PANDEMIC TRAVEL I returned from a two week trip to Ireland in early October 2021. I was interested in a trip to Ireland and looked at many organized tours, but none were satisfactory. I reviewed Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts and reached out Jonathan Epstein.
Jonathan and Nicole listened to all I desired to do in Ireland but also want I did not want do. They put together the perfect tour with a private driver guide. The hotels were spectacular, excellent dining reservations were made. The driver guide, John was outstanding! He was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and it was hard to say goodbye. Every detail was taken care of.
The tour needed to be rescheduled twice due to Covid. Nicole rebooked hotels several times graciously. She replied quickly to any questions and offered helpful tips and suggestions.
I cannot recommend Jonathan Epstein and his team enough. I absolutely will use them again for future trips!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our family makes an annual trip to the UK which due to Covid was not possible. As soon as travel restrictions lifted we were on our way. We reached out to Jonathan Epstein, whom we had worked with a few years ago for a trip to Scotland, and started planning. Jonathan and Katie, she is amazing, scheduled a call with us and and made our trip to London fantastic. We were only in London for a few nights but stayed at an amazing hotel, The Goring, which is on a quiet street in the middle of everything. We had amazing dinners lined up, our favorite was called The Ivy Asia, our 17 year old daughter LOVED it. We had a tour set up called Hidden London, as we have been to many of the known sites, and our guide was fantastic. Now for Covid…we filled out all the required paperwork and did all the tests for Covid, easy with ZERO issues. Jonathan’s team provided us with all the links and ensured we had tests waiting for us. Other than the paperwork and the tests we moved around London with no problem and only wore masks on the Tube and in Ubers. We even attended a show where we just needed to show proof of vaccination. We were thrilled to be back in London and working with Jonathan and Katie made it perfect.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Jonathan and Nicole applied such useful knowledge of every aspect of our three-week trip to the UK. They walked us through the complexities of the vaccination procedures, always staying on top of the latest rules. They checked in on us during our trip, made sure that we had dinner reservations on the arrival day for each new city, and provided the friendliest and most knowledgeable guides for us. We never used to have guides, but the difference is night and day. They all knew Jonathan and Nicole intimately! I can absolutely endorse Jonathan’s team as our forever “go to” agency for the UK, Ireland, and Italy.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Jonathan and Nicole did an absolutely fantastic job curating our trip to Ireland. With our tight budget, we were out of our depth and overambitious with where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do, but Jonathan and Nicole helped focus our attentions. They treated us like royalty throughout the entire process. No inquiry about our trip was too small; no detail overlooked. This gave us an excellent experience in Galway and Dublin that we will cherish forever.
In the months leading up to the trip, Jonathan and Nicole monitored the COVID entry requirements and kept us updated, relieving us of the stress of wondering if there were any changes that would negatively impact our trip. Nicole gave us the necessary information to obtain our COVID tests for reentry into the U.S. at a clinic right around the corner from our hotel.
When we told Jonathan and Nicole that we were fine to take a train from Dublin to Galway, they suggested and arranged for a private driver to meet us at Dublin airport when our flight arrived at 5:05 am and drive us the 2 and a half hours to our hotel in Galway. This made our arrival into Ireland seamless.
We relied on Jonathan and Nicole’s expertise and knowledge of Ireland for experiences, accommodations, dining options and travel logistics. As a result, all of our experiences and dinner reservations went off without a hitch. We would not have thought to go to dinner at any of the restaurants Jonathan and Nicole recommended and we would have missed out on some truly incredible meals and dining experiences.
Our accommodations were wonderful and the staff at those places were very friendly and helpful. When the hotel in Galway overcharged us for our stay, Nicole contacted them immediately and procured a refund of the overpayment. I wasn’t able to accomplish this on my own when checking out of the hotel that morning so having Nicole as our advocate was a real bonus.
When I booked separate activities for us, Nicole happily added the details to our itinerary for me. Nicole arranged a number of private tours for us with local guides, something we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own. The value received by having Irish natives show us their cities was immeasurable. We were better able to interact with the locals and get a non-touristy perspective of Ireland. When I went back to one of the restaurants on our food tour in Galway for dinner, the owner fit me in without a reservation because I had been there earlier with our local guide, Sheena. I think I might have been turned away otherwise.
Jonathan and Nicole saved us so much time, energy and money by planning this trip for us, which allowed us to just go and enjoy ourselves. It was wonderful and comforting to know that all of the details had been capably handled by Jonathan and Nicole. I would highly recommend the private food tour in Galway. Spending that private time with a local was a priceless way to learn about Galway and its people and to have meaningful dialogue about the similarities and differences between U.S. and Irish cultures. It was also a fantastic opportunity to get additional suggestions from a local about places to go and places to avoid as tourist traps.
The next time we go to Ireland, Scotland, England or Wales, we will be contacting this WOW list planner!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Barbra & I just returned from a wonderful trip to Scotland. We can’t thank Jonathan and Nicole enough for creating some fantastic memories for us! They connected us with an expert driver/guide, Robert McElwee, who took us to places we would have never thought of and led us through an exploration of this historic and majestic country. The hotels they chose were perfect, from the grand Scotsman in Edinburgh, to the St. Andrews Rufflets country house, the riverside Inverness boutique hotel, magnificent Inverlochy Castle and the comfort of Kimpton Blythswood Square Glasgow prior to our return. Each place and every restaurant they recommended made us feel totally safe and secure in these times of pandemic, and we had no problems with any of our necessary testing procedures. The pace was tailor made to our preferences and each day was filled with marvelous views and fun and illuminating events. They even arranged great weather for us! Thanks for putting us in touch with this talented crew.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I can’t say enough about Jonathan and his team. After asking him in March to create a golf itinerary to Ireland for my husband and I and another couple, the other couple ultimately decided they wanted to go a different direction. However, when they backed out less than three weeks before we were supposed to leave because of COVID concerns, I sheepishly asked Jonathan if he might be able to pull something together on extremely short notice for just the two of us. What he did exceeded every expectation. He got to work right away and had an exceptional itinerary planned within two days. We played some of the best golf courses in the world along with a full itinerary of sightseeing, private sheep dog and falconry tours and a private tour/tasting at the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years, Teeling Distillery. Our private driver/guides, Brendan and Noel, were exceptional and were full of interesting information about the good, the bad, and the ugly of Ireland. Brendan and Noel both went above and beyond to make our trip as stress free and relaxing as possible. From getting laundry done, shipping items back to the United States, setting up COVID travel testing and giving us Euros out of their own pockets when it proved difficult to change money, there was nothing they wouldn’t do for us. Brendan even met us on the 18th green at Doonbeg to present us with a gift and take a few pictures on our 16th wedding anniversary. The staff at the hotels told us that there would be no room services provided because of COVID protocols but each day we returned to find our rooms immaculately cleaned and made up. I have no doubt that Jonathan had a hand in this. When we were accidentally double billed at one of the hotels, I contacted Jonathan and he immediately got to work on the problem. I know he felt terrible about the extra charges on our credit card but I wasn’t concerned. We were in good hands and he wasn’t going to let anything take away from our Ireland experience. Thankfully we had no COVID troubles and the testing to return to the United States went off without a hitch but Jonathan gave me peace of mind when he told me that if something were to go wrong, he would make sure we had comfortable accommodations to catch up on Netflix while we quarantined and I have no doubt that he would have. I can’t recommend Jonathan and his team enough. They were thoughtful, considerate and took care of our every need and their attention to detail percolated down through everyone we dealt with on our travels, as well.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We are recently back from a truly wonderful month in the English countryside and am very grateful for the fine work Jonathan and Nicole did on our behalf. My wife and I have travelled to the UK many times before, but given Covid this time we wanted to skip the cities and really focus on the English coasts and countryside. From my first call with Jonathan to Nicole’s excellent and efficient hotel & restaurant bookings, we were very happy. We are experienced travelers in our 50s and typically do all the bookings ourselves, but given the specifics of this trip we wanted professional assistance and we sure got it. Their local knowledge and hotel recommendations were spot on and the trip exceeded our expectations. Thank you very much.
It has become our practice to consult Wendy Perrin’s WOW list whenever we plan a trip. This time our goal was to spend Christmas in London.
Although we have been to London several times, we know that the holidays can be a challenge due to closures on the holiday.
Wendy suggested Jonathan Epstein and he certainly came through for us. We had an initial phone conversation with Jonathan and Nicole, his associate. This is an important step when planning a trip with a WOW advisor. We were able to discuss our previous visits to London and our desire to see and do something new. They asked us a lot of questions, which was beneficial.
We had a hotel in mind that we stayed in on a previous visit. Jonathan, however, strongly advised us to select another hotel, The Stafford. We are so happy we took his advice. It is a much smaller hotel than the one we were thinking of and that proved to be a big factor in feeling like we were “going home’ at the end of each day of touring London. The friendly and efficient staff quickly knew our names and treated us royally. The hotel was first class and it was decorated beautifully for the holidays. There was even a small Christmas tree in our room.
As we had already seen most of the highlights of London on previous visits, Jonathan suggested other tours we would not have thought of. One was a Charles Dickens walking tour. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. We understand now how London during Dickens’ time influenced his writing.
Another highlight was a private “Behind the Glass” after hours tour of The Churchill Cabinet War Rooms. We had seen the War Rooms before, however, nothing can compare to actually going into the rooms not accessible to the public in the evening when it is closed. Our guide was passionate about the history of this place and she made it come alive for us with the many stories and facts.
These are tours we would not have discovered on our own.
Jonathan and Nicole executed a WOW Moment for us during our stay. It was a surprise private tour and tasting of the amazing wine cellar at our hotel. It was built in the 17th century and used as an air raid shelter during WWII! The Master Sommelier, Gino, gave us the tour and impressed us with his knowledge. It was very special!
Given the shorter time period of this trip, we feel Jonathan was able to help us plan the perfect amount of activity and also allow time to walk about London and enjoy the beauty of the lights and amazing window displays and decorations everywhere.
Jonathan and Nicole certainly added value to our holiday in London and we would not hesitate to call upon them again.
Another flawless performance by Jonathan and his team. From start to finish, every step of our trip was flawless. Their ability to fully understand their clients and anticipate not only the places, hotels, and activities that make for a perfect trip continues to shine through. From Perth to St. Andrews to Edinburgh, every day was bespoke and brilliant, as ever.
Jonathan Epstein did a wonderful job of planning an extensive itinerary for our 3 1/2 week self-drive trip to Wales, a bit of England, and lots of Scotland for mid-September to mid-October 2019. Unlike most of our trips planned by one of Wendy’s experts, this was not an itinerary with guide and drivers everywhere. For the most part, I went to Jonathan to get suggestions for accommodations and a broad outline of how best to spend our time. For a relatively modest planning fee, we got far more than I’d expected. For each of our stops (almost all were at least three days each), Jonathan laid out a list of highlighted things he recommended we do. He was spot on for so many of them and though I’d faithfully perused my guidebooks, he had so many creative ideas and brought to our attention lots of things I’d not considered and in some cases even heard of. I was quite impressed that this modest planning fee yielded a full-fledged itinerary, all hotel reservations, restaurant reservations and much more. Nicole Baratelle ably handled all logistics and was responsive to every detail and question I raised. Unlike a trip we did earlier in the year, it was clear to me that while we were on the trip, both Jonathan and Nicole were actively monitoring it and were quickly responsive on the few times we got back to them.
Now, mind you, this wasn’t one of the best trips my husband I have taken. But that was no fault of Jonathan and Nicole. The weather gods were determined to make me pay for 13 previous trips to the UK where I’d experienced virtually no rain and thus it rained on 22 out of 26 days on this trip. The weather kept us from doing a number of things we’d expected to do, such as hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales (locals told us not even the Welsh would hike that path in rain and 40 mph wind gusts). We did have one truly glorious day of full sun in the Yorkshire Dales. We never made it to Mull, Iona and Staffa, our principal reason for staying at Isle of Eriska resort. Mull became essentially off limits when we learned our dates coincided with Mull’s off-road rally (which Jonathan and Nicole should have known about) but we then made plans to hire a private boat for a full-day trip to all three islands. Alas, the weather did not cooperate and two days running our boat trip could not go. Deep into the trip in Scotland when we had completely wearied of the incessant rain and checked with them to see if we could leave our relatively isolated lodgings a night early (and couldn’t), Nicole came up some great ideas of additional things to do that made us glad we’d stayed put. Our accommodations were a bit of a mixed bag. Some we’d expected not much of turned out to be wonderful, especially Northcote in Lancaster’s Ribble Valley — a place I’d never even thought of going. While we found the Ribble Valley fine, its charms were a bit fleeting. However, it’s a great place for food. Northcote is not to be missed. We had the single best dish we’ve eaten anywhere in the world — and had it on two nights it was that good. Plus Northcote was a great base for us to see parts of the Dales I’d not been to before and the Lake District for a day since my husband had never been there. Thornbury Castle as a base for southeast Wales made for long daily treks as it is across the estuary in England (and had an irritatingly loud wedding our first night there) but we didn’t see any better base in our travels across southern Wales. The Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen was an unexpected pleasure. Though principally a golfing hotel, we loved our room, the food was excellent and it was wonderfully located for exploring Scotland’s eastern coast.
Finally, the one time we did have Jonathan and Nicole arrange a guide for us yielded one of our most memorable trip highlights — a day spent salmon fishing on the River Stincharfor with superb ghillie Gilbert Browne who taught us to fish for salmon (it is a different method from fly-fishing and a lot harder on the body), and regaled us with tales of how the 9th Duke of Wellington has been pestering him for years to sell him Gilbert’s side of the river, and how wild salmon have been decimated by the invasion of Norwegian-owned salmon fish farms and sea lice. The latter has much to do with our not catching any salmon that day (neither did he). He was so chagrined we didn’t he didn’t want to accept pay for the day (we insisted).
