PANDEMIC TRAVEL Melissa and Mindi moved quickly to plan a fabulous Southwest trip within seven days of my first email to them. Our ten day trip (March 19, 2021 – March 29, 2021) took us to four National Parks (Arches, Capitol Reef, Zion & Grand Canyon), Esclanante (National Monument) and Sedona, AZ.
Guides: Melissa did a great job of securing day trips with guides in all of our stops. We have two kids, ages 16 and 13, and found that going with a guide makes the trip much more efficient and enjoyable for all! We particularly enjoyed the guides in Capitol Reef (Shawn/Fremont River Guides), Escalante (Sage/Earth-Tours), Zion (Tonya/Zion Guru) and Grand Canyon (Donnie/All Star Tours). The guides know which trails are less crowded than others, where to spot wildlife, etc.
Accommodations: Melissa was spot-on with the Hoodoo Moab Hilton, Cliffrose Lodge (also Hilton) and El Tovar. Hoodoo and Cliffrose locations could not be beat, as they are located within a 5-8 minute drive to Arches and Zion. In addition, these hotels are within walking distance to restaurants, coffee shops, etc. As for El Tovar, the history and grandeur of this hotel took our breath away. Even though we could only stay for one night, it was well worth the detour from Zion on our way to our final stop, Sedona. In addition, the time spent in the Grand Canyon was short, but undoubtedly some of the best time spent on our trip. (Who would have ever guessed we would not be able to see the canyon due to a blizzard in March!!)
Overall, despite our concerns about anticipated COVID restrictions, Melissa and Mindi organized a trip that allowed us to enjoy the national parks/monuments without COVID limitations.
When we returned home, I noticed a double charge on my credit card for a hotel and immediately reached out to Mindi. Within 30 minutes, she contacted the hotel and the charges were reversed. I was impressed with how quickly I saw the credit appear on my statement!
I would recommend Melissa and Mindi for future Southwestern USA travelers. Thanks again for a wonderful trip,
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My family and I were so lucky to have had the opportunity to have worked with Melissa, Mindy and their team on our last minute vacation to Arizona. They could not have been more thoughtful and professional in organizing all aspects of the trip, during a really challenging time.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Melissa and her colleague Mindy put together (in just a couple of weeks) an amazing trip for my husband and I! Like many others, we were supposed to be somewhere else (Zimbabwe for us) but were unable to go secondary to covid. Instead we opted to stay in the country and visit the southwest. We were NOT disappointed. We flew into Phoenix and out of Salt Lake City, but rented a car and drove between.
Our trip was filled with incredible, fun, and active ventures. We started things on the relaxing side with golf for my husband (which he did again later in the trip), a massage for me, and a bit of pool time. We then moved on to a lot of very active experiences until the end when we relaxed again. We went mountain biking twice and white water rafting. We went on a hot air balloon flight. We hiked in many gorgeous locales. We did a cooking class (the food was out of this world), a sunset tour in the desert, a UTV tour, a stargazing experience, and jeep tours. We had some time to explore on our own as well. Our two favorite experiences were exploring the very narrow slot canyons in Escalante with a guide that took us off the tourist grid (we didn’t see anyone else!) and a WOW Moment of canyoneering near Zion. No doubt we are slight adrenaline junkies, but this trip really fulfilled our desires!
We had booked a half-day of canyoneering, but the WOW Moment surprise turned it into a full day of elevated canyoneering with a special picnic along the way. And we had a photographer with us to take pictures of us all day! I am elated that we had more time to go further into the canyon and do more repels and obstacles. There was even one small section that got me out of my comfort zone and that is usually what I’m looking for! I know that type of thing is not for everyone, but that’s where it’s up to an intuitive and knowledgeable travel agent to find those things that make the trip really shine. I definitely feel like our travel agent “got us” in planning this trip. Our guides were all amazing too. They were personable, knowledgeable and good at what they do. My husband and I are both fit individuals and our guides were able to tailor our activities to our physical abilities, allowing us to get the most out of each day. I know the guides also had a heads up on expectations even before we met them, thanks to our travel agent! We ended our trip with some much needed, relaxing spa time in a gorgeous mountain resort.
