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PANDEMIC TRAVEL We were so excited to travel to Hawaii! We first contacted Dani to discuss Christmas week or August travel as those were our only possible times as a family. She quickly steered us to August for pricing and availability. Dani helped us choose the best activities for our teens and pushed us to accept the early mornings needed for water activities this time of year. Dani suggested we go straight to Volcano House on the Big Island; we were glad we did! Lava was flowing, and the area is gorgeous. We absolutely loved the luxury and low-key attitude at the Mauna Lani on the Big Island. We saw dolphins and turtles galore. Choosing a resort for Maui was harder, and we understood the pros and cons. Dani was patient with us as we considered resorts. Once we arrived, I saw why it had been hard—the Wailea area is not our cup of tea. Felt a bit like Palm Beach with more natural beauty. That said, the Fairmont was a good home base, and we only had a short stay. Dani made great restaurant suggestions in the area, too, and we all enjoyed Mama’s Fish House. Our snorkel trip to Molokini Island was well worth it—highlight for all! We also enjoyed our first WOW Moment on this trip. Dani arranged a private outrigger canoe experience for our family—a beautiful early morning of calm water, dolphins swimming next to us, and a lovely explanation of the meaning of greeting the day with intention from Hawaiian tradition from our local guide.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We just came back from a three-generation trip to Oahu, Hawaii, which included a WOW Moment.
First, your WOW List travel advisor, Dani Johnson, was fabulous—she knew just what we were interested in seeing and doing, and planned the trip we wanted around the grandchildren. Everything went seamlessly, and we could concentrate on the kids, and not the logistics. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Dani again, or to recommend her to my many friends who love to travel. She made sure we had the best rooms, provided amenities at both resorts, and made this one of the best trips ever!
And now the WOW Moment—I have to say we were all impressed beyond words! We had planned a surfing lesson at Turtle Bay for our two grandchildren at the Jamie O’Brien Surfing School. Dani arranged, on a promontory above where the lesson was taking place, the most sumptuous gourmet picnic we have ever enjoyed, complete with champagne. We toasted the beautiful scenery, our gorgeous picnic, the kids below on their surfboards—and Dani and Wendy Perrin!!!! It was a perfect day, a perfect spot, and we loved every minute of it. But that was not to be all—when the lesson was over, who came out to greet us but Jamie O’Brien himself! Needless to say, we were all dazzled—especially the kids who had been watching this Hawaiian surfing legend on YouTube! This was all perfectly orchestrated—and was a WOW Moment my family will never forget.
By the way, my grandkids are now asking when they can be in our next WOW Moment!!!!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our family of 4 (including 2 teenage boys) is back from a great trip to LA and Oahu (did 4 nights at each). With the testing requirements to get back into the US still in place, staying within the US for our travels this year was the right call for our family.
Dani Johnson was incredibly helpful in our planning of this trip, it truly would not have happened without her. She had great suggestions on what to do, where to stay, where to eat – everything. She was organized and had great follow up. We were planning this May trip in January during an incredibly busy time for our family and I felt like I had very little bandwidth for focusing on this trip. Dani kept me on track for decisions we needed to make and took care of booking literally everything.
One thing to note – luxury travel is eye-wateringly expensive right now. What would have been a generous budget 3 years ago definitely does not go as far now. We really had to make some choices about where to put our money, and Dani was very helpful to me in deciding how to prioritize, and her judgement about activities/lodging/dining was spot on.
Highly recommend, and appreciate that I found her through this website.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to the Big Island Hawaii was more than we ever thought possible, especially with it being right after Hawaii dropped its covid restrictions and also spring break/Easter week!! Dani Johnson and her team helped us plan an amazing, well thought out journey around the island. Each day was carefully crafted, prior to the trip, so that we had little to think about during the busy week. We just checked our travel app each day to know what was up next! Our group of 9 loved all of her recommendations: hotels, excursions and restaurants. As a Hawaii specialist, Dani knew tips and contacts that made our trip incredible, easy and she saved us money by recommending a less expensive hotel property, that was still gorgeous with a great beach. She was always available during the planning process and even during the trip when we had a few requests. We would have never thought about using a trip planner for Hawaii, as we are from Southern CA, but we are so glad that we did, as the value that we received, such as better service at the hotel, our amazing nighttime manta ray trip, and the waterfall helicopter ride, were priceless!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL This vacation to Hawaii for my husband and me was the first long trip we had planned since the beginning of COVID, and we wanted a combination of outdoor activities, cultural insights, relaxation and, of course, excellent food. Dani Johnson did a wonderful job at giving us a trip that provided it all. From our initial conversation (where she really listened to our likes and dislikes), we knew we were in good hands.
All her hotel suggestions (Mauna Lani on Hawaii, Four Seasons on Maui, and Halekulani on Oahu) were exactly we wanted, and exceeded our expectations. In each, we had fabulous rooms with views, excellent service, and a welcoming amenity.
In every restaurant we had what we are sure was the best table in the house, and we are also sure it was because of Dani’s various contacts.
As we discussed possible activities, it was again obvious how knowledgeable Dani is about all facets of Hawaii travel. She made suggestions of the best way/timing to do them all and it turns out she was absolutely correct. We managed to fit in hiking, golf, a helicopter ride, scuba with manta rays, whale watching, sunset at the summit of Mauna Kea, a visit to Volcano National Park, plus the much-needed relaxation, all seamlessly and without feeling overwhelmed.
We could never have put together this vacation without Dani’s help, and will definitely use her services again. Thanks, Dani, for a spectacular trip!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dani planned a trip to Hawaii that was exactly what we wanted. She facilitated re-scheduling with minimal effort when my husband experienced health issues. The helicopter tour of the Big Island and private fishing boat day were incredible! We love the Mauna Lani Resort and every meal we had there was exceptional. It was the best cuisine I’ve ever had at a resort! In speaking with other guests, that resort has a cult like following.
Her restaurant recommendations, both in Oahu and on the Big Island were spot on. A special dinner at La Mer was exceptional. She had so many thoughts on what we could do- sadly not enough time to do it all.
We did have sticker shock about how expensive everything is on the islands these days. Otherwise a great trip full of hiking, exploring by car, relaxation and beautiful sites!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Florida is generally the mecca for New Yorkers wanting to get out of the winter. Given the politics and high Covid numbers, visiting Florida this year was no longer an option. We had been to Hawaii on two separate occasions and visited Oahu, Hawaii (The Big Island), Maui and Kauai. Hawaii became our destination of choice. We contacted Dani Johnson, a WOW List travel agent.
In our discussions, both over the phone and in emails, we indicated our age (mid to late 70s), travel history and interests. We wanted quality accommodations with cooking facilities (no large resorts please) spread over three to four weeks, in a rain free environment and in quiet, low-key locations. We did not want any tours, guides or activities, only dining suggestions. Once we agreed on a basic itinerary we had to cough up an additional $350 non-refundable fee, over and above the cost of the itinerary, in order to proceed. This was my 9th WOW journey and I never had to submit this kind of fee but it was as advertised so we jumped in with both feet. We ended up settling on three islands ( Maui, Lanai and Oahu) with a rental car on two of the islands. She assembled the itinerary into a PDF file available online.
The accommodations were grand. We had water views, kitchen facilities in 3 out of 5 units and rain free in all locations. When our daughter asked what we did each day we responded proudly, “Nothing!” We did take some short drives around Maui, revisiting some old haunts and did some ocean swimming to offset the additional calories. We just wanted to enjoy the Covid-free atmosphere, sunny skies, mild temperatures and laid back island culture. We did it all.
Dani arranged all transportation once in Hawaii – the rental cars and flights to and from Lana’i. The private flights to and from Lana’i were included with the accommodations but since we would be traveling from Maui, we had to fly commercial one way. The flight was inexpensive and only about 30 minutes but then Dani added a $60.00 fee for ticketing the flight. Given the up front fee of $350 I thought the ticketing charge was excessive. I suggested as much, expecting a credit but none was in the offing. I had to email Dani to find out where the small airline was located at the airport; it was not in the main Departure Terminal and was listed under a different name than on my itinerary. She also secured two Standard R.V. cars which were actually 4×4 Jeeps. They turned out to be inappropriate as one of us has had two hip replacements precluding getting in and out of a 4×4 vehicle comfortably. We exchanged the first Jeep for a more sedate sedan. The day before the second rental I noticed the same appellation and emailed her to see about a change. It was too late. All sedans were gone. Luckily, upon arrival at the Car Rental Center, we negotiated for a sedan at half the price,
Hawaii was wonderful but very expensive and yet, it met all our expectations. The accommodations, with one exception (Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu),were spot on. Because Dani booked the Lana’i accommodations (Four Seasons Sensei, Lana’i) we received a one time dinner credit of $100 and a $45.00 per person, per day breakfast credit and a complimentary bottle of wine. A breakfast Juice, tea and pancakes and gratuity for two easily ran the bill up to $125.00.