The only minor glitch in the trip was a restaurant reservation on a night that the restaurant was closed. It shouldn’t have happened and it precluded us from having a dinner at a place we’d very much wanted to eat at. However, I highly recommend Jonathan. The bang for the buck was exceedingly high and he and Nicole were both creative and responsive. If they’d only had an in with the weather gods….
Jonathan arranged a perfect trip for our group of 4 friends to Ireland. A perfect combination of golf and exploring the culture and natural environment of this beautiful country. He suggested and arranged the perfect accommodations based on the golf courses we were interested in playing. Most importantly, Jonathan found the perfect host, Frank, who not only drove us for 9 days but gave us impeccable attention and personal tours tailored to our interests. Highlight included a semi-private viewing point for the Cliffs of Moher (away from the tour buses), a private sheep farm and border collie demonstration, master craftsmen shops along the Dingle Peninsula, and the best seafood lunch stops of the entire trip.
We had Jonathan Epstein plan a trip to Ireland and Scotland in October, 2019. We thoroughly enjoyed working with Jonathan and his associate, Nicole. They were responsive, accommodating, and made the planning easy. They were also flexible with last minute changes and had great suggestions. The most valuable asset was the guides they booked for our trip in Ireland and Scotland. We loved not having to worry about transportation or directions. Each guide added their own character to our journey and we enjoyed every minute. All of the hotel suggestions were wonderful with one exception, but Jonathan corrected the error in a timely manner. There were several small perks at each hotel we reserved through Jonathan and we had breakfast included every morning, which was wonderful. Every step of our trip was available on a travel app, which made our days easy to navigate. I would recommend Jonathan’s help for any trip!
An excellent experience on our visit to the Cotswolds. Jonathan and Nicole REALLY listened to what kind of trip I wanted and tried to accommodate it in every way. They arranged for us to have the nicest rooms at the most charming hotels with local “flavor” and outstanding service.
All of our emails and questions were promptly answered with great care.
Our guide, Michael, was probably the most knowledgeable and gracious in that region…. including where to find the best local pubs for lunch….places we would never have found on our own. These small, local pubs had some of the best food on our trip and really added to the enjoyment and authenticity of our experience.
Michael knew all the back roads and most picturesque villages. He had an interesting story to tell about every stop on the way.
This region of Britain is exquisitely beautiful and if I have a chance to do more travels in the UK, I would definitely call on Jonathan and Nicole to point me in the right direction.
He and his assistant listened to our “to do list ” and assembled an itinerary that was just perfect! They made suggestions but did not “push” anything on us! The guides were extremely knowledgeable, on time, and friendly! The lodging was amazing! Everything went like clockwork! We saw so much that London had to offer. They suggested we visit the countryside and it was truly a highlight we won’t forget! We returned from our trip with many, many wonderful experiences!!
This was going to be our first trip to England. We had interviewed another England specialist, but thought her trip was too expensive and relied on too many meetings with wealthy people who owned estates and needed tourists to subsidize their lifestyles. So we went with Jonathan. We had already planned to stay with friends the first three nights in Nether Wallop in Hampshire. Jonathan had the remaining seven days to plan. My husband wanted to see Stonehenge and the Churchill War Rooms in London, I wanted to see anything royalty.
We were convinced to spend four days in the Cotswolds, Not knowing that you needed to spend only one day there to get an idea of what they are like, this was overkill. We had made the mistake of telling Jonathan we didn’t like to pack and unpack a lot. So we spend four nights in the Cotswolds, this was definitely overkill. I think Jonathan should have told us, that all we needed was really one day. We were stuck with a driver, who ran the agency that Jonathan subcontracted out to be our driver. My husband and I called him “the yapper” as all he did was yap. And not about any history, as he knew nothing. He was a former brick salesman and he could tell us about the brick, but nothing else. When we got to Stonehenge our first day, we were dropped off and told where to get our admission tickets, and where to get the shuttle bus. We had no guiding whatsoever. The rest of our four days we were driven around and told “You can stop here, and look at this garden or here”. All our previous trips prepared by Wendy Perrin advisors we were escorted with either knowledgeable drivers or drivers and guides. This driver did have a nice car and dressed well.
The room that we stayed at Barnsley House was extremely hot, with no air conditioning. The room was right next to the kitchen, and very noisy. This was one of the specialty suites also! The gardens that were so highly acclaimed were nothing special at all. We stayed at The Barnsley House in the Cotswolds and were told we were to have our WOW moment one evening. After an amazing WOW moment we had on our trip the previous month in Argentina with a private chef, and small string quartets playing we were most excited. This WOW moment was dinner in an alcove in the garden. We were given the regular menu and had no clue that our dinner would be comped by the hotel. That was it. A comped dinner. Another night’s dinner at the hotel we were charged 50 pounds for another guests wine! As we couldn’t stand our guide we cut everyday’s tours short by an hour so we could rest at the hotel’s swimming pool!
After four days traveling in the Cotswolds seeing lots of thatched roofs and brick buildings, with a side trip to Bath we drove to London with a stop at Oxford where we were told we could wander around by ourselves! In London we stayed at The Goring Hotel, a place I had always wanted to stay at. Unfortunately there was construction going on in the garden everyday. So our garden views that we paid extra for, were unsightly and noisy. Jonathan never told us that construction was going on and that another hotel might be a better choice. Our room was lovely. We did enjoy our guides in London. I wish we would have spent more time there and less in the Cotswolds. Although we did do the Churchill Museum pre opening tour, there was no time to see the other exhibits in the museum as we had to race to the next stop.
We found nothing special with this travel advisor’s planned trip. There was hardly any thought or creativity at all. The whole idea was to have someone else plan an exciting trip for us, not to wish that we had never gone on it. We found England extremely poor value for the money we spent, The whole idea of using a WP advisor is to get knowledgeable and personal guidance. We have used Wendy Perrin advisors for trips to Scotland, Italy, Kenya, The Maldives, Chile/Ecuador, and Argentina. We have recommend WP to numerous other people. Friends of our are shocked at our experience. They pushed me to write a review. I hesitate to write negative reviews, as I ordinarily vote with my feet by not going someplace again or not use a service again. We took this trip in May. It is now late October. If i had to write the review earlier, it would have been even more negative.
Wendy always say to complain write away if something is not working out. If you are given the owner of the Subcontracted agency to be your driver, who one would think would be the best and most knowledgeable driver, what can you do? If your hotel reservation had cancellation fees if you don’t stay there, you don’t change it. If your WOW moment is a dinner at the hotel in a garden where other guests stumble upon you, what are you to do? (Remember you are told that the dinner will be a WOW moment, but nothing about it is WOW. The only way to we could confirm that someone thought this was a WOW moment was that we didn’t see the bill upon check out at the hotel.) You suffer and wonder why this travel advisor got such rave reviews.
Response from Wendy:
There’s an important takeaway here for travelers, not just in England but anywhere: Express any disappointment to the trip planner during your trip, while the situation can be fixed. I wish Linda had followed this piece of advice that I send to each traveler shortly before departure (as part of my Trip Support System described here):
“If you should end up with a guide you’re not comfortable with (a rare occurrence, but possible), and that guide is assigned to you for more than one day, report it to your travel specialist immediately. If you wait till you get home to register your complaint, the travel specialist does not have the opportunity to fix it during your trip—and they often can. Report the situation even if you’re worried it might get the guide in trouble. Sometimes personal styles just don’t mix. Waiting till you get home to complain does not benefit anyone.”
Jonathan says the same: “I wish they had emailed us or called us just once during the trip to vocalize disappointment. I could have juggled guides, added experiences, layered in guides for the sites they visited, switched hotel rooms, even switched hotels and probably without penalty. It breaks my heart to get an email like this as we could have helped during the trip.”
Jonathan also says that his driver-guides in England do not go into sites for the most part because most travelers like to explore independently. If a traveler wants lots of special VIP touring with guides inside the sites, of course Jonathan can set that up, but he got the strong impression from Linda that she did not want VIP touring. She had made clear that she did not want the level of expensive arrangements that the other England specialist had proposed for her.
It’s a shame that Linda found England to be poor value for the money. It’s certainly true that the U.S. dollar does not stretch nearly as far in England as it does in Argentina (Linda’s trip the month before the England trip). I’m sorry that Linda did not enjoy her WOW Moment, which was dinner in a private pavilion in this renowned garden. Most of all, I’m sorry that the Cotswolds didn’t appeal more to her. The Cotswolds are one of the world’s legendary picturesque landscapes with charming villages—the quintessential historic English countryside—and normally travelers want to spend at least several days, if not weeks, there.
Jonathan and Nicole did a wonderful job helping us plan a visit to London and the English countryside. We had fabulous experiences with all the driver/guides they chose. We were very happy to leave the driving down narrow country lanes and tiny villages to the very knowledgeable experts. The hotels were fabulous! They helped us find terrific restaurants in London and beyond and took care of everything….we felt like, well, royalty!
My husband needed gluten free meals and wherever they sent us, the restaurant was prepared. That was really, really helpful. If we had one thing we might do differently, it would be allowing for more time to walk through those ancient footpaths. Of course our guides would have accommodated, but we had so much to see!
Linda Johnsey, Ireland October 2019
Wow, did we just experience that? Thank you so much to Jonathan Epstein & Nicole Baratelle for creating an extraordinary birthday trip for my husband. After my trip planning conversation with Jonathan, I realized that he had asked all the RIGHT questions. I felt strongly at that point that I was in good hands planning this trip. It was one wow moment after another on a daily basis while we were on this two-week odyssey.
Thank you for suggesting a driver because he made all the difference in the world. I am so thankful that we had Seamus Hester as our driver because he truly went above and beyond the call of duty. He asked us at the beginning of the trip what we were interested in experiencing. He exceeded our expectations and made sure we experienced Ireland to the fullest. Even after a full day of driving us around, he would take us to Irish pubs after dinner. His lunch recommendations were spot on to our requests for delectable seafood. The highlight was finding the volunteer at St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh that shared so much information about the details of the structures interior. That was a very special moment in time.
Sheen Falls Lodge proved to be a very memorable place. Thanks again Jonathan for the room upgrade. What a treat! Falconry at this facility was spectacular. The falconer asked us to place our iPhones on Slo-Mo mode and the videos are incredible. Gin tasting by John was another Wow moment. Can someone really spend more than one hour talking about gin? What an experience, we loved every minute of it! However, being driven to dinner in their 1936 antique car was the highlight.
Ballynahinch Castle is keeping a secret from everyone. I signed Don up for clay pigeon shooting. One question from the instructor, Don responds and the universe opens up. Three test shots & feedback from the instructor and Don is shooting at 100%. The secret is the instructor is Shane Bisgood. He has trained US Olympians. What??!!?? My husband had a lesson with this man and Don enjoyed every second of it. The lessons learned will last a lifetime and be passed on to sons and grandsons.
Lastly, our driver was building up our stay at the last castle of our journey. He kept telling us we were going to experience our very own Downton Abbey moment. Day after day he would make this comment. Wow, we did indeed experience this moment! Incredible! So glad we stayed 2 nights instead of one. I could have stayed there a full week. Opulent is the only adjective to describe the last castle.
There are many more exceptional moments to describe and they were all created by Jonathan. You delivered on my request for any exceptional birthday trip for my husband. It was perfect! Thank you!
Our 20th-anniversary trip designed by Jonathan Epstein was perfect in every way.
I am a control freak and plan all our family trips, but I knew I wanted this trip to be stress-free and extraordinary. I have followed the WOW List for years and decided to reach out to Jonathan. After a couple of lengthy conversations, asking questions regarding our interests, likes, dislikes, lifestyle, expectations, etc., I knew I could let go and trust this expert.
Our twelve days in Ireland were meticulously put together without one detail neglected.
We did not want to see the touristy Ireland; we wanted to experience the local scene. Jonathans suggested itinerary did precisely that. We connected with our driver/guide and felt as though we were traveling with a dear friend. We drove through the beautiful countryside and experienced small villages. With Jonathan’s insider knowledge, he arranged two walking tours with local historian experts, a private sheep herding demonstration, a hawk walk at the oldest falconry school in Ireland and numerous restaurant recommendations, and reservations. I didn’t worry about a thing.
Jonathan and his assistant, Nicole, found the perfect accommodations for our trip, making sure the number of days at each place was timed in tandem with the things to do/see in that area. We stayed in a luxurious castle, and small, quaint manor houses, and was surprised with a room upgrade at our first stop. During our planning stages, every time I reached out to Jonathan or Nicole via email, a prompt response was received.
Our anniversary trip was our most memorable to date. A fantastic experience, all because of the vast knowledge and incredible attention to details Jonathan offers his clients. I think my vacation planning days are over. I will call Jonathan for future trips. His passion for Ireland comes through in the journeys he plans for clients, and his colleagues equally respect him as an authority.
Jonathan and Nicole did a superb job planning our trip to Ireland, in fact they planned it twice!Last year we had to cancel the day before we were supposed to leave since our son got very ill. This year there were thankfully no problems so we went to – Dublin, Cork, Killarney and Galway! Jonathan and Nicole are a great team! First Jonathan listens to what you want to do, gives you his ideas originating from his extensive experience, and then listens again to how you want to use his suggestions. Nicole then makes the major arrangements. Finally you work with both of them to “accessorize” the trip. But it is not only the trip itinerary they help with – they also help with problems. When we had to cancel last year, Jonathan was up late calling the hotels to cancel for us if we were within a full cancellations time. When we realized a sister hotel was more to our liking after checking in, through calls Jonathan made it happen that we changed hotels. One scene that made us smile was the day both general managers walked us from one hotel to the other, as if we were dignitaries! Finally we had our first WOW Moment which was great fun! We were not told what it would be, only the time to be in the lobby, So the day of the event the hotel manager lead us through the city to a……. wonderful private whiskey tasting complete with a knowledgeable teacher, films, very expensive whiskey and a glass to take home! My husband had been worried about what this surprise WOW Moment would be, needless to say he was all smiles by the end of the time! So long story short – Jonathan and his organization certainly added value to our trip to lovely Ireland, and we would definitely recommend Jonathan and his organization to others that plan to travel to “The Emerald Isle”!
