My husband and I just returned from a trip to Dubai to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We booked the trip with Justin Parkinson and would absolutely recommend him. It was a perfect week with a combination of tours and beach days at our fabulous hotel. We had the same guide and driver for our tours of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and they were terrific. Our guide continued to check in on us via WhatsApp for the rest of our week in Dubai. We had another amazing guide/driver for our Desert Safari Excursion, which was super fun. We went on our last night, and it was a fantastic way to end our trip. Justin was always available for all of my questions and concerns regarding the trip, and I hope to use him again for a trip to the Maldives someday in the future.
We had a wonderful time during our trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi that was planned by Justin. The trip was very professionally arranged, from picking us up at the airport to all activities and transportation. We stayed at Jumeirah Beach hotel, which has beautiful views of the ocean and you can see the Burj Al Arab from it as well. Over the next few days we had our personal guide, who gave us a comprehensive tour of Dubai. We learnt about the city’s Bedouin heritage, bold architecture, Emirati culture, politics/sheiks. We got to see all the major attractions, the gold souk, Atlantis, and of course the Burj Khalifa. The guide had our tickets ready for us, which was nice. It took us 60 seconds in the lift to get to the top of the world’s tallest building. The views from there were spectacular. Once you exit the Burj Khalifa you end up in Dubai Mall (one of the world’s largest shopping malls), so we ended up walking around the mall and ate at the food court. Our kids had to try the McArabia from McDonald’s, which they thought was pretty good.
After a few days in Dubai we went to the desert. The highlight of our trip was the desert/Qasr Al Sarab Resort. It was a magical place, absolutely breathtaking. The desert sand is so soft, fine and has multicolored hues of khaki and orange. We all enjoyed rolling around in the sand dunes, and seeing the magical sunsets. Getting from Dubai to Qasr Al Sarab was flawlessly planned. We had our own private driver who was flexible in case we needed to make stops, as we were traveling with two kids (ages 6 & 7). Arriving there felt like arriving at a Arabian palace, the kind you see in Aladdin. They greeted us with some dates and a yogurt drink which was cooling in the hot weather. The breakfast was amazing, a lavish buffet having a mix of local delights. We enjoyed the dates, local jams, omelettes, and fresh juices. All the excursions were prefectly organized. We went on a camel trek, which was a great experience and felt like something out of a movie. In the evenings we got a chance to have some fine Arabic cuisine set in a beautiful ambiance amidst the desert lit up by lanterns, fire pits and the stars above. Certainly a dream. We dined amidst the desert dunes, a Bedouin set-up of plush carpets and cushions serving lamb, cherry rice, variety of dips/hummus, and breads. Another highlight of our trip was dune bashing. My oldest son loved it and said he would do it again, while my youngest said it was terrible. I would say it was exhilarating, however not for everyone. I would recommend not eating an hour before doing it.
Our next stop was Abu Dhabi. It was a quick two-hour drive from the desert. We only spent a day in Abu Dhabi, and then went back to Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s highlight was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. We were greeted by our tour guide, who was well prepared. She had an extra head scarf for my wife, as the dress code is very strictly enforced. She was a wealth of information and was able to get us into the mosque the most efficient way. The architecture and design of the mosque is something quite special. It has intricate designs of flowers and geometric designs carved on the walls and exquisite carpets and chandeliers inside. After the mosque our guide gave us a tour of Abu Dhabi. We requested to go to some local markets, as we needed to get some souvenirs. She took us to a quaint market where they had camel key chains, local embroidered pillowcases, Aladdin lamps which my kids loved. Overall we really enjoyed our visit to the UAE. The tour guides, hotels, and recommended sightseeing spots were on point and made everything super-easy and stress-free.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Great trip! Perfectly executed. Driver and guide were great, and were flexible which was important to us. The first hotel, which was recommended, was beyond expectations! The Al Maya was also a great choice and we loved it.
I highly recommend Justin!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We usually plan our own trips but wanted something special for this one and felt that we needed help sorting through all the many Maldives resorts and the constantly changing COVID policies.