Dani knows Hawaii and, while her expertise is valuable, she has many irons in the fire and can easily miss some of the finer details. For example, no arrangements were made or even offered for getting back to the airport from Waikiki. I emailed her for suggestions but by the time her colleague got back to me (she was out of town but monitoring her email) and I called, they were fully booked. I arranged my own transportation. These were minor problems: car rental issues, airport transportation ticketing fee, non-refundable fee, Southern Airways Express listed on my itinerary but called Mokulele Airlines at Maui International Airport. None of them were insurmountable and as a seasoned traveler, I rolled with the adjustments but then I thought about that non-refundable fee…….
In my past WOW experiences I found the WOW agents extremely accommodating, thorough with no detail too obscure to be ignored. Everything was anticipated and organized. Maybe because I was not requesting tours or booked experiences, my itinerary was not a top priority. Overall the itinerary evolved smoothly with only minor hiccups and, given everything, Hawaii was the right choice – no SNOW and not Florida.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We started planning our extended family (including teens and a toddler) Feb 2022 Hawaii in July 2021 and wanted to make sure our accommodations and plans considered possible changes in Covid related restrictions. Dani helped us find a wonderful home adjacent to the Mauna Lani Resort. This gave us the option of accessing the resort amenities or having everything we needed at the house (including pool and beach access) if restrictions changed. Dani was also incredibly helpful in making dinner reservations and booking a charter to snorkel with manta rays at night (not to be missed!) The one piece of advice I would give to anyone booking an Airbnb with contactless check in is to arrange time for a phone call upon arrival to ask any questions about the property. We had a few issues that we had to escalate to Dani for assistance to resolve. We are grateful for her assistance and would not hesitate to work with Dani again in the future.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dani and her team once again went above and beyond to ensure my husband and I enjoyed an extraordinary and relatively short vacation on Maui. We stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani, which has a lovely beach and fantastic accommodations. She also recommended a celebratory dinner at Merrimans, which has a spectacular view and delicious cuisine. Dani’s knowledge of Hawaii is so comprehensive, we knew we were in great hands!
Being triple vaccinated, we were not required by HI to take any other steps before the trip, and of course in-door masking while in HI.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We used Dani Johnson, Hawaii Travel Specialist for our 10/8-10/13/2021 trip to Kauai. All her suggestions from hotel, car rental, restaurants and activities were excellent. She also made all the arrangements. I could not ask for a more stress-free holiday! And she kept us informed on the ever-changing COVID restrictions/requirements that made our entry into Hawaii and stay very easy to manage. She also planned our WOW Moment. It was a private guided hike to the HoOpi Falls which we would not have found on our own. It was a beautiful serene hike all the more fun as we did it barefoot due to the muddy conditions. Our guide, BriTani, provided great insights into the Hawaiian culture, was very knowledgeable about the flora and just very entertaining! A wonderful experience. Mahalo Dani and Wendy.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dani Johnson helped my husband and I book at trip to the Four Seasons Lanai during September 2021, and it was the trip of a lifetime! She got us an upgrade to a partial ocean view and a generous daily breakfast credit — and a $100 credit to use in any way we wanted. Dani recommended various activities and answered our questions with a thorough description of the property. She was immensely helpful, and also referred me to a Los Angeles hotel (Shutters on the Beach), as we stopped over in LA on our way over to Lanai (from New York.)
This resort, on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, is one of the best we’ve been to in the world. While Lanai is a mostly arid island, the property is landscaped with what I would describe as tropical botanic garden, with landscaped streams and koi ponds. Beautiful birds, little lizards, and butterflies make their home around the property. In the bay, where the beach is, spinner dolphins come in to “rest” (from nighttime feeding) during the day.
The food is outstanding. Three restaurants, and the Nobu is our favorite. We slept the deepest sleeps, equivalent to the restful nights we experienced during trips to the Maldives. But what makes this property superlative is the staff. Every single person does a wonderful job. I felt welcome, coddled, and it was also great to get to know some of the staff. They were warm and friendly and kind.
This was our first trip to Hawaii, and Dani helped it make truly memorable.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Jay and Dani planned an amazing trip for me and my (now fiancé) Ryan from 9/11/2021 to 9/18/2021 in Maui. Originally, I was exploring international destinations, but with Covid it made sense to travel within the United States. Dani recommended several hotels in the Wailea area but ultimately we chose the Four Seasons and WOW, we loved it. Impeccable service throughout our entire week long stay and we felt safe the entire time with their COVID protocols. Dani was able to get us a room upgrade at no extra cost and hotel credits that we used at the spa and for meals on site. Dani also provided excellent recommendations on things to do in Maui. We absolutely loved our biking excursion with Maui Bombers down Haleakala – It’s been years since we had so much fun! We also loved the surfing lessons Dani set up in Lahina which allowed us to eat at an amazing casual seaside tavern afterwards for lunch. Overall, we have nothing but great things to say about the trip. While many people may think of Hawaii and not consider hiring a travel agent, I can say with certainty that our experience was that much better because of Dani’s planning, knowledge and experience.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We loved working with Dani – she was fantastic. Great to work with and brainstorm from the beginning. She always gave me her time and I never felt rushed with my questions or her responses. During trip planning, she spent a lot of time going over what she thought we would like based on our getting to know each other. As I was traveling with my husband and 2 teenaged kids, I felt she had a great “idea” of what each of us would like – and to combine relaxing with adventure! Prior to the trip, she sent me great ideas of what to bring and what not to bring!
The trip was fantastic. Dani’s relationships with the managers of each of the Four Seasons we stayed at made the trip even better. We were upgraded to beautiful rooms, due to her relationships. We had all of our dinner reservations and activities set up perfectly (not exactly easy in busy Hawaii mid-Covid). Our transfers were seamless, and affordable. We had a few minor issues throughout the 2-week trip and Dani was available and fixed them immediately. They didn’t even seem like issues at the end of the day!
All and all, I love to plan travel and research and read about trips. I rarely use a travel agent, and often book my family’s extensive travel myself. Based on my experience with Dani, that will not be the case any longer, as this time I felt someone took care of me and helped me to have a vacation and I did not have to worry about the details. Thanks for all of it!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I cannot recommend Dani R. Johnson more highly for your next trip to Hawaii. Not only did she relieve the stress of our first trip after the 2020 shut down, she tended to every detail of our first trip to Lana’i. While we had travelled several times to Maui, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island, she suggested that Lana’i would be a perfect island to ease back into travel. She was spot on. We split our time between the two resorts– Senei Lana’i and the Four Seasons resort on the beach. We loved both. The food was delicious every time we sat down. The service was great. And, thanks to Dani, my husband and I played golf together for the first time at the super fun Manele Golf Course, taking advantage of the Sunset 9 program which allows people to play the back 9 and most scenic part of the course after 3pm. It was just what we needed after not traveling for over a year. What I haven’t yet mentioned is that Dani planned all of it within less than a week’s notice! She was able to direct me to the pharmacy in TX which would get us results in time for us to board our flight to HI (This was in late Feb 2021 when HI was still requiring a negative PCR test from only a handful of pharmacies). She eased my anxiety about traveling and was available by text or phone any time I had a question, even while we were in Lana’i. She went above and beyond for us because she knew how much we needed to get away and she did everything in her power to make it happen in a very short time. I will definitely call upon her again. Thank you, Dani!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dani Johnson planned a fabulous trip to the Hawaiian Islands for my wife and I, our three children and their spouses/partners, and our six granddaughters. Although our family of 14 had taken many yearly vacations to the Florida Panhandle, we had never planned a trip this ambitious and complex. Selecting accommodations, restaurants, and activities on each of three islands (Kauai, Big Island of Hawaii, and Maui) we visited, while keeping within our budget, was a formidable challenge. The entire process was made so much easier by Dani’s vast experience with the islands, and the fact that she had personal experience with every suggestion she made. Although we changed our minds several times, particularly with the accommodations, Dani showed great patience and worked hard to come up with selections we all loved and ultimately met the needs of the entire family.
