How to maximize your experience of a destination? Know the right fixer. What will the right fixer do for you? Read on.
Here is a continually updated sampling of the reviews that your fellow readers have posted after returning from trips that were arranged by Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts and monitored by Wendy. These reviews illustrate how the right fixer transforms a trip from average to extraordinary.
Transatlantic cruise, orchestrated by Mary Jean Tully
DIANA PUSCH | OCTOBER 16, 2019
1. Preplanning was fabulous. We worked with teleconferences to include other travelers, their (outstanding) land specialist Ralph & cruise specialist Cheri.
2. We did have a tour guide problem which we worked to solve as it was an immediate issue (a substituted tour guide in Germany spoke Spanish, so we used my daughter as translator that day). Ralph was on it when we notified him, and he was proactive in making sure remaining destinations were well coordinated & had no problems.
3. Cheri did an outstanding job with our cruise rooms, meeting the individual needs of each traveler. I brag about her work and have recommended her to my friends looking to create a cruise experience.
4. This team was responsive to each of our questions, desires in the trip, provided outstanding local tour guides who enhanced our knowledge & enjoyment of each city and were a pleasure to work with.
Central Europe, orchestrated by Gwen Kozlowski
JULIE HEIMARK | OCTOBER 15, 2019
Gwen did an excellent job for our family on a Munich, Salzburg, Czech Republic trip. Everything was seamless and went like clockwork. We really wanted to stay at the Goldener Hirsch but it was uncertain if it would be reopen in time after remodeling. Gwen made back up reservations but then when the Hirsch (happily!) reopened on schedule, moved us over there into the most fabulous rooms. Cesky Krumlov wasn’t on our radar — she put it on and booked us at a fabulous new boutique hotel. We are so delighted she did. She accommodated our request for a private tour at Cesky Budejovices Budweiser/Budvar brewery and it was fantastic. The highlight of the trip however was the private tour of the Strahov monastery library. A once in a lifetime experience.
Greece, orchestrated by Jacoline Vinke
JESSICA TOLMACH & BRUCE YANNETT | OCTOBER 13, 2019
We are just back from an extraordinary two weeks in Greece, thanks to Jacoline and all her planning. Without a doubt, we could not have planned this on our own.
To begin with, all 4 of the hotels selected for us were spectacular, unique in their own ways and specific to the locations. Perviolas on Santorini was one of the most exquisite properties we have ever stayed at. The guides that Jacoline found for us in Athens, Crete and Santorini were terrific, each one sharing with us insights and perspectives we otherwise would never have discovered. Biking around ancient ruins in Athens, a walking, back street, food tour also in Athens and a vineyard tour in Crete will each stay with us forever. We also followed several of her recommendations for special experiences, perhaps the highlights of which were the morning and lunch we had with a master bee keeper in the mountains of Crete and the stunning drive through a gorge on Crete to an amazing slow food taverna called Dounias. We also loved our daylong private sail off Chania.
There were a few hiccups worth mentioning. When we checked into the Grande Bretagne in Athens, having been promised a room with a view of the Acropolis, we were disappointed to find that the room was on the third floor with a barely-visable view of the Acropolis. The hotel accomodated our request for a change and put us on a top floor with a true, open view of the Acropolis. When we arrived at the airport in Crete at 8pm, we went to the Herz counter to retrieve our rental car but they didn’t have a reseravation for us. Bruce has elite status with Herz so they were able to find us a car after a 1 hour wait. We later learned from Jacoline’s team that the confirmation they sent us should have been for Enterprise.
But not withstanding the glitches, we would highly recommend Jacoline for anyone traveling to Greece. Our trip was multi-faceted and rich with experiences, we continue to pour over our photographs and tell our stories to any who will listen! We imagine we will be telling them for ever.
Thank you Wendy — we could not have done this without Jacoline, which means we could not have done this without you.
All we have to do now, is plan our next WOW trip.
Australia, orchestrated by Stuart Rigg
ROBIN AND JOSH MADDEN | OCTOBER 13, 2019
Stuart Rigg and Sophie Cafe planned the perfect trip for our 30th wedding anniversary celebration- we spent 3 weeks, taking multiple in country flights and visiting 6 places: Melbourne, Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Uluru, the Daintree Rainforest and Sydney- We wanted luxury hotels and unique experiences and our expectations were exceeded- each of the places we stayed were amazing- they also arranged transfers and guides where needed, and all were of excellent quality. Each provided something special and extra that was a surprise on that day- and all were amazing experiences. They must have told everyone that we were celebrating and anniversary- because at each location, and from each guide we received not only cards and good wishes, but sometimes small gifts, or cakes or champagne and chocolates! It was above and beyond any expectation-as was the whole trip- In Tasmania at Saffire Freceynet we did a tasted several of the excellent local gins one evening- and commented on how much we liked them-it occurred in a 15 minute conversation with one of the excellent staff there- at the end of our stay the staff remembered and offered to have us stop at the distillery on our way to the airport to pick some up, but we were traveling with carry-ons and didnt want to carry the bottles so we declined. We never mentioned this to Southern Crossings, but they were obviously checking up on us at each location- and Saffire must have told them how much we liked those gins-, as when we reached Sydney there was a gift of 3 gins and a lovely note from Stuart Rigg. This blew us away- not only did Southern Crossings hear we liked the gins, but they went out of their way to get us some and have it waiting in Sydney. This is one of the above and beyond gestures that took this trip from extraordinary to one of the best we have every had (and we are seasoned travelers, taking 1-2 trips a year). We had one issue with a cancelled flight where we reached out to their after hours staff, who was available and willing to help- but unfortunately they had no ability to arrange alternatives for that situation as none were available, but worth noting they were there and easily reached when help was needed- I would recommend them without reservation.
Scandinavia, orchestrated by Leigh Landis
SHERRI JOHNSON | OCTOBER 10, 2019
There were so many options for amazing sites when it came to planning our trip to Scandinavia that we called on Leigh to help us out. We move a bit slower these days and like to mix downtime to explore on our own with scheduled visits and guided tours. Leigh was able to appropriately scale back on the guides where we asked, but left just the right amount in to give us that personal edge. We started in Oslo which became our favorite city immediately. Our guide felt like an old friend and is someone we will reconnect with in the future. I was enthralled by the Circle of Life, a must-see for anyone in Oslo. Leigh’s suggestion of the train and ferry to Balestrand was a great way to see the country. And our private driver to Storfjord was engaging and stopped along the way to show us scenery that we would have otherwise missed. The hotels were absolutely perfect and our trip exceeded all expectations. Leigh has a knack for picking guides and was great at helping us cover lots of ground in our two weeks!
Portugal and Spain, orchestrated by Gonçalo Correia
LEN AND CINDY BOGORAD | OCTOBER 10, 2019
Gonçalo Correia and Joana Silva planned and executed a fabulous trip for us to central and northern Portugal, along with Santiago de Compostela and Salamanca in NW Spain. They listened carefully to what we were interested in, taking account of our previous travels in Portugal and Spain. For example, when Gonçalo heard that we were interested in prehistoric art, he suggested that we visit the Coa Valley, accompanied on a private tour conducted by a fascinating archeologist, which turned out to be a highlight of the trip.
Each of the private guides that Gonçalo and Silva arranged for eight tours (in the Coa Valley, in each of the cities we visited, and on Madeira) was fabulous. This contributed tremendously to the success of the trip. It was great to have the full attention of each of the guides, given all of the questions that we have, and because of health constraints one of us had (walking up stairs or steep slopes was very difficult) it was invaluable to have guides who were totally flexible about adapting the itineraries and pace appropriately.
The hotels Gonçalo and Joana selected for us were excellent, and in particular were interesting in their own ways. Hotel breakfasts were wonderful throughout.
Danube River cruise, orchestrated by Tom Baker
DAVID AND BRENDA BOSCH | OCTOBER 10, 2019
Tom and Ian are what all service providers should strive to be. Before speaking with Tom the first time we thought we had some ideas about what we were looking for in a European river cruise but as first timers we were open to suggestions. Tom took the time to listen to us and then made some recommendations we hadn’t considered. Long story short…we had a trip that exceeded our expectations in every way! Tom and Ian follow up very promptly and are tremendously responsive and helpful. As someone who works in a service industry myself, I have very high expectations when it comes to other service providers and Tom and Ian exceeded every one. The Scenic Amber cruise, Gems of the Danube that they recommended to us was a reflection of their commitment to customer service and also receives my highest recommendation. We would have never heard of Scenic if it hadnt been for Tom; he made sure to pick a tour for us that played to our desire to be adventurous and get immersed in cultures. As I said this was our first ever cruise (definitely won’t be the last) but over the course of our tour we had the chance to speak with many veteran cruisers and without exception they all commented on how amazing their experience was on our cruise. And to think if we had planned this ourselves we wouldn’t have even known what we would have missed. Thanks Wendy for putting us in touch with Tom.
I can’t recommend Tom and Ian highly enough, especially for first time cruisers. They patiently listened and educated us in what to look for and gave us options based on what they heard us telling them, our budget, and wanting us to have the best experience possible. They are willing to handle as much or as little as you want to put on their plate. The tour guide they recommended to us for Budapest was first rate!
Given the financial outlay, we thought this cruise might be a once in a lifetime experience. The experience was definitely worthy of being one but because of the planning efforts of Tom and Ian and the exceptional experience aboard Scenic Amber we have already started saving for what we hope will be a series of future adventures and we most definitely will be using Tom and Ian to plan another great journey down a river!
Paris, orchestrated by Jennifer Virgilio
LISA AND SARAH MACDONNELL | OCTOBER 9, 2019
I give Jennifer Virgilio excellent marks on supporting my daughter, Sarah and I in planning our 5 day trip to Paris, plus supporting us in getting train tickets to Bordeaux. The hotel Relais Christine was wonderful in every way, and we would recommend it to others and stay there again when we return. Jennifer offered us many choices and opportunities to choose from as to how to spend our time in Paris. She organized a tour of the Louvre and also a half day to Giverney to see Monet’s home and gardens, and the guide, Gigliola Alba was excellent! She was personable, prepared and so knowledgeable – worth her weight in gold, and we enjoyed her company very much. We’d also connect with her again on a future visit. Though Jennifer did some traveling during our planning, she connected us with her staff – Kenza and Julia – who were helpful and communicative in her absence. They were all instrumental in getting us reservations at restaurants of our choice. The Eiffel Tower tour guide was also tops, and the timing of our visit there overlapped with a beautiful sunset and 8 PM light show! We loved the Atelier Des Lumiers of Van Gogh, as well as our visits to Musee D’Orsay, Picasso and Rodin museums. We appreciated her advise to get an airport transfer upon our arrival. Because we arrived into different terminals, I would next time have one of us take the shuttle to the other and be picked up at 1 terminal together. Driving to the second terminal took quite a while in traffic and I don’t think our driver was expecting this. It was minor. We enjoyed seeing the countryside on our train ride south – beautiful! We took full advantage of our time and received very good support, recognizing that must return with so much more to see in a future visit. I will be contacting Jennifer soon to plan another venture in Italy in 2020. I extend gratitude for all the support we received on this very special trip to the City of Lights!
Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando, orchestrated by Michelle Allen
BARBARA SHERIDAN | OCTOBER 9, 2019
Michelle Allen & her team were wonderful in helping us plan a great 20th Anniversary trip to Disney World and Universal Studios. Disney really can be an overwhelming destination as, in order to maximize your time there, you need to carefully plan out your schedule for each day and manage restaurant reservations, showtimes, and Fast Passes. Michelle’s advice was invaluable in this regard. The team took into consideration that this was an adults only couples vacation, and made great suggestions for us, like experiencing the Magic Kingdom with an after dark ticket, which allowed us to visit a practically empty and childless Park (real Disney Magic!). Their restaurant recommendations were great all around – the 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios was a really fun lunch choice and probably not one I’d have made on my own. Wine Bar Georges in Disney Springs was amazing, and Cowfish at Universal City Walk was another different and deliciously fun choice that probably would’ve passed under my radar. They also managed to fit in a coveted reservation for Be Our Guest and their recommendations and guidance for the Epcot Food & Wine festival helped us navigate that fun event. Michelle and her team walked us through the anxiety producing Fast Pass Process, and ensured that we were able to snag fast passes for all the rides we wanted. I’ve been joking that while we take fairly involved adventure vacations (safaris, dog sledding expedition, scuba diving, rafting and trekking trips) none have involved the degree of planning as this Disney trip! Michelle’s crew was just exceptional in that regard – I think we spent over 4 hours on the phone with them in addition to exchanging dozens of emails. Their hard work enabled us the have a wonderful anniversary trip (and everyone knew it was our anniversary b/c Michelle told them!). I’m highly recommending them to anyone I know going to any Disney destination or cruise and look forward to using them again in the future.