Wendy recommended Justin Parkinson and, though we had a bit of a rough patch in the planning process (you should definitely follow Wendy’s advice to have a long call with the agent!), it was quickly solved and we were put at ease by Justin’s knowledge, recommendations, and flexibility to adapt the tours to our needs and pet peeves.
The trip itself was amazing, and something that we could not have created on our own.
In Dubai, everything ran smoothly and on time, from the PCR nurse to the private tour guides, who were top-notch (most especially Lourdes, who deserves seven stars!!), allowing us to make the best of the short time we were spending there; the recommended restaurant was a success and, thanks to Lourdes’ tips, our short Expo visit on our own was fun and fruitful.
And for the Maldives… what a paradise! The resort Justin recommended (one that was not on our radar and probably wouldn’t have been without him) was absolutely perfect for us and our family’s needs, covering all our requirements and beyond. Unforgettable!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Justin was fantastic! I am a type-A planner and have a hard time letting go (even when I know I need assistance from an expert) and he was wonderful at fielding my questions, providing quick responses and helping us navigate all of the wonderful options presented. Based on our interests, he recommended we split our time between two hotels and it was absolutely the right call. He also helped us navigate the changing covid restrictions/rules and logistics. I would highly recommend Justin for anyone planning a trip to the Maldives in the future!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Justin was fantastic! We planned the trip to the Maldives to split time between two resorts- half was at St Regis on points so Justin didn’t play a specific role there. However- he was excellent at helping us narrow down choices for the other resort & when there was Covid at the one we chose, he was very proactive at getting us into another resort (if there has been Covid you can’t switch from one resort to another in the Maldives). I can’t imagine dealing with the nightmare of finding a new place 8 days before arrival without someone to work through the logistics. He was quite right in discouraging two seaplane distance resorts given our short time (8 days) in the country and the unscheduled nature of seaplanes in the Maldives- it would have taken a day away from enjoying a day! His recommendations for restaurants to prioritize at both resorts was spot on and he was very helpful with plans for scuba, advising on better house reefs etc. While Justin didn’t make the St Regis reservation, he was very willing to help with recommendations for the resort and I’m quite certain would have stepped in to help had any issues arisen. He dealt with us personally throughout the planning process.
Our WOW Moment was such fun! We and the dive master and two naturalists headed out and we had a fantastic dive. Then we headed across the atoll to use a drone to try to find whale sharks and manta rays. While none were to be found it was still a blast to watch the naturalists use the drone to hunt for them!
We have nothing but praise for Justin, who put together a great trip!
We never could have done this trip on our own. Justin’s guides in both Abu Dhabi and Oman provided an excellent overview of the region’s past and present, and we saw way more of each country than did independent travelers we met along the way. Even more important, we had complete confidence that the ground operators would ensure our safety if the conflict between the U.S. and Iran (we arrived in Abu Dhabi two days before a drone strike killed Soleimani) spiraled out of control. Not surprising that George W. Bush used them to set up his trip to Oman back in October.
Lindsey and Justin helped us to book the perfect Maldives resort for us. We wanted an adults only resort, with excellent off the beach snorkeling, good food and nice over water villas at a resort that was accessible by speed boat. Lindsey suggested Huvafen Fushi and it met our needs exactly! We loved it! Justin worked with the management team and we received a beautiful over water villa in a great location, an early check-in, a late check-out, a lovely bottle of champagne on arrival and a delightful sunset cruise. The staff were wonderful and everything at the resort was done in a first class manner. The snorkeling was amazing and it was easy to get in and out from shore. The underwater spa was very unique and well done! The main infinity pool area was amazing, as was the private plunge pool at our villa. Lindsey was able to obtain a very well priced package for the quality of the resort. All in all, we really enjoyed our stay and would recommend Huvafen Fushi and Lindsey’s team for any trip to the Maldives!
Justin’s colleague Lindsey planned an amazing holiday for myself and my husband in Sri Lanka. He arranged a private driver/guide who was very professional and knowledgeable. We felt safe and secure at all times. The hotels Lindsey chose for us were top notch. The Residence by Uga in Colombo and Ulagalla by Uga in Anuradhapura were truly special. In hindsight, we would have gone to Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, but not both and skipped Kandy altogether. The safari in Yala was a highlight and we should have spent more time at the beach. Our flight from Kandy to Yala was canceled and resulted in a very long, 8 hour car ride. The local travel agency who handled the cancelation was very accommodating and coordinated the drive to Yala without incident. Communication was excellent.
