loss for words when we stepped out onto our balcony in the room with a breathtaking view of the old city. It doesn’t get better!! Once again, we had an excellent city tour and wonderful meals. On our second-to-last night, we met our driver in the lobby at 7pm for our WOW Moment. We obviously had no idea what we were doing. The private sunset cruise was magical!! We have seen many beautiful sunsets, but this sunset was unbelievable!! You could literally see rays of light coming out of the multicolor sun. The boat went in and out of the barrier island inlets and caves. It was an experience we will never forget.
Yesterday we flew home and were very sad to leave. As we were told by Ala months ago, this is the summer to visit Croatia without the crowds…..we are so glad we did!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Ala planned the perfect trip for us with guides and drivers for 12 days through Croatia. We started in Istria and down the Dalmatian coast to end in Dubrovnik. Throughout the planning process, she was thoughtful and curious about our interest and planned an itinerary that suited our personality. We had very knowledgeable guides who were passionate about the history and culture of their towns and regions. The hotels that she recommended were relaxing and a wonderful way to start and end your day. Everything happened seamlessly – luxurious smooth transfers, dinner reservations – everything worked without a hitch. Something for everyone – a lazy day on the beach or balcony, hiking through national parks, truffle hunting, oyster/mussel tasting, kayaking, to a few hours cycling through the rustic towns, vineyards and lavender fields. With not the usual crowds – now is the best time to soak in all Croatia has to offer.
Ala was also up to date on the COVID requirements and we were able to go through the bureaucracy of travel without any incidents.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Ala Osmond planned a wonderful 10 day trip to Croatia in June for me, my husband, and my 9 year old son. We started in Istria and wound our way down the Dalmatian coast to Split. We spent a couple nights on the island of Hvar in the most peaceful and elegant hotel overlooking the Adriatic. Ala included activities that were exciting for my child: truffle hunting with dogs in Istria, a boat ride with swimming around the Pakleni Islands, and a fresco painting workshop. My husband and I loved our tour of Split and the Diocletian Palace. Ala found us a hotel right next to the Palace and our tour of the Palace was fascinating. In Istria we visited medieval hill towns with our wonderful tour guide Jasmina. All the tour guides were exceptional, informative, and personable. Ala was up to date on what Covid tests we needed, turns out we only needed to get tested for our return to the States. She suggested an at home Covid test that we packed in our suitcase and was super easy and convenient to take. We felt completely safe traveling around Croatia, most of our activities were outside and all of our guides wore masks. The hotels were very conscious of Covid safety. Every restaurant Ala recommended was amazing. I would not have been able to plan a trip like this on my own. We saw so much and learned so much in 10 days! I felt safe and that my family was very well taken care of.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I traveled to the Istrian peninsula in Croatia in June, 2021 with my husband.
We planned this trip at the last minute, inspired by the fact that Croatia was open to Americans. It was a long trip to northern Croatia, about 24 hours from our home in Wisconsin to our hotel. Most of that time was masked. I was nervous about the requirements to transfer through Germany, but we were able to pass through with our vaccine card. I would highly recommend leaving more time at the airport for travel to Europe, the document control (verifying vaccine status and/or negative tests) is ever-changing, confusing and very slow.
We had traveled to the Dalmation Coast 2 years ago and wanted to experience a different part of Croatia. It was wonderful, rolling hills, hill top towns and very few people. One of our favorite experiences was renting a Porsche for a day and driving around the countryside. The wine and olive oil are wonderful, our suitcases were pretty heavy with bottles on the way home! After our time in the interior we spent a few days on the coast in Rovinj. We rented a boat and captain for one day and loved seeing the coastline from the water.
We had a wonderful guide, Jasmina, with whom we very much enjoyed spending time. She knew just how much to educate us to keep us interested. A pasta making class at a small Konoba was entertaining and delicious.
It is wonderful to have a trip planner such as Ala. We were met at our plane, fast tracked through and driven right to our hotel. Ala arranged for the Covid test that was required to reenter the US, and it was an easy, seamless process. The hotels were very different and very well chosen. Having a local contact just helps with any small glitches and gives a feeling of confidence.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our second trip to Croatia was even better than the first. Ala took what we loved about our last trip and made this one even more tailored to what we wanted to do. We did not have to worry about a single thing–Ala took care of everything including organizing our covid test for our flight home. All the restaurants we went to were informed of my no meat/no dairy so I didn’t have to explain it over and over. We had an amazing driver/guide who suggested several stops so we could walk around some different towns and we loved that–so much so that we are going to stay in one of the towns we asked about (Opatija). The Istrian Coast has had very few cases of covid but all the hotels and restaurants were very cautious and strict about following guidelines. We felt very comfortable everywhere. Ala really does plan the most perfect visit to Croatia and you have local numbers for anything that comes up during your trip so I never had to worry about anything. She knew the hotels really well and is really good about knowing what we would like or didn’t like. I cannot recommend her highly enough.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Croatia could not have been better planned by Ala Osmond. She thought of absolutely everything and made it so easy for us. Every single aspect was planned out perfectly- our fast track services, our drivers, our experiences, the restaurants— every detail was thought of. From the moment I talked to her she was on top of all Covid issues and gave us options on how to best handle them. She came up with experiences for us that were even better than they sounded on our itinerary and she clearly spent a lot of time and thought bc everyone mentioned they had read our itinerary – which was nice bc we didn’t have to tell each person where we had been or what we had done- they already knew so there was no repeating all the time.