Pakistan, orchestrated by Jonny Bealby
STEPHEN BURSTEIN | OCTOBER 6, 2019
Jonny, who has to be one of the most responsive individuals I’ve ever worked with in travel, and his team were great to work with. They put together a good itinerary on fairly short notice that reflected our interests.
Our guide and driver were fabulous, and they led us to see the great scenery and experience the wonderful hospitality of Pakistan. The local partner, however, was pretty adamant about sticking to the itinerary, so making sudden changes that may have been more in line with our interests wasn’t encouraged.
Great strides have been made in the security situation and we never thought twice about safety issues.
To be sure, Pakistan is still in the early stages of developing tourist infrastructure for foreign visitors, so certain comforts and conveniences aren’t always available. But for the more adventurous traveler desiring to experience an exciting place that is still off the tourist map (it’s not going to stay this way) and who won’t get rattled when things don’t always go as planned, Jonny and his team are the right ones to take you there
Paris apartment rental, orchestrated by Madelyn Byrne
PATRICIA O’REILLY | OCTOBER 6, 2019
Our apartment in Paris was wonderful. Beautifully appointed in a lovely neighborhood with nearby cheese, butcher, wine, bread and pastry shops and delightful restaurants and cafes. But the best part was the morning, noon and evening views of the Eiffel Tower from every room in the apartment. Couldn’t have asked for anything more. We were very fortunate to have been upgraded to an apartment with unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower — all because Madelyn values Wendy Perrin’s clients and wants us to have the best possible experience. Thank you Wendy. Thank you Madelyn.
South Africa, orchestrated by Nina Wennersten and Dan Saperstein
ROBIN & JOEL GLOBUS | OCTOBER 2, 2019
We wanted this trip to be special as it was our 70th Birthdays. We wanted it to be “a trip of a lifetime”. Nina and Dan far exceeded our expectations in South Africa.
Nina and Dan planned our trip after discussing what we would like to see and do. We wanted to go to Cape Town and a safari to see Leopards and hopefully the Big Five.
It’s difficult to put into words how fantastic our trip was. We had asked for a special room at The Silo hotel and they made sure we got it! The two Safari camps also exceeded our expectations.
The people at all of the places we went were so fabulous. We were hugged and fussed over and made to feel so at home at all three accommodations. We did see all of the animals and witnessed a lion kill which was extremely rare. The guides and trackers that we spent 6 hours a day with are now friends. They were amazing as well. We will have these wonderful memories for our lifetime and yes, it was “a trip of a lifetime ” thanks to Nina and Dan and Wendy Perrin’s Wow list.
Barge cruise, orchestrated by Ellen Sack
KIMBERLY PRATER | SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
Ellen and Lori helped our group pick the ideal barge for our group- The Gran Cru. This phenomenal barge is only in its second season, has a fantastic staff that works well together and created a very convivial atmosphere- as well as lots of wonderful food and wine. A Gran Cru wine and 3 cheeses were served at every meal and Chef Joe was outstanding. In addition to cooking our meals, he held a couple of cooking classes for us. Boat manager, guide and wine expert Anna- superb! Without the input of Ellen and Lori we likely would have chosen another barge and not had the same experience.
I also appreciated the heads up from Ellen that because of no rain, we would not be on canals but rather on the Saône. In reality it mattered little as our itinerary remained the same and the scenery remained beautiful. This is our second barge trip through Ellen and I will use her again for future trips.
British Columbia, orchestrated by Marc Telio
JIM VAHEY | SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
We wanted a vacation with a focus on the outdoors. We came across a number of interesting options in British Columbia and contacted Marc to help us sort it out. Marc personally gave us much time helping us plan our trip to British Columbia. He provided thoughtful advice on the pros and cons of the various lodges and resorts we were interested in and worked to keep us within our budget. Marc and his staff remained in touch with us before we had left and during our trip: answering questions, making additional reservations and handling glitches as they arose. Marc and his staff’s advice was spot on and we had a fantastic time.
Russia, orchestrated by Greg Tepper
PAT AND ANNE-LISE MORSS | SEPTEMBER 29, 2019
Greg Tepper and Stella Bayley put together a marvelous custom trip to Russia for my wife Anne-Lise and me earlier this month, September 2019. We enjoy being independent, and their skill organizing many components added up to an excellent experience in a new destination with an unfamiliar language. We were impressed with how smoothly everything went. Our first step was to secure frequent flyer tickets as soon as available most of a year in advance. We then worked with Stella to select preferences for guides, interests, transportation, hotels, and restaurants, with plenty of time to fill out our itinerary. The plan was for 3 nights in Moscow (Ararat Park Hyatt), 2 nights in Suzdal, one of the historic towns in the Golden Circle to the east (Pushkarskaya Sloboda Hotel), and 4 nights in St Petersburg (The Lotte Hotel), before heading west to Helsinki and family in Oslo.
We appreciated the knowledge and experience of our guides, Gennady in Moscow and Suzdal, and Luda in St Petersburg, both of whom were great travelling companions with decades of experience with Greg. Luda was particularly adept at maneuvering us through the unexpected hordes of tour groups at some of St Petersburg’s primary attractions. Being independent travelers, and probably due to deserved Russian pride and cultural background, it was difficult for our guides to cut back on “seeing everything.” A recommendation – set up a couple of half days with guide and driver in the morning, and then do your own thing in the afternoon; this allowed Anne-Lise to shop or rest after much walking, and me (an architect) to return to a location or two for more intense photography. All our drivers were excellent, the cars immaculate, and we took advantage of the highspeed bullet trains from Moscow to Vladimir (Suzdal), St Petersburg, and Helsinki.
The hotels/service and restaurants/food were impressive. The one restaurant reservation that did not measure up to expectations was Mam Gochi in Moscow – it was almost empty on Saturday evening, and we ordered from a menu of photographs. Gennady’s suggested lunch at the Vogue Café, a short block from the Ararat Park Hyatt, was elegant and this would have made for a classy dinner. Our favorite dinners were at Dom and Cococo in St Petersburg. Our guides joined us for lunch at excellent local restaurants when we were on the go. Imported premium wines were extremely expensive, as warned, but we were able to find a few southern European and South American wines by the glass or bottle on most any wine list at prices close to those at home. Remember that tipping is expected everywhere like in the US, and cash is preferred to get to the right person. US dollars, Euros and local currency are welcomed, and I filled up a secure wallet with crisp $5, $10 and $20 bills before leaving home.
We came away with a very favorable impression of this part of contemporary Russia. Everyone was extremely helpful, and we never felt unsafe. The reconstruction that has taken place following the Nazi destruction is mind-boggling, and streets and public places are clean and extremely well maintained. Our private visit to the “Amber Room” workshop at Catherine Palace outside St Petersburg and the classical concert for an audience of 50 at Grand Duke Vladimir Palace in the city were special. Challenge Greg and Stella with a special interest request. They arranged for me to meet up again with Father Roman in Moscow at the Danilov Monastery; he was our Russian bell expert who came to Harvard University a decade ago and advise us on the exchange of 18 new bells to replace the originals that were rescued from Moscow during the Stalin era; the originals returned home to Danilov Monastery. Greg’s contact got in touch with Father Roman and we ended up chasing him up the tower where he played the bells in the weekly Sunday ringing; a wonderful reunion.
I am certain Greg and his team will put together a great trip for anyone travelling independently or interested in a small group.
Romania, orchestrated by Raluca Spiac
SUSAN DUNCAN | SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
Raluca and her team made our three week visit to Romania spectacular. She selected, Andrei, one of the best guides we have ever to be our guide and driver for most of our trip.
We were attracted to Romania by the biennial Georg Enescu Classical Music Festival held in Bucharest. Raluca provided us with the programs for each concert and secured us tickets. In our phone and email discussions with her about other things to do in Romania she suggested a week or so in Transylvania and several days in the Danube Delta. We found Transylvania to be much more than Dracula – a dinner with a Saxon family in Vescri complete with geese parading by and freshly picked vegetables, a trip to a gypsy iron mason who made us a trophy horse shoe on his forge, a dinner with a Hungarian herbalist, and probably most fascinating, a meal with a gypsy family where we could ask any questions we wanted to about their lives in Romania. During the days in Bucharest where the Festival was held, Andrei provided us with a stories about living under Communism and what it is currently going on in his country. We visited Ceaucescu’s palatial home and had several tours of the hidden gems of Bucharest. With the recommendations of Raluca and her team, we experienced several gourmet meals in Bucharest, and will always remember one which was a seven course meal designed for the Enesccu Festival where each course was explained to us personally by the award winning chef! The Danube Delta was a fascinating surprise. It is the largest wetland in Europe and our guesthouse was only accessible by a 1 and 1/2 hour boat ride. We experienced a private tour along canals both wide and narrow, into small inlets and lakes while observing close up swans, ducks, pelicans, loons, etc., with no one else in sight.
Romania is a gem and deserves much more acclaim. We thank Raluca for showing us that.
Zambia and Botswana, orchestrated by Cherri Briggs
RICHARD LIPPMAN | SEPTEMBER 29, 2019
Cherri & Company in 5 words:
(Okay, so 6…but there are 60 more just like ’em for our magnificent African adventure she put together.)
Call her and be WOWed too.
Malta, orchestrated by Jason and Damon Camilleri Allan
KATHERINE MONTGOMERY | SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
Jason and Damon made our trip extraordinary!!!! Every tour and recommendation was beyond our expectations… we had a fabulous day cooking with Chef George Borg in Gozo, private palace tours with warm and welcoming royalty, delicious meals and knowledge, personable guides!
Our WOW Moment was a private tour of St Johns Cathedral…… breathtaking decor and up close viewing of the Caravaggios! Every detail was perfect and we were treated like VIPs. I can not recommend them highly enough!! Delightful to deal with!! Can’t wait to return!
Norway, Sweden and Denmark, orchestrated by Jan Sortland
MIKE AND MOLLY HARTMANN | SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
My wife and I just returned from three weeks in Norway Sweden and Denmark. Jan Sortland and his team planned every detail and element of our trip and we were thrilled with their effort. We spoke to Jan several times during the planning process and it was clear from our itinerary he had listened. We like taking private tours during our travels as we feel we learn more. Without exception every guide we had was not only pleasant to be with and they really knew their stuff! I was most impressed with Jan when we checked into The Grand Hotel in Stockholm and had an issue at 10pm on a Saturday evening. I called the in country number they gave us prior to our trip. Jan answered on the second ring and personally helped manage the situation. Outstanding service. We would highly recommend Jan and his team.
India, orchestrated by Bertie and Victoria Dyer
LORI SIEGEL | SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
I highly recommend Victoria and Bertie for your travels to India. Victoria was very responsive during the planning stages. We talked a lot about what I wanted. Once we arrived in India the real magic began. We were two couples in our 60s traveling together and from the moment we met our guide, Vikram, our every need and desire was taken care of. He had so many great ideas and made changes to our itinerary when it made sense. He was also so informative. Not only could he give you a lot of information; but, he also could answer any question you threw at him. He took such good care of us that we felt totally spoiled. None of us had a single negative experience on this trip. Do not hesitate to engage Victoria and Bertie for your travel to India!
Ireland, orchestrated by Jonathan Epstein
CHARLOTTE ROTH | SEPTEMBER 26, 2019
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.
Italy, orchestrated by Maria Landers and Brian Dore
RORY MONAGHAN | SEPTEMBER 25, 2019
First, the important stuff: Maria Gabriella Landers is the best travel agent we’ve ever worked with. Period. She is deeply knowledgeable, thorough, and attentive. And she carefully vets all the hotels, guides, drivers and special service providers who work with her. Importantly, anytime we’ve had questions or issues arise in the middle of a trip, Maria is always quick to respond with answers and solutions.
This is the second trip Maria has designed for us. Though I didn’t think it possible to surpass the first trip to Italy that Maria she put together for us, it did. Big time.
I’m sorry to say that we put Maria through her paces with a false start this time around.
After she had already orchestrated a complete, two week itinerary in Umbria and Rome for us, we pulled an about face and asked her to organize an entirely different trip. Our new plan was to start out in Rome, and then head on to Paris and Amsterdam- with tours and custom tailored experiences along the way.
Maria never batted an eye. She simply collected our input on what we wanted to see and do and got to work.
The end result was beyond magnificent. Maria only works with the best suppliers. One of our tour guides in Rome was the author and art historian, Alessandro Celani, whom we met on our first trip with Maria. Alessandro is superlative. My wife and two adult sons and I are hard core art junkies who love learning new details and backstories about works of art and their creators. As with our last visit, Alessandro didn’t disappoint.
