PANDEMIC TRAVEL An un-BELIZE-able family vacation
Choosing to travel internationally as a family during the pandemic was not an easy decision, but after hearing Rachael Wilson discuss the health and safety measures she was taking during one of Wendy Perrin’s Zoom sessions, we decided to explore the possibility further.
The attraction to us was being socially distanced by miles versus feet. The yacht would serve as our accommodation, dining venue and entertainment for our 10-day vacation.
Another reassuring factor is that the country of Belize requires a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours to enter. American Airlines offers PCR Covid testing through a partnership with Let’s Get Checked. Passengers booked on AA flights are “guaranteed” results within 72 hours. We were pleased with the Let’s Get Checked process and liked that they require you to take the sample while on a video chat with a health care professional.
Traveling during the pandemic does take additional planning. There were no last-minute trips to the store to pick up items as we self-quarantined for 2 weeks prior to our trip. In addition to the Let’s Get Checked test, we took several local PCR Covid tests in the weeks prior to our travels. To minimize transportation exposure, we drove ourselves to the airport and parked in the short-term parking lot. My husband parked the car and walked across the street to enter the airport – well worth the additional cost. We chose flight times early in the morning and late in the evening to avoid the crowds at the airport. Wendy’s seat selection recommendations were greatly appreciated. In our opinion, American Airlines did a wonderful job ensuring everyone was wearing their face mask properly.
If for some reason we would have been unable to travel, we had the option to reschedule the vacation within a year. A very generous offer that put our minds at ease when booking. Rachael and Patricia were very prompt in replying to our e-mails and providing additional information. They even tracked down poker chips at the last minute to add to our yacht – remember, I couldn’t go to the store.
Joining us in our yacht bubble, were 2 wonderful crew members, Eric, the captain and Andrea 1st mate/chef. Whether it was playing silly reindeer games on a rainy Christmas day, spending extra time fishing for the prize catch or cooking up the prized catch, their dedication and attention really made the trip special. They covertly decorated the yacht for our 25th wedding anniversary while we were out kayaking. Andrea even found time to stealthy make a cake from scratch.
We are a SCUBA diving family and diving in Belize has been on our wish list for a while. Rachael and Patricia worked closely with us to arrange private dives and diving equipment that we could procure at the beginning of the trip and keep for the duration. The Amigos Del Mar dive shop in San Pedro were top notch!! We had 7 wonderful SCUBA dives with Carlos and Alex. Having private SCUBA diving excursions limited our exposure to others and ensured we were typically the only boat at the location. Also, it afforded us the opportunity to feel comfortable taking our 12-year-old son to the Great Blue Hole! An amazing experience and bucket list worthy location that not many young divers can say they have accomplished. The juvenile nurse sharks were quite playful and joined us on several of our dives. They showed us around their swim throughs ensuring we all stayed together. In our many years of SCUBA diving, we have never had the wildlife engage with us so much – I think they were feeling neglected with the lack of tourists.
In addition to SCUBA diving, we enjoyed the yacht activities of paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, exploring deserted islands, spotting the rare red-footed boobie bird, star gazing and quality family time. My 12-year-old and I had an engaging conversation for 2 hours one evening while we gazed at the galaxies – a moment in time that I will treasure.
We will be talking about this vacation for years to come! Thank you to Rachael and Patricia for helping us feel safe while traveling during the Covid pandemic and making family memories that we will forever cherish.
Patricia Johnson and Rachael Wilson are both knowledgeable travel specialists, they provided invaluable assistance in planning every aspect of our trip from drivers, to excursions, perfect lodging at Chaa Creek and a pimped out Villa at Matachica. With only a week for our family vacation, we were trying to insure we maximized our time between the jungle/mountains of Belize to see the wildlife as well as Mayan Ruins of Tikal in Guatamala and the ATM Cave excursion. Highly recommend Chaa Creek as a fabulous eco-lodge with exceptional employees who really catered to all our needs, the food and activities were terrific as well as their our guides. Rachel and Patricia also assisted Wendy in selecting the perfect WOW Moment at Chaa Creek. Patricia even met us at the airstrip as we departed Chaa Creek for Ambergis Caye, which was so wonderful. At every point of the vacation she was responsive to each question along the way and provided terrific advice for a full day snorkeling trip on a semi-private catamaran that I would highly recommend. Matachica Resort was also perfect destination to relax and enjoy the barrier reef views, visit secret beach & truck stop via golf cart and snorkel. The staff and food were also very good and highly recommend. Patricia and Rachel helped make this a once in a lifetime family trip. Highly Recommend!
