Have you heard of my WOW Moments project? “Wendy’s WOW Moments” are exclusive insider experiences that help make a trip extraordinary. WOW List travelers earn them by submitting reviews of their trips. After you take 2 qualifying trips, we will send you a WOW Moment certificate to redeem on a future qualifying trip. Learn how to get your own WOW Moment in Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip! Then travel vicariously via the WOW Moment reviews below and give yourself something to look forward to!
Italy: “A romantic dinner for my wife and me on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo overlooking Lake Como…”
“We worked with Andrea and her excellent team to rent a wonderful villa for three weeks in Ossuccio, a small comune on the western shore of Lake Como (about 12 miles northeast of the city of Como). Andrea’s team found the perfect villa for us and our two adult children and made all the necessary arrangements with the owner and property manager. They even made sure that any groceries and household items we wanted were ordered and stocked for our arrival. Andrea arranged a day trip to Bergamo with a great English-speaking guide. If you’re within a two-hour drive I highly recommend visiting Bergamo. She also arranged a cooking class for us in Bellagio with an award-winning celebrity chef. We made beautiful tri-color pasta and feasted on a delicious lunch. Andrea also arranged a boat with an English-speaking captain to take us to several towns along the western and eastern shores of Lake Como where we stopped for lunch, shopping, and gelato. I also must mention that we had a WOW Moment, which was a romantic dinner for my wife and me on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo overlooking Lake Como and the twinkling lights of Bellagio, all framed by the pre-Alps in the distance. This was our third trip to Italy planned by Andrea and her team as our travel experts and I wouldn’t think of planning anything in Italy without them.”—Adam Amsterdam
Canada: “We were treated to a private lobster dinner on the Bay of Fundy…”
“We just returned from a trip to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and could not be happier that we chose Jill as our travel expert. Jill was always accessible, even during high season and during both the massive fires and floods the area experienced. With her first priority travelers on the ground, she always had time for us and our concerns about impact on our trip.
Jill was excellent at listening to our thoughts and wishes and crafted a beautiful itinerary that kept us mostly focused on smaller towns and areas for walking/hiking. From St. Andrews to St. Martins, we could not have had a better introduction to the Bay of Fundy and life outside the big cities. Of particular note were our guides. Genny was fabulous in St. Andrews and got us on Ministers Island, which you can only drive to at low tide. In St. Martins, Mike, Jordan, and Joe from Bay of Fundy Adventures took us hiking/walking, kayaking in the Bay and, best of all, our WOW Moment. We were treated to a private lobster dinner on the Bay of Fundy, watching the tide disappear, with enough scallops, lobster and more to feed us for a week. We tried to eat it all and failed!
Jill was able to get us a room at the quaint and lovely St. Martins Country Inn. We felt incredibly lucky to stay there. We enjoyed walking the dunes at Greenwich Beach on Prince Edward Island and seeing the East Point lighthouse. On Nova Scotia, the grave site of Titanic victims, the boardwalk along the Halifax waterfront, and stops at Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay were part of the final days of a trip we loved from start to finish.”—Phil Hoch
Turkey: “Our WOW Moment was extra special—reminiscent of Skyfall on the roof of the Grand Bazaar…”
“If you like to travel and experience diverse culture, food, history, and enjoy meeting welcoming people, then Turkey is not to be missed! We worked with Karen to curate and customize our adventure. We started with a three-day gulet voyage on the Prima Donna. We were welcomed aboard to a gorgeous Turkish spread of nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and vegetables as a light afternoon snack. Captain Nihat and deckhand Mesuit had us quickly underway for our first-ever overnighting on a sailing vessel. Our chef, Zekai, was a wonder as he quietly turned out fantastic food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Just over-the-top fun. Every meal was a delicious surprise and felt extra special with incorporation of local fresh items….
After the relaxing gulet, we did a whirlwind tour of Ephesus, which was not to be missed if you enjoy ancient history and beautiful ruins. Cappadocia was a place of pure joy for us. The fairy landscape with the “mushroom”-capped chimneys and cave churches and dwellings provided a much needed bit of exercise with short hikes. Our sunrise balloon experience was pure early morning magic. The-8 person gondola was piloted expertly over the otherworldly landscape. Even after seeing photos of how beautiful it could be, in-person was jaw-dropping.
All too soon it was time to head back to Istanbul for our last three nights of our adventure. We typically aren’t much for big cities and were surprised by the playfulness and welcome vibe of Istanbul. Our guide Cenk helped make this very memorable with his quick wit, fast pace, and love of the city that shined through his every story. Our foodie tour was a blast, with a mix of local tasty bits, drinks, and followed up with some sweets from one of his favorite shops. The history just permeates the entire vibe of the city and feels vibrant and modern while mixing seamlessly into structures that are thousands of years old…. Our WOW Moment was extra special—reminiscent of Skyfall on the roof of the Grand Bazaar. We found ourselves wishing for more time at almost every stop in Turkey and can’t wait to return!” —Tina Hunt
Portugal: “The surprise was a fantastic candlelight concert in a church courtyard. Wonderful musicians and setting!”
“Goncalo and Sara did a wonderful job planning and executing the details of our trip. Each step of their planning was executed perfectly for us—rental car was ready immediately, hotel rooms all ready and with lovely welcome gifts waiting for us, drivers on time, etc. We started our trip in the Alentejo region and wish we had had more time to explore! (Sadly, United cancelled our flight there, so we lost a day of our trip.)