Maria’s hotel selection in Rome, The Villa Spalletti Trivelli was magical. The lavishly appointed villa has only 14 rooms, and a wonderfully kind and attentive staff. On the morning of our twin sons’ birthday, the kitchen staff brought out a surprise, freshly baked birthday cake.
Our stay in Paris, at the beautiful Relais Christiane hotel in St. Germain de Pres was also exceptional. Here again, we had excellent tour guides. And a private cruise along the Seine.
From Paris, we took the train to Amsterdam, staying at the Hotel Pulitzer on the Prinsengracht in the city center. Because we had lived in Amsterdam several years ago, we relied on Maria only for our transport from and to Schiphol. And yet, as always with Maria’s hand picked car services, the drivers were friendly, courteous, highly professional and waiting for us prior to our prearranged meeting times.
We love to travel, in Italy especially, and we would not think about going back without first reaching our to Maria.
I can not recommend Maria more highly. As far as traveling in Italy goes, Maria is simply the best.
Australia, orchestrated by Kleon Howe
JODY KREIMAN | SEPTEMBER 23, 2019
When recently planning a long trip to Australia, we contacted Kleon Howe when it became clear that we did not have a good way of sorting out and coordinating the many, many possible destinations, activities, hotel choices, and options so that they would fit into the allotted time, flow reasonably from one to the next, allow enough time (but not too much) at each destination so that we could really get to know it without getting bored, and satisfy our desire for detailed, flexibly-paced encounters with nature and culture and our wish to avoid groups and crowds. The trip Kleon put together for us was practically perfect in every way. He found us great hotels, wonderful guides who seemingly knew everything (including the names of the koalas and who had a new joey), and created a pace that suited us exactly. We were not overscheduled or rushed, we were never bored, and we saw and learned so much more than we expected! As an example, it would never have occurred to us to book three days with a guide at Uluru—as far as we could tell, it was a big rock, right? Instead of a superficial glance, we had long excursions over terrain that varied culturally as well as geologically, and learned about the many factors that have shaped this region. We saw vistas and differences in the texture of the rock from place to place, and we learned how the land is managed. By the end, we saw the outback with completely different eyes than we had coming in. The same thing happened everywhere we went—thanks to Kleon, we spent our time with guides who had deep knowledge of and affection for the places they showed us. Our WOW moment in Cairns was a wonderful gift—dinner under ancient trees, with stories and lessons on didgeridoo technique from our indigenous hosts. This kind of trip planning takes time and team work, but the end in our case was OUR trip, and not anyone else’s. We had a wonderful, wonderful time.
Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, orchestrated by Jill Curran
SONJA & BRIAN HAGGERT | SEPTEMBER 20, 2019
I’m not sure I even know where to start telling you about Jill Curran. She planned a fabulous trip, taking our likes into consideration and even including some daring adventures that we absolutely loved. We were in the Canadian Maritimes during Hurricane Dorian, which landed on their shores. She called us on a Friday night to check on us and had made arrangements for us to stay in our hotel if we didn’t want to risk heading out to our next destination, This was indicative of the entire trip. She was always there, checking up on us and our itinerary without being overbearing. We knew we were well taken care of right from the start.
There are so many great parts of the trip to point out-Wofville and eating at Le Caveau. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Brant Beef. Staying at a Distillery (Glenmore) and meeting Jill’s other travelers, having dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Panorama at the Cabot Links Golf Course. Of course the piece-de-resistance was our WOW Moment. Jill recommended The Inn at Bay Fortune as a dining EXPERIENCE and it truly was. A farmer who regaled us with their farm and some of what we would be eating, a feast of oysters (my husband LOVES oysters and a meal that lasted the entire evening. Everything was cooked over an open flame and it was terrific! Wendy was kind enough to make this unbelievable meal our WOW Moment. Little did she know there would be another WOW Moment the next morning when we met the Chef, Michael Smith, carving up a 322 pound tuna in the kitchen.
You will not find a more caring, lovely person to deal with on a trip. We are looking forward to having her plan another trip, probably to her home province of Newfoundland so we can meet.
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, orchestrated by Zulya Rajabova
SHARON NATHAN | SEPTEMBER 9, 2019
Zulya was with me every step of the way in planning my trip and her sister Dilia in Bukhara was there with me once I arrived in the Stans. I consider guides the most important part of any trip because I am even more interested in life in the places I visit than I am in the sights, and Zulya found me great ones in both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Not only did they speak excellent English and know all about the monuments we visited; they were also open about their own experiences. Certainly the highlight of the trip was attending a family wedding in Bukhara; the openness and generosity of Zulya’s family was above and beyond.
England, orchestrated by Jane and Philip McCrum
AMY KALES | AUGUST 31, 2019
Philip is a good listener. The itinerary he planned for my husband, Arthur, and me who are opera lovers and history buffs in Edinburgh, the Highlands and London filled our hearts’ delight.
The centerpiece of our trip was a performance of Rusalka at the Glyndebourne Opera festival. Philip was able to procure the best seats, train tickets to Lewes and a dinner reservation, which despite the rain, made the evening easy and memorable. He also reserved excellent seats at plays and concerts of our choice at the Edinburgh International Festival as well as the Royal Tattoo. We could not have enjoyed ourselves more.
Philip also planned a sightseeing itinerary which focused on Churchill and World War II. All of our guides , who were Blue Badge guides, were knowledgeable and personable. We spent two memorable days with Mark King discovering the Churchill and the Imperial War Museums. A highlight was the privately guided tour of the Churchill War Rooms before opening hours arranged by Philip. In addition, Mark took us on a tour of the historic East End where he the shared experiences of Jewish and other immigrants to the area as well as his parents during World War II. We could not have asked for a more in depth program.
Arthur and I can recommend Phillip to anyone visiting the U.K. The hotels he chose, the guides he selected and the itinerary, which took our interests into account, was excellent. We plan to use another travel specialist on Wendy’s WOW list for our next trip
Sicily, orchestrated by Marcello Baglioni
CAMERON KENNEDY | AUGUST 26, 2019
Marcello was a fantastic trip specialist for Sicily. My husband and I could not have been happier with both his trip design and his support while we were there. Marcello suggested an itinerary that focused on food, wine, and culture, and every part of the itinerary was great. The guides he arranged were top-notch. These included a vulcanologist to help us understand the history and geology of Mount Etna, an archeologist who showed us really interesting ancient sites and took us on some beautiful hikes, and a chef who took us on a market tour and then cooked a Sicilian lunch with us. Marcello also assisted us with hotels and restaurants, and every place he recommended was terrific.
I also appreciated that Marcello kept us from making some errors in our trip planning. Originally, we wanted to tour both the eastern side of Sicily and Palermo, but Marcello gently steered us away from that idea since we were going to be there for only 4.5 days. He was completely right that there was more than enough to see on the eastern side of Sicily, and we otherwise would have spent a lot of unhappy hours sitting in traffic.
When we were in Sicily, Marcello checked in regularly with our guides, drivers, and us to make sure that every aspect of the trip was going smoothly. We really appreciated his attentiveness and detail-orientation in making sure we didn’t have to waste any time worrying about our logistics.
I would also recommend Marcello because he was very nice and easy to work with. We can’t wait to go back to Sicily and have him develop yet another itinerary for us!
Marcello kept us from making some errors in our trip planning.
Alaska cruise, orchestrated by Ashton Palmer
CELA DOLAN | AUGUST 25, 2019
Ashton Palmer and his staff were extremely helpful in every way!
Planning a trip to Alaska felt overwhelming until we started working with Ashton Palmer. His personal knowledge and experience made selecting the National Geographic Quest to Southeast Alaska an easy choice. His recommendations were spot-on for our first ever cruise.
We wanted to experience Alaska’s history, glaciers, and wildlife. With Ashton’s assistance we began our adventure in Juneau with a Pilot’s Choice Helicopter flight over several glaciers and had the opportunity to land on two of them. Our seven day cruise gave us what we were looking for: glacier calving, white thunder, zodiac boating, kayaking, hiking, bushwhacking, whales, sea lions, seals, bears, and mountain goats. We completed our cruise with a two day stay in Sitka. It was a perfect way to enjoy the history and culture of this beautiful former Russian port.
With the careful and thoughtful planning by Ashton and members of his staff, Brandye and Marybeth, we had a spectacular time. We will definitely look to him for another small cruise experience.
African safari, orchestrated by Linda Friedman
KATHERINE BARDMAN | AUGUST 23, 2019
We traveled with our family and others to Rwanda and Kenya on a two week trip in July 2019. Linda did a phenomenal job executing several different itineraries and we had a very memorable vacation.
There were 13 of us in Rwanda and Linda was able to pull off Gorilla trekking passes and a stay in a wonderful lodge for all of us on the same day/night. It was one of the highlights of our trip. She also found our guide Lynn who accompanied us on all aspects of our stay in Rwanda and she was truly a gem. When we were on the ground she was very flexible with all the moving parts of 13 different wants and needs! We toured, ate and traveled around with very little worry, lots of learning and warm hospitality.
In Kenya Linda picked a perfect spot for our family. I really appreciate that Linda insisted we go with Angama Mara. The rooms were incredible, food delicious and the staff and guides first rate. We had the time of our lives driving around the Masai Mara creating lasting family memories.
My advice is to trust Linda. She can come off as a little intense when you first speak with her and she did hold our feet to the fire to get our reservations in and paid for so that we didn’t lose our space, but her heart is there and I appreciated her honest and fast answers when we had any questions. She had us well prepared for our trip.
The biggest improvement would be communication about the inter-country flight. We did not book this and so did not have access to the reservation until we were already in Kenya. That created some stress for us as we ended up not seated together, Also, even though Linda gave us detailed info about tipping, we still ended up somewhat confused on how much and for whom. We relied on our in-country guides for assistance so it all worked out. A final note, even though Linda told us we would only be able to fit 4 people in a helicopter due to weight constraints, when we pulled up the pilot did not seem at all concerned about putting 6 people in and we were thrilled.
Thank you Linda for a fabulous trip.
Israel, orchestrated by Joe Yudin and Jonathan Rose
OLIVER WILLIAMS | AUGUST 23, 2019
We were thrilled with our WOW specialist. Our group was comprised of 7 people: 4 had been to Israel a few times and 3 had never been before. Our specialist put together an itinerary that accommodated all of us. For seven days, we toured various sites in Israel. Some are well known; others were off the beaten path (which is quite hard to do). For example, on our second full day we toured and spent the night in a beautiful boutique hotel in Acco, and saw some remote sites. On the following day, we spent time in a Druize village, at the house of Druize family that made us lunch and spoke to us about their religion and the challenges they face.
Our trip included a driver and tour guide for the entire time in Israel. Our tour guide, Alon Gat, was phenomenal. Indeed, both families (who have done many tours together and apart) felt that he was the best tour guide we’d ever had. His knowledge of Israel and the various sites, histories, and perspectives was quite deep.
Our trip in Israel included, among other things, visiting Old Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Caesarea, the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, the grottos in Rosh HaNikra, a boat tour, Acco, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Massada, and the Dead Sea. In Jerusalem we saw plenty of sites including a few tours of the Old City, a view underneath the Western Wall, a tour on top of the Temple Mount, and a private tour of Yad Vashem,
We then went to Jordan. There were some problems with the transport, and Joe and Jonathan’s team was always available and responsive. They altered the accommodations to deal with those issues immediately.
The time in Jordan was spectacular. We had a desert tour in Wadi Rum, and saw Petra as well. The tour guide and driver in Petra were also spectacular.
Hawaii, orchestrated by Jay and Dani Johnson
NANCY STONE | AUGUST 20, 2019
We used Dani Johnson to plan our family (4 adults) vacation to Hawaii this August. From start to finish the vacation was fantastic, and Dani was outstanding in orchestrating it for us. She promptly reached out and during our first phone call asked many questions about what we expected and how we wanted to spend our time. This was great because we were unsure about which islands we wanted to visit. She is so well informed that we decided on the Four Seasons resorts in Wailea and Lanai, which turned out to be perfect choices. Dani arranged all of our activities, surf and paddle board lessons, skeet shooting and archery. For the surf/paddleboard lessons in Lahaina the company Dani set us up with (Maui Surf Clinics) treated us so well I doubt we could have had a better time elsewhere. We had dinner reservations ready and were able to just enjoy the days. A highlight was our WOW moment, biking down Haleakala through sun and clouds. Just a pleasure! Dani also maximized our time by advising us to take the ferry to Lanai, but to fly from Lanai to Maui airport instead of using the ferry again. Great advice! It was smooth and efficient. I would unhesitatingly use Dani again, she is fantastic.