This was my first trip through Wendy Perrin. I chose it bc of the emails I got that sounded so well versed in Covid issues. I will never try to plan alone or use anyone else for now on bc of how detail oriented our trip was. I said it before but Ala thought of everything. We never worried about Covid bc we were well prepared and did everything private. She was really good about giving her opinion rather than just planning what I thought we wanted to do and we would have had a far less experience had she not planned our trip. She really listened to our preferences and then ran with them. We got to spend a day with a vintner in Hvar and then have a really special meal and wine tasting at the end of the day that was such a highlight for us. The websites for the hotels made it a bit hard to gauge but she knew the hotels personally and was able to address any questions. It was so nice to be traveling and Ala made sure we felt safe and comfortable – and aware of what we needed to do and she had a backup plan had things gone south.
If anyone is thinking of going to Croatia, it felt so safe. They have not been hit hard at all yet they are following all the guidelines and safety measures. We are going to go back in April (if covid allows). It was not crowded at all but it also did not feel deserted so it was perfect. Had it not been for Covid, we would have just booked some hotels and drivers on our own and I cannot fathom how much we would have missed by doing that. Ala didn’t plan too much (we didn’t want every minute planned) but she planned our activities perfectly and they were not things I could have found online and booked myself so we are so grateful for her amazing planning- and she has great taste in restaurants so that was a plus too!
Ala was responsive from the moment I reached out to her. She listened carefully to the type of travel we like to plan and delivered an itinerary that fit our needs to a T. She remained communicative and responsive once we started traveling and was helpful in adjusting the itinerary as our plans changed. Her guides were fantastic and there wasn’t a single hitch throughout our trip. I highly recommend her!
Ala tailored our trip to our interests and expectations; it was a perfect blend of city and nature, as we requested. All three guides were phenomenal! They were super knowledgeable, friendly and flexible. Two of the three hotels were wonderful. We had some issues with the third; we wrote to Ala and she was immediately responsive and settled the issue to our satisfaction. We can definitely recommend her for anyone who wants to visit Croatia and Montenegro.
We had a wonderful trip to Croatia/Montenegro with the help of Ala and Natasha (on site). Planning was easy and timely. From the minute we exited the airport we felt confident that things would go smoothly. Natasha called to welcome us within minutes of our arrival. We loved the Judita Palace hotel in Split, the staff was friendly and helpful, and the location was wonderful. Our visit to Krka National Park was ok – only because it was pretty crowded. But, the lunch we had in Skradin afterwards was spectacular. Oh, the fresh grilled fish! The guides we had throughout the trip were knowledgeable and interesting. It is a great opportunity to chat with locals and hear more about their lives and the history of the countries visited. We loved being out on the water both from Split and Dubrovnik, it got us away from the crowded cities. Our captains were also very knowledgeable. We had one small misunderstanding with a pickup time, and within 15 minutes Natasha had resolved the situation. Furthermore, to apologize for what was only 1/2 hr delay in pickup, Ala offered to buy our lunch that day. It was above and beyond, and much appreciated! We spent a day in Montenegro, and as we were driving around the bay I thought to myself, why are we not in a boat? We arrived in Perast to take what we thought was a short boat ride to Our Lady of the Rock church on an island…and, WOW, we learned we would have a captain and boat for the remainder of the day. What a perfect WOW Moment planned by Ala and her team! We really enjoyed our hotel in Dubrovnik, the Hotel Excelsior. We had a patio overlooking the old city and the Adriatic. A couple of nights we just stayed in and ordered room service enjoying a spectacular view with no crowds. We also loved the day cooking with Katerina in Konavle – what an interesting way to learn about the lives of a family who can trace their history back 5 generations! It was a really great trip that went off without a hitch. We can’t wait to go back to Croatia…but maybe on a private charter next time!
I worked with Ala for our trip to Croatia and she was efficient, responsive and friendly.
And patient…very patient with all our back and forth, questions and changes to plans.
She understood that what we were after was not just a trip but a collection of wonderful experiences.
And she delivered. It was a well paced and very well thought out itinerary.