With regard to activities, Dani provided an extensive list of choices for each island and spent a lot of time on the phone working with us to select ones that could be enjoyed by everyone in the family, regardless of age (excluding our one year old granddaughter). Several excursions that Dani made sure we went on turned out to be experiences of a lifetime. A nighttime snorkelling trip with manta rays was one of the most exciting experiences any of us had ever had. Having these magnificent 8-12 ft wide creatures swim by right in front of your eyes was absolutely incredible. Another experience we will never forget is a helicopter trip around the Big Island. In addition to getting incredible views of the diverse landscape on Hawaii, including the gigantic volcanoes on the island, several flights into canyons as tall as 3000 ft and lined with lush vegetation and some of the tallest waterfalls on earth, was absolutely jaw droppingly stunning. We’ve seen some beautiful scenery around the world, but this was something that just took our breath away. I’m really not sure we would have chosen these experiences had Dani not encouraged us. I would advise travelers to Hawaii to put these on their must do list.
In addition to trip planning, Dani sent all of us information on the Covid requirements for visiting the islands, documents we had to download beforehand, and stressing things like getting tested within 72 hours of departing for our first destination. Not having the correct information would cause major delays when you arrive.
I would also add that Dani readily handled several last minute changes we requested, in addition to a couple of requests and questions that came up during the trip. One example is an issue we encountered at the car rental in Hawaii, where cars are very scarce due to the large number of tourists. There was a mixup with who in the family would get which sized car, and they would not make the changes as it would require new reservations and risk losing one or more cars. One phone call to Dani and the issue was resolved in minutes.
Another thing we appreciated was Dani’s warning that traveling to the peak of their tallest volcano, at nearly 14,000 ft, results in altitude sickness for about 20% of those who attempt it. At our advanced age, my wife and I chose to err on the safe side.
All in all, this trip turned out to be a trip of a lifetime for everyone in the family, and we are very grateful to Dani for making it so.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dani Johnson helped my husband and I plan a fabulous Hawaii vacation in July 2021 for our extended family of 9 people…age range from “almost” 70 to 12! There were “Covid hurdles” to jump, even though we were all vaccinated, and Dani made suggestions for the best way to find the correct testing and also kept us updated on changes being made weekly by the Hawaiian government. We arrived on Maui with no glitches along the way. Our accommodations were fantastic. Dani was “spot on” with the perfect place for our 8 night stay. She arranged all private excursions for our group with the best of the best! The kids and grandkids could not pick just one favorite excursion as all were rated a 10++++ by them. Dani helped us plan dining reservations around our excursions so we kept driving time around the island to a minimum…what a great suggestion and restaurants were fantastic! After our time on Maui, we flew to Honolulu for a private tour arranged by Dani of Pearl Harbor, the Battleship Missouri, and a drive around Punchbowl Cemetery. She suggested a couple of days at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore to relax and regain our “zen” before heading home. Perfect, again! Beautiful property, newly remodeled during Covid and very recently reopened, July 1 to be exact. All transfers in Honolulu were arranged by Dani. We were treated like royalty. Needless to say, our family Hawaii vacation was THE BEST possible because of Dani’s assistance, suggestions, conference calls with me many times, emails, and on and on. We will definitely use her again and would highly recommend Dani to our friends, family, or anyone wanting to plan a Hawaiian vacation.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL If you are like me, and would never have considered using a travel specialist for a domestic trip, please think again! I decided that I wanted to go to Maui, and booked my flight and hotel in advance. Then, I happened to read a Wendy Perrin traveler review about Dani Johnson and was intrigued- should I consider using a planner for Hawaii? Again, I almost always use a travel planner for ex-US travel but not for travel in the US. However, I was excited by the review I read, and out of curiosity, I reached out to Dani. WOW- I will use her again! She basically took over my trip, and, like all great travel specialists, spent a considerable amount of time asking me questions to understand what I was looking for, and how I wanted to spend my time.
We discussed sticking with my planned hotel versus renting a condo or going to a different hotel property. Ultimately, I ended up staying with the Four Seasons which I had booked on my own, but when she “took over” the reservation, I received a lot more perks than I would have received with my reservation, saving me quite a bit of money. Dani also thoroughly went through all of the activities I had considered, gave me excellent feedback and advice, and then booked everything for me after our discussion. She also suggested and reserved hotels, a car and driver when I could not get an auto reservation as well as restaurants, and pretty much took care of every little detail in an extremely thoughtful way.
Everything Dani suggested and ultimately scheduled, felt completely safe from a COVID-19 perspective, and I, a nurse, never once felt any discomfort or concern in that regard. Before, during and after, Dani checked in to make sure that everything was perfect, and when I experienced one snafu completely unrelated to Dani, she immediately jumped into action and took care of it.
Bottom line: I felt like I had my cake and was able to eat it, too! I look forward to booking another trip through Dani, and will work with her right at the beginning of my planning.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dani did a great job planning our trip to Maui, especially with all the worries about Covid. It was great to have her guide us on our first trip. Her suggestion that we stay on Maui and not travel this time around was well thought out. Her hotel suggestions were great too, and her activity and dining arrangements were spot-on. Upon our return, she also took time to ask for feedback on her suggestions. We do plan to do another trip back and will gladly ask her to plan it again for us.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Once again Dani put together a nice trip for us during the pandemic. We have had to “pivot” during our travels this last year due to my wife’s work travel policy. Dani was able to make changes to our trip at the last minute, the day before we were planning to depart, so we could adhere to the policy. She was able to change everything and was able to book all our dining at the last minute, so that we never had to search for a meal. With the perks you receive through her travel agency, we were able to get included breakfast everyday, an upgrade in the room category and a credit to use during our stay. She is great and really knows what kind of room we want and the kind of resort we will enjoy. Thanks Dani!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Hawaii expert Dani Johnson planned a fabulous vacation to the Big Island for our family and kindly included my sister and her family in our plans/reservations at the almost last minute. We really enjoyed the Fairmont Orchid, which Dani highly recommended. It was perfect for our families (parents and teens). She ensured we had lovely rooms with wonderful views and fantastic, attentive service. Dani recommended a snorkeling trip just for our two families. Thanks to Wendy, our WOW Moment, a fantastic hike to Pololu Valley and Beach, was delightful. Dani engaged Derek Stuart, of Active Families Hawaii, as a personal guide, including visiting the Waimea Market, a stunning drive to the northeast of the Big Island and the above mentioned hike and picnic on the black sand beach. Dani made excellent recommendations with respect to dining, surfing and golfing: our family could not have been happier. We appreciated her very detailed advice re: Covid testing in advance of the trip. We highly recommend Dani and her team.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My family traveled to Maui for Spring Break 2021 (3.13.21 – 3.20.21) and it was perfect. We decided to make the trip at the last minute as we really wanted to get away. We reached out to Wendy and her team and they put us in contact with Dani Johnson. We connected with Dani quickly and on the initial call we booked an amazing condo with a breathtaking view of the ocean. Dani did say the unit we got was most likely due to a cancellation but her quick action made it happen.
While we are usually a resort family the condo was perfect during these pandemic times and also because we brought along our teenage daughter’s friend. Dani handled all our dining reservations, recommended personal chefs – we did take advantage of one and it was fantastic, booked the girls a couple experiences and provided recommendations for a couple day trips. She made the trip stress-free from a planning perspective and everyone had a wonderful time.
One of the reasons we selected Hawaii was because the state mandates a negative Covid test 72 hours prior to travel if you wanted to bypass a 10 day quarantine. Getting this complete can be a little stressful but the State of Hawaii has an easy to use website where all travelers over 18 need to register their trip, individuals under 18 are logged under one of the adults. We are a United Airlines family and their website also provides a lot of detail on traveling to Hawaii. We used United’s “trusted partner”, ADL Health, for an at home – zoom conducted Covid test. Order the test online, it is shipped to your home, you set up an appointment to administer the test, send it back UPS overnight. We had the results the next day. Easy and quick. The State of Hawaii also has a list of “trusted” partners.
We would recommend travel to Hawaii at this time and we would definitely recommend Dani. She got this trip done for us in record time, followed up with us during the trip and made Maui 2021 the best!!! – Sheila and Rob McClure
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We rented a private home in Tulum. Honestly, we couldn’t have found the home ourselves. We were fully staffed and had the best price for private chefs to accommodate our food wishes. We weren’t comfortable going elsewhere to get a COVID test to travel. Dani, our agent, was able to easily organize health techs to come to the house to administer the test.
Dani added great value to our trip by not only providing services like in home COVID tests but by working with the home owner to to extend the cancelling policy (which, we fortunately decided not to use). I don’t believe this request would have been successful without Dani’s assistance.
Dani steered us in the right direction for the perfect home in the perfect location. We would not have wanted to be in the busyness of downtown Tulum but rather in the park, closer to the ruins and also have access to staff serving us drinks on the beach from the neighboring hotel. This service alone was worth everything.