Pacific Northwest, orchestrated by Sheri Doyle
SHARON STENSON | AUGUST 12, 2019
Sheri did a great job helping us plan our recent trip to The San Juan Islands! She gave us some great options on places to stay and had a lot of “insider knowledge” on things like the ferry schedules and a local annual chamber music production that happened to be going on while we were on Orcas that were very helpful. She had great recommendations for all the things we told her we wanted to do: which included hiking, kayaking, e-bike riding on Lopez and whale watching. The outfit she recommended on San Juan Island for whale watching was fabulous! We were on a boat with only 15 people, two really good naturalists and they took us out on a beautiful early evening to see lots of birds and track an orca pod as the sun went down in a spectacular setting out among the islands! She even helped me find a local photographer to take some pictures when our son got engaged during the trip! I would highly recommend Sheri if you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Switzerland, orchestrated by Nina Müller
MATT JOHNSON | AUGUST 10, 2019
I was looking for the perfect destination for a father-son week with my 15 year old. After deciding to explore the Swiss Alps, we reached out to Nina for help. With only a couple of weeks to work with, she planned a week that we will never forget. We started in Zürich and enjoyed being in the old town. We originally planned to make our way to Chamonix, but Nina recommended we head east instead and she was right! Ladina and Villa Flor were just the special touch you expect from a knowledgeable agent and just the right spot for us, as opposed to being in St Moritz itself. In particular, our stay at Couer des Alpes in Zermatt was ideal and the staff were all extremely nice and helpful. The location is great and the view, perfect. All of the activities (helicopter to top of Matterhorn, mountain biking down, tuk tuk tour of Zurich and more) really held my 15 year old’s interest, which was critical! But the real clincher was Nina arranging for us to drive an Aston Martin through the Alps for three days. Needless to say, the car was a particular highlight! Happy Birthday to me!!!
Provence, orchestrated by Philip Haslett
PEGGY SCHUEMANN | JULY 27, 2019
Philip Haslett was amazing. He totally listened to what we wanted for a three generation trip to Provence and the Riviera. We enjoyed a wonderful cooking class in Aix en Provence and an outstanding glassblowing experience in Antibes. Our boat ride to the Lerins Islands that left from Cannes exceeded expectations. We had two guides, one for the Provence area and one for the Riviera. Each was fabulous. While we never meet most of the guides that we use through Wendy’s WOW list, Philip made an effort and met us at our hotel outside of Provence, walking us in to Aix for our cooking class. I highly recommend Philip.
Japan, orchestrated by Scott Gilman
HEATHER COURTNEY | JULY 26, 2019
I was planning a trip for myself, my mom and my partner on pretty short notice. Jason found us great hotels, got most of our requests in and coordinated with our guide to make sure I had a vegan meal option during our trip in all but one place.
We picked Jason from Scott Gilman’s team out of 3 planners (one other was a recommendation from Wendy Perrin) we felt he took the time on our first 2 phone calls to ask questions and get to know our travel needs which we felt went above what the other planners did. The majority of the ryokan/hotel selections, our guide, our drivers and the care we received was indeed exceptional.
We had a fantastic time. Our guide spent the entire two weeks with us traveling around Japan and I simply cannot say enough good things about her. She was warm, patient, organized, planned everything according to weather and packed our days full of everything we wanted to see or do. We covered a lot of ground and got to have some really unique and special experiences (private dinner with a geiko and maiko, visit a whiskmakers studio, take part in a private tea ceremony and see how kimonos are made in an artisan’s workshop… to name a few). He also organized for JAL (the airline we arrived on) to have a greeter escort us through an expedited customs line and all of our luggage transfers were included in the trip price and handled by our guide.
Jason was good, but his trip was expensive. It was almost double the next most expensive estimate (and that next estimate had us booked in all but one of the same hotels). I decided to move forward with Jason because I felt like he took the time to understand our travel wishes, would plan every detail of our trip and ensure it would go seamlessly. Given that I was traveling with my mother (who is in her 70s and can be a bit of a nervous traveler) I felt the extra expense guaranteed a worry-free trip. The trip was indeed seamless, worry-free and thoroughly enjoyed by all three of us traveling.
Spain, orchestrated by Pablo Calvo
AMANDA MANDEL | JULY 24, 2019
Pablo was very responsive and flexible during the process of planning our trip. He listened well to what we wanted (an adult trip with lots of time to wander on our own), and booked us a lovely small hotel in Barcelona (The Mercer) and at the amazing Torrent del Mas in Costa Brava. All logistics went very smoothly, and Pablo was quick to answer the few questions we had during our trip. They gave us good restaurant choices in Barcelona (Bar Canete is a must go) and in Costa Brava (Pais del Mas). We can’t say enough positive things about Costa Brava – gorgeous beaches and farmland, amazing meals everywhere, not overly touristy…and Torrent del Mas was one of the most beautiful hotels we have been to. It was a bit challenging to leave each day to go sightseeing! We would go back to these parts of Spain in a heartbeat, and would definitely recommend Pablo as a travel planner.
China, orchestrated by Mei Zhang
RITA SOLOMON | JULY 20, 2019
Mei did a great job planning a short trip to Yangzhou province in China for myself and my 13 year old daughter. Her team (we communicated with Mei and Fann) was very responsive both before and during the trip. Our guide Michael (his Anglicized name) was fantastic. We spent five days with him (and a driver) and learned a great deal about life in China. Using a WOW planner means getting the best guides, which is worth it. Michael’s English was excellent and he is very personable.
We enjoyed the activities planned for us, such as a bamboo raft trip through the karst mountain landscape, learning fan painting from a talented artist, and hiking through the beautiful rice terraces in Longsheng. We also enjoyed the long-haired Yao women show — touristy, but enjoyable and interesting nonetheless.
Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, orchestrated by Jim Berkeley
PAM ANDERSON | JULY 14, 2019
Jim Berkeley and Arlene Santos put together a wonderful highlights of Cairo trip for my husband and me. We were well taken care every step of the way of from our Greeter who escorted us to and from the airport to our driver who’s driving skill was as epic as the Pyramids in the chaotic Cairo Traffic. But our local guide/ Egyptologist “ Riko” was the one who made our experience exceptional. She was knowledgeable, patient, kind and passionate about her city, country’s history and culture. Hands down the best guide in all our world travels. She avoided the crowds not only at the Pyramids and major sites but literally unlocked and gave us private access to tombs not available to the public. What an experience to stand alone in an Egyptian tomb 4 thousand years old ! The accommodations Jim and Arlene selected at the Four Seasons was a luxury oasis from the desert heat while still giving us a beautiful sunset view of the Nile and a call to prayer from our balcony each evening. Thanks for fantastic trip and a bucket list item checked !
New Zealand, orchestrated by Donna Thomas
WENDY BULL | JULY 5, 2019
We just returned from 2 amazing weeks in New Zealand with our 3 sons. Donna and her team made the entire trip easy and smooth. I had never planned a trip like this and Donna, Kori and Nancy made it so easy. It started with a detailed questionnaire and then a follow up phone call so they could understand what kind of things we were interested in. I was worried about the weather affecting our itinerary because it was winter there, but Donna reassured me she would be there for us if we needed a sudden change in plans. We had great weather, so no change in plans was needed, but Donna was right there for me when my son hurt his knee snowboarding in Queenstown and we needed medical attention. I sent her an email knowing it was after midnight in the U.S., expecting a response in the morning, and she emailed me back within 5 minutes. It was comforting having a trusted travel expert at my fingertips at all hours! Donna also recommended we rent the preprogrammed GPS and it was a fabulous thing to have! I wasn’t sure we needed it because we had our cell phones, but went with her recommendation. We were so happy to have it since cell phone coverage isn’t the greatest there and having each destination programmed in just made the trip so smooth. We had an amazing trip of a lifetime. Kudos to Donna and her team for making the planning process so easy and the trip so enjoyable!
Siem Reap, orchestrated by Andy Booth
GRACE LEONE | JUNE 26, 2019
I usually do extensive research and plan our trips. Using Josh from Andy’s team was such a great decision! Not only were they extremely accommodating at the planning stage, but the hotels he recommended ended up being our absolute favorite (Phum Baiting in Siem Reap). In addition, he went over and above in helping us when we had some issues with one of our visas for Vietnam on the day of the trip. He had his local people work with the visa office to get us an expedited visa – otherwise, we would not have been able to get on the plane to Saigon from Hong Kong. In addition, my husband only had 1 Visa page left when we were leaving for Siem Reap from Saigon. The airline at Saigon said by law, he couldn’t go to Cambodia because you need 2 free pages for the Visa. Again, Josh came through, then contacted the airline, we boarded, then were met at the airport by immigration officer to help us. This proved to us that it definitely helps to have a company who are based close to where we’re traveling.
The tour guides were amazing and we hope to keep in touch with especially Mr. Thai and the organizations he helps in Cambodia. Despite the oppressive heat, the driver always had icy cold towels for us and cold drinks, and we rarely mingled with other tourists at even the most crowded sites! My 3 kids (22, 20 and 17) were all so impressed with how informative and interesting Mr. Thai and our tour guide in Saigon were with not only the sites we visited but also local life, politics, etc.
This trip was very special and so well planned and smooth- we have already recommended Andy and his associates to our friends! We got to meet Josh for a drink at their private villa where our family had a special dinner. Great night and great trip!
Turkey, orchestrated by Karen Fedorko Sefer
LEE SAMUELS | JUNE 25, 2019
Beginning with the Istanbul-based tour managers, Ugur, Merve, Ekin and, of course, Karen Fedeorko Sefer, and extending to our professional guide, Esin, our excellent driver, and our evening “chaperone,” Mary, Karen’s group provided a carefully planned and flexible custom itinerary. I found the staff was prompt in returning emails and I received exemplary advice. Their arranged services were fairly priced and included a centrally located boutique hotel (House Hotel Karakoy) and cutting edge restaurants (must go-to: Mikla Restaurant). Representatives readily made themselves available during the initial travel planning phase, our arrival into Istanbul International Airport, tour throughout Istanbul and our departure from Turkey. Arrival and departure customs, passport and luggage handling were expedited at the new Istanbul International Airport via the company’s arranged transfer service.
For us, the face of Karen’s team was our professional guide, driver and other assigned attendants. At no time did we ever feel endangered (although Istanbul drivers and pedestrians should be “commended” for synchronized on-road gymnastics/ choreography). Esin is a gem: an incredible asset/representative for both Karen and Turkey. At once, a valuable resource and fount of insider information and worldly anecdotes, she always maintained a vital, kind, warm and very human (sincere and humanistic) side that she freely exhibited. Esin is so very passionate about Istanbul and its citizens, the attractions visited, its present, past and future. As a world traveler, I felt as though I experienced cosmopolitan Istanbul on an intimate human scale coming away with an appreciation for its history, culture, and, most of all, its people. As a former high school art instructor, I was beyond thrilled when Esin arranged a most special one-on-one meeting with internationally renowned Turkish artist, Ms. Gulay Semercioglu whose artworks have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC). This would not have been possible without Esin as our guide. I am eternally grateful.
Thank you for creating a journey of a lifetime.
Italy and Greece, orchestrated by Jill Taylor
PAUL MYERS | JUNE 24, 2019
My wife, my 13-year-old daughter and I just returned from 16 days in Italy and Greece. We had a wonderful trip. Jill, our travel specialist, picked the perfect hotels for us, lined up the best local tour guides and coordinated a good mix of sightseeing and down time. We were blown away that she thought of every detail. We were greeted at every transfer location by a nicely dressed, English-speaking professional who helped us with baggage, navigating customs and transfer to our next destination. Jill was patient with all my questions, which were many, and she knew each destination because she had personally visited each location. She, and her colleague, Peter, made sure we were able to relax and enjoy. (They even gave me a great tip on the best shoes to wear while touring Rome – Allbirds. So helpful!)
If we could have done anything different, I would have taken Jill’s advice and only visited one country this trip. She warned me that the additional travel to go from one country to another would take time away from relaxing. She was more than right! I will heed that advice going forward!
All-in-all, it was a wonderful trip in large measure because of Jill and Peter’s careful planning and thoughtful itinerary design!
Thank you, Jill and thank you, Peter!
Alaska, orchestrated by Judith Root
HENRY SOSINSKI | JUNE 19, 2019
We were put in contact with Judith Root via Wendy Perrin. We travel quite a bit and with a few exceptions have always did our own itinerary planning. We know that there are travel agents and then there are travel experts. Judith is a travel expert specifically for Alaska. You can buy a nice package deal off of a travel agent, get a cruise, take some side tours and perhaps and extension to Anchorage, Katmai, Talkeetna, Denali or Fairbanks. You will see a lot of great places, but you will be part of a crowd. We wanted to see what a travel expert would do to customize a trip to meet our desires. Our main objective was to see one of the wildest areas of North America, the back country of Denali National Park and Preserve. There are very few travel agent packages that take you this deep.