This was a bucket list item for my girlfriend. She’s always wanted to go to Dubai. So for her 50th Birthday I wanted to make it happen. My only thought was that we had to experience the Burj Al Arab as it’s an icon of Dubai.
Justin and Lindsey made sure that this was more than a vacation. This trip was an experience that we will never forget. They provided us a sampling of what both Abu Dhabi and Dubai had to offer. Their first hand expertise was what made us comfortable with their suggestions throughout the process of planning.
They took care of both large details as well as some small items that a regular travel agent would have missed. Small touches such as birthday cards and balloons at each of the destinations for which we stayed, 3 destinations to be exact. The appropriate transportation to the different destinations and tours of the cities to get a chance to experience the culture of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
As always there’s going to be some unplanned situation for that will arise which was handled professionally and without undue stress.
I can’t begin to tell you how much we enjoyed our experience and plan on using their services for any and all vacations that we will take in the future.
Make sure to be open to things you haven’t thought of as part of your experience. I intentionally use the word experience because it’s more than just a vacation. It’s an experience that you won’t forget.
Maldives has been on my bucket list for years. I was flying to Singapore for 2 weeks and was thinking of somewhere to go from there for a week of sun/beach/relaxation. Bingo, Maldives only a 4-4.5 hr. flight from Singapore. Had to do it!
I do 99.9% of my travel without use of a travel planner but thought to get this trip “right”, I’d ask for help from the experts. Wendy Perrin came to mind and saw the WOW list as the way to go.
My trip request was given to Lindsey Wallace, with all my communication with Justin Parkinson, from Lindsey’s team.
Justin was great. Given my travel wishlist, he provided several resort options. He was very responsive to my emails with answers to all my questions and concerns. Note we communicated only via email for no reason but convenience, and it worked for me. Once I chose a resort, Kandima, Justin kept me on course with a timeline for confirmations and payments. He definitely took the hassle and worry of planning such a vacation out of the equation. It was wonderful. Again, he couldn’t have been more responsive to my questions about flights, currency, tipping, dress code.
Kandima was a great choice. Accommodations, staff, food, location were perfect. I was travelling solo as I usually do, no issues encountered.
I opted to arrive in Male a day prior to my resort stay. This piece of my adventure was done on my own so as not to feel rushed. Glad I did it.
Justin’s colleague Lindsey put together a trip of a lifetime and found the ideal resort in The Maldives that met all of our needs and budget. He was able to adapt to some last minute changes and responded quickly to all of our inquiries. We stayed at Huvafen Fushi and found it to be the perfect resort for us in the Maldives.
The only problem was with our “half day” Dubai tour. One of the stops was a hard sell for oriental rugs. As a private tour, it was just my husband and myself to decline a pretty aggressive two man team of salesmen. I kept thinking that surely our tour guide would rescue us from the situation, but she did not. I would suggest asking people if they are interested in going to these “shops” rather than just including them in the tour. There were sights we would have enjoyed much more than being led into the lair of rug dealers!
Response from Wendy:
Lindsey was very surprised to learn that Julia and her husband ended up in a carpet store, and he says he has taken corrective action to ensure that, in future, his guides communicate very clearly with guests regarding whether they want to experience a carpet shop and, if so, when they want to leave. Many guides who take travelers to shops (usually at the travelers’ request) will fear getting into trouble by pulling a traveler out of the store before the traveler has finished.
I wish Julia had expressed her disinterest and discomfort to the guide. As I advised in an email to Julia two weeks before the trip, it’s smart to sit down with your guide for five minutes at the start of your time together to discuss your planned agenda and convey your priorities, goals, likes, and dislikes.
While many carpet merchants in the world do a hard sell, sometimes such visits are fun and culturally interesting, and many travelers have them on their To Do List. As an example, my family asked to visit a carpet store when we were in Morocco, and it was a trip highlight that made my article Wendy’s Best Travel Moments of 2017 (scroll down to photos #25 and 26): The merchant and his team put on a very entertaining show that my kids still talk about.