Jonathan planned a trip for four of us to Scotland. We enjoyed the trip immensely. Starting with great seats for the last night of the Edinburgh Tattoo through to the last day at Blenheim Castle, the sights were well chosen and spectacular. Our hotels were mostly top quality with one exception and the restaurants were foodie quality. A disappointment was Macallan distillery, where we had a Disneyland-like experience with a guide who had a memorized script. But then our driver-guide found another visit not on the itinerary that was spectacular: Oban Distillery. Our guides were wonderful, flexible and informative. Our only concern was the amount of time we had to spend in the car, but given the distances in Scotland, there wasn’t much choice.
Lin Knudson and Michael Waterford: Tour through Scotland, England and Wales starting with Edinburgh then York plus the Yorkshire countryside, Lake District, North Wales and the Cotswolds, ending in London, six stops in 17 days. Lots of rural palaces, castles, abbeys and manors.
What did the specialist do: great advice and meticulous preparation, good selection of restaurants and drivers/guides, also lodgings. Particularly helpful with guiding us for York and North Wales. Excellent detail, kept up to date, and the Axus app. to take it all with us on phone and tablet. With one exception, the people in the lodgings and restaurants they chose were really friendly and helpful. We could never have done this on our own. Specialist did not participate during trip and we did not contact them.
Would particularly recommend:
Edinburgh – Guide Fraser Parkinson, deeply knowledgeable and very attuned to the needs of the visitors. Restaurants: Ondine – excellent food in modern decor near the Castle. Also The Kitchin (sic) near the Forth estuary for outstanding execution and service, both have great fish.
York: Jorvik takes you on an underground rail trip through a reconstruction of the 9th century Viking settlement, the good, the bad and the surprising. We were surprised so we did it twice. Restaurant: Melton for good food in simple surroundings.
If you are in North Wales or North West England, try to visit Chester. Roman, Medieval, Victorian all still to be seen. Chance highlight; a sandwich with Father Bob in St. Peter’s At The Cross (half café, half Anglican church and built starting in the 14th century) under stained glass windows depicting the last supper. Ancient city walls and streets with black and white double decker shops called the Rows, but the shopping is modern and plentiful.
Cotswolds: Buckland Manor near Broadway took us back a few centuries, with mod cons, good food, great service and lovely grounds. Didn’t want to leave.
London: Milestone Hotel opposite Kensington Park, small with outstanding service, and excellent food in a Tudor dining room.
Lake District: would not go back to Holbeck Ghyll, a country manor. Downgraded our booked accommodation to cater to a large group. Laundry poorly done and expensive
Jonathan and Nicole made our vacation to England, Scotland and Wales truly enjoyable and effortless. They prepared a detailed itinerary that exceeded our expectations. The driver/guides and guides were prompt, knowledgeable, excellent drivers and delightful to spend time with on our days out. We enjoyed the hotels — each one a gem with lovely rooms, great service and delicious breakfasts. We asked for days packed with history and sightseeing and they made each day interesting and enjoyable. Jonathan and Nicole had excellent restaurant suggestions for each location – we had many memorable dinners.
I highly recommend Jonathan and Nicole – their expertise, excellent relationships with hotels, guides and restaurants made our trip a delight. I look forward to having them plan another trip for us!
Jonathan and Nicole were able to anticipate our exact desires and place us in the most lovely settings. From the moment we landed in Heathrow, driving to the perfect location in the Cotswolds for a base of operations, and then on to London for a first class time, we knew we had made the right choice. Both hotels were absolutely perfect, and treated us a honored guests since we were from their travel agency. We can’t say enough about them!
Jonathan and Nicole were very responsive and quick to answer any questions we had. They provided a room upgrade at dormy house which is a fantastic hotel in the Cotswolds. All of the drivers and guides were on time and friendly. I would recommend hiring Jonathan for help planning your trip to the U.K.
First of all, the trip was superb. Ireland was fantastic. If the weather experienced could be accounted to our Travel Specialist’s efforts, he would need a new title. Travel Miracle Worker comes to mind. Once on the ground we wished for more time at each location, but the schedule developed allotted us the opportunity to see as much of Ireland as possible.
The driver selected was absolutely wonderful. Total recommendation for Richard Curtin for any Ireland travelers wanting a courteous and knowledgable driver/guide. The accommodations selected were 5 star all around. Beautiful settings and wonderful amenities were the norm for our stays throughout southern Ireland. Logistical changes were handled with professionalism and excellent service. Customer satisfaction was evidently Jonathan’s objective.
Jonathan provided assistance with accommodating our daughter mid trip, arranging for her stay and making sure that we had adequate transportation for the added person. This was all handled with minimal concern and planned so that our trip went on without a hiccup.
To all involved – we truly appreciate your effort in making our trip one to remember for a lifetime.
As usual, Jonathan, Nicole, and their team effortlessly managed our trip to the Cotswolds, from planning through our return. Attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge are the hallmarks of their team, and – even for a mere long weekend- they delivered once again.
This 2 week trip to the South West of England (Sussex, Cornwall, Devon, Cotswolds, New Forest, Jurassic Coast) was our third trip using Jonathan’s team, after Ireland and Scotland, and Jonathan and Nicole have been consistently excellent. They are the best at getting back to you super promptly no matter the query or concern, and the relationships Jonathan cultivates with his chosen properties throughout the UK have always resulted in warm, wonderful service wherever we have stayed. This translates to added value during the planning process when we received some automatic upgrades as a perk, as well as an occasional additional upgrade – upon request and availability – while on the trip. Every place we stayed was amazing, and greatly enhanced our travel experience. Other hotel perks through Jonathan’s connections that we enjoyed on this trip were an airport transfer, picnic, wine tasting, kitchen and wine cellar tour, house history tour, full English breakfasts, welcome 1/2 bottles of champagne – all complimentary. I appreciated that when giving the lists of restaurant choices in each area, Nicole included what nights the restaurants were closed, which made the planning/choosing easier and more efficient. One bit of advice I would give is to double check during the planning process, and again just before traveling, the opening and closing times and dates of any sights, museums, gardens, houses, etc. that you plan to visit, so that you don’t plan your itinerary around seeing something that turns out to be closed on that day. Also, you may find, for example, that the grounds open at 10:30, but the house, palace, castle, museum, etc. doesn’t open until 12. Another tip would be to consider purchasing a membership in the National Trust – you can do this online or at one of their sights. If you plan to visit enough of them, this can save you money over paying the entrance fee each time. We are grateful to Jonathan for his advice to see this part of England – incredibly overflowing and chock full of outstanding sights – as one trip, and do Wales and the Lake District as a separate trip. We were originally thinking of doing it all in one 2 week trip, which would have been a big mistake!! Looking forward to planning that next trip with him someday soon!
We loved the trip that Jonathan and Nicole put together for our 10 days in Scotland. In the initial phone call, they really got to know what we were looking for, our travel style & interests, as well as what we didn’t like with past travel experiences. They provided great suggestions and recommendations. They were prompt and responsive to all of our questions and they arranged everything including accommodations and restaurant reservations. Even with all of the planning, our itinerary allowed for a good deal of flexibility (which we took advantage of depending on weather and our driver guides additional suggestions).
Our driver guide, John, was absolutely wonderful. He was prompt, helpful, so fun to spend time with, and extremely knowledgeable (about Scottish history, locations he thought that we should visit and when these places would be less crowded, and whisky). He got to know us quickly and made some wonderful alterations in our itinerary even fitting in Roslyn Chapel on our last day with him which was one of the highlights of our trip.
We would highly recommend Jonathan & Nicole and would use them again for future trips to the UK or Ireland.
Jonathan and Nicole did a wonderful job putting together a 10 day trip to Ireland for us and our two friends. They were very accommodating when we said the ladies like to sightsee and the men golf. Everyone was happy! Our driver Martin was always on time and very funny. Jonathan’s team was very good at keeping us organized and recommending and booking restaurants too. We visited Dublin, Cork, Killarney and Galway and everything in between. Our driver Martin did such a good job of incorporating stops on our long drives and recommending great places to stop to see or to catch a bite. I give our travel agents an A+!
The two factors probably most responsible for making our trip to the South of Ireland special were the driver guide and the hotels, both selected or recommended by Jonathan Epstein. A third factor was all the important detail work done by Nicole Baratelle. A few of the things we did that stand out in our memories, that were the result of Jonathan and Nicole’s suggestions, include doing falconry, visiting the Gap of Dunloe by horse cart & boat, and making chocolate with a chocolatier. And I loved the mobile phone app that lays out, in easily accessible form, all the details of the trip. I would definitely recommend Jonathan’s group for anyone looking for a high-end trip to Ireland.
That said, everything did not go as planned.
– While the food overall was good, our meal at the high-end restaurant at Mount Juliet was a terrible disappointment. In a chance conversation with a former pastry chef at Sheen Falls Lodge, I was told that he had had a similar experience at that restaurant.
– We missed both a Food Tour in Cork and a visit to a Sheep Farm near Kenmare because of some scheduling mix-ups. Fortunately, we were able to “recover” in both instances with good alternative suggestions from a contact in Cork and our driver guide.
We chose Jonathan through the WOW list after deciding that we did not want to plan our trip to Ireland ourselves. We have traveled all over the world and I have planned many of those trips myself. But as we have aged (sadly), and as our bodies, (even more sadly), have aged along with the accumulating years, we have decided to use travel specialists to pave the way as painlessly as possible when we travel to unfamiliar places.
Therefore, we spent 4 days in England on our own with family, and then used Jonathan and Nicole to plan a 15 day trip in Ireland. Our priorities were: no driving! We wanted a car and driver for all but the last 4 days in Dublin; we wanted help in planning an itinerary that included approximately 2 hour hikes each day – so more countryside than cities; and we wanted to be based at hotels for at least 3-4 days from which to make day trips. We eat lightly now, especially in the evening, so we did not want dinner reservations, but were happy to receive restaurant recommendations, some of which we did use. We also wanted excellent guides.
Jonathan and Nicole were exceedingly prompt and responsive to questions and concerns by phone or via emails, even when Jonathan was out of the country. Jonathan made lots of suggestions about activities, etc.. some of which did not interest us, like a food tour, but we researched them and actually agreed to others and were glad we did. My husband is passionate about plants so they arranged a private tour for him on the Burrens, in County Clare, which he found excellent. And both of us loved a private demonstration of sheep herding with border collies.
The hotels were top notch. We especially loved Castles Ballynahinch and Gregans. But most important for us was Will, our driver/guide and the very comfortable car he drove us around in. He was not only an excellent driver, but very knowledgeable and extremely flexible so that our itinerary was revised several times as we thought of additional things we wanted to do. We had beautiful scenery, good food, and edifying conversations about everything under the sun. We had no difficulties on the trip that we needed to discuss with Jonathan – one document was missing from AXUS, which Nicole immediately supplied – but if there had been a difficulty I’m sure it would have been taken care of.
It’s hard to pick out just one or two peak experiences because there are so many possibilities. Driving the SW coastline, which is what we did, is something not to be missed. The history of Ireland, fascinating but confusing at best, is also something we’re still reading about. Our visits to various museums were important. But here are some of the add-ons that we both found special: a ferry ride to Inisheer, one of the smaller, less touristy Aran Islands. This was a fabulous trip on a gorgeous day. We three (Will did everything with us – except shopping!) hiked to our hearts content and then had lunch on picnic tables in front of a woman’s house who was cooking lobsters and crab claws in her kitchen. Or a trip to a donkey sanctuary after I fell in love in with 2 rescue donkeys that the owner of Gregans Castle had from that sanctuary. And in Dublin, an excellent theatre performance at the Gate Theatre that was playing “The Glass Menagerie,” with an Irish cast.
In summary, this was a wonderful trip. We loved Ireland and were grateful that our experience was such a positive one, due, in no small part to Jonathan and his team’s expertise.
Jonathan Epstein and his team planned and executed a memorable introduction to Ireland. When we first contacted Jonathan we laid out a long list of desires relative to our eight night stay. Jonathan took the time to learn what kinds of experiences were important to us. He also learned what held no interest for us (such as pub crawls and whiskey tastings). He could have simply built a plan that met the stated objectives, but he went beyond that. We expressed interest in visiting Waterford to see the famed site of much of Ireland’s crystal industry. Jonathan suggested that we would be better off bypassing Waterford to stop instead at a small crystal factory on the Dingle Peninsula.
We indicated little interest in staying at fancy places like castles for fear of finding an environment that was too pretentious for our simple tastes. Even so, Jonathan recommended a stay at the highly regarded Dromoland Castle after assuring us that the staff there was friendly and down-to-earth. In both these cases, and in several others as well, Jonathan’s advice was perfect. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the master craftsman at Dingle Crystal and watch him as he worked (we wound up buying some of the pieces that he personally had crafted). Our stay at Dromoland, especially the falconry experience, was a highlight of our trip.
All the other elements of our stay were excellent at well. The lodgings at Dylan in Dublin and the Killarney Park Hotel in Killarney were both excellent and perfectly located within easy walking distance of interesting places to eat. The Cliff at Lyons offered a unique opportunity to stay at a small 18th century village that has been remade into a stunning one-of-a-kind hotel.
Besides planning an excellent trip, Jonathan’s team followed through with perfect execution. The logistics were flawless. Everything happened exactly as planned. In addition, all our guides were excellent and added greatly to the enjoyment of our stay. We would recommend Jonathan to anyone planning a trip to Ireland.