A travel expert like Judith (and her associate, Andrea Clarke) will book you in place that is off the grid, 92 miles inside Denali in the only back country lodge permitted to conduct guided hikes within the Park and Preserve. Despite the location, this lodge is a first class operation. They will connect you with a knowledgeable local guide in Fairbanks and a behind the scenes tour with a native Alaskan. They will note your love of birding and will set up a first rate guide in Talkeetna for a relaxing day in nature at your own pace.
We usually do our own driving, but Judith convinced us to try the Alaska Railroad Goldstar Service between Fairbanks, Denali Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage. Good move, with wonderful travel on each leg of the trip. The views from the train were spectacular and meeting other train travelers was a fascinating experience.
Judith’s itinerary was very detailed, covering all accommodations transfers, transportation, included meals, guides, projected gratuity costs, packing lists and reading lists. It was readable and thorough. We had one potentially major problem at a critical point on our trip. Judith and her team were just a phone call away and were very responsive to meeting our needs. It was nice to have them there for support.
Warning: Alaska is expensive. Judith will provide a first class experience of a life time. Only about 30% of the people visiting Denali get to see “The Great One”. Judith, Andrea and the rest of the team gave us an excellent shot of seeing the highest mountain in North America. We succeeded and now are part of the lucky 30%.
SE Asia, orchestrated by Andrea Ross and April Cole
PATTI TEMPLE ROCKS | JUNE 19, 2019
Due to a change in circumstances, I had a last-minute opportunity to join my 22-year old son in SE Asia for a 2-week trip. Although I normally enjoy planning travel, I simply didn’t have the time so I contacted Andrea Ross from the WOW list and could not possibly be more happy that I did. What I now know, is it is about more than having time, it is about having the appropriate knowledge — and insider knowledge at that! Andrea and her team took what would have been a great trip to an EXTRAORDINARY trip. Andrea spent time talking with me ahead of time and knew that I wanted to make it a special graduation trip for my son. And it was. We visited Saigon, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue (which I never would have discovered on my own) and Hoi An. The staff of tour guides she has put together is truly phenomenal — they were all great and Jake and I consider them friends. They were attentive to our needs and also showed us people and places that were off the beaten path. We made a few adjustments along the way, and they were perfectly accommodating and flexible. The hotels chosen, the experiences recommended and planned were all great.
One other point about the value of working with Andrea and her team — My trip got off to a rough start in that my flight was delayed (I booked that myself) so my arrival was very late and without my luggage. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to resolve it myself, the country director in Vietnam, Mr. Khoa Nguyen literally went to the airport himself to track it down — and he did, resolving what was a major point of stress for me!
Finally, it is clear that “responsible travel” is an important core value of this company — and we were proud to be enlightened by it and participate.
THANK YOU to all our new friends on Andrea’s team – I recommend them without reservation and will also be excited to plan another trip with an expert from the WOW list!
Peru orchestrated by Marisol Mosquera
ILENE SILVER | JUNE 15, 2019
Marisol is exactly the type of travel specialist our family loves to work with… Their guides and staff are thoughtful, generous, intelligent, and caring. They specialized the trip well to a family with teenage girls… Activities were off the beaten track, unique, and fun! We went hiking with a local village woman and her four llamas in the Sacred Valley… We had a picnic at a Vista point overlooking the sacred valley where chefs prepared traditional Peruvian foods. Both were amazing! They were referred to us by the travel specialist we used in Thailand, Daniel Fraser, also on your list… Also fantastic! Thank you…
Italy, orchestrated by Andrea Grisdale
ANDY ROBINSON | JUNE 14, 2019
We just returned from a family trip to Florence, Rome and Positano with our two adult children, 25 and 23. As with our previous two trips, this one was just as spectacular. From the initial planning stages with Andrea Grisdale through the final itinerary we arranged with Creta and Ilenia and with Odri’s support during our trip, our family enjoyed a vacation that had something for everyone and went off without a hitch. When we did run into a minor issue at one of the hotels, Odri stepped in and fixed things quickly and efficiently. All of the guides (Elena- Florence, Piera- Rome, Carmine- Pompeii) and drivers (Vincenzo, Eduardo, Tomasso, Francesco) and hotel staff were attentive, polite and enthusiastic about their country which added some extra personality to the experience. This was especially true with Vincenzo, who took very good care of us for 4 days in Positano. He shared some of his personal story with us and provided an insider’s look into Sorrento, his home town during our Villa Ida experience. Our WOW moment at Podere Le Ripi in Montalcino hit all the notes we were looking for– friendly hosts, beautiful setting, great wine and delicious food. Another memorable experience was our cooking class at Villa Ida in Sorrento. We had great fun in the kitchen with Roberta and in the wine cellar with Charlie, the family patriarch. Eating a whole meal that we prepared under the lemon trees in the Villas garden was fantastic. Charlie is a character and he added a very warm, family vibe to the experience. Anyone into Italian food culture should do this! Our final highlight of the trip was our private yacht charter from Positano to Capri. Our captain, Davide, was the perfect host, providing us with lots of interesting information while also ensuring we experienced the beauty of the coastline. We especially appreciated his flexibility and the opportunity to set anchor and swim off the boat for a while. The whole day was spectacular and was the perfect way to end our 12 day Italian journey.
France, orchestrated by Jack Dancy and Michael Eloy
CHRISTINA NESTER | JUNE 12, 2019
Our trip of a lifetime to France and to attend the 75th Commemoration of D-Day was a spectacular, mind-blowing experience and one we will never forget. Jack and Michael’s team designed an outstanding travel itinerary that met every request we made for our trip and then went beyond.
First, the places we stayed in Paris and Normandy were exceptional. The hotels in Paris, the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal and the Hotel Relais Christine were beautiful, well located and very welcoming. Our very favorite was a charming find, Les Lilas de Bellefontaine. A charming B&B located in Bayeaux. The owners, Catherine and Serge were so very welcoming, gracious and generous that it was hard to leave because they became family.
The guides arranged for us in Paris, and Normandy were so valuable to showing us around and maximizing our experience with their incredible knowledge and insights that brought every experience more life and color. Caroline is a treasure and felt like family when she saw us off to Honfleur. Damien showed us a wonderful time as we sampled Camembert cheese and Calvedos wines. The true highlight was Vanessa and Geert who toured us the landing beaches, especially Omaha Beach. Gerrt took the time to add his research of my father’s movements on June 6th, 1944 adding color and dimension to the facts.
I want to add that we were not notified until June 5th that we had tickets to attend the 75th Commemoration and I emailed Marcello and a driver was arranged with a pick up time to get us to the shuttle pick up area the very next morning.
Jack, Michael and Marcello, listened to what we wanted from the trip, listened to our feedback as the trip took form and went well beyond our expectations to create a purely magical and moving experience that we will never forget. Gratitude beyond measure to them. And thank you for the flower to welcome us home. Gratitude and respect to each of you for creating a trip of a lifetime.
The Galapagos, orchestrated by Allie Almario
ESTELA ARAMBULO RABIN | MAY 30, 2019
Is it Ecuador? Is it the people of Galapagos? Is it Allie? Yes, yes and yes. Every single person we encountered, especially the extremely well trained naturalists, were incredibly knowledgable and capable and earnest in their love of the Enchanted Islands. Despite all the sand, and rock, salt air and salt water- all our accommodations and boats on our primarily land-based tour were super clean. The staff at the Angermeyer were very conscientious and communicative, as well as personable.
We were incredibly lucky in terms of visibility and animal sightings, but the guides were so in tune, they knew exactly where, when and how the animals would appear. Cue the sea lions, schools and schools of fish, rays, sharks, penguins, boobies, turtles, tortoises, iguanas and whales! And the food- bring on the langosta, prawns and patacones! Even a quick layover in Guayaquil turned into a surprisingly restful and luxurious moment. Most special was the private boat tour Allie and her team arranged – who wouldn’t feel safe with a former fisherman and his first mate with a trained guide? We arrived at a favorite spot when the tide was just right and the other boats had gone. Our guide made sure we knew how to snorkel, and our equipment was working. Then all the moments we hoped to experience actually happened. You don’t even feel like you are snorkeling- you are just IN the sea, waiting your turn for the sea turtles in front of you to finish snacking and having their shells cleaned by tiny little fish, and you are just one of the creatures resting upside down in the water like your buddies the sea lions.
Any small (very small) logistical hiccups were addressed immediately, and we had 3 contact phone numbers (which everyone personally answered) and an email just in case. Worth it!
Brazil, orchestrated by Martin Frankenberg
JUDITH RODWELL | MAY 19, 2019
On a trip to celebrate our 46th Wedding Anniversary, we were treated to a surprise picnic and anniversary cake on the beach in Paraty during our Day on the Bay boat trip, piranha fishing on the Rio Negro, night treks in the Amazon, a tour of the Manaus Opera House, and a wonderful WOW! Moment helicopter ride in Iguassu Falls, thanks to Wendy’s generosity.
Our guide Alexandre Bazzi introduced us to Iguassu Falls, and his love of the natural world spilled over into everything we did. When we finally arrived in Rio we thought we couldn’t be surprised any more but indeed we were. We fell in love with Rio, enjoyed bike rides along the beaches, were awed by Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado, and Lais even taught us how to samba one night. Our driver, SaSa, would go home every night and cut up fresh fruit for us the next day! We were treated like royalty every step of the way.
Martin and his colleagues had a sixth sense about the best guides for us, as we developed an instant connection with all three of them, and enjoyed philosophical conversations as well as lots of laughter. Each one of them made us feel at home and each would quickly change up our schedule if a unique opportunity arrived. We left feeling like we’d made good friends as well as been given a beautiful perspective on their individual cities.
For our surprise WOW Moment, we were told we’d have lunch at a local restaurant in Paraty. A jeep picked us up and we headed up the mountain on an increasingly bumpy road, wondering out loud what kind of restaurant could be at the end of such a crazy road. Our guide Gabriel just grinned. Upon arrival we headed up this spectacular set of steps through increasingly tropical vegetation and arrived at Le Gite Indaiatiba Restaurante. Greeted by the wife of the Frenchman who envisioned this place, a charming open air restaurant with tables surrounded by hundreds of books, she asked what we’d like for lunch. “Go up the mountain and swim in the pool while we prepare your lunch”, she said. So up the mountain, past the heliport for the rich and famous of Brazil, we arrived at the pool and settled into the crisp cold water and surrounding tropical sounds. We were in paradise. Back down to the restaurant we hiked and sat down to a pre-lunch drink and delightful conversation with the owner, as we were serenaded by Grateful Dead music in the background. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves and what an amazing feast! This is the kind of magic Wendy Perrin’s WOW recommended travel specialists plan for you.
And thank you, Wendy, for our lovely helicopter ride over the Falls. It gave us such great perspective on where we’d been hiking for 3 days and was quite an adrenaline rush.
Morocco, orchestrated by Michael Diamond
DENNIS KIRKMAN | MAY 9, 2019
Morocco par excellence! Michael Diamond and his team knocked it out of the park for us. When I talked to Michael on the phone I told him that we enjoyed art, history architecture, nature, and being physically active. He crafted the perfect experience for us. What’s not to like about a trip that encompasses 5 World Heritage Sites and 1200 miles across incredibly varied terrain – Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, camping in the Sahara with the Berbers, Skoura Oasis, Marrakech, and back to Casablanca.
Our guide, Nouri, was articulate, interesting and knowledgeable and together with our driver Yusin contributed to a bespoke experience. We were treated like VIPs throughout the trip – Michael even expedited our passage through passport control in Casablanca (both ways). Lodging was varied and amazing – riads, casbahs, a tent with a king bed and fine linens, and luxurious city hotels. Scheduling was impeccable, everything happened as expected, yet there was ample allowance for some creativity. We had some long days traveling in the very comfortable van, but it was broken up nicely with interesting (and sometimes necessary) stops. Overall, Michael provided us one of those trips of a lifetime.