It’s important for guides to read travelers’ signals, of course, but it’s also important for travelers to have no hesitation in expressing their wishes straightforwardly to guides, especially in foreign cultures.
This is the second trip I have had Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace plan for me (The first was to Dubai and The Maldives 5 years ago). He is FABULOUS! This trip was to Dubai and Seychelles with my husband and another couple to celebrate each of our 25th wedding anniversaries. His communication was great the entire time. Since this was our second trip using him, we had an idea of what we wanted. He was able to come up with interesting excursions and suggestions for everything we requested. If we asked, he delivered. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Lindsey Wallace!
The hotel/resort Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace picked for us in Seychelles was in the right price range and turned out to be spectacular. After looking around at other places I’m convinced we were put in the best possible location for a first-time visit there. As for planning out our activities once we were there, we were able to work with the local travel agent (who was introduced to us at pickup from the airport), and when the agent couldn’t do what we were looking for, she was able to put us in touch with another agent who delivered. Because of that last wrinkle, we ended up having to get Seychelles Rupees (which we had not anticipated because Lindsey had assumed we would work either through the hotel or the local travel agent who both took credit cards), but it was easy enough to get.
Lindsey Wallace and Alan on his team were very well informed about the resorts in the Maldives and helped us suggest the best one after considering our preferences. They helped in choosing the best villa in the resort along with the best meal plans. They worked with the resort management to reserve the best villa for us, which enabled us to stay in the villa of our choice. Since we had made the booking through Lindsey, we were even given a late check-out so that we did not have to spend a long time at the Airport. Definitely would go with Lindsey and Alan the next time we are planning our trip in the region of their expertise. All great experience, very professional and on top of all details!
My wife and I stopped off in Dubai for a few days on our way home from a safari in Kenya and we had no idea what to expect. Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace took our suggestions and put them into action.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi blew my mind. In forty years the two cities have grown from absolutely nothing into major metropolises. Lindsey placed us in a great hotel, understand that you have to get half board or else spend hundreds of dollars extra for meals (the Jumeira hotels gave us more than enough choices for meals) and set us up with a wonderful guide. Given how well the cities run I suspect all guides are terrific.
My only disappointment was the desert safari dune bashing. It was very touristy and probably more appropriate if we had young children. The dance performances at dinner were good but the overall experience did not seem genuine.
This has been the 10th trip my wife and I have been on, using Wendy Perrin recommended experts and it was SUPERB. We went to the United Arab Emirates and Oman in early-mid Dec 2017. It was a relatively last-minute decision and Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace did a masterful job quickly putting together a perfect itinerary. Hotels, transfers, guides, restaurants etc were all pre-planned by him. We questioned a few suggestions but we allowed him to make the final choices and we were not disappointed with anything. He alternated stays at magnificent resorts (beach, desert, and mountaintop) with city touring (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat). Each person we interacted with and every hotel and resort was superb. We have nothing but the highest praise for him and recommend him and his services without reservation!
Justin’s colleague Lindsey was a pleasure to work with and knows all the resorts in the Maldives very well. We told him that we were flying to the Maldives from a jam-packed two weeks in SE Asia and wanted a small intimate resort where we could relax for 10 days.
I wanted an OW villa with a plunge pool/spa for my experience and my husband wanted a small sailboat, scuba and snorkeling for his experience and Lindsey delivered.
We reviewed about three resorts with Lindsey and COMO checked all the boxes for us. The planning and execution of this trip was very good and once we landed in Male, the COMO team whisked us to the Sea Plane for the 1 hour trip to COMO.
TIP: One piece of advice if taking seaplane– not air conditioned and the fans did not work on the way back to Male, so it can be very hot. Lindsey warned us about this before the trip. On the way out we took cold small cans of coke to put on our necks from the beautiful COMO lounge in Male. We asked COMO for cold hand towels and that solved the problem before we got on the plane on the way back to Male.