Our next stop was Lisbon, a beautiful and fascinating city, great for exploring and lots of walking up and down hills! A highlight of our time in Lisbon was a wonderful WOW Moment arranged by Goncalo. We learned of this surprise when we checked into our hotel and received a note instructing us that a driver would pick us up one evening for a surprise and then return us to the hotel after. The surprise was a fantastic candlelight concert in a church courtyard. Wonderful musicians and setting! The guide and driver organized for us to explore Sintra were both terrific and on point in every way—getting to explore Sintra alone before its official opening was a treat.” —Jen Kasoff
Italy: “We were given a special opportunity to be dressed up for the night in the Foligno Quintana traditional costumes for their festival later in the week…”
“My family of four, with two teen girls, had a wonderful and action-packed trip to Italy covering Umbria, Tuscany, Florence, Bologna, Lake Como and Milan, planned with Maria. We stayed at hotels that were the perfect fit (like the one in Florence that had a rooftop pool to beat the heat!), had the best rooms and locations and such personal service, all due to Maria’s connections. Italy was busy with travelers while we were there, but I can honestly say that it did not affect our plans at all, as Maria had it coordinated and timed out so perfectly.
This trip was also to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and Maria had suggested two stops along the way that were very special. Wow, were they ever! Borgo Santo Pietro, a working farm and wellness resort in west Tuscany, and Grand Hotel Tremezzo, near Bellagio in Lake Como. Both resorts resembled something out of dream. Beautiful landscapes, amazing service, delicious food, gorgeous rooms, and so many amenities. At Borgo Santo Pietro, you had the feeling of being in a fairy garden wherever you went, and around every corner, there was something new to discover.
We were surprised with our WOW Moment early in this trip. We were given a special opportunity to be dressed up for the night in the Foligno Quintana traditional costumes for their festival later in the week. That was a unique experience and one that we would never have been able to arrange or even be allowed to do without Maria’s network in Italy. Thank you, Wendy and Maria!
The other amazing stop was the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which is a standout feature on any Lake Como ferry ride, with its striking architecture, gardens and in-lake floating pool in front, so actually staying there was quite a treat! We enjoyed the spa, the many pools and casual restaurants, and even had a private wakeboarding session one morning on the Lake! That is a memory that will never be forgotten and made this stop my girls’ favorite! Maria also arranged a great private boat tour to visit Bellagio and the famous villas of the lake with a lovely private guide, who had access to go inside the villas and educate us on all of the historic collections and stories. It was fascinating!
We had many other activities that were also highlights. In Umbria, we went canyoning through a roaring mountain river, had an in-depth local cooking class, a gelato-making class, and went truffle hunting with the cutest, yet very talented dogs. In Siena, we had lunch on the exact alleyway where the Mille Miglia Race of Classic Cars were driving through to enter Il Campo (definitely because of Maria’s connections in Italy!). In Lucca, we rode bikes around the medieval walls where we crossed paths with a special parade of classic Fiat 500s. In Bologna, we visited one of the world’s oldest universities, and in nearby Maranello, drove Ferraris through the streets of the town where they are made!” –Andrea Phillips
Turkey: “…the first and only guests at a hotel just prior to the opening!”
“Karen and her team planned an absolutely flawless vacation for my husband and me for 3 days in Istanbul and a 6-day cruise on a gulet along the Turkish coast. Our incredible guide in Istanbul, Sinan, not only showed us the tourist highlights, but out-of-the ordinary places we would never have found on our own. He also introduced us to real Turkish food, even going so far as booking a dinner reservation and pre-ordering a menu that suited us perfectly.
From Istanbul, we flew to Bodrum, and boarded our private gulet. We had never toured via a gulet, but it certainly exceeded our expectations. The crew was professional, accommodating, and went out of their way to make the trip special. The stops were beautiful and the food amazing.
We also had the pleasure of our most memorable WOW Moment in Datca, being the first and only guests at a hotel just prior to the opening! We had the facility to ourselves, were served a gourmet dinner that was overseen by the General Manager and Food Service Manager, and were offered a gorgeous suite for an overnight stay; to say this was very, very special is an understatement. (Thank you, Wendy, Karen and Mustafa.). Karen and those that work with her obviously have an in-depth knowledge of Turkey. This certainly made our trip both exciting and relaxing, both of which we requested.” —Vanessa Hulme
Iceland: “My favorite part? The WOW Moment at the Blue Lagoon…”
“Due to problems with a previous agent, we had our first conversation with Mads two months before our Icelandic adventure was set to begin. It was in the few first minutes that Mads noted that he is turning customers away as Iceland is sold out. Obviously freaking out, he quickly added, for Wendy and Brook VIPs, I have rooms/cars/guides. Across multiple calls, in a week, he hit our budget and planned our trip. It was amazing. What our first agent couldn’t do over six months, Mads did in six days…
This trip was to celebrate my birthday. Mads arranged for dinner at the best restaurant in Reykjavík (a pull I couldn’t make on my own), surprised me with not only birthday gifts, but a full hotel property upgrade AND his insistence of an adventure activity (snowmobiling) gave my wife her favorite part of the trip. My favorite part? The WOW Moment at the Blue Lagoon, thank you Wendy & Brook, never had a floating massage before…drifted to relaxation.” –Eric Hammer
Ireland: “A wine and cheese tasting in the wine vault of Ashford Castle…”
“My husband and I just returned from a fabulous two-week vacation in Ireland, spending time at some spectacular locations, particularly Ballyfin and Ashford Castle, where we enjoyed the extensive onsite activities and amenities. The food at Ballyfin and Ashford, as well as the restaurants selected, was delicious and the pubs were as much fun as expected. My husband started drinking Guinness and I tried a different gin every night. One of the most memorable moments of the trip occurred at Ashford Castle, where we were treated to a special WOW Moment, a wine and cheese tasting in the wine vault of Ashford Castle. Jonathan coordinated our entire trip down to the smallest detail, providing expert advice about where to stay, what to see, and even when to visit. His team of guides and drivers were extremely professional, knowledgeable, and personable. We toured and were delivered from place to place in comfort and style.” —Nancy Mazarin
Morocco: “A camel ride up the dunes with hor d’oeuvres and champagne as the sun set…”
“My husband and I recently returned from a superb trip to Morocco planned by Michael. The trip spanned much of the country—from the cities of Marrakesh and Fes to the Atlas mountains, the Sahara desert and the seashore. While we had to drive long distances to cover everything we wanted to see, the time passed quickly as the scenery throughout the country was gorgeous and dramatic. The drivers were careful and great—accommodating many requests to stop for photos. The hotels Michael recommended were each special in their own way (riads in the cities, kasbahs in the mountains and a tent in the desert) and the experiences he planned for us – cooking classes, dinner with a university professor to speak to us about the Sufis, walks through villages, markets and the old cities – were truly special.