Mexico, orchestrated by Zachary Rabinor and Brady Binstadt
AMY EVERS | MAY 9, 2019
I wanted to plan a trip to Mexico City for my mom, my sister and I that we could all enjoy. I wanted us to learn, experience and spend quality time together. I think all of these objectives were met. The planning process was a bit slow initially but then went smoothly. Our transfers and day trips were seamless, everyone always on time. We felt very safe the entire time and this was a big concern of my mom. Our guide was very good at noticing when my mom needed to slow down a bit or take a break and she was very knowledgeable. Our driver, Alfonso, was lovely, looking out for us, showing patience and even concern at times. There were a few miscommunications between my expectations given what was written in our itinerary/discussions and the on the ground team but generally these were worked out. Our hotel was very nice and we enjoyed the location. We even had the “fortune” to experience Labor Day on our departure day. This made things hectic but we were able to figure out another meeting point with our driver, as all the roads were closed and this was not anticipated. Someone from the hotel walked with us to meet him. We learned so much history, ate amazing food, cooked amazing food, and saw incredible architecture and art. My mom even cried when I said good-bye to her at the airport because she was so happy we were able to have this special time together.
Cuba, orchestrated by David Lee
ERIN SMITH | MAY 7, 2019
David’s team could not possibly have done a better job with our trip to Cuba. Every single detail was confirmed in advance and set up exactly as planned – and even when circumstance brought the need for a slight change (as it often does), the replacement option was exceptional.
We were a little nervous about planning a trip to Cuba given the fluctuating state of US/Cuba relations, and needed to book with an organization that would ensure we fulfilled the visa obligations without exception. David and team executed everything perfectly – from airport pickup to drop-off and everything in between with a very diverse and interesting itinerary.
Highlights included the WONDERFUL paladars where we ate really fabulous meals – particularly Ivan / Justo; the lead city planner and chief architect who provided a perfect historical backdrop for us to being to explore Havana; dinner with a Cuban (former) diplomat/official; salsa lessons; a private photographer taking our pictures in Old Havana / on a 50s car ride (and we get to keep the photos – Vanessa is a great photographer!); dance performance; a guided tour of Old Havana; pre-school visit for disadvantaged children; mojito mixology lesson; a private jazz trio performance by some very talented musicians (truly unique) and even a visit to Jose Fusters Fusterlandia, a whimsical tiled extravaganza of a home. Mabel, our guide, was lovely and knowledgable. She went out of her way to ensure we were comfortable. Our hotel was perfectly located (Kempinski Manzana) and we thoroughly enjoyed the lovely rooftop pool area, both for swimming and for the pre-dinner cocktails at sunset.
As someone who frequently travels and plans events, my standards & expectations for a travel organizer are very high. I recommend David without hesitation.
Nepal and Bhutan, orchestrated by Antonia Neubauer
JENN TABB | MAY 5, 2019
I highly, highly recommend Toni. We’ve worked with Wendy’s travel agents for Ecuador, Norway, Columbia and Romania, and with other agents for Egypt and Peru so we feel like we have had ample experience to know a good trip from a great one. From start to finish, Toni was a real pro. We gave her specifics of what we wanted to see and do within a tight time frame, and she delivered a near perfect trip. Her communication was extraordinary. I’d email her a question any day of the week and within hours she’d get back to me with a response. Her pre-trip materials and instructions were the best we’ve ever received. She gave us step by step, turn by turn instructions for the Visas and where to go in the airports, what to pack, where to walk in Kathmandu—she thought of everything we’d need to know in advance.
We had an itinerary change we wanted to make while we were in Nepal and Toni handled it right away with our guide/driver. (I highly recommend taking a helicopter out to Mt. Everest. Expensive but very well worth it!) Our guide in Bhutan was spectacular – Kinley made our trip very special, and the fact that he personally knows Toni made it that much more special. When one of our travelers got sick, Toni arranged for him to be whisked to a clinic right away.
I cannot say enough good things about Toni. She is a fabulous professional and deserves to be part of any trips to this part of the world. She is a WOW travel pro for sure!!
Belize, orchestrated by Patricia Johnson and Rachael Wilson
JANETTE GILL | APRIL 25, 2019
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.
South Africa and Botswana, orchestrated by Julian Harrison
PAM GRANGE | APRIL 18, 2019
Julian set up the most amazing trip for us! He listened to what I wanted and the amount I wanted to pay and set everything up perfectly. He even gave me the best advice as to when to go. March was perfect!
Botswana, especially, was the place of my dreams. The camps (Tau Pan, Splash, and Lagoon) exceeded all my expectations and there were no hiccups along the way. Everything was perfect.
At Tau Pan, Dimbo (guide) and P.K. (tracker) were unbelievable! We even saw a leopard and a very rare wild cat! We also loved the walking tour the last day where P.K. showed us a small hut and how they built fires at home.
At Splash, Dave (guide) and K.B. (scout) were more than amazing! They followed lion tracks forever and we got to see 10 lions in one day – two males and then two lionesses with six cubs. Also lots of wild dogs!
I can’t even begin to describe how much we learned about the country, the animals. The “tents” and the meals (6 a day!) were fabulous. Best trip EVER!
If I’m ever lucky enough to go back to Botswana, I’d call Julian in a heartbeat. Thank you for giving me the trip of a lifetime!
Southeast Asia, orchestrated by Sandy Ferguson
SUSAN CUNNEEN | APRIL 11, 2019
I love to travel, and over the past several years have used a number of different specialists to help plan and execute my trips. Thus, I have experienced some trips that were great, and some not as much, sometimes due to the specialist. They simply can make or break your trip for many different reasons; from choosing guides, understanding your wishes, keeping in touch during the trip, and having the ability to be flexible and of assistance. I can say, without the slightest bit of hesitation, that Sandy Ferguson and his team have shown me exactly how to do it perfectly! From the beginning, when I spent time on the phone with Sandy discussing what I was looking for in a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, to suggested itineraries, to confirming details, to excellent hosts (guides), to the continuing reminders that everything was flexible (which was very important to me as I like to be flexible and have encountered guides that do everything in a “cookie-cutter” manner), and, at one point completely changing my final day in Vietnam, Sandy’s team delivered. A special kudos to Christina, the specialist based in the US. She responded professionally and promptly to all of my requests, and was always full of cheer and great information.
My trip took me to Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Siem Reap, and then Saigon. Everything and everyone were magical; the trip was absolutely amazing, all due to Sandy’s group. I have already decided to book another trip, likely back to Cambodia, and then on to Laos, Thailand, and Burma sometime in 2020. Needless to say, I will go through Sandy and his team! I cannot reiterate how excellent this team is, and how wonderful they are to create the perfect trip. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
New Zealand, orchestrated by Jean-Michel Jefferson
FRANK AND CATHY GOLD | APRIL 7, 2019
My wife and I recently returned from 3 weeks in New Zealand on a trip planned by Jean-Michel, Wendy Perrin’s recommended agent based in New Zealand. We’ve traveled a dozen times with Wow List travel agents and Jean-Michel’s team was one of the BEST. After several telephone conversations, they understood exactly the kind of trip we were looking for and gave us everything we wanted and more. They planned a beautiful itinerary, selected amazing accommodations of the type we wanted (boutique hotels and estates not large chain hotels, all perfectly well located). Every detail was planned and executed to perfection. Out trip was a very “out-doorsy” hiking and touring trip in the vast countryside with 5 star quaint lodgings and small boutiques hotels and private homes everywhere. Without exception, they were all superb. All transfers, internal flights, car rentals, restaurant suggestions etc were perfect. When the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to modify our heli-hiking trips and treks, Jean-Michel’s team coordinated all the necessary changes “on the fly” and monitored the weather forcast and dealt with our guides seemlessly.
I could go on and on–I cannot give Jean-Michel, the owner of the company, and our personal agent Monique high enough recommendations.
One week after our our return home, our daughter and her husband were also in New Zealand on their honeymoon. There’s was a different caliber of trip which they had planned themselves. They got caught in record torrential showers for 2-3 days and were trapped in a small town with all bridges washed-out. Monique and Jean-Michel’s company volunteered to help them out if needed–“they were family”. Need I say more?
Thank-you to them and to Wendy Perrin for a gorgeous WOW Moment gift–we really appreciate it.
The United Arab Emirates, orchestrated by Lindsey Wallace
JEFFREY EDWARDS | APRIL 5, 2019
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.
Cabo, orchestrated by Julie Byrd
MARY FRANCES | MARCH 24, 2019
n planning my 50th birthday celebration, I contacted Julie Byrd on your recommendation to help locate the perfect house in Cabo to rent for 11 ladies. Julie responded immediately after my first email with her. She listened to my criteria and sent me a list of 5 homes to look at. I instantly choose on her recommendation – Villa Tranquilidad.
After booking this Villa, I began working with Kimberly Zamora from Julie’s team. She was helpful, read each and every email I sent with questions, booked dinner reservations and when the time finally arrived for our trip .. eight of us were stuck in Nashville trying to get to Cabo. I immediately reached out to her as 2 members of the trip would be arriving right on time. She arranged separate transportation for them at the last minute and had our large bus waiting for us when we finally arrived at midnight. Kimberly even helped my group of friends plan a special catered dinner to surprise me for my birthday.
From Julie to Kimberly to our local concierge, everyone was a joy to work with and went above and beyond to make sure it all went seamlessly. I would love to work with Julie and her group again.
And now for the Villa she recommended – Villa Tranquilidad was the most outstanding house I have ever rented. There was plenty of space for everyone. The staff at the Villa run by Rosenburg and his wife were a pleasure to see each and every day. They made sure anything we needed was taken care of. They prepared delicious food and the best fresh margaritas!! If any problem arose Rosenburg immediately handled it quickly and efficiently.
My sister loved the house so much she plans to go back and stay there again. I have recommended that she get in touch with Wendy so she (who is a world traveler as well) can become part of Wendy’s clients and eventually get a Wow moment herself.
The only thing I wish that Julie’s group could do would be to give a better idea on tipping the entire villa Staff. They advised on tipping for room cleaning but for the rest of the staff they just recommended that I give what I thought was fair. I had just been to Jamaica in January and at that villa there was an exact breakdown of how to pay each of the staff members. This would be very helpful I think for future renters.
Thank you for getting my connected with Julie Byrd and her amazing team!!
The Caribbean, orchestrated by Lindsey Epperly Sulek
BONNIE POLAKOFF | MARCH 15, 2019
Lindsey and her team made our 2-week trip to Barbados magical. She listened carefully to what we were looking for in a hotel and taking our budget into account, she delivered in spades. My husband and I are world travelers and good service is our middle name. Lindsey’s recommendation of The Sandpiper was nothing short of genius. It checked every single one of our boxes; the service was probably the best we’ve ever experienced, bar none. The staff and our fellow guests were elegant, warm, and friendly — we couldn’t have asked for a nicer experience. The hotel restaurant and the beach bar were extraordinarily good — unusually good, in fact. Again, the service was exemplary, from housekeeping to the tennis pro to the water sports staff and to every waitperson in the restaurant. We came home relaxed and happy. Everything ran like clockwork, Barbados is stunning, we got to swim with turtles — what more can I say? It was perfect — 2-weeks of total bliss.
Chile, orchestrated by Jordan Harvey
EVA STRASBURGER | MARCH 13, 2019
I contacted Jordan in mid- November 2018 to organize a surprise birthday trip for my husband to Chile with a focus on Easter Island and stop overs at a Casablanca Valley vineyard and a night in Valparaiso. Since it was rather last minute with the birthday in early December, I was concerned that what I was asking for would not be possible because of availability. However, Krista, my point person, was brilliant: she gave me lots of great options, took me through all of them in detail and ensured that this was an incredibly easy and stress-free trip to organize. She was professional, fun to work with and very responsive and I always got off the phone with her with a smile on my face and confident that I was in good hands. The trip was hugely successful and my husband was both surprised and delighted. Highlights of the trip were meeting the people who looked after us – all very warm, friendly and knowledgeable, the unexpected surprise experiences along the way, like the graffiti lesson in Valparaiso and Wendy’s fabulous WOW moment on our trip to Easter Island. It began with a private guided walk through fields, caves and coastline and ended with music, pisco sours, delicious bites, a presentation of a book on Rapa Nui, birthday cake and a sunset overlooking the moais and the ocean. It could not have been more perfect! Thank you for this unforgettable moment and we were wowed.
Nicaragua, orchestrated by Pierre Gédéon
KIRTI SHAH | FEBRUARY 26, 2019
We wanted to see the non touristy Nicaragua so we’d have a better perspective on how Nicaraguans live. We also wanted activities that highlighted the Nicaraguan landscape. Pierre planned the itinerary based on our goals. He added physical activities like kayaking, hiking in the could forest, biking in Grenada and horse riding. He also showed us beautiful landscapes of Nicaragua – from colonial cities to tropical islands, eco lodges, natural reserves, lakes and rivers. The local guide, Giovanni in Grenada was excellent in his depth of knowledge and information not readily available on the web. The execution of the tour from start to finish was seamless and if minor issues arose, they were handled promptly. The choice of accommodations was great and we appreciated that Pierre encouraged us to go to Jicaro lodge. The trip was well planned and well executed.