I understand the home will be updating its kitchen soon. The pool was ok for the adults and great for the kids. I came to understand that being in the reserve, it’s difficult to update a home with many permits and hoops to jump through. The main draw is the beautiful beach, the service and home. We traveled from 2/12/21-2/22/21.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Once again Dani did such a fantastic job for us in her role as travel specialist! During the pandemic, we have found that it helps to have 2 sets of plans. Dani helped us set these plans up and made sure that when we had to pivot to plan B, we were able to get deposits refunded. Dani helped us with dinner reservations, even getting us outdoor seating where available. With the perks that her travel agency provides, we also have a credit and breakfast every day. She also help us with upgrades and late checkout if needed or available. We loved all the hiking in Scottsdale AZ. We spent hours hiking the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Dani knows that we like to have a suite with a separate area and an outdoor space as well and she knows how to pick a great room for us. Thanks again!!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Traveling during the pandemic has been very challenging. Dani Johnson has been a huge help for us. She helped us with lodging, restaurant reservation and transportation. We had to make changes as the pandemic risks changes so quickly and she was able to assist us with backup plans to make sure we had a place to go without any hassles or losing deposits. Dani always gets us perks at hotels and makes sure we can get an upgrade if available. She arranged transportation in clean vehicles with masked and respectful drivers. We felt very safe. Dani let us know that we needed our negative pcr test to check into canyon ranch in Lennox. We felt we were well protected and taken care of. Thank you.
We have worked with Dani before and she is just excellent. In 2020, she has re-booked our Napa 25th anniversary trip twice since we were supposed to go in April of this year and she had done it sympathetically and with a positive attitude. She booked our trip to Aspen with a great hotel! We were able to upgrade on arrival. When it rained and we were by the pool, I texted her and she did a rain dance – lol! We are so sad that we cannot travel the way we want, but we are buoyed by the fact that Dani has agreed to help us find trips we can take domestically for the rest of the year and, frankly, as long as it takes. She has become our savior!
This was the first time I used one of your specialists. Dani helped me plan a long weekend in San Francisco with my husband. I am so glad I reached out to her especially because she knew that in order to get into Muir Woods you needed to have a time slot because they only allow a certain amount of people in at the same time. If we would have driven there on our own and not been able to get in , that would have been a disaster to start out our trip. Dani suggested a hotel in Sausalito which was a great recommendation, however my husband was not a fan of the historic room and I emailed Dani at 7 am to let her know our situation. She was out of town but emailed me back and we discussed what our next options would be. The hotel found us a contemporary room and all was well. We really enjoyed Cavallo Point and just how well? When you know the staff by name that means you spent a lot of time there! Each day had an activity planned and that was just enough for us and then we got to chill the remainder of the day which was great . Dani suggested severeal restaurants and other things to do so it was a great balance.
One thing that we would highly recommend is the Avital Food Tour. It brought us to a part of the city that we would not have seen. We met people from all over the world on the tour and the bonus was that the owner of the company joined us. She runs the tours in L.A. , NYC and San Fran.
Dani Johnson found a perfect spot for us to take our children and grandchildren for vacation the busy week after Christmas. The activities that she recommended were just right for our family and we were so impressed by the them all. Such as the private guide for a hike that knew how to get away from the crowds, and a snorkel sail company that operates with such integrity that they issued a full refund after being out for two hours and felt the conditions did not meet their standards. The trip organizational app she uses was a wonderful tool for our large family and helped to keep everyone informed and aware of what was happening each day. Dani always responded promptly and patiently to our never ending questions. She was easy to reach by phone, text or email and always had a positive attitude and a great sense of humor. She was a joy to work with!
Over all, I believe Dani is a superstar of a travel agent and did a 5-star job planning our trip. It was amazing and her recommendations and private tour guides were awesome.
If you go to Oahu, spend time at the Pearl Harbor memorial. Lots to see and do, including the Bowfin submarine tour and USS Missouri. Beware Honolulu traffic will make you feel at home – provided home is NYC, Boston, LA, etc. Just awful. Head to the North shore to catch the real vibe of Hawaii – take the King Kamehameha highway. Better road and so many beaches to stop and see if it is the right one for you.
Maui is so much more than the west side of the island. Be sure to visit upcountry, its North Shore and take the road to Hana. Make reservations at Merrimans in the Kapalua area of north shore. When you do, find out when sunset is and make reservation for 30 minutes beforehand. But get there earlier than that to sit out side and watch the day end while overlooking Kapalua Bay!!
Lanai is very, very laid back but the most restful place to chill and focus on yourself and your special person. Be sure to take the 4 x 4 drive to The Garden of the Gods and beyond to Polihua Beach – the journey is the destination! Shipwreck Beach is interesting – where else can you walk out to a WW II ship run aground on the shoals. But it also seems to have attracted some folks who prefer to drink and/or live there – without benefit of accommodations. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort -should be a 6 diamond facility with equally great staff!
We figured our WOW moment would probably involve a winery. When you visit Napa Valley, it’s a safe bet that a special activity is in a vineyard. However, in planning our 3 day trip out to Napa, I told Dani Johnson that we do not like to load up on lengthy discussions around vats in noisy production areas. Dani did deliver a WOW moment in a winery. But with a twist. And it was terrific.
She provided detailed driving directions to the Cimarossa winery located on Howell Mountain in Angwin, near Calistoga. The GPS does not work on the mountain for part of the trip, we were warned. The vineyard is small, with limited distribution and few visitors.
We wound our way up the hill, carefully making sure to keep “small gated olive grove on left” and to bear right at a certain fork and left at another unmarked road. After about a half hour drive from Calistoga’s town center, we arrived at the curlicue-gated entrance to Cimarossa. The gate swung open silently, allowing us through. A red barn just over the crest of a small hill came into view and a friendly young woman named Michelle pointed out where to leave our car. “Hop in,” she said, inviting us into a 4×4. She drove us through rows of vines as we ascended dirt paths to the top of the knoll to the tasting room.
Originally built as a hunting lodge, its rough wood walls and stone fireplace make for a cozy feeling. The dining table in the center of the room was set with ten sparkling wine glasses for the two of us, along with a scrumptious lunch. Michelle tossed a delicious arugula salad with pecorino and olive oil, but it was hard to get beyond the truffle potato chips. We tasted but didn’t come close to finishing the charcuterie platter of meats, cheeses and olives. All delicious. Macarons from famous chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bakery in Yountville were for dessert.
The wines are named for their grapes’ orientation on the hillside. Our favorite was the western facing (Riva di Ponente – where the sun sets).
After we had our fill and heard the story behind the history of the place, Michelle drove us down the hill, through the olive trees and grape vines and back to our car. The descent from the mountain was as easy going down as the delicious wines and lunch. Our visit and wine tasting at Cimarossa made for a terrifically WOW moment. Thank you, Wendy and Dani!
We used Dani Johnson to plan our family (4 adults) vacation to Hawaii this August. From start to finish the vacation was fantastic, and Dani was outstanding in orchestrating it for us. She promptly reached out and during our first phone call asked many questions about what we expected and how we wanted to spend our time. This was great because we were unsure about which islands we wanted to visit. She is so well informed that we decided on the Four Seasons resorts in Wailea and Lanai, which turned out to be perfect choices. Dani arranged all of our activities, surf and paddle board lessons, skeet shooting and archery. For the surf/paddleboard lessons in Lahaina the company Dani set us up with (Maui Surf Clinics) treated us so well I doubt we could have had a better time elsewhere. We had dinner reservations ready and were able to just enjoy the days. A highlight was our WOW moment, biking down Haleakala through sun and clouds. Just a pleasure! Dani also maximized our time by advising us to take the ferry to Lanai, but to fly from Lanai to Maui airport instead of using the ferry again. Great advice! It was smooth and efficient. I would unhesitatingly use Dani again, she is fantastic.
Dani Johnson helped us plan a multi-generation trip to Hawaii. She guided us in choosing the right resort to meet our needs — Mauis Montage Kapalua Bay, which even exceeded our expectations. She also guided us in choosing and reserving activities for our family, including the Drums of the Pacific luau and a Trilogy snorkeling cruise to Lanai. She treated us to a WOW moment at the Oo Coffee Plantation, which was an enjoyable getaway from beach activities.
The Axus travel app that she kept updated for us was a big help in having all the details at our fingertips.
Our travel agent, Dani Johnson, was extremely helpful initially with the planning of our trip, especially since we had to reschedule our trip to Maui from August 2018, too late May 2019, due to the Hurricane last August. Dani was able to get the hotel, the Fairmont Kea Lani, to honor the prices from 2018. We took our trip from Los Angeles to Maui from 5/30/19-6/6/19.