Lindsey had arranged dinner at their sister resort which was a great idea, but rough weather prevented us from going to Cocoa Island and instead, we went straight back to Male. I would recommend going to Cocoa/ or another resort that can take you back by speedboat if staying at COMO since the Male airport is not somewhere you want to be for many hours. COMO was kind enough to keep their lounge open for us and another couple, but try to avoid going back to Male airport for a long layover of time before your international flight
We plan to combine another Asia/Maldives trip with Lindsey. Thank you, Lindsey!
Traveled to the Maldives in December 2017
Wendy, you were RIGHT on ALL accounts. Thank you so much for your suggestion to stay at the Address Boulevard and what we would have time to do during our short 20-hour layover in Dubai. Justin’s colleagues Lindsey and Alan booked our stay at the Address Boulevard—in a room with a balcony with a view of the Burj Khalifa and overlooking the pool—and made us a reservation at the Burj Khalifa for a window table at sunset/twilight. The hotel was great … location was perfect for the 20 hours we had and was perfect for our taste sensibility. And the service was excellent. The staff could not do enough! Went to the Dubai Mall, which I, in particular, got a kick out of since I do research for a hedge fund covering the retail sector so am in malls all over the US. It is big! After our sunset drinks at the Burj Khalifa, we went over to the Mall of the Emirates and I actually went skiing. So much fun!!! Next time we come through, we’ll be sure to stay longer. Once again, thanks. We would use Lindsey and his team in a heartbeat when we’re ready to book any further stay to that area of the world.
Planning was smooth with Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace. The trip went well and we were happy with his restaurant recommendations in Dubai. The guide was good, the driver was really nice and polite, clean car, and made the trip hassle free.
We enjoyed the trip overall.
Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace is extremely knowledgeable on the Maldives, which is very helpful given how difficult it was for me to find any credible / reliable information on my own from the U.S. He also has very competitive prices vs. what I could find online. He can be difficult to reach / slow to respond but I don’t think I could have booked this trip without his help.
We are a family of 4 with 2 pre teen boys that travel out of the USA about 3-4 times a year. Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace was the first agent we have ever worked with that we felt heard what we wanted out of a trip and made it happen. Not a single email felt prewritten or part of a form letter. The accommodations were over the top and the service was stellar. Lindsey arranged for us to charter a private Dhoni which we loved and then we followed up at a resort. The combination of the 2 experiences made for a great trip to fully experience the Maldives. Lindsey’s connections in the area allowed us to stay in accommodations of a better class than what we would have been able to secure ourselves and the staff at the resort could not have been more welcoming knowing we were guests of Lindsey’s. We cannot wait to come back!
My husband and I traveled October 29, 2015, from Indianapolis to Praslin and Mahe in The Seychelles with a 3-night stopover in Abu Dhabi on the way and a 1-night stopover after our ten nights there. I believe that our room at the Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi and our bungalows at Raflles on Praslin and at The Four Seasons on Mahe were much better because Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace reserved them for us than if we had done this independently. The trip was my husband’s birthday gift, and we received champagne and a wonderful chocolate birthday cake at The Four Seasons only because Lindsey arranged for them. He arranged for two full-day tours while we were in Abu Dhabi, one in the city and one to Al Ain. Both were marvelous with an excellent guide; he was very quick to figure out what interested us and what did not. We were met at the Mahe airport by a representative of 7 Degrees South, and she was able to get us on an earlier flight to Praslin than we expected. We had two good tours provided through 7 Degrees South for which Lindsey arranged while we stayed on Praslin and another excellent tour while were on Mahe. My advice for a traveler who wishes to go to the United Arab Emirates and/or to The Seychelles is to begin planning early and to be certain to get a confirmed itinerary at least two weeks before the trip begins.
Justin’s colleague Lindsey arranged our trip to the Maldives following our stay in the UAE. He gave us a good description of all of the alternatives and used his experience and abilities to find us the best possible price as well. Everything went very smoothly. Also, his website has excellent descriptions of many resorts in the Maldives.
We used Justin’s colleague Lindsey Wallace to book our honeymoon. The trip was excellent. While I was referred to Lindsey because of his knowledge regarding the Maldives, he set up a fantastic stay in Dubai and Sri Lanka. I would definitely recommend combining a visit to the Maldives with a visit to another country in the region of the world. Highly recommended!