We recently worked with Patricia Johnson and Rachael Wilson. They both did an excellent job. We wanted to have a trip that included sailing and some time at a beach resort. They were able to find the perfect itinerary, sailing vessel, and crew. I would not hesitate to use Patricia Johnson and Rachael Wilson again.
Here are a couple specific examples of the service we received from Patricia Johnson and Rachael Wilson:
– While we were on our vacation, the coronavirus/COVID-19 dramatically struck the United States. Patricia Johnson emailed me during our vacation to check on the status of the resort where we were staying, and to help alleviate any concerns about our trip back to the United States. This level of service – and individual attention to clients who were in Belize during a global pandemic – was very welcome and helpful.
– One member of our travel group has mobility issues, and we were concerned about boarding the sailboat. Patricia and Rachael were very knowledgeable about the vessels, and they were able to specifically explain features on the sailboats to help access. We were very thankful for their knowledge of Belize and knowledge of the charter vessel we reserved.
Overall, they did an excellent job.
This is our first trip to Belize. Patricia did an amazing job planning our catamaran/beach trip.
Patricia was a pleasure to work with. She was always available to answer our endlessly questions.
We went to four different islands and did two days of snorkeling on a catamaran. Captain Eric and First Mate Christy were amazing and fun to hang out with. Together, we enjoyed watching beautiful sunset, swam at a private island, grilled lobster, and snorkeled in the beautiful reef. They took good care of us. Christy is a great cook and Eric is a master at the grill. What a match!
At the end of the week, we stayed at Matachica. Everyone at the resort was amazing and attentive. They took care of our every needs.
On our last night, we had our surprise WOW Moment gifted by Wendy, arranged by Patricia, and executed by the staff at Matachica. It was an unforgettable WOW Moment (more “WOW evening”) from the sunset cruise with champagne and delicious ceviche, to the romantic candlelight dinner on the beach, everything was arranged perfectly. The food was delicious and the service was impeccable.
We were sad to leave Belize.
I highly recommend Patricia’s services and her team of safe drivers, knowledgeable boat captain, and friendly first mate/chef. We can’t wait to plan our next trip to Belize with friends.
We had a wonderful Belize experience! We spent Christmas day on a guided snorkel at Silk Cayes, which was great as he helped identify and explain many of the beautiful sea treasures along the reef. We even swam with giant turtles and nurse sharks. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Umya resort and highly recommend it, and Patricia, if you are headed to Palencia!
This trip far exceeded our expectations and was quite possibly one of our favorite trips ever. This was our annual mother-daughter trip. We spent four days in the jungle and four days at the beach. It was the perfect blend of activities and relaxation. Our guides were amazingly knowledgeable and the resorts (particularly Blancaneaux) were fabulous. All aspects provided too-notch customer care and attention, with no detail overlooked. We are already looking forward to returning to Belize and exploring more of this beautiful country with the help of Patricia and Rachael.
Our trip to Belize was extraordinary, thanks to Patricia and her team. We spent several days in the jungle (Gaia River Lodge) followed by five days at the beach at Ambergris Caye. I can say with confidence that we would not have had the same experience without their support. In addition to planning for unique needs in advance of the trip (my son runs competitively in college and needed to be able to train on vacation), she also managed unexpected complications due to heavy rains which made some of the roads near our resort impassable. She was in contact with us throughout our stay; having a local resource in Belize made a huge difference. Patricia went above and beyond, meeting us on Christmas morning during our transfer to the airport, just to check in and make sure everything was going well.
If traveling to Belize, I would highly recommend Patricia and Rachael. I can’t thank them enough for planning this amazing trip.