We did encounter some issues at the hotel, however, we didn’t contact Dani (which we should have done), as we handled it ourselves. When we arrived at the hotel, we were informed that they had no rooms available to upgrade us to. We were given a room on the 6th floor (good), however, our balcony overlooked a parking lot, houses and some of a garden area (not good). Also, due to the location, there was no breeze at all on the balcony, so we couldn’t even go out there, as it was too hot and humid. But this is not the worst of it. We had cockroaches in the bathroom of our suite on three different days. We complained to management, who offered us a room in the same location as our current room but on the second floor. We told them that unless they could give us a better room, we weren’t going to move. The manager offered to have our bathroom sprayed with a natural, non-toxic bug spray, which she said was odorless. It was not odorless! Every time I turned on the water in my sink, I could smell the bug spray. The end result is that we were given $250.00 in hotel credits and the resort fee was waived. I would have preferred to be moved to another room that was better than our cockroach room.
I will say that absent the cockroaches and location of our room, it is a very nice hotel with many amenities.
Response from Wendy:
It’s a pity the Sandzimiers did not contact Dani Johnson during their trip to report the issue. Dani would have immediately phoned the resort and requested a different room. One reason to arrange a trip through a well-connected destination specialist, like those on The WOW List, is so they can be your advocate and fix any situation gone wrong. Not using them for that purpose is a wasted opportunity. As for the hotel, Dani says this is the first time she’s heard such a complaint about the Fairmont Kea Lani. Me too. Hopefully it will be the last.
Dani Johnson and her team were top notch from beginning to end. This is the second time that we have used Dani from the WOW list. She planned a long weekend for us in downtown LA which was the area that we had wanted to explore during this trip. She coordinated a personalized food tour with a wonderful guide, Anne. Ran into several locals who confirmed that we were making all the right food visits. Arranged for entrance to the Magic Castle which was a fun thing to check off the list. Dani’s list of restaurant options was outstanding and winners all around since we ate no where else. For our next trip to LA…we will be calling on Dani again.
Dani Johnson did a wonderful job helping me put together a short trip with my daughter to LA. She selected a great hotel and offered on-point suggestions for touring, eating and shopping. She was extremely responsive to all of my questions/needs.
I would not hesitate to use Dani again and already have 2 short trips scheduled, which included tickets to an exclusive show taping and a birthday dinner reservation months before they are available to the public. My advice is to take Dani’s advice. Thank you Dani!
Dani organized every aspect of our week long trip to S. California for our family of 4. We asked Dani to put together a trip which included LegoLand, SD Zoo, Disneyland and day at a resort. Dani put us in the most convenient locations with the best amenities. We were extremely pleased with all the recommendations and followed her suggestions with any changes.
Thank you Wendy Perrin and Team for organizing another amazing vacation for us that we could not have done on our own.
Dani helped with the planning of a large multigenerational family trip. The trip worked out perfectly and Dani’s planning guidance was invaluable. During that process, we dealt with a volcanic eruption and government shutdown which threatened to derail our plans. Dani’s knowledge helped us make the right decisions. Also, during the trip, Dani helped with last minute schedule adjustments and vendor interaction.
Dani did an excellent job of finding a trip off the beaten path that was perfect for us. She steered us away from several options that we would not have been happy with. She is awesome.
Dani picked the Andaz Maui for us and it was a wonderful choice! She even welcomed us with a bottle of champagne and chocolates! She also was able to get us reservations at Mamas Fish House and Morimoto’s. In addition, she answered several emails about specific questions about our upcoming stay. We did not need to contact her during our stay.
Our 30th Anniversary was fast approaching and we had nothing planned! We visited the Hawaiian Islands on our wedding trip and we thought it would be a good time to revisit the Big Island, which we really enjoy. Naturally, we started with Wendy Perrin’s WOW list of agents and decided to use Jay and Dani for our planning.
This was not a complicated trip, however, time was short and I was concerned about hotels and excursions being unavailable. Dani asked us thoughtful questions regarding our interests and what we wanted to do. We wanted to maximize our site-seeing time and beach time too! Dani understood this and arranged a circle island helicopter tour, a moonlight manta snorkel excursion, and hiking if the weather permitted.
Dani picked the perfect hotel with a fantastic beach: the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. This hotel is not ostentatious but has a very welcoming and friendly feel. From the welcome arrival with a traditional lei greeting and check-in, everything went smoothly and efficiently. And we did use the concierge service for restaurant reservations and maps. The design of the hotel was to maximize the terrain and the enjoyment of the beach and ocean. The beach is a very well-kept 1/3 of a mile gold sand beach good for walking and just enjoying the ocean and sunset. There are plenty of activities at the beach; paddle boarding, swimming, traditional out-rigger boat complete with a shell blower to make the arrival and departure and even the opportunity to snorkel with the mantas from the beach. It’s a lovely walk out into the ocean as the beach is protected a bit, like a cove. And if the beach is too windy for the umbrellas or you want something different there is a great pool with hot tub and lots of very comfortable lounges with umbrellas. We used the pool a day or so as well.
Additionally, they have a great tennis facility! We had decided not to take golf or tennis equipment as this trip was to be about visiting the Big Island and relaxing on the beach. But one day we decided to check out the tennis shop for T-shirts and such, and I could not resist the call to play. The club had racquet rental as well as shoe rental! They were not fussy about the dress code either so my work out shorts were just fine.
At the hotel, there are many classes offered regarding Hawaii life and also hotel tours regarding the artwork displayed. I took the art tour offered and it was very educational. The tour provided insight on the artwork displayed and also the background as to how the hotel came to be and the design/feel of the hotel. And a special part of staying at this hotel was the staff, so accommodating and friendly. Every morning at breakfast buffet we had an ocean side table and the staff was concerned about the exposure to the sun and would bring out the awnings just before the sun became an issue. The staff always seemed to be at least one step ahead and were able to anticipate our needs.
The weather cooperated for all activities except the hiking. The excursions Dani arranged were timed for us to take advantage of the time change, east coast vs Hawaii time. Dani also provided some trip planning software/app so we could communicate and keep track of our excursions and the vendors could notify us if something changed on their end. This app worked very well and made the planning and referencing of trip details very easy and convenient. In addition to a beachfront room we also we received upgraded seats at our Luau, chilled bottle of champagne in our room, additional champagne at dinner at an off-resort restaurant –all of these were very nice surprises! It was a great trip for us, thanks to Dani and her team!
Our high expectations were exceeded by our WOW agent, Dani Johnson, for our first trip to Hawaii. a state she knew very well. A good listener, she crafted a plan that fit us perfectly, including many low/no cost activities. The accommodations (Kauai & Maui) were wonderful, in ideal locations. She provided an app, preloaded with our specific plans, including websites, phone numbers, directions and activity descriptions. We had two activities that needed clarification while we were there; she answered her cell phone and provided immediate help. I highly recommend Dani; we would not have had close to as nice a trip without her.
Dani did a great job of matching our needs to a resort on the north end. We had two families and a 1 yr. old, a three yr. old, and a 5 yr. old. the convenience to the beach and other amenities was as good as it gets. Her suggestions on activities such as pony rides and the luau were spot on. Restaurant recommendations were excellent as well. Even with some mix-ups on a scheduled hike, she handled the issue extremely well. I would highly recommend her. It was a great trip- my 5yr. old granddaughter was a confirmed surfer by the end of the trip.
Dani Johnson was friendly, helpful and did an excellent job with our non-conventional request. Dani arranged a private tour of Pearl Harbor which was excellent – a 5 out of 5.
We enlisted the help of Dani Johnson—based out of California—to help us put together a trip to Maui and the big island of Hawaii in June. Overall it was a great trip packed with hiking adventures, a sunrise visit to the top of Mt. Haleakalā and a subsequent bike 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 our trip, 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 on the big island which was a pleasant surprise. Overall we were very happy with her and the great getaway she helped organize for us.
Dani helped me plan a trip to Maui and Kauai for five friends and myself for a special “0” birthday. From the start, she “got” exactly the kind of trip we were looking for and gave me great advice on where to stay and what to do. Not only did she secure great rates at the resorts, but there was a special welcome for us when we arrived as well. I have been to Hawaii many times and have not used a travel agent. But I would never go to Hawaii again without enlisting Dani! As we were leaving, my friends all said, “Make sure you say “mahalo” to Dani.”