Wendy treated us to a WOW Moment in the desert—a camel ride up the dunes with hor d’oeuvres and champagne as the sun set—which was truly WOW! The country itself is fascinating—and we learned so much about its history, politics, culture and role in the world. We have traveled extensively with Wendy’s experts, and every trip has been great.” —Geri Krauss
Norway: “We were in Aurland at a farm set in a stunningly beautiful valley with steep mountainsides and many waterfalls…”
“We traveled from Oslo to Nesseby, which is past the Arctic Circle near the Russian border, spending 3 nights each in 7 venues. Torunn tailored the trip to our preferences, which lean toward a bit of adventure and agri-tourism. In the north we stayed at a 2-room lodge run by a Sami fisherman and spent a morning crab fishing on his boat and an afternoon on an archaeological walk with his wife. He was an excellent cook and served foods he and his wife had caught, shot, or foraged from the landscape. He served the crab we caught in 3 different preparations, each of which was excellent.
The next day we toured the area with a Sami reindeer herder. We also spent time on a small island well out in the Atlantic where we kayaked along the seashore to a lighthouse; foraged in Trondheim with a professional forager picking plants for our lunch; visited a dairy near Oslo producing a unique cheese product and advocating a more humane way to treat dairy cattle; and spent 3 nights at a farm with a gourmet chef specializing in dishes featuring fruit and vegetables from the farm. We received very personal treatment from the hosts at our smaller venues and each of them indicated how much they valued their relationship with Torunn.
Our wedding anniversary occurred during the trip and Torunn arranged a WOW Moment for us that was great fun. We were in Aurland at a farm set in a stunningly beautiful valley with steep mountainsides and many waterfalls. We were serenaded by a musician playing a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, a type of double-strung violin. The venue was a small shelter with a magnificent view, and we toasted ourselves and the trip with homemade pear Kombucha made by the chef. We thoroughly enjoyed it.” —George Stephens
Japan: “Incredible multi-course dinner at the Michelin-star French/Japanese restaurant Motoï, a beautifully atmospheric restaurant with divine food, made extra special by the talented chef visiting us…”
“I wanted a mix of urban and rural life, so Scott made a number of recommendations that would fulfill my desires. Besides vibrant Tokyo and Kyoto, we included a trip through the Japanese Alps, through the Kiso Valley and its enchanting post towns and fairytale villages untouched by time, to the charming towns of Takayama and Kanazawa.
The trip was topped off with a two-day stay in beautiful Hakone. And the WOW Moment! Made even more special by the happy coincidence of Scott being in Kyoto for business. So he was able to join us at the incredible multi-course dinner at the Michelin-star French/Japanese restaurant Motoï, a beautifully atmospheric restaurant with divine food, made extra special by the talented chef visiting us at our table.
This trip exceeded my wildest imagination due in great part to Scott’s magnificent knowledge and love of Japan and our incredible guide, Makiko. I feel so fortunate to have found Scott through Wendy. A truly priceless experience.” —Roseanne Horn
France: “A tour of the Paris monuments by night in an open-top deux-chevaux. What an amazing way to see the city on uncrowded streets and with all of the famous landmarks lit up at night.”
“We started in the South, staying at the world-renowned Hotel du Cap—unavailable if you try to book it yourself, but available if you have Philip’s team working with you. One of the best, if not the best, hotel we’ve ever stayed at. The facility, restaurants, service and grounds were all top notch! We spent four days touring Southern France with expert driver-guides arranged by Philip, having the opportunity to compare places like Cannes, Nice, and Monaco—all excellent, yet each very unique. We enjoyed a personal glass-blowing experience where we made our own sculpture (I can’t believe we were shaping 1,000-degree glass by hand, with only a wet newspaper to insulate us) and ate at some of the best restaurants on the French Riviera. The Picasso museum in Antibes, the hilltop villages of Eze and St. Paul de Vence were all amazing experiences.
From the South of France, we moved on to Aix-en-Provence, where we stayed for three nights at the superb Villa Gallici, a beautiful hotel tucked into the hillside above Aix with an easy walk into town. Wonderful tours of Provence, including a stop at the weekly markets in Cucuron (highly recommend!) and St. Remy, along with a Vincent Van Gogh tour. Our driver-guides helped us compare and contrast the various villages and markets that were touristy vs. those that were frequented more by the locals—both were great and yet very different. An excellent way to get a feel for the uniqueness of Provence and the people that live there.
From Provence we took the 3-hour bullet-train ride from Aix to Paris, absolutely the best way to travel from the South of France to the North—takes less than half the time that driving would take. Our ‘croissant, chocolate and cheese tour’ of the Left Bank was an excellent experience, and dinner at the 3-Michelin-star Epicure restaurant—again, arranged by Philip when no reservations were available—was an absolute highlight of the trip.
On our final night in Paris, Wendy surprised us with a WOW Moment—a tour of the Paris monuments by night in an open-top deux-chevaux. What an amazing way to see the city on uncrowded streets and with all of the famous landmarks lit up at night.” —Larry Bridge
Switzerland: “The mountains are hollowed out with bunkers from WWII. One bunker has been turned into a hotel/restaurant. It was opened especially for us for a tour, then a lovely meal 70 meters underground.”