We had a great experience with Patricia Johnson. Patricia was wonderfully responsive, and helpful us design the perfect itinerary for our family of 5. We loved the two hotels she recommended – Chaa Creek (A+++) and Portofino. All of the recommended activities were outstanding, as were the private guides. Our teens particularly loved the snorkeling trip, the tour of the ATM Cave and the trip to Tikal. The itinerary she prepared was detailed, and all of the logistics went smoothly. Patricia left special notes and treats for us at each stop in our itinerary. She was a joy to work with and highly recommend her.
Patricia was a pleasure to work with and helped plan an awesome honeymoon trip for my son and his new bride! She made some terrific recommendations then helped us alter the itinerary several times until it was exactly what the newlyweds had in mind. Excellent service and attention to detail – would highly recommend Patricia and her team to anyone visiting Belize.
Patricia did an amazing job planning our beach/jungle trip to Belize. She listened closely to what we wanted and helped us make a perfect plan! She has an extensive knowledge of Belize, incredible patience and wants you to enjoy her country, it is all a wonderful combination! She even came to meet us at our jungle lodge bearing souvenirs, (and was as terrific in person as she was on the phone)!
Our overall favorite part of the trip was our guide Darryl, who was all Patricia’s idea. If you go to Belize and can have Darryl as your guide – do it! He is so charming, knowledgeable (like a walking history book) and helpful you wish you could have someone like him on every trip!
We also loved our beautiful accommodations and the staff who took care of us at Matachica and Chaa Creek – special mention to Amy and Jordy at Matachica and Keri and Candy at Chaa Creek.
Of course Belize has awesome activities and experiences (Mayan ruins, snorkeling, cave tubing, golf cart driving, bird watching, etc…) but I think our favorite moment was after Darryl dropped us off at Chaa Creek for our last night. We had finished cave tubing just in time to miss the heavy rain, and after he dropped us off we went to our upgraded villa which had an outdoor hot tub. So there we were on our last night in the jungle in an outdoor hot tub with cool rain falling on our heads as the prelude to our scrumptious organic dinner- it was otherworldly!
Since this was our third trip to the beautiful country of Belize, we wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary. This is where Patricia stepped in with her recommendation to charter our own luxury sailboat to visit the islands (Cayes) along the southern coast.
Each of the four remote islands, where our captain suggested that we drop anchor, were unique in their own way…from watching the sunset from a deserted island, visiting a local beach bar on Tobacco Caye, lounging by the pool before dinner on Ray Caye (thanks Patricia for arranging this with the resort), to spending the day beach combing and picnicking on our own deserted island (our favorite). We would have never seen such beauty from a resort along the coast.
Our four days of sailing on Flojo, the newest catamaran in the fleet of their sister company, was spent eating gourmet meals prepared by Karla, snorkeling in remote reefs with abundant sea life, playing board games under the stars, swimming with nurse sharks and stingrays, sunning on the net at the front of the boat, and catching fresh fish off the back to eat later for dinner. Definitely worth every penny!
After reluctantly getting off the sailboat in Placencia, we enjoyed a few nights at the lush jungle resort, Copal Tree Lodge, near Punta Gorda. We toured their extensive organic farm, kayaked down the Rio Grande River, lounged by both beautiful pools, relaxed with a world-class massage, and listened to the howler monkeys while bathing in the outdoor bathtub (yes, they are very loud).
I highly recommend Patricia’s services and her team of safe drivers, knowledgeable boat captain, and friendly first mate/chef. We can’t wait to plan our next trip to Belize with friends.
Patricia organized an unforgettable trip for me, my husband and 3 boys. A heartfelt thank you! She seamlessly organized lodging, a private guide and driver and flights. She listened to our desires and created the perfect itinerary for us. I highly recommend her!
We worked with Patricia to plan a special vacation to Belize with our adult children and a girlfriend. We could not have been more pleased with every aspect of our trip. From the planning months in advance to the trip itself, we loved literally every minute. If there is one aspect of the trip that deserves special mention it is our WOW Moment at Naia Resort in Placentia. We really didn’t know what to expect as we were escorted down the beach until we could hear the beating of the drums and see the flaming bonfire awaiting us at sunset. Richard and his family taught us about the Garifuna people and their very interesting history and culture. The many dances including the “Go Mommy” chant for my wife Julie’s birthday were so much fun. The entire resort came out to watch and dance with us. It was quite memorable and was truly a very Wow moment.