Worked with Jonathan on a trip to the Cotswolds. He spent time with us before the trip to get an understanding of our interests and expectations and provided a wide range of options for us to choose from. When we had settled on the ones we were most interested in, he recommended lovely hotels and arranged for drivers. All the people we worked with were knowledgeable, prompt and flexible. Jonathan even included a side trip into Wales so I could visit the bookstores in Hay on Wye. Our trip was absolutely problem free and a week of delight.
Jonathan and Nicole planned a terrific trip for my wife and me to Ireland between April 25 and May 6. We are experienced travelers but were concerned about driving in Ireland and the fact that we were totally unfamiliar with the country. We told Jonathan and Nicole that we wanted to avoid crowds and very touristy places. In addition, we liked to be outdoors, to hike and see great scenery especially along the coast. They hit all of our “likes”.
They planned a great trip and helped us pick wonderful hotels and restaurants that were very commensurate to our tastes. We had a great walking tour of Dublin and great suggestions for sights and pubs. We especially liked the Dylan Hotel in Dublin in a great quiet part of town. The Cliff House right on the ocean was another favorite.
Our driver/guide Brendan was great! He quickly got to know us and our likes and dislikes and thus made appropriate changes to our schedule to maximize our pleasure. So glad we got a driver so I didn’t need to worry about wrecking the car, but also since I could enjoy the scenery and not be worried about where we were going. Furthermore, Brendan had such a depth of knowledge about all the sights and history. We never would have seen or learned so much on our own.
We strongly recommend the services of Jonathan and Nicole.
Jonathan and his team did a great job in planning our trip through southern Scotland and the Lake District in England. We have residences in other parts of Scotland and spend a lot of time in the country but had never been to the southern part of the country. From the first phone call it was clear that Jonathan knows his stuff including many locals places that tourists would never frequent. He also read us perfectly and chose accommodations that perfectly matched our travel style.
In planning our trip he made recommendations about places to visit and – more importantly – to avoid which would not have been obvious by trolling the internet. He saved us from ourselves and prevented some costly mistakes.
We have no hesitation in recommending Jonathan and his team for planning a trip to any place where they have expertise.
Working with Jonathan was a fantastic experience. We are very seasoned and frequent international travelers so I wasn’t certain if I needed to use a travel agent for a one week trip to Ireland. After speaking with Jonathan for two minutes I knew I did. And I am so very, very glad I did so. One of the best travel decisions I have made. Jonathan made the planning so effortless on my part. His team arranged everything — even restaurant reservations. Our logistics were not easy — our party was arriving from different continents on different days — but he handled it easily. His recommendation to visit the countryside (falconry, sheep dogs, castles) made our trip. And the local guides were great — so flexible and accommodated our interests, including an impromptu side visit to Sean’s Pub in Athlone (oldest pub in Ireland according to Guinness World Records).
Thanks to Jonathan and his team, we had a wonderful trip to the UK (England and Scotland) and made some lasting family memories. When we were walking around London on one of the days my 6 year old son Henry said, “Mom I want to learn another language so I can talk to all kinds of people.” If he takes nothing else away from this trip (which is unlikely because he learned a TON), mission accomplished!
Every guide and driver was amazing- each was totally patient and flexible with our party of five, including a 4 and 6 year old, and had vast knowledge and context of the sites we saw. It is nice to have guides that are conversational on many different topics and don’t just want to lecture. We can’t say enough about the quality of the people Jonathan set up for us.
We had a minor bump in the road the day we were set to leave the Cotswolds and head into London- the Brexit protesters were expected to bring 700K+ protesters into Westminster, which was right where out hotel was located. Despite the time change, Jonathan was responsive to trying to find solutions and his guides “on the ground” worked through some solutions real time. Within a few hours we had a game plan (staying a night in Windsor just outside London) and were able to get on with enjoying our last day in the Cotswolds- which ended up being a fantastic trip to Bath. Because of his relationships with the London guides, Jonathan was also able to move our tours the first day in London to the afternoon so we wouldn’t have to forfeit the fee we paid since we were outside the cancellation window.
Jonathan also graciously made hotel recommendations to us despite us using points for our accommodations. They were all 5 star quality and really special. I know this isn’t most WOW experts preference, but we appreciated the courtesy.
All in all, we had a fantastic trip and saw many awesome sights, had some great experiences and had a lot of laughs while spending time together as a family. We can thank Jonathan and his team for much of that!
For my trip to London, Jonathan Epstein discussed my options in great detail and once he determined my style, he zeroed in on choices and prices expertly. All of our reservations were detailed and uploaded including many extra attractions and restaurants for free time. He was available and prompt and I could not have asked for better service.
Only took us 6 months to get this review submitted from our European trip in June 2018. We have used Wendy Perrin’s Wow list several times now and have had nothing but exceptional travel planners help us craft unique and personalized itineraries. Jonathan helped us completely plan and book a 10-day tour of Ireland with stops at the K-Club in Kildare, The Kilarney Park Hotel in Kilarney and a final stop in Dublin at the Westbury. Quick review of each of the properties — The K-Club and Kilarney Park Hotel were amazing properties with great service while the Westbury had great service but the rooms were underwhelming. Their input and expertise on various tours helped us avoid lines, go at the best times and maximize our experience.
We left the driving and logistics of our entire trip on the island to their recommended drivers/guides which we highly recommend. Both drivers we had were amazing (unfortunately we lost our notes with their specific names – our apologies because we would really like to recognize their contribution to making our trip amazing)! They streamlined and customized to our tastes and we avoided a lot of crowds and got to see and learn about several things that we would have not had otherwise.
We had a few missteps during our trip that Jonathan and his team stepped up quickly and professionally to remedy and make right. We would recommend Jonathan and his team for any Ireland trip.
Fortier Family (2 adults, 10 & 13 year old Children)
Pre planning was great. The phone call, the itinerary, the revised itinerary and the final itinerary sent to us prior to leaving. The properties they booked, were, mostly, great.
Unfortunately, everything they did I could have done myself and they did not add value to our trip. Quite the opposite, as we were extremely disappointed. There was nothing WOW, VIP, extraordinary nor special they did.
RESPONSE FROM WENDY:
I feel the need to weigh in here. I believe it would have been challenging for anyone unfamiliar with Scotland to arrange the Grays’ trip. It’s not easy to find the loveliest properties in Scotland that are priced within the budget that the Grays gave for this trip (including the 20% VAT tax), much less properties located near the types of castles and distilleries that they wanted to visit. Without Jonathan’s input, it would have been tricky to figure out which distilleries to choose, accurate drive times, how many nights to spend in each spot, the details of hotels’ different room categories, etc. It also would have been hard for the Grays to secure a private driver/guide with the same high degree of knowledge and flexibility (and a Mercedes sedan).
The Grays’ trip budget did not allow for VIP experiences. Jonathan says he explained this to the Grays at the start. He offered them VIP experiences at the distilleries and Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for example, but each time they chose the standard option. At their Edinburgh hotel, he says, they did receive a complimentary gin/ whiskey master class, thanks to Jonathan’s relationship with the hotel.
I probably should have advised the Grays from the start to arrange this trip themselves instead of utilizing a trip-planning specialist: In the WOW List FAQs—see FAQ #4—I explain when travelers should not use The WOW List.
I want to thank the Grays for sharing their experience because there is an important lesson here that many travelers can learn from: Especially when we are headed to expensive countries, it’s important to align our trip expectations with our trip budget.
Jonathan and Nicole provided excellent guidance in balancing our scotch tasting trip with history and country experience. They booked all our meals and arranged everything so it was a seamless, stressless vacation.
We visited over 13 distilleries on our trip, driving from Glasgow to the Highlands back down to Perth with a very knowledgeable driver/guide (and excellent driver!)
Our favorites were:
* Tomatin – the guide Ken was excellent. As we had heard the distillery process tour many times by the time we came here, Ken did a great job of explaining the process on a different level- very “user-friendly “- found the right words and comparisons so that we all could understand the process. Also, Tomatin allows you to taste some whiskey from the cask that you cannot buy at home- you can then pick which ones you want and they’ll bottle it for you.
* Edradour- my husband just loves the whiskey and the people there were very helpful picking out something he would like to take home.
* Lindores Abbey- this is a relatively new distillery that is just in the “spirits stage”. It was a good place to fully realize the investment made in each distillery from both a monetary and time basis. We mixed our own spirits here- adding herbs etc to their base spirit. It was fun and again informative.
We loved driving through the magnificent countryside where you can go miles and never see another car. We fell in love with the Highland Cattle.
Visiting Culloden was a highlight. I had much less knowledge of Jacobite history than my husband, but we all learned much from our few hours there. We toured the museum and the grounds. It was an emotional experience.
We enjoyed the castles – like Blair Castle and especially enjoyed seeing the walls of armaments.
We loved the bar at Torridon! The bar itself is beautiful and the selection of whiskeys and liquor incredible. We thoroughly looked forward to cocktail hour after a long day of touring!
We enjoyed all the food in Scotland, from the breakfast buffets to tea and scones. Our favorite dinner was at Gleneagles- the Strathearn Restaurant. We loved the ambiance with the piano and bass player, excellent service and fine food. But the evening was very special for us as about 7 years ago, we took our children to Gleneagles for Christmas. We had a tour of the extraordinary wine cellar and met a charming female sommelier who shared with us some of her experiences. Fast forward 7 years and we asked the male sommelier if he knew of the woman we had met on our last visit. He said – yes- she is now our cellar master!!!! While she was busy coordinating a special dinner in the cellar, our sommelier let her know we were there and she came up to spend some time with us and reminisce. She did remember some of our wine stories!
It was our last dinner in Scotland and it could not have been more special.
While my husband and I had never seen Outlander, our friend had and we were very happy to have visited “the stones” and “Castle Leoch”- a fun Scotland experience!
We look forward to going back to Scotland!
Jonathan was excellent. He steered us in the right directions, in particular, how many nights to stay in each location.
We got a room upgrade at the Dylan which was super nice.
We had no destination problems.
Our trip was the most marvelous trips we have ever taken. One of our company manufacturers have sent us all over the world, so we have visited numerous places/cities/countries. Our week-long London trip is now our all-time favorite, without hesitation. Jonathan & Nicole created the most marvelous itinerary for our first trip to London. The Milestone Hotel was simply superb. We have never stayed at a more personable accommodating hotel: concierges all obliging/helpful, Cheneston’s breakfast & lunch, and the Stables Bar excellent food/service, and our accommodations lovely. The Milestone was everything Jonathan and Nicole said it would be and more. The location could not have been better for walking everywhere we wanted to go and catching the Tube/Oyster Pass.
Two times we were with a Blue Badge walking tour guide who was personable, knowledgeable, and also our driver for the countryside tour to Bath and other selective stop-overs was excellent as well. When we return, and we will! we’d ask for the same guides.
Pub/Taverns/Restaurants that were recommended were excellent choices ~ Favorite of “locals” and would return to them in a heartbeat. The Game Bird at the Stafford London was excellent dining.
At the Queen’s theater, we were part of their celebration on October 8th for the 33rd anniversary of Les Misérables production @ the theatre! And that doesn’t happen every day. With marvelous seating, thank you very much, Jonathan and Nicole, for that!
For their entire London itinerary creation, there wasn’t one thing that we didn’t love and cherish. I’m probably leaving something out, but start to finish for our London 25th Wedding Anniversary trip, it was simply splendid. Jonathan and Nicole coordinated our lovely Dublin trip 1 1/2 years ago ~ that also was again perfect hotel locations, walking tours and countryside driver and recommendations were all wonderful. They are the best ever Trusted Travel Agents anyone could use. We feel very blessed to have found them.
Nicole did a fabulous job arranging a great itinerary and also pairing us with a driver/guide who truly made our trip extra special. All the accommodation and dining recommendations (which Nicole also booked!) were exactly as we expected (& as Nicole has explained). The pace was what we wanted and we saw a large amount of Scotland away from the tourist spots. We will absolutely recommend Nicole and Jonathon. Also, the travel app they have with the itinerary on your phone is such a handy tool. We would not have been able to see what we did if we had driven ourselves and appreciate their recommendation to have a driver/guide (well worth the extra money). One of the best holidays we have had in a long time. Highly recommend Nicole who was extremely responsive to all queries and provided great advice.
Our trip to Ireland to celebrate our 25th anniversary was a wonderful experience. Jonathan Epstein and his assistant, Nicole, put together a great itinerary, provided great insight and advice, and had a very reasonable and transparent fee structure. They were very accessible by phone and email throughout the planning stages. The most valuable part of this trip was the driver/guide. Initially, hiring the driver through Jonathan’s team appeared to be at quite a premium over other luxury driver services we could source on our own but, based on Jonathan’s strong encouragement, it proved to be the best part of our experience. Not only are you driving on the left in Ireland while trying to take in all the scenery, and depending on your itinerary, most likely contending with narrow, twisty roads, this is a professional, reliable and very knowledgeable driver and guide (possibly a relationship saver, Ha!) Some days of our itinerary were quite rainy or perhaps not really of interest and our fabulous driver had great alternatives. He told us so much about places we were seeing, history and just great personal insight to Ireland. He was able to make good restaurant suggestions based on what we liked (although, I also always had a good list of options). Although celebrating a milestone, we did not always experience an upgrade or even an acknowledgment but, crucially at the first hotel we were able to check in very early and had a lovely upgraded room (Dromoland Castle) and the final hotel of our trip was very generous with all kinds of “extras” and upgrades (Westbury, Dublin) which was a great ending to our journey. Jonathan most likely has particularly strong relationships with these properties versus the other ones we stayed at (one of which was particularly disappointing, The Cliff House, Ardmore). Everything went smoothly and we had lots of fun traveling around Ireland; hope to return and explore more!
