Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Thanks again to Wendy’s WOW List for matching us up with Goncalo and Joana — we had a wonderful trip to Portugal. Portugal is a beautiful country, and Joana put together a great itinerary that gave us a real flavor of the area. We traveled to Portugal in May 2024 for a wedding in Lisbon and worked with Joana to put together a trip for us and three family members for 11 days after the wedding. We had a Zoom call with Goncalo and Joana initially to determine our interests and where we wanted to go. As food and wine lovers, we focused on the Alentejo wine region and Douro Valley. We finished our trip with stays in Porto and Estoril.

Positive Feedback:
• The hotels that Joana selected for our trip were outstanding. The service was exceptional, and everything was very comfortable. The locations were all convenient to area attractions and able to accommodate the van we were driving. Our favorite accommodation was Sao Lourenco do Barrocal — a beautiful property with many activities. We enjoyed running on the trails in the morning, and especially enjoyed our stargazing activity with a local astronomer — we learned so much about the stars that night!
• The highlight of our trip was the visit to Dona Maria winery. It was so much fun learning about the winery from Isabel, one of the owners. She has an amazing home, and we felt fortunate to share lunch with her and enjoy her company.
• Another highlight for us was the cooking class in Porto. We enjoyed going through the market with Chef Hugo and learned some great tips from him on Portuguese cooking and cooking in general.
• Having the emergency phone/text line available was very helpful, especially with the rental car mix-up and a few activities running late.
• Joana did not plan the Lisbon portion of our itinerary but was very helpful in adding a few activities in Lisbon to our itinerary. We added a tuk tuk tour, which gave us a great overview of the city and helped us get around while we were there. We also asked Joana to make reservations for a family dinner while we were in Lisbon and she selected a good restaurant close to the wedding activity for that night.
• Our tour guides were outstanding, knowledgeable, and passionate about their country, and very interesting and fun to talk with. Our drivers were also very professional and courteous.

Constructive Feedback:
• We did not receive our final itinerary until the week before the trip, so we did not pay until right before we left. There was a mix-up in payment, and one couple wound up paying twice. We did get things straightened out but feel this could have been avoided if the billing hadn’t been last-minute.
• There was an error on our itinerary for the rental car we had ordered. The itinerary indicated that our rental car would be with Sixt. However, Sixt could not find our contract when we tried to check in. I contacted the emergency line and discovered that our rental was instead with Europcar, not Sixt. Big kudos to our driver who stayed with us the whole time and ensured we safely made it over to Europcar and got the car we reserved. However, the error put us about 2 hours behind schedule and as a result, we missed most of our walking tour of Evora that day.
• The one disappointing activity on our trip was the visit to Quinta do Crasto Winery. We had lunch and a tour scheduled at the winery at 12:30 PM, and the driver was scheduled to pick us up at 10:30 AM. However, the winery was 10 minutes from our hotel! So we had quite a bit of time to kill and not a lot of options near our hotel. The driver did a good job of making some suggestions, but we would have preferred either just leaving the hotel later or having a defined activity in the morning.
o Quinta do Crasto was very busy, and our tour started 30 minutes or so late. We waited in their small shop until the tour guide was available.
o My mother’s mobility is limited, and she opted out of the winery tour. Our tour guide asked to have my mother transported to the lunch area while the rest of us went on the hour-long wine tour. When the tour was over, I asked the guide where my mother was — she was still sitting in the wine shop below! I was disappointed that they overlooked her sitting for an hour in the shop.
o The lunch was not good, and there were many bones left in the fish. The food did not pair well with the wines we were tasting. We asked to try one of their white wines instead of a red but were told it was not included in the package. The winery likely has very good wines, but our package did not include tasting them. We would have liked to have had a better selection of the packages and what was included.
o Our guide at Quinta do Crasto was great and made the most of the sub-par experience. While the grounds and winery are beautiful, I would not recommend the Quinta do Crasto winery to future clients.
• Our Douro Valley itinerary only included the tasting at the Quinta do Crasto winery. Looking back, we wish we had insisted on including one or two other tastings for the two days we spent in the Douro Valley. Once we were there, we attempted to schedule other wine tastings but last-minute availability was limited.