“We just returned from a fabulous trip to Switzerland arranged by Nina and David. There is so much talk of the crowds this summer, but we had many experiences that were intimate and uncrowded. We stayed in 3 different locations. First was Ascona, on Lake Maggiore. What a lovely small town. One day our guide took us into the Bavona Valley where we hiked to the top of a waterfall, then had a picnic lunch at a spluia (a living space built under a boulder). We may have seen a dozen other hikers and all were Swiss Italian. It was extraordinary.
On our drive from Ascona we arrived to the top of Gotthard Pass where we had our WOW Moment. The mountains are hollowed out with tunnels and bunkers from WWII. One bunker has been turned into a hotel/restaurant, La Clavstra. It was opened especially for us for a tour, then a lovely meal 70 meters underground. It was fascinating.
Our next stop was Zermatt, where the skies cleared up for a beautiful view of the Matterhorn. We took the cog railway up to the Gornergrat. Zermatt and the railway were a bit more crowded, but as we hiked down the mountain with our guide we were able to spread out and felt as though we had the mountain to ourselves.
Our last stop was Vevey, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Another incredibly special experience awaited us the afternoon of our arrival. We met our guide at our hotel, walked across the street and hopped in a 1966 Riva wooden boat. We drove along the Swiss Riviera, docked, and were driven to a vineyard in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lavaux. Wine and fondue with the winemaker, it was magical.” —Deb Wente
Italy: “WOW does not do justice to the opportunity to meet Marta Cucchia, the great-granddaughter of the founder Giuditta Brozzetti who has carried forward the textile workshops…”
“Maria met with us by Zoom and we discussed our interests and the kind of trip we wanted. She really listened and planned an amazing trip for us. We traveled through Umbria and Tuscany with a focus on food, wine, and culture. Montefalco is a charming Umbrian town nestled in the hills with a focus on wine and olive oil. Maria had booked us into a charming hotel and made dinner reservations for our first night. The next day we went truffle hunting and shared perhaps the best meal of the trip with the family. Each of the seven courses were delicious and I could have eaten the entire tray of the homemade onion foccacia.
The next morning was our WOW Moment. WOW does not do justice to the opportunity to meet Marta Cucchia, the great-granddaughter of the founder Giuditta Brozzetti who has carried forward the textile workshops. Working on looms from the 15th century, she provided us with a look into the art of weaving. Her joy in the work and understanding of the complexity and history of this art form was enthralling.
This experience set the tone for the remainder of the trip meeting artisans, wine stewards, wine growers, balsamic vinegar artists, parmesan cheese makers, prosciutto ham makers, sculptors, cooks and guides and hoteliers that made us feel welcome. Although it was crowded already in Italy, we always felt as if we had our own private pathways to each activity.
One of the most surprising events was a last-minute opportunity provided by Maria to go to the opera in Parma. An old theater that is built like the opera house in Venice. Maria got us perfect seats to see Pagliacci, the Franco Zeffirelli production. My husband, who is not an opera fan, has been telling everyone that one of the highlights was seeing the opera with 280 performers on stage. This may be the highest of compliments for a perfect trip.” —Lynne Golomb
French Polynesia: “Such a beautiful evening on the water seeing the sun go down and having the boat to ourselves…”
“This was a trip I had been thinking about for many years and finally decided to not put it off any further. Our eight days of paradise were stunning, fun, relaxing, and so much more. Kleon listened to all my questions and desires and put together the perfect itinerary.
Our WOW Moment in Bora Bora with the sunset cruise was stunning and such a beautiful evening on the water seeing the sun go down and having the boat to ourselves. Our Captain was outstanding!! He sang and made drinks and had snacks for us but, most importantly, he sat and answered all the questions my friends were asking about life in French Polynesia and told us all about his family! He was so sweet and stayed out past all the other boats and we had a wonderful time with him that evening!
One of the treasures we will remember at The Brando is the early wake-up call to see the baby turtles released into the ocean after being born overnight. We were so lucky to be able to see this beautiful and unique experience.
One of the biggest things that we all commented on was how wonderful all the local Polynesians were and so genuine and happy to have visitors and talk or help us in any way. The love for their island really showed through!” —Mary Frances
Costa Rica: “A multi-hour sea voyage that enabled us to visit with the dolphins while learning the area’s history from the charming captain…”
“Priscilla planned and executed a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for my multi-generational family. The needs and wants of teenagers, adults, and seniors were all addressed. We saw too many ‘creatures’ to list, including a breaching whale, dolphin pod, sloths, quetzals, trogons, etc. —something for everyone, which isn’t easy, given the age difference and some dietary restrictions. Thanks, Wendy, for the marvelous WOW Moment—a multi-hour sea voyage that enabled us to visit with the dolphins while learning the area’s history from the charming captain.
Priscilla ensured we saw the area highlights yet had sufficient time to just relax and enjoy where we were. I was able to reunite with guides I had first met in the early 90s. Also spoke with the owner of the local coffee company established in 1994 and selling me beans ever since. In thinking about highlights, the hanging bridges at Monteverde and the breaching whale rise to the top of the list, unless you count the smiles of the grandchildren throughout the day… every day. Who says you can’t relive the past? We did!” —Linda and Joe Rothman
Egypt: “Wendy arranged for a private sunset dinner cruise…”
“Two friends and I just returned from a private three-week trip to Egypt planned by Jim. We started in Cairo on the Giza plateau with a private tour of the Sphinx, then moved on to the pyramids, temples and tombs that we all see in our dreams when we think of Egypt.
An unexpected treat was the tranquility and beauty of an eco-lodge in Siwa, a desert oasis west of Cairo and about 250 miles from the Libyan border. Adrere Almallal is a stunning lodge which offers guests an opportunity to unplug (no electricity and no wifi) and experience the life and pace that the desert affords. The tranquility, the staff, the FOOD, the candlelit rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and the night sky bursting with stars was such a gift. Highlights in Siwa were a trip into town to tour the Temple of the Oracle of Amun and the Spring of Juba (Cleopatra’s pool), a visit to an all-women’s workshop, shopping and sharing tea with the local Siwa merchants, and a 4×4 trip into the desert to ride the dunes, dune surf, hunt for fossils and watch a stunning sunset.