Jonathan and Nicole planned an amazing journey to Ireland for my husband, 9-year-old son and me. From our very first conversation on the phone, I was intrigued by the questions Jonathan asked about our travel styles and interests. This led to an itinerary that truly encompassed our interests and kept our son engaged and entertained. The accommodation selections were spot on and I greatly appreciated perspectives on where to save and where to splurge. Our guides and drivers were delightful, knowledgeable and provided great small additions to the itinerary along the way (a small chocolate factory in the Burren was a particular highlight).
We won’t hesitate to use Jonathan and his team again on a future trip to Ireland, Scotland, England or Wales.
England and Ireland August 8-23, 2018
I contacted Jonathan Epstein to help me plan a British Isles trip after we received a wedding invite to a dear friend’s daughter’s wedding near Bath, England. We only had 2 months to plan the trip, and Jonathan and his assistant, Nicole, jumped right on it. They charged a planning fee, which was increased, due to the close timing of the trip. I felt the fee was reasonable and well worth it, given his expertise in England, Ireland, and Scotland. We ended up planning a two week trip to England and Ireland. Jonathan gave me a choice of hotels but had definite opinions on some of them. I went with his judgments, and my husband and I were very pleased with each location he picked. In particular, Dromoland Castle near Shannon was very expensive, but Jonathan really wanted us to stay there. We were only there about 36 hours, but it was the highlight of our trip. We wished we had spent more time there, and loved every second of our stay.
We had driver guides throughout our trip since we didn’t feel comfortable with the left side driving they do.
Every driver guide and car was terrific—always prompt, helpful and knowledgeable. There were no hiccups ever in picking us up or getting us to any airport on time.
Jonathan also gave us a list of restaurants, which they booked for us almost every night as we wanted. We were never disappointed with any of the choices, and each restaurant had a little special quality to it. It was very helpful to us to have so many details taken care of.
They also used a travel itinerary app called AXUS, which proved to be extremely helpful, since it included every minute detail of our trip and was accessible on our phones. Of course, they also gave us access to a hard copy we could use as well.
In sum, we had an excellent vacation, and are glad we used Jonathan and Nicole.
The recommended drivers and guides were excellent and spot on. The itinerary was generally well conceived and balanced and responsiveness to travel glitches (we had a few minor ones) was excellent. As some other reviewers noted, this planner is very focused on extremely high-end stately homes type hotels (which were indeed amazing and at some of which we got special treatment). I wish they were more flexible to our requests for a more balanced itinerary as I think I would have preferred substituting for some of the very high-end hotels in the country more modest hotels in towns or close to sites.
Johnathan Epstein and his team did a phenomenal job in every aspect of our trip to Ireland. First off they listened to what we wanted to see, do, and eat. They then made recommendations to fine tune all the details with the understanding that we could change things on the fly, thus giving our guides the flexibility to show us the many hidden gems that Ireland has to offer. The hotels were all 5 star with Adare Manor being one of the best hotels we have ever stayed at. They booked our dinners, golf, and excursions that required tickets. No hassles, no anxiety, just fun.
We have used several of your recommended tour companies and Jonathan has exceeded all our expectations. That being said Ireland was just a beautiful country with so much to see and explore. For a trip of a lifetime, you would be remiss if you didn’t contact Jonathan.
Jonathan and Nicole planned a wonderful trip to west Ireland within a short time. We loved the country, the hotels and their suggestions for our itinerary.
Jonathan Epstein planned a fabulous 2 week trip for me and my husband to Ireland and Scotland. Our highlight was the 4 night trip on the Grand Hibernian luxury train through the Irish countryside. In Dublin, the Westbury was a great hotel – helpful and friendly, and the lobby venue was lovely. (And yes, we received early check-in!) The car service in Dublin took great care of us promptly and with care.
Our favorite guide was Robert in Edinburgh. He really went above and beyond to make sure that Tom was delivered in a timely fashion to Kingsbarns for his golf game, then proceeded to show me a lovely time in St. Andrews. And our last nite, Patrick Guilbaud was a highlight.
Thank you for a once in a lifetime experience!
Jonathan and Nicole took the time to understand my family and what was important for each of us to experience during our vacation. They had a creative approach, took feedback and incorporated it into the overall plan. Based on our experience, it’s obvious they know the area and set us up with a great driver who knew the best places to go in Ireland. Our “Hold a Baby Lamb” experience on Slea Head Drive will be a forever-cherished family memory.
I typically plan our vacations but after this experience, will use a Wendy Perrin approved planner in the future. Everything was effortless. Thank you.
This was our first trip to Ireland and we wanted an overview of the country, with an emphasis on historical and religious sites. Jonathon and Nicole asked all the right questions and created an itinerary tailored to our particular interests and travel preferences. (E.g., one of us is 6’4” and bed size is critical!) Due to flight delays, we arrived a day later than scheduled. Jonathon handled the late-night communications, and our driver-guide rearranged plans to enable us to see most of what was originally planned.
We are so glad we took Jonathon’s advice to hire a driver-guide for our trip! Ireland’s narrow roads are a challenge and we enjoyed – and saw – so much more by not having to navigate or drive ourselves. Our driver Donal was one of the highlights of the trip; he was easygoing and friendly and took the time to discern our interests and likes. He then showed us unplanned things he thought we’d enjoy and did research on historical topics of interest. He patiently answered our questions about all things Irish, from history to golf to politics. He even found my ancestral village!
The experiences and hotels recommended by Jonathon and the tour guides he arranged were, as the Irish say, “bang on.” We don’t think we would have found our way to Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo; it seemed a bit out of the way. However, it was our favorite hotel – ambiance, cool things to do (like falconry), and fabulous food. We were upgraded to a four-room suite (writing room, anyone?) and treated like friends at a house party in the country. Other highlights of Jonathon’s planning included our private walking tour of Dublin, a sheepdog exhibition, and the Galway food tour.
Our well planned and executed trip made each day an effortless journey of discovery. This was our second “curated” trip, and we’re sold on the value added by a good trip specialist like Jonathon.
Jonathan did everything we could have asked for during the collaborative planning stages for this trip over a four-month time frame. (We recommend beginning the process several months earlier given the growing popularity of this safe and spectacular part of the world.) There was no need to contact Jonathan or his very competent assistant Nicole while we were traveling because of the detailed suggestions they made and the follow through during our time in Scotland and Ireland. We had some special requests for a sedan driver and experienced local guide during a part of our trip in rural western Ireland. Jonathan was extremely knowledgeable of the area and able to make the arrangements for a three-day private tour that exceeded our expectations with a guide that even helped us meet a distant Irish relative.
Our June 2018 trip to Ireland was extraordinary in every way. Each hotel was unique and complemented our surroundings in the best possible way. The activities that Jonathan Epstein recommended for our family – a moonlight kayak excursion on a seawater lake filled with bioluminescence algae that flickered when the oar touched the water and the equally unique but totally different walking tour of East London’s street art and Sunday markets- made the trip memorable and will stand alone in our family memory of travel experiences.
The value Jonathan and his talented deputy Nicole provided was the deep knowledge of Ireland and London, their innate ability to suggest areas and activities that were perfect for our specific travel situation and the connections and relationships they have with the people and places we visited. Every restaurateur treated us special and every hotel gave us personal service. I am convinced you cannot replicate the experience on your own or with another travel service that specializes in a broader geographic region.
Jonathan Epstein and Nicole Baratelle were fantastic! The hotels they suggested were all different and equally wonderful. We wanted to stay in a variety of types of hotels, and they delivered—from Cliveden outside of London, to Slaughter Manor in the heart of the Cotswolds, to the Crescent in Bath. The one thing they all had in common was outstanding staff who seemed to anticipate our every need. The drivers and guides were not only knowledgeable but incredibly personable. (But most importantly, we didn’t die in a horrible car wreck on those tiny roads in the Cotswolds, where EVERYONE drives on the wrong side of the road.) Jonathan put together a suggested itinerary of places for us to visit each day, and he was spot on. In addition, at the very last minute prior to our trip, we were able to obtain Rolling Stones tickets for a concert they added in Southampton. Jonathan and Nicole deftly made arrangements to work that into our schedule, and our driver for the day got us there in time (not a small feat) and we had a wonderful driver in a very comfortable car, who delivered us safely back to the Cotswolds. All-in-all, I will never travel to Great Britain again without first calling Jonathan and Nicole.
This was my first time traveling to Scotland, and with limited time, I was keen to see as much as possible of the areas north of Edinburgh and into the Highlands. Jonathan and Nicole spoke with me to understand what I like and don’t like when I travel, and what I was wanting to the experience. They then developed the itinerary and via email, we varied it as more information came to light.
Although I frequently travel alone, this was the first time I’ve used a driver/guide. They found not just the perfect person, Alan, but also developed a full itinerary that we could modify as needed.
This trip was planned only a few months before I traveled. Their hotel and restaurant recommendations were excellent, and they managed to not just get excellent rooms, but additional perks as well. I loved the gin experience at the Principal Charlotte Square (Edinburgh), and having my very own turret in my room in Fonab Castle, Pitlochry – well that was a real treat!
Alan, my driver-guide, has deep knowledge of the areas we visited – this meant that we could get off the motorways and into rural areas where I could photograph old homes, small towns and even animals. Edradour Distillery was the main one I visited & the tour of this family-owned business was fascinating.
Despite having many miles to travel each day, I never felt rushed – nothing was too much trouble for any of the people I interacted with, including Alan. I felt safe and comfortable at all times.
This was a fantastic 5 day introduction to Scotland and set me on track for the 3 week adventure cruise into the Arctic that followed.
Trip – Scotland, May 17 – May 28, 2018 (10 nights)
Destinations – Edinburgh (3 nights – G&V Royal Mile Hotel); Tour of the Highlands – Isle of Eriska (1 night); Torridon (3 nights); Gleneagles (3 nights)
In late May, my husband and I traveled to Scotland for 10 nights starting in Edinburgh and then toured through the Highlands with a driver/guide. Our entire trip from the itinerary, accommodations, touring, meals and guide were all recommended and coordinated by Jonathan. It was our first time working with him and, simply put, we give him our highest recommendations and look forward to working with him again. There’s no way we could have planned this trip without Jonathan and his team’s expertise and efficiency. In working with them, I quickly felt like I could reach out and they would provide a strong point of view with their unfiltered, real opinion; I really appreciate that and it is why we quickly trusted their expertise. Also, they just “got us” upon our initial phone call and narrowed in quickly on a draft itinerary to discuss, based on our personalities and interests.
Another quick piece of context: The last time we worked with an expert travel agent/country specialist was for our honeymoon back in 2011 (international trip); I located this individual through the recommendation of a very prominent, upscale travel publication. It was not a good experience; it was a phoned-in, cheesy itinerary, etc. Very disappointing. Based on that experience, we’ve hesitated to use a travel agent again and prefer to plan our own trips.
When planning our trip to Scotland, my mom referred me to your list, Ms. Perrin. And let me just say, Jonathan and his team fully redeemed my trust in travel/destination experts.
A few more details on how they helped make our vacation so memorable…
First off, his team is simply just organized, efficient & responsive.
Everything from the itinerary “playlist” (that even had a mobile app) where we could easily access our itinerary, scheduled tours, restaurant reservations and other details like summary overviews and recommended sites, etc. for each location to the airport transfers, etc. that were professional, timely and went smoothly. Also, Jonathan and his team just “got us” from the outset and could quickly narrow in on a draft itinerary that would fit our personality, etc. and then quickly locked down accommodations at smaller properties with a small number of rooms.
Beyond that, Jonathan and team created an itinerary and made several key recommendations that made the trip feel one-of-a-kind …
The itinerary and accommodations were spectacular and we could never have planned it on our own. Our driver/guide commented on how impressive and well thought out the itinerary was. He thought I had put it together….which I laughed at and told him that the itinerary and accommodations were the work of a professional.
Jonathan strongly felt we should use a driver/guide for exploring the Highlands, if budget allowed, saying it would add another dimension to the trip. We took his recommendation, and we now can’t imagine not having traveled with our driver/guide, John. We instantly clicked with him, the car was an extremely comfy vehicle (important because we covered a lot of distance), and I feel like we met someone we will keep in future contact with. We learned so much about living in Scotland from John and also because he just got us, we could mold the day-to-day touring recommendations provided by Jonathan seamlessly as we went along.
Additionally, we stayed at four hotels, as I mentioned. I really enjoy trying out different hotel properties and, wow, each was unique and top-notch. Jonathan also strongly suggested that we upgrade from a basic room at two of the locations, and doing so was worth every penny spent. Paying a little extra to have a view of the Torridon Hills with the property’s Highland cows and sheep, as an example, elevated the experience. Another small thing is that Jonathan, through his relationships, was able to get one hotel to waive their strict nightly minimum-stay policy.
We also debated a restaurant reservation in Edinburgh that was a multi-course, prix fixe, creative-menu kind of a thing. Candidly, I was mostly worried my husband would hate it, and it wasn’t a cheap meal. Jonathan’s team said to definitely keep this reservation and, boy, it was not only a top memory of the trip but was placed onto my personal list of the top 5 meals of my life.
I could give many additional examples, but I think I’m getting the point across. The itinerary itself and key recommendations made by Jonathan and team took the trip from good to excellent.
I’d absolutely recommend Jonathan to others traveling to Scotland and look forward to working with him in the future.
Jonathan and Nicole did an outstanding job of planning our tour through Scotland. During the planning stages, we had several phone calls and emails to narrow down an itinerary that would work for us. All of their hotel and itinerary recommendations were excellent.
They quickly rebooked a hotel and activities for us after a hotel closure necessitated changes to our itinerary. They also engaged a guide/driver for us, John McElwee, who was truly outstanding. John is very knowledgeable about Scottish history, whiskey, restaurants, pubs, shopping and the best times of day to visit sites to minimize crowds and maximize photo opportunities. His advice and guidance during our daily activities allowed us to have the best possible experience.