All our guides were top notch and we learned so much from them. They were knowledgeable, flexible and friendly. Special shout out to our driver Maro who was with us through out the trip.
We loved him for his sense of humour and excellent driving skills.
Hotels and recommended restaurants were all top notch and exactly what we were looking for.
Ala’s team is excellent as well, we always had a contact person on call throughout our trip and she checked in on us every few days. They even surprised us with a picnic and cable car tickets. wonderful experience.
It all came together seamlessly. Thank you Ala.
Our trip was planned by Mariana Fisher and Ala Osmond. They planned a 2 week trip with 6 people weaving in and out of the plans. They were excellent in the planning stages, very responsive to all the needs of adults and young adults all arriving and leaving at different times—truly, many moving parts. While we were in Croatia, we had to make several changes due to weather and our “in Croatia” rep, Natasha, as well as our guides and drivers were very flexible and accommodated our needs every time.
Ala’s colleague Gwen and her team helped us with several bespoke excursions during our recent trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia. They were really helpful with information about accommodations early on in our trip planning—we wanted to stay in Montenegro in a rental property and she helped educated us that verified options home rental options were rare in Montenegro and recommended staying in Southern Croatia instead. This was really helpful advice and allowed us to solidify our plans around Dubrovnik, where we eventually found a truly lovely property to rent.
They organized 2 local excursions from Dubrovnik. One to a local winery and one to Montenegro. They both went very well. Our winery trip was local and super delightful. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Our excursion to Montenegro was similarly wonderful. It was a bit longer than we expected but we saw much of the small country and were happy that we did it. We were surprised by lovely things along the way, such as the amazing Our Lady of the Rocks, a small church with super interesting and beautiful artifacts on a man-made island that took over 200 years to build. Our guides and drivers were knowledgeable, flexible, and wonderful throughout.
We had a wonderful time in Dubrovnik and in Montenegro. Everyone was professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. Our driver, Ilija, was outstanding. We were thankful to be with him all three days. He knew the perfect spots to stop for photos and helped avoid traffic. Our half day walking tour guide in Dubrovnik on the first day helped us see everything we hoped to see in the walled city and gave us great historical information. On the second day, Aleka was the best! She was with us for a full day tour of Perast and Kotor. We learned so much and saw so many beautiful sights. Aleka had vouchers prepared for entry to every sight and also recommended a delicious restaurant for lunch. We loved the entire trip.
In May 2018, my husband and I spent 2 1/2 weeks on a self-drive trip around Slovenia and Croatia arranged by Ala’s colleague Gwen. We aren’t cruise people and most who go here do so on cruise ships. A couple of years ago, we found Gwen who proposed a better way—at least for us—than the typical cruise ship stopping along the coast. Gwen is on Wendy’s list for Central/Eastern Europe. For a variety of scheduling reasons, we worked with Gwen over a couple of years. We started with Gwen’s pre-planned tour called “Ultimate Self-Drive Croatia & Slovenia: A Private, Historical and Cultural Self-Drive Tour of Zagreb through to Dubrovnik, with private guides opening doors along the way.” Using an already planned itinerary generally has little appeal to us but this did. Driving ourselves would allow us to see the countryside, not just the coast. It seemed well thought out (remarkably so, it turned out). The stops made sense, the hotels were the kind we like, the allocation of time with guides and free time seemed reasonable, and the price was right. Of course, we tinker with everything and opted for upgraded hotels and a few additional days that sent the price up. But we ended up getting what we wanted.
Frankly, we were amazed at how well it worked out. Gwen’s guides were superb; the hotels were terrific; the restaurant reservations she had made for us were spot on (and we had one of the best meals we’ve had in the world at Restaurant Monte in Rovinj, which she directed us to). The itinerary was great though, in retrospect, we wish we’d spent even longer in that unexpected jewel of a country — Slovenia. Gwen’s GPS with all our stops and possible side attractions already pre-set made driving (and even parking for the hotels) easy; the unexpected free loan of a Croatia cell phone was a bonus that got used far more than we expected. Gwen was always accessible and her on-the-ground person in Croatia, Nastasa, was only a phone call away. We made a major change along the way by deciding to add in Bosnia but that didn’t phase Gwen or Nastasa at all and a terrific guide was put at our disposal.
Gwen is our 14th Wendy Perrin expert who’s planned a trip for us. This is the first time we’ve used a base itinerary that was already figured out. And yes, we tinkered with it. But we were very impressed by how well thought her self-drive itinerary was. She knew just how much time to allot to guided vs. free time, what were the most important places for us to spend time, what lots of additional side trips ( pre-set in the GPS) we could (and invariably did) make, and how these two foodies could get the best possible meals in Croatia and Slovenia.
We had a great time. Wendy’s trip specialists score again!