Our WOW Moment came in Aswan, after we disembarked from a Nile cruise and checked into the famous Old Cataract Hotel on the Nile. Wendy arranged for a private sunset dinner cruise that night which was just stunning. The crew members were lovely and the scenery was fabulous! Thank you again, Wendy!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, among the many, many experiences we had, the thing that stood out to each of us the most was the warm and welcoming spirits of the Egyptian people. Our trip was made all the more special by the lovely Egyptians that we crossed paths with along the way.” —Jeannie Mullen
Mexico: “We were treated to a WOW Moment with a special lunch at Los Danzantes, including our own personal mariachis…”
“This was our second time using Zach’s services, this time for travels to Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, and, yet again, they excelled. The tours and activities planned in Mexico City (historical city tour, visit to San Angel, Coyoacan, Casa Azul, etc.) were exactly what we wanted. They even arranged a private after-hours visit to the National Museum of Anthropology. We had the entire Museum to ourselves! Wandering through the galleries with an expert was definitely a magical experience and brought the cultures to life. Our guide, Victor, was excellent throughout, always finding something extraordinary for us to see, including the fantastic murals at the Ministry of Public Education (a truly overlooked site).
Before leaving Mexico City, we were treated to a WOW Moment with a special lunch at Los Danzantes, including our own personal mariachis (thanks, Wendy). San Miguel was the ‘downtime’ part of our trip, however, Zach’s team did arrange a marvelous tour of the city, a tequila tasting, and tour of the Botanical Gardens. They even managed to squeeze in a tour of Queretaro before we boarded our flight home. As before, their efficiency and knowledge made the trip effortless for us.” —Vanessa Hulme
Chile: “We had a private stargazing evening, hosted by French astronomer Alain Maury…”
“Tom designed a Christmas/New Year’s trip to Chile for our family of six. He rose to the challenge of transporting us down and back up half the length of the continent. He organized visits to both Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, securing rooms at Hotel Las Torres in Patagonia and Explora Atacama. Both were excellent choices for their top-notch adventure staff and boutique experience.
He pretty much had to plan three trips because we originated in San Francisco, New York, and New England, and we had three different time frames. He and his staff handled the transportation logistics smoothly. And I’m not just saying this because I’m writing a review for Wendy’s WOW List, but the best part of the trip was the Wendy WOW Moment. We had a private stargazing evening, hosted by French astronomer Alain Maury, at his observatory called SPACE (San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations). Above is the photo he took of us in front of one of his telescopes. Plus we have a video he recorded on my son’s cell phone where he described what we were seeing on the Sea of Tranquility on the moon—particularly the smudge where the US Apollo 11 landed.” —Barbara Schoenfeld
Australia: “On Christmas Day we drove the Great Ocean Road and were completely surprised with a WOW Moment…”
“We just returned from an Australian holiday trip with our two teenage daughters. Stuart and Jacki put together a phenomenal itinerary with something for everyone! We began our trip in Melbourne. On Christmas Day we drove the Great Ocean Road and were completely surprised with a WOW Moment of a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles. It was breathtaking! The next day we drove through the wine country of the Yarra Valley—with tastings, lots of animal sightings, and delicious food—followed by a two-night stay at the Jackalope Hotel in the Mornington Peninsula area, about an hour-and-a-half from Melbourne. The Mornington Peninsula was also filled with award-winning wine and food, along with charming little beachside towns.
After a few days of the relaxed area and beautiful hotel, we flew up north to Cairns and stayed in the coastal town of Port Douglas. This is an ideal location to anchor a trip to both the Great Barrier Reef and with the Daintree Rainforest. We had a magical first day snorkeling around the reef, followed by a day in the rainforest with our guide, Guy. Both days were incredibly special, where we created memories that will never be forgotten. Our last stop was Sydney and the incredible new Crown Sydney Hotel. The three full days in Sydney were action-packed with sightseeing, a behind-the-scenes private tour of the famous fish market, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, shopping, and a private Opera House tour, along with a show. After our 12-day trip, we are exhausted but definitely feel like this was a trip of a lifetime!” —Jennifer Mann
Costa Rica: “Our private table was in a glassed-in small private dining area in the treetops overlooking the town.”
“Priscilla did a fabulous job of planning a special family trip for us. In Tortuguero, a highlight was the kayaking trip down an inland waterway and a short detour into a small, seemingly endless series of creeks on the side of the main waterway. It was like going into another world, even in the otherworldliness of the jungle. When our guide asked us all to stop paddling, close our eyes, and just listen to the jungle sounds, it was magical.
In Monteverde, our guide into the high rain forest had a high-end telescope that allowed us to easily see the rare Splendid Quetzal who was some distance away. Our guide even used our own phone cameras to take photos through his telescope, leaving us with marvelous photos and short videos.
We had a special WOW Moment in Monteverde when we were taken to the San Lucas Treetop Dining Experience. Each of the delicious small nine courses represented an area of Costa Rica that was explained to us as it was served. Our private table was in a glassed-in small private dining area in the treetops overlooking the town. We were there at sunset, and the view was amazing.” —Beverly Cameron
Portugal: “A WOW Moment at Claus Porto, a private workshop that started in Porto in 1887…”
“Goncalo planned every detail of our Portugal trip to perfection. We started in the Alentejo—which we had not even thought of going to—and it was the perfect place to get over jet lag and recover in a gorgeous hotel and setting. From there we went to Porto, where he planned amazing walking tours and a day trip to the Douro with an incredible winery visit and lunch. We also had a WOW Moment at Claus Porto, a private workshop that started in Porto in 1887, and we had an incredible experience making soap.