I have never posted a public review before but feel that Dani Johnson’s travel assistance to us compels me to step out of my comfort zone to provide feedback. Dani’s insider knowledge in Napa and Maui not only helped me plan an outstanding trip to celebrate my husband’s retirement – we also were provided extraordinary upgrades at our resort in Maui due to her connections and relationships there. We truly felt like VIPs in every venue arranged by Dani – she surely has clout that is far-reaching in California and Hawaii!
Dani was a dream to work with and made this special trip one of our most memorable. My husband and I have traveled extensively, and I have always acted as the “travel agent” making all of the arrangements. Since this was a special trip, celebrating my husband’s retirement, I reached out to Wendy, who I have followed and read in CNT for years, and was connected with Dani Johnson. She contacted me immediately and worked patiently with me to help plan an itinerary that was perfect for us. The sense of security we felt as we traveled was quite unique for us – knowing that Dani was checking in on us along the way, touching base with our resorts to make sure that they were prepared to greet us and provide us upgrades and top-flight service. It is hard to imagine ever going back to making all of our own arrangements again – now that we are spoiled with “the Dani touch”!
We are so happy to have done this trip and met all our goals. We thank you for your great advise and recommendations, all steps worked well for us.
In Oahu, we really enjoyed the Surfrider Hotel and could sense some of the old history behind this building. The room with balcony, the service, and the location were highly appreciated. We enjoyed Chris a guide at Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl and got our history lesson, which was a goal of ours. The house of Doris Duke was a highlight, modern outside but very decorative inside, she must have been a strong and special lady! We did drive to the North Shore but were a bit disappointed as we did not see the high waves with surf riders, maybe we had the wrong expectations. We continued around the north side of the Island, encountered heavy flooding rain and came back through the middle of the island.
The trip to Hilo and then up to the Volcano House was fine. We enjoyed staying up there for 2 nights especially as from our bed we could see the red glow of the fumes coming out of the crater. Actually, the food offered was surprisingly good. The Crater Road was closed, we could only get as far the Jaggar Museum. We did, however, drive all the way down to the ocean and had many impressive sites along the road but obviously did not see any flowing lava. The drive along the coast to the Fairmont Orchid Kona was interesting though mostly through lava fields including the setting of the hotel. The Fairmont is a spectacular place with a great room with view to the golf course, the mountains and the sea. The facilities are fabulous, the restaurants we ate at the hotel and other places were succulent, I have never some much fish in my life during the 10 days we were in Hawaii. The absolute highlight was the 1 ½ hour Helicopter ride to the volcanoes and on the north side of the island. What dramatic vies of the rainforest and its deep valleys with long waterfalls. But the key was that our pilot got us to see a small crater with bubbling lava and also found a vent on the side of the volcano where the lava was flowing down the mountain though not very long. This is what I was longing to see, the inside of our earth coming out to the outside, mission accomplished! Other highlights were the Harvest Dinner with 2 other very much younger couples, which was fun and the whale watching were we got to see some humpback walls, again unexpectedly we saw a baby whale with its mam learning how to flab its back tail on the water. The underside of the Tail was all white!
The only not so nice situation was the departure at Kona airport which has really no terminal building but only huts. The bad thing was that it was pouring down rain and we had to seek little corners to stay dry, but then had to embark by foot through the rain up a long ramp. The flight was annoying as we had kids and babies crying all the time in the row in front and behind us…. But we made it home, when we arrived, the first thing we did at 10 am in the morning was having a nap!!
Overall a great experience all the way thanks to your great support. Thank you.
Dani Johnson was incredibly helpful in the planning of a trip for my husbands 60th birthday. Her knowledge of the islands and relationships with the hotels and guides is top notch! She is extremely responsive and even changed our hotel reservations on the fly to allow us to stay longer at one hotel. We had an amazing trip and are already thinking of planning our next trip to the islands with Dani!
I found Wendy Perrin via a web search and was tentative, but submitted my information anyway. And I am so glad that I did. From my first phone call with Dani Johnson, I could tell I was going to be in good hands. We had spent a lot of time in Northern CA wine country but wanted to try something new to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I set a high expectation for this trip and was nervous about going to an area I had never been before. We had heard great things about Southern CA wine country but when I started researching things I wasn’t finding the “splurges” I was looking for this time. Dani provided great suggestions. Each resort was exactly what I wanted. Ken our wine guide was spectacular and so happy now to have a new friend. The restaurant reservations were made and each one was fabulous. We travel often and I like to splurge occasionally on some of the experiences. Well at the end of the trip I said to my husband, each upgrade was worth it. It ranks up there as one of my favorite trips we have taken so far. Thank you, Dani, for listening to what I was looking for and coming through with suggestions I would never have found on my own. I know that we planned things late, but you still made it all happen. We are already recommending you and your services to friends that want to take the trip that we continue to talk about. The best suggestion I have for people considering working with Dani is, be honest about what you want, set the expectations and leave the planning to her and her team. I would definitely use Dani Johnson again and would also contact Wendy Perrin when we plan our next adventure. Thank you.
Dani Johnson was an excellent planner.
She planned each day carefully with activities.It was also great that we had places selected to eat along the way. All recommended and confirmed by Dani. She would even text us during the trip to follow up or confirm an activity or dinner. It was all conveniently organized on an app. Just checked my phone and at a glance, the day was set up.
Thank you so much.
This is our third trip with your WOW travel specialists since 2014 – we worked with Virginia Irurita for our trip to Spain in October 2014 and then with Jonathan Epstein for our trip to Scotland in the Fall of 2016. These journeys have been expensive and luxurious and we have been completely satisfied with our experiences. I did not hesitate to work with your specialist, Dani Johnson, for our trip to LA/Malibu for our sons wedding last week. We required a large, luxury home to keep four generations of our family together, rental of items for an infant, stocking of the refrigerator, babysitting services, hair styling at the house and car transportation on the wedding day. Dani delivered on everything I requested!! The house in Malibu was extraordinary – there was a little problem with the contact person assigned from the Luxury Retreat partner. She did not respond in a timely manner to Danis request for confirmation of details and she was quickly replaced with another person who was efficient and stayed in touch throughout all of the planning. Unlike our previous travel experiences, this was not a vacation of visiting sights or cities or moving hotels – in some ways, this experience demanded more planning of details and ensuring that the residence would give everyone the comfort and ease that we requested for this very special family event. Dani was exceptional in her attention and she was exceptional in creating a week that meant so much to everyone.
My two dear friends and I decided in May to spend a week in Napa and Sonoma in July. We knew this was relatively short notice given that this was the height of summer travel, and I had hoped using an agent would help us a little bit in securing a decent place to stay, perhaps help guide us to some good wineries, etc.
Well, Dani Johnson exceeded all our expectations! In short order, she found us the perfect house to rent for the week. She also put together an amazing wine tasting itinerary and found us a truly remarkable guide. A trip that started out as a spur-of-the-moment decision turned into one of the best and most memorable journeys we’ve experienced.
Maui June 2017. I hadn’t gone on a family trip in several years due to my health. When we decided to go to Maui, the planning process was overwhelming. Dani Johnson took all of the stress out of the planning and left my family with the fun choices. She booked an incredible ocean view condo, car, a phenomenal private tour guide for the road to Hana. She gave me ideas for restaurants, excursions. She spends several weeks a year in Hawaii and knew the entire area.
My husband, daughters and I loved planning for the months prior to the trip, everyone got to choose their “must do.” We were able to book all our excursions and dinner reservations prior to the trip. Dani gave us personal recommendations for everything (including what luggage she likes!) The trip itself was amazing. The condo was beautiful, very comfortable, gorgeous views. We had wonderful dinners together watching the sunset. We loved all her restaurant recommendations.
We truly couldn’t have had a better vacation. I can’t thank Dani enough.
Late June 2017. Japan.
We used Coastline Travel Advisors (Jay Johnson and Amber Kimble) to book two rooms for us at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. It was a simple request, but the way they handled it makes me want to use them again and in a broader capacity. Jay and Amber were responsive, asked good questions, acted quickly, etc. We ended up getting upgraded to the two best rooms in the hotel, quite a treat, and something the 16 and 19-year olds traveling with us will remember the rest of their lives (their room was larger than the house they live in). I will keep using Coastline Travel.
Note from Wendy explaining why this traveler used a California/Hawaii specialist for a stay in Tokyo:
This traveler wrote to “Ask Wendy,” asking me to recommend a travel agent who has pull with Four Seasons hotels generally and whom it would make sense to use on multiple future trips to various Four Seasons properties. I know many such “Four Seasons Preferred” travel agents. I suggested Jay partly because he is based in the same area as the traveler. The lesson here: The travel business works in mysterious ways. If you can’t find the answer to your specific need on The WOW List, write to “Ask Wendy”: https://www.wendyperrin.com/ask-wendy-question/.