Despite our disappointment with the Douro Valley, this is now our second trip using Wendy’s WOW List, and overall our trip was a great experience. It’s getting hard to imagine traveling any other way. It’s a huge advantage to have someone knowledgeable about the country plan the trip and make recommendations. We are already thinking about our next trip!

Response from Wendy:

Goncalo was particularly troubled to hear the Tylocks’ feedback about Quinta do Crasto, which had until now garnered great reviews, so he will be investigating the issues that the Tylocks raised before sending any other travelers there.

Portugal is one of the world’s most popular destinations right now, and as a result Goncalo has fallen a bit behind in delivering final pre-trip documents. The benefit to travelers is that they can hold off on making their final trip payment. As happens with all WOW Listers during peak travel periods, Goncalo is making the travelers who are currently on the ground his highest priority. So our advice to travelers who are dissatisfied with a certain experience is to contact the WOW Lister immediately, during your trip. That’s when they have the most tools at their disposal to remedy the situation.

We traveled to Portugal in April/May 2024 and used Goncalo’s travel company. They were very helpful in developing our itinerary with us, flexible as we made some changes, set us up with some good guides in Lisbon and Porto, recommended good accommodations and suggested some activities such as taking a boat down the Douro river in the Douro Valley that we enjoyed. In general, I highly recommend them.

A highlight in Porto was having dinner in the apartment of a local woman and her friend. Yes, we paid for the dinner in advance, but it was special to be in a home, eating a meal together and having engaged conversations. We’ve done this in other travels and like that experience.

This was our first trip to Portugal and first experience with Wendy Perrin planners. Gonçalo and Sofia’s knowledge of Portugal and careful, detailed planning met all of our expectations and more. We did a little of everything during our 7 days in Portugal. We started with tickets to a last-minute soccer game our first night in Lisbon and WOW that is an experience we will not forget, especially our 16-year-old son. Our guide Laura took us on a foodie tour finding the most unique places to visit. Our day culminated with a ferry boat ride to a seafood resort literally in the water. She arranged for a special appetizer and meringue dessert at the end. Our son’s dream was to play golf in Portugal and Penha Longa did not disappoint with amazing views and a challenging terrain. Our driver John and guide Tiago made quite a pair, sharing stories along the way through a city tour of Lisbon and on to the palace in Sintra. On to Porto which was equally incredible with its 7 bridges, the boutique Rebello hotel complete with spa, Roman-style pool and beautiful rooftop restaurant overlooking the city. One of the highlights for my husband was a cooking class with Chef Hugo, they almost seemed like kindred spirits. We can’t wait to serve his specialty sandwich to our friends. The port tasting and tour of Taylor Fladgate was incredible with our distinguished and humorous guide Tiago. Sofia’s suggestions for lunch and dinner made the trip even more memorable. Our final stop was the Palace in Estoril. We had the modern accommodations in the cities to the elegant palace on our last evening, what a way to finish our trip to Portugal. Wendy Perrin’s recommended team thought of everything, from seeing Harry Potter’s library to the waves in Nazare to tasting the most authentic cuisine.

Lori Bentley | March 20, 2024

This was our first trip using a recommended Wendy Perrin trip planner. We travelled to Portugal March 8th – March 15th, 2024. It was a special trip to celebrate our son’s graduation from college. Our trip was planned by Goncalo Correia and Joanna Sousa. WOW! What an amazing trip they planned for us. The accommodations that they chose for us were fantastic! Very unique and customer oriented. The destinations and route they planned — from Lisbon to the Alentejo region and the West Region, were perfect. Our driver, Sandru, was amazing and he made sure everything was taken care of when we reached our destinations. (He also knew our itinerary and was always able to answer questions). Sandru went above and beyond to make our trip very special. We had a wonderful cooking class and gastronomic tour with Lara in Lisbon and even attended a Benefica Football game. Our tour guide in Lisbon was excellent! In the Alentejo region we experienced an outstanding lunch with a wine pairing, horseback ride, cork factory and hikes. In the West Region, a full-day tour which included Obidos, Nazre, and Alcobaca. The details were taken care of for us, from tours to restaurant reservations, it was the best trip I have ever been on. I know I was worried about details, but I didn’t have to be, Goncalo, Joanna and Sandru took excellent care of us!

I can’t wait to plan our next trip with a Wendy Perrin-recommended trip planner.

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