Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

The Bengtzen family on a private yacht at Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

The Bengtzen family spent a day snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef from a private yacht.

New Year’s in Australia had been a dream of mine since I was 14, and the trip that Stuart and Jacki put together for us did not disappoint! We began in Sydney, where we stayed at the Shangri-La hotel. It gave us an amazing view for the fireworks, which were absolutely incredible. It was perfect for us and our adult kids to watch and not have to fight the crowds. The hotel breakfast was also amazing every morning, with an incredible view as well. Stuart’s office also made amazing dinner reservations, so we ate well.

From Sydney we went to Hayman Island in the Whitsunday Islands. This was a one-of-a-kind experience. From here we were able to have a private snorkeling trip to both the Great Barrier Reef inner and outer reefs. The company they booked us with, Ocean Dynamics, was wonderful. Restaurants on the island were fantastic and the beach is heaven.

From Hayman we went to Noosa, where we had an incredible experience kayaking on the ocean. Our guide was amazing. The shopping and food were wonderful and gave us a great end to our trip.

None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t found Wendy Perrin and her referral of Stuart. Stuart and Jacki then took our dates, our family info, and planned a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us. I can not recommend them enough and will use them again in the future!

We chose Jacki Lang to plan our Tasmanian adventure, but before heading to Tassie, we had an incredible evening enjoying the excitement of a Sydney New Year’s Eve Celebration that could have only been orchestrated by a true professional like Jacki. Jacki made all the arrangements and everything fell into place without even the slightest hitch. She even arranged for a day tour with an excellent guide, Peter, our first day in Sydney. Although we have been to Sydney several times, Peter showed us places we had never seen, answered our questions, and explained so much about Australia and Australians to us. That evening, we boarded Sydney’s newest super yacht, The Jackson, for a night of dinner and music right in the harbor. I mean, seriously, we were front and center for the show. Dinner was a multi-course extravaganza with an open bar and Veuve Clicquot flowing as a live band played. We first were treated to the 9pm family fireworks show and then witnessed the grand finale (I should say great beginning of 2024) as the most amazing fireworks we’ve ever seen exploded above us. We fell into bed in the wee hours of 1 January 2024, but were up again before long to catch a flight to Tasmania. There we picked up our rental vehicle and began our six-day adventure around the island. We are confident that we saw places we would never have known existed without Jacki’s detailed plan. Jacki handled all our dinner reservations and you can believe me when I say that we had some mighty fine food and wine, as well as super-fun wine tastings. We even had a vodka tasting of vodka distilled from sheep whey. Our adventure ended in Hobart, where we had an excellent tour guide. Our fellow travelers had never used a member of Wendy Perrin’s WOW List, but they quickly declared Jay, our guide, as the best guide they had ever had on any tour.

There is no way that we could have planned our incredible Australian adventure without the help of an experienced professional. When people tell me that they like to “discover places themselves” and don’t want help planning a trip, I think about how misguided this approach to travel is and how much they are missing, but some people firmly hold on to this idea and can’t be swayed. Too bad for them. We’ve had the most memorable trips with the help of The WOW List.

Travelers scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

The Kuzmishin family scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef.

Stuart’s office planned a fabulous trip for the 4 of us to Australia. We loved our itinerary. After the cyclone hit, our activities needed to be adjusted and they managed the rescheduling seamlessly.

In the Blue Mountains, we got to have breakfast as kangaroos were hopping around in the wild!

Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef was a highlight. The scuba diving was phenomenal. We borrowed a dinghy from the resort for a day and checked out other beaches on the island. We were launched with emergency supplies and a luxury picnic lunch. The snorkeling right from the beaches was phenomenal with turtles and giant clams.

We drove the Great Ocean Road. My husband managed to stay on the left side of the road! It was beautiful. We saw waterfalls, the 10 Apostles, and hiked to see koalas.

After 2 weeks, we were sorry to leave. It is a huge country and we hope to go back and use Stuart’s team again.

We were on a 14-day NZ cruise on the Silversea line from Auckland to Sydney, plus an additional 12 days in Australia. The only bonus of seeing NZ on a cruise ship is unpacking once. We did stop at many ports, but didn’t get a feel for the areas. We got off the ship and most of the time took a full-day excursion. Many panoramas. Many wineries. Beautiful countryside. Wonderful people. Missed Christchurch, Marlborough wine region, experiencing the interior of the country and meeting the people. Silversea was top-notch and I would sail them again.

The 2nd part of our trip was Australia, which Wendy Perrin helped us plan. Although I felt I could schedule many of the activities (Opera House tour), Jacki was right on top of everything. Including what time to arrive at the airport, who’s picking us up, schedule, etc. And while traveling, I’d have questions and she’d answer almost immediately (letting me know it was in my itinerary) and it was. We were to travel to Port Douglas, but there was a cyclone a couple of weeks prior to our arrival. She recommended changing hotels to Cairns, and then we waited to see if we could get to the crocodile area or Daintree forest. We waited until the last minute…and when those excursions were canceled, Jacki recommended alternatives. She also gave us information regrading New Year’s Eve in Sydney — where we could see the fireworks, booking restaurant reservations, etc. She was very thorough and every penny I paid was worth it. We were not spending time contacting hotels and tours to make changes. I didn’t have to worry.

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