This was a memorable trip, and we are grateful to Jonathan’s team for their assistance.
Excellent in every respect. Totally understood what we were looking for and implemented it. Very easy to deal with and the itinerary was easy to work with on the internet. All hotels, drivers, restaurants, and sights were perfect.
This vacation to Scotland was our second trip with Jonathan Epstein and his team. We worked with Jonathan on our Ireland trip a couple of years ago. Jonathan and Nicole are delightful to work with and provide so much perspective and insight to the various options. We were three couples traveling together and Jonathan’s team worked with all of us to come up with an amazing itinerary. All of the hotels were outstanding and the restaurant and pub suggestions were exactly what we hoped for. We are all history enthusiasts and one of the best things about Jonathan’s team is the caliber of guides and drivers they use. An engaging, entertaining guide truly makes all the difference when you are “road tripping” through the countryside. Our guide, James Campbell, made our trip from Edinburgh through the Highlands a wonderful experience. I would not hesitate to work with Jonathan on another adventure!
Stellar experience from start to finish. Understood from the moment of our first call what I was looking for, and captured it in a perfect experience for me and my daughter. Spot on pacing, guide matches, experiences.
I’m a very independent planner, and this was my first use of an advisor. I was extremely tense in using my first advisor, but am so thankful. They understood perfectly what I needed in my annual trip with my daughter.
I’m so thankful I engaged Jonathan and his team. A perfect Scotland experience. Highly recommend.
Jonathan and his staff did a great job at uncovering what was important to all of the family members who were going on this trip. Their recommendations were right on target as they organized a quick 7-day trip to London & the Cotswolds. The guides we had were awesome and were able to sneak us into some areas the public was not allowed to see. They truly cared about making our trip special. Their recommendation to use private drivers for several of our venues literally eliminated the stress of driving (fighting on which way to go) and was worth every penny!
An incredible Trip! I asked Jonathan to create a distillery tour of Scotland for me and my son. Starting with the selection of an excellent guide (best guide I’ve ever had on any trip), hotel and dining reservations, the selection of the right distilleries and adjustments along the way, this trip was executed flawlessly. The trip also included opportunities to learn about Scottish history and a visit to Gleneagles for a hawking experience that was unforgettable. This is the second time I’ve used Jonathan and his team and I will absolutely use them again for any future travel to the UK or Ireland.
They did a great job and absolutely deserve a spot on the WOW list. This is my fourth time using the list (the first was its predecessor while you were at Conde Nast) – – it has worked well every time. Thanks!
Jonathan really stressed the importance of spending time in the countryside of Ireland and I would have opted to be based out of Dublin and taken side trips to the country. I’m so glad I listened to him because we loved the Adare Manor and the cliffs which would’ve been hard to get to as a day trip. Jonathan truly knows this country, the things to see and where to eat we had great food, which I was not expecting in Ireland.
Jonathan Epstein and his assistant Nicole did a wonderful job planning our trip to Aberdeen. We loved it. We had some snow and a good deal of rain, but that is to be expected in March. However, when the sun came out, Aberdeen was beautiful. We visited some very nice castles, a distillery and other sites Jonathan recommended. Even though most of the castles were closed on weekdays in March, we were able to visit Fraser Castle on Saturday. We drove around and looked at the landscape, the old stone houses and the lovely golf course. We walked in the old town and FootDee and the city center, and visited Slain Castle, too. We were delighted with the Marcliffe Hotel, which Jonathan strongly recommended even though our first inclination was to go elsewhere. We are happy Jonathan insisted on Marcliffe. It is one of the best hotels we have stayed at in all our years of travel. The rooms for both us and our family were very comfortable, clean, roomy and quiet, which was perfect, and the service was excellent. The food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was marvelous, and service in the restaurant, the Drawing Room, and the front desk was wonderful. The owner and all the staff were very friendly, accommodating and helpful. We are grateful that Jonathan was able to get us an extra room at the last minute for our family. Also, our friends and we loved Cafe Boheme. Thanks to Jonathan for that recommendation too. And thank you, Wendy, for recommending Jonathan.
Helen Tepper, Visited Aberdeen, Scotland, March 2018.
We recommend that any of your travelers who are considering a trip to the United Kingdom rely on Jonathan to plan and execute their trip. He will take care of all the details perfectly.
Best trip ever. Just what we wanted and more than we expected. We had experiences that were once in a lifetime. The guides were friendly, conversational, and educational. They were great listeners and quickly developed a feel for us. ( Wayne and Michael, thank you so much!) The sights were spectacular, the restaurants were outstanding, and the history lessons were fascinating. Can’t wait to book our next trip with Jonathan and his staff. They are true professionals. For me, Jonathan and his staff were not only helpful; they were indispensable. Don’t think about visiting Ireland and Scotland without contacting these fine folks.
My son was studying in Cork for a semester so we(my husband and two other adult children) went to visit over Thanksgiving. We had a great time visiting several areas of Ireland (our first trip). The guide and hotels were fabulous! Jonathan made sure we had plenty of activity and unique experiences.
My husband and I had the perfect honeymoon in London thanks to Jonathan and Nicole! Their attention to detail, well thought out itinerary, and excitement for our trip made it one we will never forget! Thank you so much for making our first major trip as a married couple so spectacular!
Jonathan put together a fantastic trip with just more than two months notice. After a half hour of preliminary conversation, he was able to garner a quick read of our travel style (quick moving, long days), including the types of hotels and rooms we like, and preferences for guides and touring. We were thrilled with the results: loved the hotels (we were upgraded in all properties) and our driver guide (highly recommend for Ireland) was a perfect fit. I should also mention that Nicole, Jonathan’s assistant, is incredibly responsive and a pleasure to work with.
We expected rain on our trip but did not anticipate a hurricane! While we only lost one day of touring (spent a relaxing day in the spa), we were not aware that our next hotel had closed due to lack of power. Lucky for us, Jonathan and Nicole were right on it and had us booked with an upgrade at another 5 star property.
I would definitely use Jonathan for a future trip and highly recommend him. Be prepared to provide an honest view of how you like to travel and he will tailor an experience to meet your needs.
Our trip to Scotland was absolutely wonderful! It was a VERY last minute trip to look at the University of St Andrews for my son who is currently a Senior in high school. Honestly, we had the most magical time on our short trip. Johnathan got on the phone with me immediately, he was so enthusiastic and intuitive. Everything from soup to nuts was seamless and top notch. We took an amazing walking tour all through Edinburgh and we loved every second. Our hotels were beautiful and exactly what I was looking for. Johnathan and his staff were phenomenal and my son loved the University so much I have a feeling there is a good chance he will be attending next year. We will definitely use Johnathan for every trip back!!! Thank you so much, Wendy for providing this amazing service. I just recently found out about it and it’s what I’ve been looking for!
Jonathan and Nicole did a great job of planning our trip to Scotland. They talked with us and asked questions to find out what our interests were and then came up with a fantastic itinerary for us. The hotels and restaurants they recommended were amazing. We would certainly use them for another trip.
Jonathan and Nicole were an absolute pleasure to work with, and the trip to Ireland was absolutely wonderful. All of the hotels and the staff were superb, especially at Dromoland Castle. The locations of all hotels couldn’t have been better for what we wanted. I can’t say enough about the quality of service provided throughout. Thank you, Jonathan and Nicole!
We loved all of the hotels they chose and really enjoyed our private driver/guides. It was a great itinerary and we had a fabulous time.
We were traveling to Dublin to drop off our son at Trinity University. Jonathan and his Celebrated team helped us with a city visit to Dublin and then we were off to Scotland to celebrate our “empty nest”. They spent a lot of time learning about our hobbies, our interests and our budget for this trip. They came back with a comprehensive itinerary for us that included multiple cities and a couple rounds of golf. Perhaps the single best piece of advice they gave us was: Hire a driver. HIGHLY recommend you spend at least a small portion of your trip with a driver – they know the country inside/out and can make last minute detours/changes seamless and stress free. The special perks at the hotels that Celebrated customers garner were also very fun and I looked forward to them all. Several months into the planning our focus for the trip changed and several items had to be eliminated from the itinerary (no golf) – these were done with grace and alternatives put in place with no issues at all. And during our trip, we cancelled an itinerary event two days before we were supposed to go (a whisky trail tour). Driver was contacted and alternatives put in place as if they had always been a part of the itinerary.
The drivers were all great. Because they know the area so well, they are able to direct you to some spots you would be hard pressed to find on your own.
All of Celebrated suggestions were fantastic. Even though this was not a golfing trip, we did get to visit top golf courses and because we were at St. Andrews on a Sunday, we were even allowed to walk the course. He’s still talking about the picture we took on Swilcan Bridge.
In short, our trip was just about perfect, and we couldn’t have done it without Jonathan’s help. In fact, we will definitely be back to Scotland and dream also of an Italian vacation. We will not hesitate to contact you when we are ready to start planning!
Everything about our trip to Ireland went just as we had hoped. Jonathan Epstein and Nicole on his team were very helpful with the planning and organizing. Learning from them that U2 was performing in Dublin the night of our arrival was such helpful information in arranging our itinerary. Our driver, Dave Matthews, was friendly, knowledgeable, and flexible. We stayed in wonderful hotels and had some great meals at restaurants that Jonathan and Nicole recommended.
We had a wonderful time, due in large measure to the local knowledge and resources of our travel planner! The itinerary was nearly flawless, and while we flipped several touring days due to weather, we stayed very true to the plan. Generally, we felt that there was a good balance between structured time with our guides and self-touring.
We booked a trip to Ireland pretty much at the last minute for a diverse group in terms of age, interests. Jonathan totally got us — and was even cheerful about some last-minute feedback from the group that entailed re-booking part of the trip. A grand experience.
Johnathan & Nicole on his team put together a great itinerary for our trip to the UK and Scotland. In addition to finding outstanding properties for us to stay in, their recommendations on what to see and where to go along the way were instrumental in our overall experience. We also really appreciated that our complete itinerary, including destination details, sights to see and map links were on an app so we didn’t have to bring any paperwork with us.
We traveled to England in June 2017 for several days prior to taking a cruise. We had a very specific agenda for our stay that included some obscure spots. Jonathan and Nicole easily accommodated our itinerary and also rounded it out with suggestions of their own. These included stays in two beautiful and atmospheric hotels somewhat off the beaten path. The driver/guides they arranged for were excellent at their jobs and were also terrific company. Everything was well-planned and well-done, and everyone was easy to work with.
Found his knowledge of the area extensive and able to form a fabulous memorable trip. Hotel selections tour guides and restaurant suggestions were spot on.
Jonathan and his team were very helpful in both the planning and actual trip. We would recommend them for someone wanting to see Wales and England. We would suggest anyone working with them be actively involved with questions, preferences, dislikes, etc. They are very responsive.
Northern Wales, the Cotswolds, Bath, and London
Jonathan Epstein and Nicole were a pleasure to work with and we appreciated very much their enthusiasm, flexibility, and availability, especially when we had to make last-minute adjustments to our itinerary due to business conflicts. We fell in love with Ireland! We had a fabulous family trip with our adult children and we are happy to share our thoughts with you.
We loved Gregan and Ashford Castle. In fact, our room at Ashford Castle may have been the nicest room we’ve ever stayed in with a stunning lake view. While our rooms at the Westbury in Dublin were a little disappointing, the team at the hotel couldn’t have been nicer in trying to accommodate us. Patrick was a superb driver and a pleasure to be with. However, our expectation was that he would do more guiding and that simply wasn’t the case. In contrast, Pat Liddy in Dublin and David Byrne who drove us to Glendalough were superb. Pat may have been the best guide we’ve ever had. Another highlight was our hike with Shane in the Burren. He was a character extraordinaire and while at first, we weren’t sure what to make of him by the end of the day we were in awe of his wit and “charm” of the Irish sort. Other highlights were hiking the Cliffs of Moher, Diamond Hill, Croagh Patrick, playing golf with the boys and the falconry at Ashford Castle.
All in all, it was a fabulous and memorable trip.
Jonathan Epstein planned our trip to Ireland for June 2017. He and Nicole listen to what we were interested in for our trip and asked questions to pinpoint our interests and what were important must haves for us. They provided a preliminary itinerary and asked that we review it and provided them with feedback. The itinerary was everything we wanted and so much of what we did not realize we may want. What truly made the trip was the driver/ guides that Jonathan arranged for us. They were amazing and made our trip to Ireland more special under their care and guidance. They took us off the beaten path, introduced us to local craftsman and out of the way eateries. Jonathan’s choice of drivers made our trip very special and memorable.
The advice I would give to anyone using a travel planner is the more information you give them about what your expectations and desires are the better your customized trip of a lifetime. we loved our trip of a lifetime to Ireland.
Thank you, Jonathan and Nicole.
Will definitely use Wendy’s WOW list to plan our next trip of a lifetime. Thank you for providing us with this group of special people who are the best at planning extraordinary travel adventures.
Jonathan was Fantastic!! He and Nicole listened carefully to what we were interested in, asked great questions to clarify the of kind of trip that would best suit us and came up with a wonderful itinerary. They suggested and arranged for all our hotel reservations ( we loved the hotels he recommended), got us excellent drivers and guides, suggested interesting sites, got the entrance tickets when appropriate and recommended and made dinner reservations for us at some wonderful restaurants. I was impressed with how available and responsive they were to questions big and small, and was particularly impressed with how well they know Ireland. We had a Fabulous time thanks to their excellent advice and planning!!
Planning was excellent. suggested places to stay and interesting sights to see along our travel path. Pre-arranged tickets and scheduled adventures for us. Documents sent were clear and concise and had all of the information sent in advance in case any questions had were taken care of well in advance. The trip went very smoothly and we had a great time on our travels. The travel team took care of what we asked and suggested several items that we could do while in that area of travel. All of the places to stay were very well represented and booked in advance for us. will definitely recommend them to others traveling.
