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!