Panama, orchestrated by Eric Sheets
ROBERT KOENIG | FEBRUARY 25, 2019
We hired Eric’s team to plan a custom two week trip to Panama. Nils listened to us and drafted an itinerary that met our expectations exactly. We are a senior couple so we tailored the trip to be a relaxing visit and according the activities at a moderate pace. All the local providers performed well. The trip was 6 nights in Panama City, 4 nights in Boquete, and 3 nights in El Otro Lado Portobelo.
Some very positives – we had the same guide for all our 6 days of activities in Panama City and it worked because of the familiarity, since our activities were different it did not overlap and the familiarity made it more relaxing for us, more like traveling with a friend. The average time for driver arrival during the trip was 10-15 min early, the latest (one time) exactly on time.
Every one we dealt with — guides drivers hotel personnel — were engaging. Panama likes tourists and the way our trip was planned we never felt we were crowded or rushed.
We did have a specific in-Panama contact number but had no need to call because the trip executed exactly as planned. That’s what you expect from a travel planner, everything planned perfectly in advance so that on the trip it just executes flawlessly. We did send back some pictures during the trip and always got a quick response from Nils and Filomena. You could tell they care that their clients enjoy their trip. Also they worked with us to help with our budget given Paquita is a native Spanish speaker.
In Panama certain activities are best on certain days of the week and Eric’s team knew that and the planning worked. Also they steered us clear of the Pope’s visit (our timing was flexible) and that was great because we would not have enjoyed being in Panama during that time.
We saw the canal 4 different ways… Viewed from our walk to the top of Alcon Hill. Half day transit thru the Miraflores locks on a “ferry” not overcrowded and you could almost touch the side of the wall. On a private nature boat in Gatun Lake in the middle of the canal — we were right next to wildlife looking at the cruise ships in the center of the lake. And the Agua Clara locks on the Caribbean side where we watched a supertanker pass thru the new locks.
This trip was so much more up close and personal than sitting on the deck of a cruise ship and I’d totally recommend seeing Panama at ground level. We really did have a great time.
Nils and Filomena (his detail planner) were in tune with what we wanted and we would use them again in a region they specialize in. All our expectations were met we were completely satisfied with their performance.
Buenos Aires, orchestrated by Maita Barrenechea
JOHN OWEN | FEBRUARY 23, 2019
We relied on Maita to bookend a cruise to Antarctica out of Buenos Aires. Before the cruise we wanted to experience Buenos Aires, and the two tours Maita arranged were both great. Do not visit Buenos Aires without visiting Recoleta Cemetery, La Boca and the Colon Theater. Following the cruise, we also squeezed in a trip to Iguazu. Thanks to Maita’s magic, it all fit into about 36 hours. Her guides were excellent, personable and professional, and all arrangements worked like clockwork.
I have nothing but praise and gratitude for the work done by Maita and her assistant Mariana. Mariana even called us in Iguazu on Sunday to make sure all was going well. I cannot thank them enough for helping turn a routine time into a “WOW” experience. They fully deserve to be on your WOW list.
Patagonia, orchestrated by Tom Damon
TONY FORD-HUTCHINSON | FEBRUARY 18, 2019
Tom listened to our needs and organized a flawlessly executed trip for us to Patagonia. We started by flying to Buenos Aires where an efficient transfer was organized to get us to the domestic airport for our flight to Ushuaia where we were met by our guide, Gascon, for the next 3 days. We were interested in bird watching and Gascon is an expert birding guide and found us many of the endemic species of the area. A highlight of the area was a visit to Martillo Island and Haberton ranch where we saw three species of penguins and on the way back had close encounters with two humpback whales. We then boarded the Stella Australis which was to be our home for the next 4 nights as we sailed towards Punta Arenas along the Beagle Channel. We had outstandingly good weather (not so good for the melting glaciers!) with visits to Cape Horn, multiple glaciers and a giant penguin colony. The water was dead calm for much of the trip with one day having a high of 73, no wind and no clouds in the sky (very unusual). After our arrival in Punta Arenas we were efficiently transferred to the Explora Lodge in Torres del Paine National Park. This was our third visit to an Explora Lodge and it did not disappoint with outstanding hikes and gourmet food to come home to, as well as more good, albeit windy, weather. Our final leg of the trip involved two nights in Santiago at the excellent Singulair Lasterria Hotel with a great day out exploring the city with Katia, followed by a night flight home to the snow in New York. All in all a great way to see Patagonia.
Brazil, orchestrated by Paul Irvine
PAM AND JERRY SMYTH | FEBRUARY 9, 2019
Paul is outstanding from first contact to final post-trip communication. Rarely have we had less need to revise what an agent proposed for our travel. Paul listened carefully to what my wife and I enjoy in travel, and planned the perfect blend of big city (BA), including two outstanding guides, wine country with two guided private bodega experiences, private terrace dinners in the shadows of the Andes mountains, then complete relaxation in eastern Uruguay with its endless beaches, world-class gastronomy, private winery tour with the head sommelier, dinners at the top locations… Paul updated our itinerary for some dinner enhancements, communicated every step of our trip, answered various questions en route (tipping protocol, e.g.), and really made our entire experience exceptional. NOTHING was missed. Paul is the consummate pro. We will return to South America many more times, but only if and where Paul can provide his comprehensive service.
Costa Rica, orchestrated by Irene Edwards
PHYLLIS BOSSIN | JANUARY 27, 2019
Irene Edwards and her team were fantastic. First of all, the itinerary was perfect. We loved all three places we stayed and we had the right amount of time in each. I am certain that we would never have found the Kura Villas on our own. This might be the most beautiful place I have ever been, rivaling the Il San Pietro in Positano. Just gorgeous. In terms of during the trip, the people on the ground were wonderful. All of the guides and drivers were friendly, really nice and very knowledgeable. Everybody was perfectly on time and extremely accommodating. Most important, we realized that we had left our camera battery charger and spare batteries at home and the battery in the camera was dead. Before we realized that we could charge it on a mini SB port, we contacted Selena Solis and she was incredible about contacting camera shops to find a replacement charger and battery and was going to deliver it to us at the airport and, if we didn’t connect there, to send it on the next flight to Osa. We were very relieved to realize that we didn’t have to put her to all of that trouble but she was completely on top of it and was going to make it happen. We were very impressed. I would definitely use Irene and her team for our next trip to Costa Rica.
Sri Lanka, orchestrated by Miguel Cunat
ELIZABETH ROLPH | JANUARY 21, 2019
Our travel group was family and consisted of 9 people/3 generations. So, there were challenges in accommodating a range of activity levels and individual interests. We chose a 13 day driving trip, spending 2-3 nights in several places, which also added complexity to the trip.
Miguel’s team did a fabulous job of listening to what we said we wanted, persuading us to reconsider some of our initial less workable thoughts, for setting us up with superb guides/drivers, and for selecting very interesting and appropriate “experiences”. Some were unusual and special and some were even arranged as we travelled. As I said–wonderful guiding. And I should also call out the driving team that dealt with car sick children, made sure water was available, navigated difficult and late driving cheerfully, and were excellent in all regards.
India, orchestrated by Sanjay Saxena
MILINDA MARTIN | JANUARY 12, 2019
This is my third WOW trip specialist — Egypt and Turkey before, and this time India. Sanjay Saxena did an excellent job of listening to what we wanted in a trip, and customized our itinerary for our specific needs, including some out-of-the-box ideas like going zip-lining around the Red Fort in Jodhpur, getting henna tattoos, and going to a Bollywood movie. Everything was well-run once we were in India, and we felt 100% supported. India isn’t the easiest country to visit, but Sanjay ensured we saw the highlights; everything was beautifully arranged and the trip was magical. The guides were outstanding.
Mongolia, orchestrated by Jalsa Urubshurow
DEVAN ULLMAN | JANUARY 6, 2019
I can’t imagine using anyone else to plan such an amazing trip to Mongolia. We booked our trip so last minute and in no way did Nikhita make us feel bad for all the extra work we probably made them do. It was if they planned the most perfect trip at the snap of a finger. If you are looking to plan a trip extremely last minute without any type of headache and all the help you could ever want/need then Jalsa’s team is your go to. It was one for the books. The Gobi desert was by far the most memorable and I have no idea how we would’ve gotten from point A to B without our amazing driver. Another amazing memory that they surprised us with was the dinner at the Flaming Cliffs. Our guide, Undrakh, told us we were going to hike a little further and to our surprise as we turned the corner there was the most beautiful dinner set up to watch the sunset on the Flaming Cliffs. The weather is extreme and unpredictable so it was so nice to have an experienced and knowledgable guide switch our itinerary around if necessary. Even with snow one day and t-shirt weather the next, everything went flawlessly and it was the most relaxing vacation. We would do the trip all over again with our entire family because we can’t think of a more ideal vacation than our trip to Mongolia.
Spain, orchestrated by Virginia Irurita
MELANIE FORTIER | JANUARY 1, 2019
This is our second time using Virginia and her team. They are the best travel planners we have ever experienced. If you are going to Spain or Portugal, you should use their team!
This trip we went back to Barcelona for 3 days and spent just under a week in San Sebastian. We toured Montserrat with Carles who was AMAZING – highly recommend him for a personalized insider tour! In San Sebastian we had an amazing pintxos tour with Fanny. We had two separate tours and a WOW experience with Gurutze who is AWESOME! It was also our first Wendy Perrin WOW Experience (a spectacular, day trip to Pasajes de San Juan customized to everything we love about travel and Spain) – WOW is all we can say…
Everyone connected with Virginia – every single staff member, every driver, every guide and every hotel they recommended were extremely customer focused, caring, attentive and committed to delivering a world class experience. We will be booking another trip here again soon with Virginia and her wonderful team!
Fortier Family (2 Adults, 2 Children – 10-year-old, 13-year-old)
Jackson Hole, orchestrated by Caroline Wood
GARRETT BANDY | NOVEMBER 28, 2018
Caroline Wood planned a 10 day trip for the 4 of us (6-year-old twins and my wife and I) to Jackson Hole, Wyoming over Thanksgiving. We were searching for a memorable trip in the mountains anywhere in the west that had the best chance of finding snow. Caroline steered towards Jackson Hole after hearing her extremely proficient understanding of every mountain area from BC to Colorado. Caroline found the perfect cabin in the Tetons for Thanksgiving for half of the time and then obtained a truly phenomenal suite for us at the Four Seasons. We booked excursions in the refuge to see bison, hundreds of elk and bighorn sheep. We were directed to great hills to sled on and wonderful hiking areas to see the Tetons. We highly recommend Caroline. She checks all the boxes for a 5-star experience.
Cheers, The Bandy’s
Indonesia, orchestrated by Diane Embree
JEN GREEN | NOVEMBER 22, 2018
My husband and I were thrilled with the experience in Yogyakarta that Diane arranged for us! In the planning stage, she was super responsive to my emails and gave helpful reminders throughout. I am so glad we didn’t go it alone.
She hand-picked our guide who was extremely knowledgeable and perhaps even more importantly had grown up in the area and was eager to share its history and traditions. Our guide introduced us to local craftspeople and we were able to see firsthand how batik and wayang puppets are made. When I discovered a bar of artisan chocolate made locally in the hotel mini-bar, our guide helped me track down where it is made so I could bring some home as gifts!
Speaking of the hotel, we were on a budget and Diane helped us maximize it for sure. I was shocked that she had managed to find such a lovely place for our price point. Gorgeous pool area for relaxing after tours of stunning temples, as well as a warm and helpful staff. If left to my own devices, we’d have ended up overpaying for something excessively lavish or ended up somewhere affordable but underwhelming.
Truth? I am glad we skipped Bali and opted for this experience instead, which was a far better fit for our interests. That is all because Diane took the time to really listen and give advice that only comes with the years of experience she has in Indonesia.