Jonathon and Nicole helped us to plan a very personalized trip that met our needs. All questions for trip planning, what to expect, bookings and general questions were answered promptly – including a few quick questions during our trip. Our itinerary was complete, yet allowed for flexibility – necessary with weather and our own changes in energy levels! We appreciated their advice on planning the itinerary so the pace of our trip was not hectic, but well-matched to our travel needs. Our guides and accommodations were great – it was fun to be surprised and amazed with each new stop and person we met! Decreased stress and increased pleasure by working with this team – win, win!!
I think that Jonathan did a great job with what we had him help with. All of the hotels he recommended were fabulous and beautiful with terrific service. I really wanted to experience the manor house type of hotel and we did. I am not sure that I would do that again but that is part of my learning experience in planning travel. The restaurants he recommended and made reservations at were all great but a couple of them were “fancier” than we prefer. Still wonderful food but we don’t really care for the “Michelin star” experience . . . which we didn’t know but now do.
Jonathan and Nicole on his team, were very responsive during the planning process. Always back with an answer the same day or at the latest the next day if I had a question at the end of the day. The perks that they provide were appreciated . . . special wine complimentary one place, cream tea another, picnic lunch another and airport transfer another. All of the hotels were aware we had booked with Jonathan and I’m sure that was reflected in the service we received.
First and foremost, Jonathan knew, much better than I did, what kind of Ireland trip would make us happy. I had several ideas of where we wanted to stay, and, happily, Jonathan patiently but emphatically convinced me that I was picking the wrong places. For example, I told him I wanted to stay in Kilkenny; and he said that we should stop there for lunch on our way back to Dublin. Boy — was he right. He picked spectacular, but low-key (which is what I wanted) hotels, with extremely friendly service, great locations, and lovely rooms and facilities.
I will recommend him to our friends, and I will ask him to plan trips for us when we go to any of the countries he works with. We could not have been happier!
Everything we discussed with our travel specialist ahead of time was followed and put into a wonderful itinerary for us. The hotels were excellent and the cities chosen for us to visit really gave us an idea of England and Scotland.
Traveled to London, Bath, York and Edinburgh in May, 2017.
Just returned from another vacation planned by Jonathan Epstein and Nicole Baratelle on his team. As on our other trip to England and Scottland, it was perfectly planned and organized, as expected. We had never been to Ireland before and we entrusted Jonathan to make recommendations on places to stay, restaurants to eat at, and attractions and cities to visit. Every one of their suggestions turned out to be outstanding. Every one! Their knowledge and expertise led us to some outstanding private experiences at Guinness and Kilbeggan distillery. We were also fortunate to have been recommended to try our hand at falconry at Ashford Castle which was one of the most compelling things that we have ever done.
As usual, the planning process with Jonathan and his team is thorough. They consult with you before the trip and ultimately plan a dedicated and customized itinerary which specifically fit our needs in every way. There is frequent interaction as needed and they always promptly respond to any communication.
Overall, this is a high-end luxury travel company, with highly intelligent, responsive and accommodating people who will always work hard to put together a customized trip of a lifetime.
We have never been disappointed by their efforts. We would and will use them again and would recommend them with our highest possible regards.
Thank you so much for helping us experience many of the joys of Ireland on our first trip to the country. It was simply outstanding. We absolutely love Galway. While our time in Dublin was short, we got to experience many of the treasures of the city. We loved the way Jonathan put the schedule together, to allow the diving portion with David, followed by the walking tour with Brandon. Both guides were outstanding, and our lunch was historic and terrific.
Then we were off to Gregans Castle. What a jewel. Everything about our time in this area was just the best and the hotel is on our all-time favorites list. Outstanding for us at the Castle was the evening we had dinner in the Pub at the hotel. We sat at a table in front of the fireplace and had one of the most romantic dinners ever. What a memorable experience. Our guide, Brendan, was terrific. He knew the area so well that he was suggesting things for us to do while we were in motion. He gave us many options and while we wanted to do them all, we had to give up something. Brendan, now our lifelong friend, was a person with whom it was easy to spend time. He was kind and personable, entertaining and relaxed, and it was a joy to spend time with him. When we come back to Ireland we will definitely ask for him to be with us. One of the other treats we had was a walking tour with Shane, in the Burren. His knowledge of the area was terrific. He is a local farmer but he knew the area so well and gave us a lot of knowledge about the flora and fauna of the area. Everything we did was enjoyable, educational and exciting. And I got a renewed appreciation for Irish whiskey. We realize that our time in Ireland was limited so we are encouraged to come back to Ireland soon.
To sum up, if I was replanning this trip, I would not change anything relative to our guides and accommodations. Everything was perfect. We do look forward to returning to Ireland and will reach out to Jonathan for assistance.
Whatever your expectations are for a glorious trip to Ireland, Jonathan Epstein and Nicole exceed anything you can imagine. Laying the groundwork with numerous conversations about our desires and intentions for this holiday, Jonathan nailed it. Our hotel, dining choices, countryside driving tour, walking tours and itinerary could not have been more perfect. Of all our travels, our Ireland/Dublin vacation is our favorite! We are ready to return with our grown children and contact you again!
Jonathan Epstein and his team exceeded anything we expected. I would highly recommend them to anyone visiting Ireland. A friend who used Wendy Perrin’s WOW List for her travels overseas recommended. I, as well, would highly recommend your experienced travel agencies as well. I have spoken to numerous friends who used our local travel agencies for out of the country travel and all experienced many disappointing issues. Not so with Jonathan Epstein and his team ~ quite the opposite, I am pleased to say.
Jonathan and his team were very professional and responsive to my desires for the trip. I was completely satisfied and could not have planned the trip without him.
Jonathan Epstein and his team at Celebrated Experiences are tops in the field. It is almost hard to believe the company is a big as it is because they make you feel you are their only client. They quickly come up to speed and learn exactly who you are and what you want and work to customize your trip around these preferences. There seems to be no part of the United Kingdom that they are not experts in. They keep very current and are very on their game. Jonathan is sharp and witty and smart – and is someone I will work with again. I wished to travel to a remote and obscure forest in Western England in October and Jonathan planned everything around just that, combining luxurious restaurants and inns with woodsy hikes and chauffeured tours. Marvelous and memorable.
Jonathan and his team were wonderful.
•Starting with our flight delay and change from Shannon to Dublin airport, they helped us to recover.
•They were spot on to have us start driving in remote areas, where traffic was minimal; our first time driving on the left, worked out fine.
•The itinerary they prepared for us met our desires, mainly in the beautiful, remote West, particularly since it was short notice in a shoulder season.
* Pamela’s been recommending Jonathan and Wendy Perrin to her friends since our return. Many haven’t used a travel planner before.
* We learned how essential having a “free day” was to enjoying the two weeks of touring.
• We never felt that we were pushed along on a tour.
• Outstanding driver/guide
• High touch planning at the last minute and over an holiday weekend—outstanding.
The travel specialist had everything organized to the theatre tickets in advance- so we were able to enjoy our trip to its fullest..
Jonathan Epstein and his team offered us extraordinary service from start to finish on our anniversary trip to England in September that will be remembered as one of our best travel and life experiences. After a thorough interview process, Jonathan crafted an itinerary for a walking trip that matched our every intention in the best of ways. Because every detail was attended to in advance, we were able to relax into the adventure and be delighted moment-to-moment as it unfolded. Towards the end of the trip, we received a call from Jonathan, informing us that one of the hotels had double-booked us with a wedding party. Jonathan stated that when mistakes like this are made, it always works out in our favor as he asks the hotels to make up for it. He booked us into an upgraded garden suite in a similar manor house for the same price with two complimentary dinners and champagne thrown in. We are pleased that Wendy Perrin referred us to Jonathan Epstein and his team who supported us in experiencing a trip of a lifetime! Lisa and Craig MacDonnell
Jonathan Epstein helped us plan our trip to Ireland so well that we did not need any help from him when we arrived. . Every detail was covered and we were happy with every hotel, restaurant, pub and sight seeing venture that we did.
We were in Ireland last month for nearly 3 weeks. We landed in Shannon and traveled the coastline of the country and returned home out of Shannon. Our highlights were Galway and Killarney.
Jonathan and his assistant, Nicole Barratelle, were a pleasure to work with and i would highly recommend them to anyone. We will use them again.
This is the second trip that Jonathan Epstein of Celebrated Experiences helped us plan, our first being Ireland in May 2016. Once again, all of Jonathan’s itinerary and hotel recommendations were spot on. As with the Ireland trip, we felt very warmly welcomed and well taken care of at the hotels, enjoyed several room upgrades, and a special “Celebrated Perk” at each place. In addition to the excitement of discovering a new destination, we have found that these special touches have done much to enhance our travel experience. As to the planning process, Jonathan is very generous with his time, thorough and prompt. We look forward to his assistance in planning a trip to England and Wales in the future.
Consultant was very timely in responding and put together a trip for us very quickly with our short time constraints. It was a good trip, with very good guides and accommodations. There was no contact with the consultant during our trip, and they suggested that we use our guide as a first resort if there was a problem. A good consultant, but not a “bespoke” consultant. Knowledgeable and professional, but not the hand holding type.
Nicole and Jonathan were great. The trip was well-designed and we got to do all the things we wanted to do. Everything was great. The icing on the cake was our driver Martin. He could not have been better.
Having not travelled the area before Jonathan was not only a time saver, but did an excellent job of selecting properties and activities that would work for a very diverse group of people. It would have been impossible to replicate that without his on the ground knowledge of the market.
Jonathan and his colleague Nicolle really helped us the best of a 1-week trip in August 2016 to Sussex and London. Their advice about itinerary and hotels was excellent, and they arranged for extra services as needed. When my wife was hospitalized a month before the trip and it was not clear we would ultimately go, they got one of the hotels to push back their cancellation deadline. And when her slow recovery led us to contemplate several itinerary changes, Jonathan’s advice, reflecting his knowledge of the area, kept us from making changes that would have made the trip much less enjoyable.
We only had two and half days in Edinburgh but Jonathan and his team made sure they were amazing, from the hotel to the sightseeing. Their restaurant recommendations in particular were fantastic, and every night we had incredible dinners.
Celebrated Experiences put our trip together on very short notice. They picked wonderful hotels and guides and listened to our preferences and got all the choices just right. They introduced us to things we would not have done otherwise. They were conscious of our budget and made appropriate recommendations. Their response time in putting the trip together was excellent. It was a great trip.
We enjoyed the trip of a lifetime as we traveled from London, England to Gleneagles, Scotland. Jonathan and Nicole at Celebrated Experiences were amazing to work with. They thought of every detail, were incredibly professional, and helped us enjoy a fabulous worry-free vacation. I highly recommend them to anyone and would use them again for our future travel needs.
Jonathan and his associate, Nicole, planned a truly perfect trip for my husbands birthday trip. They listened intently to our likes and interests and everything they booked lined up perfectly. Every hotel was gorgeous and beyond expectation. The staff at all were wonderful and each place unique. They gave us excellent suggestions on things to see and where to eat. Every guide and driver they booked was warm, friendly and knowledgeable. I really don’t have one negative thing to say. It was a truly phenomenal experience and we owe it all to Jonathan and Nicole. I would recommend them in heartbeat.
I had hesitated to contact a Trusted Travel Expert for our trip to Scotland, because as an add-on to a business trip, most of our travel arrangements were already predetermined. And we were leaving in about 3 weeks!! But Jonathan Epstein of Celebrated Experiences was gracious with his time and expertise. He helped me fill in the gaps of our itinerary, and it made a huge difference in our enjoyment of Edinburgh. He secured a wonderful room at the George Hotel, with a marvelous view and a king bed, which was not available on their website. He was able to get great dinner reservations for us — with excellent tables, I might add. He helped arrange a birthday celebration at one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh, and it was a great finish to a wonderful time in Scotland. He and his staff were responsive, cheerful and extremely helpful. I would highly recommend his services — if he did a job this great with hardly any advance warning, I can only imagine what a fantastic trip he could plan with a decent amount of lead time.
Jonathan and Nicole at Celebrated helped me plan a great last minute vacation for my family across the Scottish lowlands and highlands. The arranged a great set of hotels, provided knowledgeable and entertaining guides and arranged just the right amount of activates to keep us busy without overwhelming the vacation. I highly recommend their services and will certainly use them again when my travels take me to the British Isles.
Jonathan Epstein with Celebrated Experiences was recommended by Wendy Perrin for our family trip to Scotland. Usually I plan trips myself for two of us…but this was going to be six and I wanted a private guide, etc. We spent two wonderful weeks in June, 2016 covering a lot of Scotland. Jonathan was terrific and very responsive and thorough. Every place they booked us into was amazing. Plus our guide was so responsive and adaptable. I can’t recommend Jonathan and Celebrated Experiences enough. The only advice I have is to spend the time upfront with them on the phone as I did to be clear about your desires and budget.
My husband and I just returned from a truly once-in-a-lifetime, 8 day trip to Scotland planned by Jonathan Epstein and his fantastic team. Jonathan came highly recommended by my sister who had used Celebrated Experiences to plan her family’s vacation to England. Jonathan spent a considerable amount of time speaking with me about our interests, expectations, budget, etc. and within a couple of days provided a detailed proposed itinerary. Knowing that we were interested in golf, history, castles, unique food experiences, and whiskey tasting, Jonathan and his team provided detailed information about the best golf courses, must see historical and scenic sites, fabulous restaurants, and distilleries with the best tours/tastings. The hotels (St. Andrews Old Course Hotel, Culloden House, Inverlochy Castle and Gleneagles) were beyond amazing and we received upgrades and welcoming gifts at each hotel.