After Porto came Lisbon. Goncalo planned our itinerary so that we had stops with tours on the way to each city, and everyone who toured us or drove us around knew so much about Portugal’s history. December was a great time to be in Portugal, and Goncalo made it a truly wonderful experience from the second we landed until we got on the plane to come home. We did not have to think of anything—he already had it all figured out. We can’t wait to go back!” —Jennifer Andrews
Bora Bora: “Our final stop was Bora Bora, where the view at the airport was like a WOW Moment in and of itself!”
“The photos and videos we had seen of French Polynesia hardly compare to the breathtaking views and exhilaration you feel when you set foot on these islands. The lagoons around the Tahitian islands are crystal clear and brightened by every shade of blue you can imagine. The islands are lush with greenery and tropical flowers. The atmosphere on each island was laid back and relaxing with no crowds, beautiful scenery everywhere, incredible snorkeling, warm, friendly, and happy people, and great food. It was as close to paradise as we had ever been.
Kleon has vast experience in the South Pacific islands and made some great recommendations on things we hadn’t even thought of. On Moorea my wife and I went on our very first ATV ride and had a blast. A big advantage of an ATV is that you can get to places not accessible by cars, or even jeeps in some of the narrower paths. Following a guide, we climbed a couple of mountains, including Magic Mountain where, at over 600 feet, we were rewarded with absolutely stunning panoramas, bordered by the brilliant blue shades of the ocean. Depending on the depth, lighting, and makeup of the ocean floor underneath, we were told that you can see about 50 shades of blue on the islands. You could never get enough of the beautiful watercolors!
Our next stop was little-known, privately owned Vahine Island. This motu (tiny island), one of thousands found in the South Pacific, was formed by crushed coral and sand. The resort has only nine guest bungalows. Our bungalow sat right on the water and provided immediate access to some of the best snorkeling in the islands. The coral gardens, as they are referred to, provide an incredible kaleidoscope of brilliant colors right at your feet.
We also spent half a day on the island of Taha’a. Taha’a produces almost all of Tahiti’s vanilla exports, much of which goes to chefs around the world, as the vanilla is prized for its strong and clear taste. While there we visited a vanilla plantation. I never knew vanilla beans came from the seed pods of an orchid vine that can grow to 30 feet long! Since it takes up to a year from pollination to the final product, it’s not surprising that vanilla is one of the most expensive spices you can buy. (Beware, much of the vanilla you find in the store is artificially flavored.) Needless to say, the vanilla ice cream and crême brulées we had on the islands were out of this world! We came home with a bag of vanilla beans which are now soaking in alcohol and will produce vanilla extract in about 3 months. We can’t wait!
We were also taken to a black pearl farm where we saw a fascinating demonstration of how cultured pearls are produced. We learned how to grade pearl quality and saw examples of the many beautiful glistening shades of dark greens, blues, purples, silver, gray, and the most coveted coloration, “peacock.”
Our final stop was Bora Bora, where the view at the airport was like a WOW Moment in and of itself! The dazzling turquoise lagoon, a tiny palm-covered islet in the middle, and the beautiful green shades of the iconic Mount Otemanu in the background, makes for an unforgettable, jaw-dropping scene. Kleon put us in a one-bedroom, over-the-water, thatched bungalow at the lovely Intercontinental Resort Le Moana (think Disney heroine). The resort sits on the island’s only road, which serves as a perfect bike route and a great way to see the island. Staying over the water was an absolutely wonderful experience, unlike any place we’ve ever stayed. A short ladder on the side of our deck took us right into the shallow lagoon, where you can snorkel and see plenty of coral, stingrays, and a variety of colorful fish. One thing that is really cool is a glass coffee table attached to the floor in the sitting area. It sits over an opening in the floor which provides a great view of coral and fish swimming beneath our bungalow. It could be lit up at night.
In Bora Bora, on our favorite snorkeling tour of all the islands, we encountered Leopard Rays and Manta Rays—a real treat, especially if you have never seen these graceful creatures. The highlight for us, though, was a magnificent coral garden. We could have spent hours exploring the vast array (I got lost once!) of so many shapes, sizes, colors, and groupings of coral. It felt like we were in another world.
In Bora Bora we were fortunate to receive a WOW Moment selected by Wendy Perrin and Kleon. It was a private sunset cruise and photo shoot on a luxurious 21-foot Bayliner named “Love Boat.” It was a beautiful, romantic experience. The captain was a charming man raised on the French Riviera who had moved to Bora Bora 20 years ago and never looked back. We were given a USB key with close to 100 HD photos at the end of our cruise. The photos of my wife and me against beautiful background colors of the setting sun have provided us with wonderful memories of our trip to paradise.” —Al Cemel
Panama: “What a Moment it was! We were picked up in a Panama school bus—Diablo Rojo—with all the neon lights flashing and the salsa music playing…”
“Even though our trip was short notice and over the New Year holidays, Pierre put together a really wonderful and memorable trip for us to Panama. We started out in Panama City, where we were given our WOW Moment—and what a Moment it was! We were picked up in a Panama school bus—Diablo Rojo—with all the neon lights flashing and the salsa music playing! It took us from the hotel to the Historic Old City where we had a great typical Panamanian dinner at a local restaurant, then enjoyed the view from a rooftop bar with a glass of wine. Finally, back to the hotel on Diablo Rojo! What a fun outing!!
On Christmas Day we toured an agro-organic farm called Hacienda Mamecillo, where the family produces all their food organically, as well as a special coffee. It was so interesting and impressive. The meal they served was, honestly, one of the best meals we have ever had—worthy of any fine dining anywhere.