Fiji, orchestrated by Lynette Wilson
CARI REED | NOVEMBER 10, 2018
Lynette Wilson was lovely to work with in planning our week-long trip to Fiji. We had a lengthy first phone call in which she answered our many questions about traveling there, best places to stay given our interests and desired accommodation type. She lives in Fiji and has traveled extensively in the South Pacific so her insight was terrific when deciding where to go in the region. She was prompt in her follow up emails and getting back to us on questions. We decided to stay at Savasi Island Resort for its beautiful, small and private setting. Our 2 bedroom villa was gorgeous – waterfall and a small pond at entry, private plunge pool on the deck overlooking the gorgeous ocean view. The staff there were attentive and arranged for private excursions snorkeling and to a village for a swim in their waterfall – amazingly it was only the 2 of us and our guide there! They were very knowledgeable and taught us a bit about local plants and critters. They shuttled us back and forth to the airport and had breakfast prepared for us on arrival – pretty great after an overnight long-haul flight. As a special treat, I had a wonderful complimentary foot massage and scrub afterward – heaven. They made an amazing first impression with how they greet all guests. We plan to go back to this boutique resort. Lynette has counterparts in Los Angeles that booked our airfare. They were efficient but weren’t able to help much when we wanted to upgrade our flights to first class. To be fair, we should have noticed sooner we were booked economy, so might be worth ensuring that you specify that up front. All in all, we had on of our most memorable trips. I highly recommend Lynette.
Austria and northern Italy, orchestrated by Claudia Schwenger
SHERRI JOHNSON | NOVEMBER 3, 2018
When I reached out to Claudia and Mirium to help plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip for my Mother, I had high expectations. Not only did they knock it out of the park, but they made this trip to Austria and northern Italy truly a lifetime memory for which we will always be grateful. The hotels were hand-picked and exceptional, the guides were knowledgeable and personable, and the activities were well-timed and exactly what we asked for. We were working with specific cruise dates and were looking for a 10-day pre-cruise trip that would give us mountains, water, beautiful scenery and culture in destinations that were easy to get around. When I contacted them two weeks prior to the departure to let them know that Mom had a medical issue that could limit some of her mobility, they were immediately responsive. They discretely shared this information with the guides such that they were able to route the day trips and tours for routes requiring less walking without sacrificing the original itinerary and plan (and without Mom knowing!). The hotel in Lago d’Iseo was a hidden gem, literally. The apple strudel cooking class in Salzburg was super fun and engaging. The Piglet they provided was a thoroughly detailed day to day guide that covered every potential question. Mom is still smiling from ear to ear and already talking about planning her next adventure. I cannot say enough great things about Claudia and her team and would hire them again. Not only because they are clearly experts in this region, but because they cared about our experience from the minute I sent them the email to initiate the trip to the minute Mom returned home where she found a beautiful floral arrangement thanking her for letting them be part of her trip. 10-star service every step of the way.
Thailand, orchestrated by Daniel Fraser
JOELLEN SHELDEN | JULY 25, 2018
Dan Fraser and his team knocked it out of the park. Last year we had to end our trip early to Thailand due to an injury. We were determined to go back and finish our trip. Throughout the planning stages, I could tell they had processed our likes, dislikes, style and preferences and that had been used to craft our new trip. We added Saigon, Hue, and Hoi An to the beginning of our trip for a 15-day adventure. We stayed at fabulous luxury hotels like the Park Hyatt Saigon where we were upgraded to a suite and the St. Regis Bangkok. We stayed at historic properties like La Residence in Hue and a swanky boutique hotel Rachamanka in Chiang Mai furnished with antiques. All of our private guides and drivers were knowledgeable, personable, and flexible. We seldom waited in line, so all the temples and sights without the crowds. Dan calls their guides hosts and they do just that. Go to the market? You get opportunities to try local drinks and fruits. At the temples, you get to participate in local customs and traditions. We are foodies and we had such amazing lunches at non-tourist places. Dan’s office team also helped us make reservations at two of the top restaurants in the world, Gaggan, and Nahm. And when we had a mini-crisis of food poisoning, our guide was there to make sure I got the treatment I needed and figured out how to reconfigure our next day so that we still got to see the main sights. The transfers between cities were seamless. One of my most favorite moments was at Ayuthayya when I dressed in traditional clothes and wandered amongst the temple ruins. Dan and his team not only gets the big things right but the details that take a trip from great to lifetime memories. Thank you, Wendy, for making this introduction.
African safari, orchestrated by Linda Friedman
RON KLAUSNER | JANUARY 19, 2018
Linda Friedman is perfection. She planned a 10 day trip for my wife and I with nothing left to chance. Her people on the ground were excellent including David, our guide in Amboseli, and Wilson, our guide in Kichwa Tembo. Lodging was perfect. Time in each camp was perfect. Interim arrangements in Karen and the Boma in Nairobi were perfect! In fact, both my wife and I had the best massages ever at the Bomas spa when we had a few hours to kill. Linda even thought to give us a free cell phone to use. I told her we would never need it but we had an issue at home and it sure came in handy. I would have zero reservation recommending Linda to plan a safari to Kenya.
South Pacific cruise, orchestrated by Meg Austin
BONNIE RASKIN | JANUARY 2, 2018
I have worked with travel agents and travel specialists throughout my adult life on trips spanning several continents and complicated itineraries. In short, Meg Austin is THE best in every aspect of planning a trip from start to finish. I’m not sure if I’d be classified as “high maintenance”—you’d have to ask Meg that—but I ask a lot of questions and require a lot of information and guidance in every step of planning a BIG trip like the one my husband, daughter and myself planned through Meg. It was our first cruise and Meg guided me through every aspect patiently and expertly. Meg knew exactly which cabins to book for us, which flights to put us on, when and how to reserve our excursions and dining options so there would be no FOMO. Meg is incredibly well connected with insiders, so she was able to pull strings to get us everything SHE wanted us to have in our tour package—items I didn’t even know to ask for, but thank goodness Meg did. She handled me with humor, grace, zip-quick responses, and was always one step ahead of me.
It will take a long time to fully process and digest the breathtaking beauty of Tahiti, the graciousness of its people—including every crew member on the Paul Gauguin—and how perfectly Meg took care of my family through every step. This was a trip of a lifetime, and it’s going to take a lot to top this week.
No hitches or hiccups at all, anytime, period. Once onboard the ship, I followed Meg’s guidelines to a tee and booked our dinner, diving, and excursion reservations—which were all about timing, as the ship was fully booked. No problem for us—we had Meg Austin as our travel guru.
Meg could not have picked out a better cabin for us and our daughter. It was everything she said it would be—fantastic location for viewing breathtaking scenery, and the cabin amenities were wonderful. Cabin service twice daily! Fresh towels and stocked refrigerator throughout the day!
The food throughout the cruise was only exceeded by the professionalism and warmth of the Paul Gauguin staff. We made fast friends with the ship’s captain, so we were treated to tours of the bridge and engine room, and of the galley with the executive chef. The only way I didn’t roll home was due to all of the activities and excursions I went on that were so well organized and staffed. The snorkeling was excellent, as were the guides. My husband and daughter enjoyed terrific dives—four divers to a divemaster, unheard of on a non-liveaboard diving trip. Nothing was lacking. Everything exceeded all of our expectations. We met lovely guests from around the world. Yes, the ship was fully booked, and there were a lot of kids and family reunions, but we did our thing and they did theirs. Maybe next cruise I’d opt for adults only, but that’s just me. Even my previously Cruise-Averse Husband was completely won over by this Paul Gauguin cruise experience. You’d have to be insane not to have felt this way. It was luxurious beyond words.
We are Meg Austin lifers—if she’ll continue to have us. I actually helped some of the guests with information that Meg gave me that they didn’t know! I guess that makes me a Meg Austin protegee!
I tell everyone about the Wendy Perrin website and WOW List… and I suppose I also have to now share Meg Austin as well. I have not had one iota of disappointment with either.
South Pacific cruise, orchestrated by Leslie Fambrini
ALISON FIELDS | OCTOBER 29, 2017
Leslie Fambrini is fantastic. We are very experienced travelers – over 130 countries visited — and seldom use travel agents, usually arranging our own trips or traveling with affinity groups. But since we were doing an expedition cruise that wasn’t sponsored by an affinity group, we decided that to deal with Silversea we should use an agent. For this Micronesia-Melanesia Silversea trip, Leslie got us a discount on the great cabin she recommended, found out the group pre-cruise hotel early enough to avoid the high Silversea price with an internet price, and got all our information to us early since we were leaving 13 days before the cruise. Silverseas transfer prices are ridiculously high but in expedition ports, there are often no taxis available. Leslie went out of her way to find a transfer agent in Port Vila, Vanuatu, (not a place she would normally deal with) and arranged our ship to hotel transfer for “free”. Two issues arose on our trip. One: I had to supply a copy of our flight ticket leaving Vanuatu to the ships financial officer for the Vanuatu visa. Somehow in transferring all my documentation from my home computer to my traveling laptop, the flight out of Port Vila did not transfer. An e-mail to Leslie got a copy of the flight info in less than an hour. Not a big thing unless it is the night before the immigration officers are due on board. Secondly, we were traveling without our i-phones. We discovered the morning we were to disembark that our ship was not arriving at the usually port but at an out of the way one and we had no way to contact the transfer agent (the ships reception people being busy with other duties). We e-mailed Leslie again and she contacted the transfer agent. They were there waiting for us when we arrived. Perhaps they had already checked without her input but it was so reassuring that we would not be standing in the pouring rain with no taxis available wondering what to do. These may be minor things but as people who usually seldom use travel agents, not having a moments worry (well the 20-30 minutes between e-mails) is worth a great deal to us (I might add that on a previous trip that we booked through Leslie, much went wrong due to the expedition staff. I complained to Leslie and received a generous credit from Silversea due to efforts.)
Italy villa vacation, orchestrated by Mara Solomon
CAROL FENTON | JULY 17, 2017
I started working with Mara Solomon, a year prior to our trip. I would work with her again in a heartbeat. Mara and her team are consummate professionals – highly skilled, super knowledgeable, fun and warm. They think of everything and do so with finesse and flair. Mara very quickly figured out our hopes, taste, and interests, beyond what I was articulating, and steered us toward several excellent villa options. In planning our excursions and villa experience, she offered unerringly sage advice and suggestions and listened intelligently to my responses. She also has a great sense of humor, for me a huge plus. It was clear I’d landed with the A-team. As a result, I relaxed and confidently put myself in their hands. Working with Mara was an effortless pleasure and the result was spectacular. We spent a week in Tuscany with a blended extended family of twenty-five and to a person, we had a joyful, exciting and refreshing time together exploring the countryside and savoring the many treasures of the villa, while reconnecting with loved ones and deepening our ties to each other. Mara anticipated potential pitfalls and prepared me for them while planning to prevent them. It worked. She suggested ways to add small joys to our days together. Those also worked. Our trip was for us just the right balance of art and architectural history, nature, exercise and of course, great food and wine along with lounging by the pool, playing cards and sharing stories. Whats remarkable in my view is that the planning itself was such a pleasure. That is entirely owing to Mara and her staff. I want to plan another villa stay in Italy if only to have the opportunity to work with them again.
Turkey, orchestrated by Earl Starkey
SUZANNE ILGUN | OCTOBER 18, 2016
This is the 2nd time I have used Earl Starkey and his team to plan our vacation in Turkey with my Turkish husband and in-laws. Earl and his team exceeded our expectations in planning and executing our itinerary. Earl is gracious, quick to respond when contacted, knowledgeable, and well connected. We switched some of the itinerary around at the last minute which Earl and his team handled seamlessly.
The hotel we stayed at was a perfect match for our likes. We had the best room location in the hotel.
The driver, Ali, did small extra touches for us without us asking. The guide, Burju, was excellent. She is well versed in ancient history, modern history, as well as open and willing to talk about any question we asked. She shared with us local cultural highlights. When we went to a restaurant that did not have the menu items we were looking for, Burju and Ali were able to quickly take us to another that was exactly what we were looking for. In addition, I asked Burju to simultaneously translate for me stories being told by a native Turk at one of the sights we were visiting which she did flawlessly. This enabled me to participate in the conversation as if I was a native speaker and part of the group. I felt like a local. This was a priceless experience that can only be done with a top-tier guide.
Traveling in Turkey with native Turks provides an extra challenge for any travel expert as Turks are very discerning clients. As they are native speakers as well as familiar with the country and culture, a travel expert, driver, guide, or hotelier will be quickly spotted if anything less than top-notch service is provided. My Turkish family raved about all facets of our trip. We will be contacting Earl again for our next family vacation in Turkey.
If you want to have a wonderful trip to Turkey, feel well cared for with all your desires met, then without a moments hesitation contact Earl Starkey to plan your trip.
St. Barts, orchestrated by Peg Walsh
JEANNE GIBBONS | MARCH 4, 2015
I have rented from Peg many times and have never been disappointed. Our last trip was this past year during the Christmas/New Year holidays. Her staff, both in the U.S. and in Gustavia, answered all of my questions and were very helpful. I especially like that St. Barts is the only island where they rent villas. They know the owners and all of the areas of the island. They constantly update their helpful hints. I have recommended St Barth Properties to friends with no qualms. I will continue to rent a villa from them in the future.