Our hotels were all perfectly chosen for us. We ate like kings and queens. We even had some amazing meals in some very small towns. Melissa & Mindy made us feel very special throughout, leaving treats and champagne at hotels for us, as well as during excursions or sunsets. We truly were blown away by the beauty we have here in our own country! We felt safe throughout the trip. Nearly all our excursions were outside. We also ate outside for the majority of our meals. We wore masks anytime we weren’t outside and distanced and others did too
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had such an amazing trip! Melissa was wonderful to work with during the planning stages. She really listened to what I was hoping to get from this trip and did all she could to accommodate that. We made several changes in the initial planning. I wanted to see wildlife in the Lamar Valley so we switched the location of our accommodation the night before entering Yellowstone so we would enter through the northeast entrance which is the closest to the Lamar Valley. And we lucked out! We saw several wolves, foxes, bison, and a bear! We wanted to go paragliding, which Melissa did not book for us, but she adjusted the schedule so we had a morning available to do it. We down graded a few nights of accommodation to save a bit of money as well. Then, just as I was about to book the trip (which was somewhat last minute given the covid-19 situation), my sister and her 2 girls decided to join us on the trip. This required some more manipulation of accommodation and switching a few activities around. Melissa took this all in stride with grace and had the new itinerary to us in no time! I was very impressed!
On to the execution of the trip… very well done indeed! We had a nice mix of independent time and guided activities. On arrival in South Dakota, it was arranged for our guide to meet us at an unusual location to make it more convenient for us given where we had just driven from. We had one hiccup on checking into the hotel in Rapid City but Melissa was available via phone and took care of it immediately.
Our time in Yellowstone, Tetons, and Jackson Hole went very smoothly. We did so many activities (learning about the geothermal features, wild life viewing, white water rafting, horse back riding, rock climbing, fly fishing, paragliding, etc.)! We brought our bikes with us and were able to tootle around at Under Canvas in Yellowstone as well as on all the pathways out of Teton Village. We loved our stay at Under Canvas, especially the kids, and really loved being all in one suite in Teton Village.
We are so grateful that we were able to see and experience an incredible part of our country during a very difficult time and feel safe while doing it! Thank you Melissa!
I contacted Melissa Ladvala for a trip to Yellowstone NP in January 2020. This was an unexpected opening in my schedule and the travel dates were less than 4 weeks away.
I mentioned a few of the activities we would be interested in trying.
She put together a great 5 day itinerary in 24-48 hours. Her advice regarding snowmobiling was correct (do the trip to Old Faithful). The mix of scheduled activities and unscheduled time was just right. She sent detailed instructions regarding each daily activity, packing list, tips for guides, and restaurants. Each company providing an activity (dog sledding, snow mobile, wild life viewing, docent at National Museum of Wildlife Art ) was excellent. Surprise Free Lunch at the Museum!
The accommodations were spacious. I did airfare separately into Jackson, WY
Trying to complete this plan in a short time would not be possible on your own. Trying to sort through each company that provides an activity (for instance snow mobile) requires insider information.
Thanks Melissa for a memorable experience
What a wonderful trip! And we could not have done it without the help of Mindi and Melissa! We traveled through North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho & Montana. With 6 hotels involved in the itinerary, organizing this trip was no small feat. There was one issue with a hotel not understanding our payment, but I called Mindi and she handled it practically instantaneously. The guides that she found for us in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, South Dakota, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton were all fantastic and we were thrilled with all of our accommodations as well as the outings we did. The level of detail provided in our printed itinerary was terrific. We especially appreciated the google map links to each of our destinations. We would totally recommend using this planner if you are planning a trip to the National Parks. We hope to do a future trip soon! Sincerely, Nicole Trella
Mark and Melissa listened to our requests and gave us exactly what we wanted in the trip.
Mindy solved 2 lodging issues superbly: one where the Page, AZ Marriott mistakenly cancelled our reservation (clerical error she rectified) and two, when a room was not ready for guests (she got another place near Zion).
The value add: planning, quality/unique activities, impeccable guides, great lodging & time.