We loved both properties that Patricia booked for us. Naia on the beach and Ka’ana in San Ignacio in the jungle. A perfect trip planned to perfection. We highly recommend Patricia.
We had a wonderful trip to southern Belize. We very much enjoyed traveling along the reef in the boat and loved the snorkeling. The food was delicious! And being able to fish off the back of the boat was an unexpected bonus. And then we could eat what we caught! Without Patricia’s input, I would never thought of chartering a boat. The southern reef is about an hour’s ride from the mainland and we got to just be there! The skies cleared in time for the lunar eclipse, and the stars were spectacular. We were happy to head south out of Belize, there were very few others, it was magical!
We had some weather issues getting to Belize and my husband’s bag didn’t make it on our flight. We feared we wouldn’t be able to get it for days as we were on a boat along the reef! The second night, on Tobacco Caye, in the dark, a power boat appeared and threw his bag on board! Thanks to the TTE and the captain, it was only a minor inconvenience!
Naia resort also worked out well. The 3 bedroom house was perfect for us, and we loved having a kitchen so we could just all hang out together. The chocolate tour was very interesting.
We canceled the trip to the jaguar reserve, we were not interested in driving that day, and it was fun to cruise around Placencia – I hadn’t realized that there were so many shops and bars along the sidewalk. Patricia made the change in plans easy.
Our WOW moment was really cool. We were in a dinghy on our way to go snorkeling and there was a plastic bottle floating in the water. I asked if we were going to pick it up, and Captain Dan said no, we’re going lobster hunting! Those who wanted to, free dove with a spear and shot lobsters (it took me five tries). Then Kainie made ceviche and served it with all the fixings, and a bottle of Prosecco. It was a really great experience that I’ve been sharing with friends and family.
We are all very happy with our trip, it was a really great family vacation! And doing the boat first, and resort second was just right.
Patricia was delightful and very knowledgeable. We are a family of four, two parents and two adult children in their late 20s. We love to travel and we wanted to have a nice spot to relax by the beach along with scuba diving and snorkeling. We also wanted to visit a Mayan ruin and spend some time in the jungle. The hardest part of the trip was deciding on where to go in Belize. We looked at a lot of different places and she recommended Placencia based on our criteria of wanting to be off the crowded spots. It was perfect for us. Very laid back with wonderful beach bars featuring delicious fish tacos, conch fritters and great drinks. Los Porticos is ten mins out of town, very small and private, and has a lovely small private beach and pool. Our two-bedroom condo was well appointed and had a lovely outdoor patio overlooking the beach and ocean. We took cabs in and out of town every day and the town is basically one street and one interior sidewalk with water on both sides featuring great bars and restaurants and little shops. We loved it. We went on a three dives and my only disappointment with our location is the distance to the best diving spots. If you are really going to Belize to dive, stay close to the dive sites. We wanted to do both diving and “chilling” so Placencia worked for us, but it was over an hour by boat to get to the dive sites.
Regarding the jungle, we stayed at Gaia River Lodge, recommended by Patricia. We loved it. It’s beautifully manicured and landscaped and sits above an amazing river with waterfalls and rock pools. Just gorgeous. The staff could not be more welcoming and accommodating. The rooms are lovely and comfortable. The food was also excellent and we were there for New Year’s eve and they created a really fun party for the guests.
One note: the drive between Placencia and the jungle is just shy of four hours with the last hour being a very bumpy dirt road. Our car and driver were fine, but it was lengthy. Some of the scenery is really beautiful and we stopped and had lunch in a lovely town and restaurant. All in all, we really loved our ten days in Belize. Thank you Wendy and Patricia!!
Patricia Johnson did a great job in selecting a Belize destination that fulfilled our desire for both rainforest and water experiences, The Copal Tree Lodge in Punta Gorda. She arranged activities tailored to our interests and hobbies. She listened well and was timely in her responses to our questions. We would use her again and recommend her without reservation.
The Copal Tree Lodge was great. The food was farm-to-table delicious, and the room was spacious and comfortable. The staff was the highlight. Warmer and more helpful people we have never met at a hotel setting before.
All of the activities were excellent, the Snorkel with the Chef experience was unique in that they moved us to Wednesday due to bad weather on Monday. We found out later that this was not a day they usually do this activity so we ended up getting a private experience, which was wonderful. The cave swimming day and the Bean to Bar workshop were also well executed and remarkable.