Jonathan strongly recommended hiring a driver for a good bit of our trip and we are so glad we did. Our driver, Davie, was simply amazing and his knowledge of all things Scotland was endless. If you want to see Scotland by car and are interested in its history, traditions, landscapes, wildlife and so on, I highly recommend following Jonathan’s advice about getting a driver. It was probably the best decision we made when planning our trip.
Jonathan and Nicole always responded quickly to our many questions. In addition to taking care of the hotel, airport transfer and driver arrangements, they booked my husband’s tee times, my spa treatment, a top notch distillery tour/tasting at Balvenie in the Speyside region, and made our dinner reservations. Nicole’s restaurant recommendations were spot on! If you make it to Scotland, do not miss dining at The Peat Inn and Forgan’s in St. Andrews, Culloden House in Inverness, Inverlochy Castle, and Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles.
In sum, our trip to Scotland was perfection. We even had gorgeous weather! I don’t know if Jonathan and his team can take credit for that but they certainly deserve credit for our 5 star, effortless, and truly memorable Scottish experience. We can’t wait to use Celebrated Experiences again!
A lot of thought was given because we were travelling with a 6 year old. We loved the hotels, and the guides and drivers were great. Jonathan’s recommendations were very helpful. The only hiccup was the issue of the Manor House Hotel not allowing my grandson to participate in the restaurant at dinner, which we learned about just before leaving on the trip. However, Jonathan and his team intervened and made it work. If not, they were willing to find another site.
Everything on our trip went very smoothly.
The hotels were all terrific. The staff were friendly and went out of their way to help us. Particular thanks to Gidleigh Park Hotel for cleaning our hiking boots so well that we got through customs with no trouble (we had hiked in a pasture with sheep so had they to be screened so to make sure we didn’t bring anything harmful back with us). I think our favorite was Dormy House—warm and quirky. Loved all the sitting rooms with fires—perfect for cream tea or after dinner drinks. Beautiful view of the water at Hotel Tresanton but St. Mawes is a little bit too small and too out of the way. It would have taken at least an hour each way to get to restaurants outside of St. Mawes due to the narrow roads and waterways. So we ended up restricting ourselves to dinner in St. Mawes which has relatively few restaurants. Also, we went hiking on the northern coast of Cornwall which had views of the rocky coastline I had always associated with Cornwall. Might have been easier/better to have stayed there both for hiking and eating.
The list of things to see was very helpful and we visited many of the places that were suggested. Many of the sites were part of the National Trust. The first was Hidcote Gardens which remains the most spectacular garden we saw the whole trip. The woman there convinced us to become members of the National Trust because you get free entry into their sites. For us, it was definitely worth the 105 pounds. We went to Hidcote, Chedworth Roman villa, Stonehenge, Trelissick Gardens and several car parks near hiking areas that were National Trust sites that charged for parking. I’m probably forgetting some others. But we calculated that we probably came out 25-50 pounds ahead. So it is something worth suggesting to others who might take a similar kind of trip.
The car drop-off and train to London went fine and the transfer to Heathrow was very smooth. Overall an excellent experience.
May 21 – June 5, 2016. We just returned from a 2 week, outstanding first trip to Ireland, traveling from Dublin to Belfast and all along the Wild Atlantic Way, and Jonathan totally delivered on all counts. His extremely personalized touring strategies and accommodation recommendations were spot on. From complimentary room upgrades and special culinary and experiential perks, to the genuinely warm and solicitous welcome and treatment we received, we truly felt like VIPs!
Jonathan is actually the 8th Wendy Perrin Trusted Travel Expert we have used, and while they have all been very good, he has been unmatched in delivering tangible benefits while on the trip AND – along with his top-notch assistant Nicole – in his speedy promptness in replying to all of our comments and questions, before, during and after the trip.
One of Jonathan’s recommendations, based on our specific issues and goals, was to hire a driver/guide. We were rather hesitant to do so but decided to take a leap of faith. Our expert driver/guide enhanced our trip exponentially. In addition to eliminating the stress and fatigue of driving, and being able to focus on the magnificent scenery and photo ops instead of the road, he was our personal and direct link into the heart and soul of the Irish people and culture. After 12 greatly productive and fun days together, we felt we were saying goodbye to a friend. (Tip: if you are susceptible to motion sickness while being a passenger in a vehicle, try using snugly and properly placed “Sea Bands” on your wrists. They worked to perfection!) We are now looking forward with great confidence and anticipation to a trip with Jonathan to Scotland in September, and we hope to have Jonathan design a trip to England for us in the near future. The bar has been set high by this first rate agency!
My wife,son and I just got back from our best vacation ever. We spent 12 days in Scotland and Ireland in a trip completely arranged by Jonathan Epstein. Everything was perfect!!! We talked with him briefly in February as to cities we wanted to visit and he came back two days later with a complete suggested itinerary including hotels,where to visit in each city,tee times for three days of golf in St Andrews, suggested restaurants,and suggested tours ie guided walking tour in Edinburgh. We said go and everything was booked. All arrangements he and his team made were executed flawlessly ie if car service was due to pick us up at 9AM ,they were there at 8;45 AM. The four hotels he recommended were all fantastic. We would recommend him highly and if we ever decide to return,we will use him again. On a scale of 1-10(10 being the best),I would rate them an 11. Thanks Jonathan for making our trip so special;something the three of us will never forget.
We had a wonderful trip to Ireland. We were all extremely grateful for the expertise that made the trip for the 5 of us (that included ages 26 to 62), so enjoyable and successful. We would without hesitation recommend Jonathan Epstein and his team. Thank you for making this all possible for us.
We loved Scotland and Jonathan Epstein was very responsive to us and our style of travel. He was eager to visit after the trip to find out about any problems. He did a great job!
We recently returned from a 12 day trip including London, parts of Wales, the Cotswolds and Bath. We appreciated Jonathon Epstein’s attention to our interests in planning our itinerary. Both he and Nicole were attentive to our needs and questions and well organized about our reservations. Our accommodations were first-rate and the logistics were seamless. Everything ran well – theater tickets delivered as promised and drivers and guides were on time, informative and interesting people. We enjoyed touring Oxford and Wales with our guide, Michael, but it got even better when we visited his cherished Cotswolds. In London, we did a literary tour of the Bloomsbury area – something we never would have found on our own. Jonathon’s recommended hotel, The Milestone, in London has the most wonderful staff; so friendly and helpful. Loved our suite upgrade at Llangoed Hall – an incredible view. We took advantage of our Celebrated Perk for a wine tasting with the sommelier at Lower Slaughter, which was much more than we expected, and a wonderful experience. We’re so glad we followed Jonathon’s recommendation to visit Bath – we had an enjoyable and interesting day there. We’ll definitely use Jonathan and his team at Celebrated Experiences again,
Thanks for recommending Jonathan Epstein . Although my husband and I have traveled for years and love to discover places for ourselves, it was a total pleasure to have Jonathan wisely advise us as to our itinerary in Ireland, making it so easy to find the most comfortable and central home bases from which to make our daily explorations around Killarney, Cork and Dublin. Nicole on Jonathan’s team rearranged hotel reservations when we asked, just days before we left, with good cheer and total efficiency and gave us a list of interesting sites, restaurants and shops. We were well taken care of.
Jonathan Epstein along with Nicole and his team at Celebrated Experiences were able to negotiate mid-trip with our Lake District hotel to reduce our stay to one night so we could go back to a rescheduled Manchester United game (initial game cancelled from a bomb scare – good grief!). Quite a feat, since the hotel is a 2-night minimum accommodation!
We very much enjoyed the places we stayed – and they were right, 3 nights in each place would have been way better. Always listen to Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts! :)
We had a last-minute opportunity to go to Scotland in late May/early June. Normally, Scotland is one of those places you have to book far in advance due to the scarcity of hotel rooms, especially in the high season, and particularly when you have mobility issues as I have (no stairs!). We contacted Jonathan Epstein, who pulled together a gorgeous itinerary with several days in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We rented a car and had the ultimate road trip, with golf games on the Old Course at St. Andrews, another at the Queen’s course at Gleneagles. We also drove through the Highlands to the West Coast, saw Loch Lomond, and stayed in the most stunning hotels throughout. We even ate at Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant where it’s impossible to get a reservation, due to a a last-minute cancellation. We loved it all, and would do again in a heartbeat. Jonathan and his team were constantly in touch, even during the trip, and I feel guilty for not posting this review earlier. We love them! Thanks, Jonathan
Great trip with a lot of great help and ideas from Jonathan. His restaurant suggestions were top notch; the hotels greeted us and treated us like royalty. He was very, very helpful.
The recommendations Jonathan and his staff provided for our trip to England and Wales was right on, and we had a fabulous time (https://storify.com/aniltj/summer-in-the-uk)
I’ve often found that the true measure of a service provider is when something goes awry. We had such a thing happen for us during the trip and Jonathan and his staff were very much front and center in helping us resolve it.
Highly recommended and would absolutely utilize the service in the future.
Great enthusiasm and easy team to work with. Picked out some great hotels and places to see. Top-notch experience.
Our family had a great time on our recent trip to London with the help of Jonathan Epstein. He picked the perfect hotel and had great suggestions about activities and dining. We would definitely work with him again.
If you are looking for help in planning your trip to England, Scotland and Ireland, stop what you are doing and contact Jonathan Epstein immediately! Jonathan and his entire team at Celebrated Experiences are THE experts. My husband and I just returned from a glorious 10 day trip to the English countryside – Wales, The Cotswolds, and The Lake District. Our hotels were out of this world — literally — we felt like we were on an episode of Downton Abbey. The planning, start to finish, was so easy and so fun. Jonathan is lovely — so knowledgeable and actually LISTENS to what you are saying — amazing! He even went out of his way to make sure that each hotel knew about my dietary restrictions as well as my husband’s birthday. We have already started planning our next trip and wouldn’t consider asking anyone else to help us other than Jonathan and his team at Celebrated. Best trip planners we have EVER used. Also? We got to stay at Cliveden. Google it. And then ask Jonathan to help you plan your stay there. :-)
I reached out to Jonathan and he planned a fantastic trip for us to Scotland, London and Wimbledon. From the outset, Jonathan assured me that all of our needs would be met. He was attentive to our needs, and was extremely communicative throughout the planning process. We just returned, and every single thing that he promised came through without any glitches or complications. Every guide he arranged for us was outstanding! Every day my wife and I would say that the next guide could not top the previous one and it seems like it got better every day. Every single prearranged private ride was on time. My tickets to Wimbledon were waiting for us without incident and we ended up having some of the best seats on Centre Court. The hotels were first-class and he arranged for us to have special amenities at every stop.
I have used over a dozen of Wendy’s special travel advisors, and I can honestly say that Jonathan is one of the most thorough travel experts that I have ever dealt with. I would use him again without hesitation and I would recommend him to any traveler who wants first-class, high-end service. He has a great team that supports his office and travelers’ needs as well. This is a first-rate company and Jonathan clearly sets the tone. I have been to Africa, the Middle East, Europe and all over the world, and I cannot remember a time when I have taken a vacation where every single detail was exactly as expected, and in most instances exceeded expectations.
I will forever be appreciative to Jonathan and Celebrated Experiences for making the memories of this trip ones we will cherish forever.
We have recently returned from a last-minute trip to Scotland. Realizing that bookings are tight at this time of year, we decided to contact Jonathan Epstein. Although he warned us that it might be difficult to arrange, he rejigged our planned itinerary in order to fit the available hotels (I needed accessibility) in June with 10 days’ notice. He was also able to book a round of golf at Gleneagles’ Queen’s course for my husband, and also told us how to go about getting a last-minute round in at St. Andrew’s, which actually worked!
My husband was thrilled. We had a great ten days on the road, bookended by a couple of days in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We were so well taken care of by Jonathan and his team-couldn’t have done it without him.
When planning our recent trip to Ireland for my family of six, I wanted to make sure that every minute and every dollar were well-spent. The hotels and itinerary had to meet a variety of expectations and preferences, from relaxing in a pub to exploring ancient ruins. I would not have been able to create such a wonderful experience without the expertise of Jonathan Epstein at Celebrated Experiences.
We had an exceptional seven-night trip in June 2015 to some to the best locations in Ireland, including Galway, Killarney, and Dublin. Jonathan helped me plan a reasonable driving itinerary, with specific must-see stops along the way. We ended each night in a great hotel and used Jonathan’s advice to plan for the following day. Planning this trip with a travel expert reassured me that I was making the best choices for my family and ensured that we all had a memorable trip.
We were both fortunate enough to have ten days in England on our way home from India and to have found Jonathan Epstein through this site. During our first conversation, Jonathan asked a lot of questions about our travel goals and experiences. He came back with thoughtful suggestions (from dinner at Great Fosters between flights from Chicago to Delhi) to manor house hotels in Devon and the Cotswalds that were very special and perfect for what we were looking for on our reentry to the West. The materials provided by Celebrated Experiences were great in helping us prioritize sites and day trips. The rooms, service and overall interaction with hotel staffs were special. We were celebrating our anniversary and people could not have been nicer.
Johnathan and his team provided a true value added experience and we would strongly and most highly recommend them.
I travelled with my 19-year-old son and we had a wonderful time. The hotels were excellent, and the driver/guide was wonderful. I would use Jonathan again.
My husband and I spent the first week of September 2014 in Scotland—a first for us. Thanks to Celebrated Experiences, we had a fantastic time! Jonathan spoke with my husband and me several times to get a feel for what we might like to do prior to planning our itinerary. He and Patricia patiently answered dozens of questions for me prior to the trip. We spent time in Loch Lomond (Cameron House), Inverness (Culloden House), and Edinburgh (G&V). The hotels were beyond my expectations—I was sad to leave each one! Through Celebrated, we had a fabulous guide (John McElwee). He had great suggestions about what to see and where to eat, and he was genuinely fun to be around. We will definitely use the same guide—and Celebrated Experiences—for our next trip to Scotland.