My name is Wanwisa Posner and I worked on my trip to Maui with Dani Johnson (Jay Johnson of Coastal Travels wife). I reached out to Jay Johnson and received an email from Dani on 12/29. We had a great initial conversation and I was told I’d receive some proposals in a couple days. I had seen some really great flight deals on Hawaiian Air but lost them while waiting for a proposal from Dani (not ideal but understandable considering it was the holidays). Eventually, I booked my own flights on United which cost a bit more than the Hawaiian flights but were better than the flights Dani had sent over. Dani was helpful in terms of recommending accommodations that would suit our needs, but it took her so long to book the accommodations, we lost our first choice room category. The worst part was, she didn’t even realize that had happened! Instead, she assumed the prices dropped – instead the room category was just gone and so the lower category popped up as available and so of course the price was lower.
At that point, I felt she was not prioritizing our trip. I had to resend things like our flight information and the dates we would need accommodations a couple times when I thought most travel specialists would note these important details and not have to ask for them again. I generally felt frustrated with the time frame that it took to book everything. Our trip was for 2/28 and it took almost 2 weeks to finalize our accommodation bookings. We ended up having to spend a lot more to get a suite with ocean views, as we wanted the ocean view room and lost it. (In the past, other WOW List specialists have held rooms for us to safeguard something like this from happening).
I ended up reaching out to Wendy to voice my frustrations. I was hoping I would be able to just work with Jay (Dani’s husband and the travel specialist who is actually on Wendy’s list), but I never heard from Jay. Not only that, Dani reached out to me and was very unprofessional when she confronted me about my complaints and lectured me on how hard working she is and that I am the first client to have felt this way about her. I felt that conversation should not have taken place at all. At that point, everything had been booked and I figured it was too late to go our separate ways – she did an ok job recommending restaurants, day trips etc., she sent over some photos of the resorts we were staying and reached out once or twice during our trip to confirm some restaurant bookings. We had a great trip regardless of my experience with Dani and unlike other WOW List specialists, she failed to reach out to see how our trip went (we live on the West coast and will probably go to Hawaii quite often, too bad we were not able to form a relationship for future trips).
That said, I did feel my initial phone call with Dani was very helpful. I was interested in staying in an area on Maui that would have been quite windy and wet during the time we visited. She did a good job convincing me to stay in Wailea instead and we liked it very much. I also liked some of the restaurant recommendations that she made and she had a special with one of the resorts we stayed at and got us a free night. Unfortunately, I feel these are things one should expect with any travel agent that specializes in a specific destination. I will not be working with Coastal Travels on our next trip to Hawaii.
Response from Jay and Dani Johnson:
We’re so sorry that Wanwisa was not satisfied with the arrangements we made for her. But we’re glad to read her feedback because it raises some points we’d love to have the opportunity to share with future travelers.
One important thing we want to make sure future Hawaii travelers know is that in Hawaii, a travel agent cannot hold a hotel room for a traveler until the traveler provides his/her credit card number. By the time Wanwisa sent us her credit card number, her preferred room type was gone. In addition, when we searched for her name in our secure server, we could not find her name. The credit card was under her husband’s name and we had thought she was submitting the form under her name.
Another important thing for Hawaii travelers to know is that the hotel benefits that a travel agent can deliver vary significantly from hotel to hotel, depending on the travel agent’s relationship with each property. Because we have a very strong relationship with the Four Seasons Maui, we were able to arrange for Wanwisa to be upgraded from a Garden View room to one of the resort’s best Partial Ocean View rooms. If a traveler wants to stay at a hotel where we don’t have any pull, we’ll be sure to tell the traveler. We advised Wanwisa that, at the Andaz, our travelers get a one-category upgrade, based on availability at time of check-in. While it was very possible that the room category Wanwisa had wanted (an Ocean View Room) might open up, Wanwisa decided to pay more in order to get an Ocean View Suite that was twice the size of the Ocean View Room, since that extra space would come in handy for her toddler son.
A final important thing for Hawaii travelers to know is that a travel agent can deliver better rates and value-added benefits when a trip is in low season or shoulder season, as opposed to peak season. Wanwisa’s trip was during the Presidents’ Week school holiday—one of the busiest weeks in Hawaii and one of the toughest times to find available rooms and deliver hotel benefits such as free upgrades and free nights. Yet that’s what we did for her.
We did our best to prioritize Wanwisa’s trip planning. We immediately responded to her initial trip request when it came in during the holiday week between Christmas and New Years. We tried to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible, but we would love the chance to do better in future, so we recommend that any travelers wanting to book trips during high season (such as a school-break week or the festive season) contact us at least four to six months before that holiday period.
For our first trip to Los Angeles in April of 2017, we worked with Dani Johnson. She did an excellent job of putting together an itinerary that was customized just for us and our interests. She was quick to respond during the planning phase and most importantly while we were on the ground in Los Angeles. She solved a problem with our hotel room that exemplified world class service. Upon our arrival at the Beverly Hills Hotel our upgraded room (based on Dani’s status with the property) overlooked a large stone roof top which was extremely disappointing at a 5-star hotel. I attempted to resolve the issue with the property and got nowhere. They provide a $200 credit which at $50/night was not impressive to me. I sent an email to Dani expressing our disappointment. She responded immediately by calling the property. She was able to facilitate the option for us to change rooms the next day (which we took) to a similar room overlooking the gardens. It changed our experience at the hotel 100%!
Dani also connected us to local guides who were marvelous and extremely knowledgeable. We plan to return more regularly to LA and will most certainly be in contact with Dani and her team again. She is great!
I highly recommend Jay and Dani Johnson as your Hawaii travel experts. Dani was very knowledgeable in planning my birthday celebration on four of the islands. She suggested hotels, restaurants, and activities that were fantastic and geared to our specific wants. She made sure wherever we went we were taken care of and treated very special. Her experience, accessibility, and thoughtfulness made our Hawaii experience and my birthday the best ever!
Dani was right on about the lodging she recommended. They were just perfect. When the concierge at one location was slow, she got her attention. All of her activity recommendation were spot on. We can’t wait to use her again.
Dani Johnson, who is Jay Johnson’s wife arranged my travels to Hawaii. Dani helped me determine which islands on Hawaii would be best for my long time friends 50th birthday. We agreed upon Hawaii and Lanai. Both islands were unique and met our needs of snorkeling, relaxing, and good food. Dani also recommended some excursions. One of them was a bust. Otherwise, the trip was great! The 50th birthday celebration was excellent and the resort properties were amazing. I recommend using Dani for her preferred travel specialist status. She knows the properties in Hawaii really well.
Very helpful and knowledgeable about the North Shore of Oahu and Turtle Bay Resort where our family had an ocean villa for a week. Very organized and easy to work with.
We had such an incredible trip to Kauai in December 2016, with major thanks to Dani Johnson and Coastline Travel! We booked our trip relatively last minute, but Dani proved to be the most resourceful, attentive and easy-to-work with travel specialist for whom we could have hoped. We stayed at the St. Regis in Princeville, and thanks to Dani’s recommendations for things to do around Hanalei Bay and across the island, we got the most out of our 8 days there. One of the major highlights was Dani’s recommendation to take a dog from the Kauai Humane Society on a field trip–a half day hike at Shipwrecks Beach. It was awesome to add a canine companion to our hike, and great for Max (our new canine friend) to get out of the shelter for the day. Dani also helped by recommending the right kayak/hiking/biking adventures and operators, and with dining suggestions and reservation help. At Dani’s suggestion, we ended our entire Hawaiian vacation with a beautiful dinner at Orchids at The Halekulani in Oahu–it was the perfect end to a much-needed getaway in Paradise. We cant wait to visit Hawaii again, and will absolutely use Dani to help put it all together!
Picked great hotels. Worked hard to find the right properties to meet our needs. Not easy task having not worked together previously. Very responsive and easy to work with. All achieved on short notice during the holidays.
Could have been more on top of logistics such as airport transfers and car rentals.
Would definitely recommend.
Dani Johnson went above and beyond in planning and executing a special birthday trip to Hawaii and Pebble Beach. In the planning stage I specifically recall a 45-minute conversation with her on a Sunday afternoon. From that point, I knew we were in the right hands! Her recommendations (flight, hotel, excursion, restaurant) were impeccable. Communication continued throughout and, when there was an unforeseeable issue with one of our room locations, Dani stepped in and resolved beyond our satisfaction. I enthusiastically recommend her for travel to Hawaii and California and will certainly be calling on her for our future travel needs.