Due to rain, the staff was very flexible in rescheduling our activities several times so we did do everything we had planned.
Rachel and Patricia stepped right up and helped us organize a last minute trip to Belize over the holidays. They were communicative, thorough, and detailed. We stayed, at Patricia’s recommendation, at the Turtle Inn which is fabulous. Seriously fabulous. I have never met nicer and more competent staff in any resort. Melvin, our naturalist guide, is encyclopedic on bugs, birds, Mayan ruins, plants, traditional herbal remedies, and any number of Belizean topics. Our only wish that would have improved the trip was to have known to bring anti-bug remedies and clothing. They are voracious and we were unprepared. But the Turtle Inn had supplies and remedies readily available. So all went well. Thanks for the wonderful experience.
Patricia did an excellent job of planning our trip to Belize. She put together a fun and adventurous itinerary with some time allowed for relaxing too. She called me just before we left to go over any last minute itinerary questions and to make sure we had all the details that we needed. She was very quick to respond during our trip to last-minute additions and questions we had while in Belize.
My husband and I took our 13-year-old granddaughter who loves the sea to Belize. Patricia planned 3 destinations for us – Hatchet Caye in the southern cayes, then Kaana Resort near San Ignacio and Turneffe Island Resort in the northern cayes. Each was a beautiful and interesting place. She also planned all the transportation within Belize which worked perfectly – small planes, vans, and boats. Patricia arranged a snorkel trip, a climb of a Mayan temple, ZIP lining and canoeing through a cave. We were met at each stop by a driver/guide all of whom were courteous, pleasant and full of information. The only glitch was that we were not told that we needed a letter of permission to take our granddaughter into a foreign country. After 30 minutes of talking with different customs agents at the airport, we were able to get a letter and ID emailed from our daughter in the states and we were able to enter Belize. It was a great trip and we would recommend Patricia Johnson.
Patricia was helpful, informative, thorough and patient while we were booking our family trip to Belize. We loved both places she had us stay (Chaa Creek, Turtle Inn), and the guides and recommended activities were excellent. She checked in with is several times during our trip and answered on the spot questions quickly! We had no logistical problems at all. We would book with her again in a heartbeat.
Patricia really came through for us when we suddenly needed to plan a trip to Belize and only had a month to do it. And it was during spring break – not an easy task! I initially thought I could book a place online myself but quickly saw most places were already booked. So we contacted Wendy Perrin in desperation who connected us with Patricia Johnson. She found a wonderful place for us in Placencia – “Chabil Mar” and we couldn’t have been happier with the resort or location. Also, she was able to reserve 3 separate tours for us with guides on very short notice. We really enjoyed our last guide, Blasio, on a Mayan ruins tour. In fact, we found out he was also an expert in birding so requested a tour with him the next day to go to yet another nature reserve. We contacted Patricia and her team was able to arrange it for us for the very next morning, with no issues. All of our tours and guides were excellent, as well as all the various transports, including airport transfers. If we go back to Belize in the future, for possibly a snorkeling trip, we would definitely use Patricia. It was a memorable trip!
My husband and I worked with Patricia to plan a trip that we were leaving on in 4 weeks. She put together a plan that we went to Tikal in Guatemala, then to Belize and stayed in the mountains. The guides to the Mayan sites were wonderful, knowledgeable, prompt, and very personable. From there we went to Ambergris Caye and went snorkeling on the reef in several places and had a day to explore the island via golf cart! So much fun! We did have a local concierge try and change our plans, saying that we couldn’t do what was planned. I contacted Patricia and she promptly straightened everything out and sent me a detailed instruction on the plan- it worked perfectly and was much better than what the local concierge wanted us to do.
She had arranged for fantastic guides who also worked with us. They were very knowledgeable, friendly, flexible with the plan, and worked with the weather.
The unplanned, but the wonderful opportunity that came up that we took hold of and did. A charity that was making a gift delivered to a local, small school and we got to go with and assist! Such a Blessing and a highlight of the trip! Thankfully our guide was flexible enough to let us enjoy this …and then our vacation continued with more wonderful things to see and do down by the sea!