Our last destination was the Mount Totumas Ecolodge. Jeff, the owner, and his staff could not have been nicer. Panoramic views of the cloud forest from the main lodge deck were amazing and variety of birds spectacular, all at arms reach. The local expert birding guide, Reinaldo, is highly skilled with sharp eyes. During our nature walks, we were rewarded with many sightings added to our ‘life list.’ Each day Alma, the head chef, prepared tasty meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was fine dining in a remote cloud forest retreat.” —Sally Boland
Bolivia & Peru: “The unobstructed expanse of the isolated salt flats make star-gazing on the Salar de Uyuni a truly spellbinding experience…”
“Our trip was amazing—from visiting the salt flats to checking out a silver mine, boating on Lake Titicaca, visiting cathedrals and museums, eating delicious foods, and meeting wonderful people.
We were delighted from start to finish with Marisol and Mark’s exceptional advice and service, and a big thank-you to Wendy for the WOW Moment: The unobstructed expanse of the isolated salt flats make star-gazing on the Salar de Uyuni a truly spellbinding experience, as the full breadth and immensity of the night sky can be observed and appreciated with the telescope provided or with the naked eye. Located at altitude with almost no light pollution thanks to a sparse population, the Salar de Uyuni is one of the best places to stargaze in South America.” —Dominique Tran
Israel & Jordan: “We had a WOW Moment on this trip where we were flying simulated F-16 planes…”
“Just back from an amazing trip to Israel and Jordan arranged by Joe and Jonathan. We had a WOW Moment on this trip where we were flying simulated F-16 planes—super fun, also very humbling, giving us an even greater respect for our fighter pilots. We had a graffiti tour of Tel Aviv with a very talented artist, as well as a food tour in the souk of Jerusalem.
As for Jordan, Petra was beyond incredible. It was quite an experience walking across the Israeli border into no man’s land and then walking to the Jordan border. We were thankful we had our trusted guides on either side of the border to guide us.” —Toni Casamento
Scotland: “We had our WOW Moment in Glasglow….That afternoon was the highlight of our trip…”
“To plan our 12 days in Scotland, we worked with Jonathan and Katie. Scotland is an incredibly picturesque country, and the people we met there could not have been more welcoming and enjoyable. Highlights included our walking tour of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh with Paul, who pointed out architectural details and many things we would have missed on our own that made us understand and appreciate the city even more; St. Andrews, a picture-perfect town with amazing golf, pubs, and restaurants; and our drive through The Great Glen, whose natural awesome beauty was breathtaking.
Every hotel we stayed at was amazing, and we were given exceptional treatment while there, no doubt because of the relationships they shared with Jonathan. Our favorite hotel, where they went above and beyond in every way, was the Airds Hotel in Port Appin, a small, family-run place where we felt at home the minute we walked in. I felt sad saying goodbye when we had to leave … and the restaurant served some of the best food I’ve ever had.
We had our WOW Moment in Glasgow at The Pot Still pub, a small homey place with hundreds of whiskies lining the walls. We sat at a table in the back, with locals all around us enjoying drinks with friends. There we were welcomed by Chris, who knew more about whisky than anyone I’d ever met. He spent two-plus hours explaining the intricacies of Scottish whisky, the differences between single malt, single grain, and blends. He told us where the various distilleries are and how the locations and production styles affect taste. And while we listened, we ate haggis pies and tasted a variety of different whiskies. That afternoon was the highlight of our trip and one of the reasons we’re already talking about a return trip to Scotland.” —Cindy Kelly
Greece: “We had a wonderful dinner cooked by the mama of the house and had a Greek dance performance…”
“Jacoline listened to our travel preferences and hit the nail on the head: We focused on activities where we interacted with the locals. First was our WOW Moment: We had a wonderful dinner cooked by the mama of the house and had a Greek dance performance which we eventually joined in. We sat in a beautiful courtyard, eating delicious food and enjoying the company of lovely people. The language barrier didn’t interfere with the wonderful evening. Another highlight was visiting a farm in Kythira. I cooked lunch with Anastasia, and my husband spent the morning with Anastasia’s husband, watering the animals and riding the tractor. Lunch was delicious, and the warmth and kindness of these people so impressed us. I could go on and on describing similar experiences. Our hotels were all lovely, and the restaurants Jacoline suggested were excellent. When we missed our flight from Athens to Santorini and were standing in line hoping to rebook a flight that night, my husband’s phone rang, and it was Jacoline’s team letting us know they had already booked us on another flight. That is why I work with Wendy’s WOW people. They are on top of everything.” —Leslie Goldenberg
Italy: “We discovered we would be visiting two local artisan workshops to see classic Venetian crafts—mosaics in hard stone, and paper marbling…”
“We worked with Jennifer to craft a remarkable trip through Italy this September, and she was fantastic! There were 6 of us in our group – my husband and me, another couple we have known for decades, and their 25-year-old daughter and her boyfriend. I contacted Jennifer in the winter of 2022, and together we constructed a ten-day itinerary that took us from Lake Como to Positano. Jennifer was an excellent travel advisor – she listened carefully to what we all wanted, asked about our travel style and expectations, and made wonderful suggestions to help narrow down our choices. It was so easy to work with her, and we spent several months going over the itinerary to be sure it was just what we wanted. It really made a difference. Jennifer and her team stayed in touch with us every day with texts and reminders about the plans. Our tour guides were knowledgeable, articulate, and very friendly. Our drivers were experienced, careful, and calm in traffic. We did not use the personal escorting service at the train stations or airports, but it was interesting to note that we could have made those arrangements if we felt we needed them.
We began our adventures at the Grand Hotel Termezzo, on the shores of Lake Como. It was a spectacular hotel, and our rooms were amazing. Our first morning was spent in a beautiful classic wooden speedboat, touring the shores of the lake, learning about history, architecture, and celebrity gossip. We had timed tickets to tour Villa Balbianello, had a wonderful lunch at a quiet café, and strolled around Bellagio. (As you can imagine, we had many great meals in Italy, and Jennifer secured dining reservations at several restaurants that we were unable to book on our own.)