Jay Johnson’s wife, Dani Johnson, worked on my travel arrangements and she did a wonderful job. She was very good at all the details that make a trip memorable. She had the ability to get us excellent tables at restaurants in SF, and she was particularly helpful in deciding to go to Napa and what to do there. It turned out to be the highlight of the trip. We loved Auberge and our suite as well as our time at Silverado cooking school and at the Hess Vineyard. I would definitely recommend to anyone heading to California to take advantage of Dani’s knowledge and contacts about California.
We wanted to plan a 3 week trip to Hawaii that would be special — we wanted to have time to relax and spread-out, but also see as much of the islands we could, and enjoy lots of different activities along the way. Dani Johnson came up with a number of fantastic recommendations and presented a number of options tailored to the families interest. We had a great trip that everyone will regard as one of their favorites… on multiple days both my 8 and 9 year old declared something the best thing they had ever done (a phrase they never used before, but meant each time they said it).
Jay along with Dani, his wife and Isabella’s picks for our excursions were top notch and we thoroughly enjoyed our travels on Maui, especially our trip to Hana with Alberto. Although I was a little reluctant about the choice of the Westin, it turned out to be a fabulous destination and I think the special treatment we got there, as well as in the restaurants that were booked for us, are totally related to the relationships that they cultivated in their travels to Hawaii.
At Coastline Travel, I worked with Jay Johnson and Leah Bergner. This was a 25th anniversary for my wife and me, so she knew it had to be special. Leah did an outstanding job of anticipating what I would need before I asked for it:
– When trying to decide which resort to stay at, she sent write-ups of several choices, but not just information on the rooms and rates — she included restaurants, activities, spa facilities, and “romantic surprise” possibilities.
– She provided suggestions for restaurants, both on the resort and on the main island.
– When I was trying to decide on the order in which we would visit multiple locations, she drew up several itineraries and sent them all to me so I could see which ones didn’t work.
– When we finally decided on an itinerary, she sent me a “final” (working) itinerary that already had not only resorts and flights, but airport transfers, check-out times, meal arrangements, etc.
Additionally, Leah recognized that since this was going to be a special trip, “ordinary” wouldn’t do. She managed to get a reservation at the finest restaurant on the island, with the most desirable table. Our room at the resort was all the way at the end of the boardwalk, for the most privacy. When a Porsche showed up at one resort when we were checking out, I wondered who it belonged to — it turns out it was an airport transfer for us!
Leah also made sure that our anniversary was more than just a “vacation”. At every stop we were greeted at check-in with “Happy Anniversary!” We were always running into complimentary bottles of wine, champagne, chocolates, macarons, etc. The best “extra” was a couples’ massage, which my wife thought was unbelievably thoughtful of me(!).
Finally, she went beyond what most people think a “travel agent” is expected to do. She offered so many suggestions for things I could do to make the trip special for my wife — having our kids pack something for me to surprise her with, having photos framed and set up in our room so they were there when we arrived, and having the “romance concierge” call me to finalize all arrangements before our departure.
Years ago I used a couple of travel agents and didn’t find their services to be anything beyond what I could do myself, so I’ve been doing all of my own arrangements for quite a while. From now on, though, my first call is going to be to Leah. Thanks Leah, and thanks Wendy!
Jay and his wife Dani Johnson managed our trip for fourteen people to Napa, from four different cities around the US. The occasion was my husband’s 60th birthday and the planning included flights, very complex ground transportation arrangements, hotel accommodations, activities (cooking class, full day wine tour) and group restaurant arrangements. Dani is the best agent I’ve ever worked with. She made everything as painless as possible and everything went off great. Our guests can’t stop raving about the experience. Most important, the birthday boy had a fantastic weekend. He says it was his most memorable birthday so far!
Jay Johnson and his wife Dani planned a trip to Maui to celebrate my two sisters special birthdays. If I can say one thing that separates Dani from other travel agents is her complete responsiveness. Her communication throughout was amazing. If I emailed her, I did not have to wait for a response. That made planning a pleasure. She gave great advice such as making dinner reservations ahead to get the best table at the time we requested. She arranged a tour to Hana which was just delightful. I can say we had the trip we had hoped for. She followed up with me after the trip which I appreciated. I am already planning another trip with Dani.
I am so very grateful to Wendy Perrin and her team of trusted travel experts. I needed someone to help me plan a getaway for myself and my boyfriend in Southern California, and I couldn’t have dreamed of someone better than Jay Johnson and his wife, Dani, to be my guide. Their vast knowledge of the area, expertise in accommodations and dining, creativity, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail was wonderful. They helped me plan exactly the kind of trip we wanted. We ended up heading to Newport Beach and it was the perfect weekend escape, fit with both relaxing and adventurous activities, an absolutely stunning hotel, and delicious food at every meal. Dani was always on hand to make sure every last detail was taken care of and perfect. I will definitely be reaching out to her again in the future!
We have recently returned from a brief trip to Santa Monica and Los Angeles, which we tagged onto a business trip. Thanks to Jay and, especially his wife, Dani, we were able to experience a little bit of everything: a stay on the beach (at Shutters on the Beach) in Santa Monica, lots of walking and exploring in and around the area, as well as a stay in Los Angeles at the InterContinental and dinner reservations at the fabulous Crustacean restaurant. Best of all, Dani secured special extras for us: a haircut in a Beverly Hills salon, as well as tickets to view a taping of The Ellen Show. She arranged a driver for our drive out to Burbank, eliminating the stress of traffic and watching a GPS. We were also pleased that she patiently taught us how to load and use the Uber app for other trips, which we have used many times since. We returned home rested and filled with wonderful memories of another “bucket list” trip.
We went to four Hawaiian islands—Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai—during a 15-day time span. Jay’s wife Dani had great recommendations and truly seemed to care about our experience. She kept in touch throughout our trip and was able to get us certain perks at some of the properties.
Jay did a terrific job in managing the land arrangements for our trip to Germany and The Netherlands in September 2014. With his Virtuoso membership, we received upgrades and associated benefits in all the hotels. In Munich, Jay knew the sales manager, was very familiar with the property and was able to recommended the particular location of our room. He really went the extra mile in providing attentive service resulting in flawless vacation..
Working with Jay was a tremendous experience. His attention to detail, knowledge and care were spectacular. Jay listened to my thoughts and planned a trip that covered the requisite sights, but enhanced the adventure through his knowledge of the area and his family experience. We have used recommended specialists in London, Seattle and Italy and they were fantastic, but I felt that Jay’s service was personalized and customized for my family.
As you remember, Jay helped plan a Southern California Adventure for my family. My son was 7 at the time of the trip. Jay tailored activities for my son but made sure those activities were also interesting to my wife and me. We maximized our fun time, and Jay and his team ensured the reduction of logistical issues inherent to Southern California travel. We had a beautiful day in Malibu. It was so clear we saw the curvature of the earth at one stop with a panoramic view. We ate a special place overlooking the ocean. We had guided tours of the Getty museum and the LA County museum. We went by helicopter to Catalina Island and had a guide who provided unique insight for our family. We rode horses into the Hollywood Hills. Ate in a restaurant at the top of a downtown building. We took surfing lessons from a championship surfer. We saw the Beverly Hills sights in a convertible. We had a guided day at Disneyland and were able to see all of the attractions that were important to our family. The views and the commentary from our guides on the trip made us feel like Los Angeles insiders. We stayed at hotels that were tremendous and ate at unique and varied locations. The trip far exceeded my expectations. Jay and his team took great care of my family. I felt that Jay truly wanted our trip to be memorable and unique. I cannot advocate his services more strongly.
Thank you very much for making the introduction. Four months later, we remember the trip with tremendous enthusiasm.
Jay Johnson was a huge help with our trip to Los Angeles. We had a fabulous time and definitely appreciated the extra amenities afforded to Virtuoso travel members that were made available to us. Our rooms at The Beverly Wilshire were nothing short of spectacular. We were on a high floor (6th floor) in the Beverly wing (the older part of the hotel) and our connecting suites were enormous. My husband and I were given a corner room, so between the two rooms, we had about 10-12 windows. We definitely enjoyed the complimentary breakfasts each day at Blvd—one day we even ate outside—and we had dinner one evening at Blvd with our courtesy credit.
The car service that Jay arranged worked very well. We were extremely comfortable in Cadillac Escalades, and remarkably all of our luggage fit without a problem (we do not travel light….). We even had the same driver for the Beverly Hills-LAX leg as we did the LAX-Anaheim leg. His name was Alan, and he was incredibly charming and nice. It was fun to see him again at the conclusion of our trip and give him our Disneyland report. The car service fees were also very reasonable.
I will definitely recommend Jay to any of our friends heading to Los Angeles.