Next, we traveled by train to Milan, and spent several days there. The tours arranged by Jennifer were precisely what we wanted. Our city tour of Modern Milan included the Bocco Verticale building, the Porta Nouva district and the Monumental Cemetery. She also secured timed tickets to see da Vinci’s Last Supper. One day we had a beautiful drive to Piedmont for a spectacular wine tasting.
Then we went to Florence by train, and again we had a wonderful time. Hotel Brunelleschi was perfect, and within walking distance of everything we wanted to visit. Our cooking class was amazing – we walked to a local market to select the ingredients, and then we walked to the stunning personal kitchen with a view straight to the Ponte Vecchio. Our chef was delightful, and the meal we made together was delicious.
It was in Florence that we had our WOW Moment. And, again, this just showed how carefully Jennifer listened to our interests and preferences. Late afternoon we were met at the lobby of our hotel, where we discovered we would be visiting two local artisan workshops to see classic Venetian crafts – mosaics in hard stone, and paper marbling – and afterwards have a chance to relax with aperitifs and nibbles while talking with our wonderful guide. It was EXACTLY what I wanted. It was similar to what I had discussed with Jennifer, and we just hadn’t been able to it work into the schedule.
Next, we traveled by train to Naples, and then by driver to Positano where we checked into our beautiful hotel, Le Sirenuse. Oh, we know there is so much to do along the Amalfi Coast that it is hard to pick between activities. However, we have been there a few times before, and this time all we really wanted to do was just enjoy the sea, the view, and our lovely hotel. And this is pretty much what we did for the three days we were there. Eat, swim, repeat. Again, Jennifer managed to get reservations at several restaurants that we were unable to book ourselves.
The last full day of our trip we left Positano, and our driver took us up through the mountains towards Naples. We were met by a guide at Pompeii for a fascinating private tour of the ruins and museum. And then our driver took us on to a winery on the slopes of Vesuvius for a lunch and wine tasting. And finally, we got to Naples for our last evening. The Hotel Romeo was a perfect spot, very modern and groovy, right on the waterfront by the cruise ships. That night we walked to a local restaurant for, of course, pizza!
The value that Jennifer added to our trip is too much to calculate. We were a diverse group, with varied interests and tolerances, and it was great that we had worked out our itinerary so far in advance. The early portions of the trip that were carefully planned meant we all were on the same page each day, and we had all agreed to the schedule. The last few days on the Amalfi Coast were totally unplanned, which allowed for more relaxation and spontaneity. It was the perfect combination.
I would highly recommend Jennifer and her team. We hope to get the chance to use her again!” —Bonnie Thompson
Malta: “We had an incredibly beautiful picnic on the water with a solo musician playing guitar…”
“My wife and I just returned from a month long holiday – traveling to Portugal, Sicily and Malta in Sept 2022. We worked with Jason to plan the Malta portion for the last week of our trip Sept 22-29 and he did an outstanding job – from the moment of our arrival being greeted at the plane by a private car and driver to the WOW Moment he organized for us and several other special surprises…it was orchestrated to perfection.
We knew we were in good hands from that first moment, and it continued for our entire stay. Given we had already been touring for about 3 weeks, Jason was right to have us start in Gozo…where it is a bit slower and not as busy. It was a long day though – flight to Malta, then a drive to the ferry, ferry over to Gozo and then another drive to the hotel. However, at every stop there was someone waiting for us and helping us with our bags. The hotel (Cesca Lodge) was a beautifully converted ancient stone building. We were tempted not to go out to dinner, but we pushed ourselves to go out to where Jason had booked us and are we glad we did!! The owner was amazing…treated us like old friends, and the food was delicious too! It was such a fun night. The next day we had an amazing tour with our private guide of Gozo which included some stunning views of the turquoise water from a hidden cave. Later that evening we had our WOW Moment, which was truly spectacular!! We had an incredibly beautiful picnic on the water with a solo musician playing guitar…some songs which Jason had personally requested that he knew we would like! We watched the sunset while drinking champagne, sitting on blankets and pillows, surrounded by twinkle lights.
The next day we took a private boat transfer to Malta. Along the way we passed Comino Island and the gorgeous waters of the blue lagoon. Jason arranged a picnic basket of food for us on the boat which was such a thoughtful touch…although the water was too rough for us to eat, once we got to the hotel we were certainly grateful to have some food. Our driver had been waiting for us…everything was organized perfectly. The hotel Jason recommended (Iniala) was beautiful and right on the Grand Harbour – an amazing location with a fabulous view. That afternoon we went exploring on our own and had dinner on an incredible rooftop terrace where an opera soloist was singing. Once again, the owner treated us like royalty, as we were guests of Jason’s.
The next day we were met again by our guide and driver, who showed us the most ancient ruins of Malta as well as an old fishing village that had a market going on. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, we asked him to join us for lunch which he did. After that we were on our own…it was a perfect balance of touring with a guide and then exploring Valleta by ourselves – which is safe and very easy to do.
The next day we had no plans which was great…we explored on our own and found our own restaurants, although Jason had provided us with tons of choices should we have needed help or wanted advice on where to go.
After a great free day, we were back to touring with our same excellent guide and very personable and helpful driver. We walked around the main city of Valletta and had a surprise visit with a 6th-generation clock maker/gilder. That was an amazing opportunity that Jason arranged for us. After that we made it to hear the famous cannon go off at noon…another highlight. We then took a boat across to the 3 cities and walked around there. Everything was organized to a tee and we never waited more than a minute for a boat or the car…it was seamless.
What we also greatly appreciated beyond the precisely organized days was that Jason took the time to check in numerous times during our time in Malta. He really cared about us and our experience…and he took the time to make sure that all was well. It was that and the other personal touches that really took our experience using Jason as our agent to the next level.
On our last day we were booked with the “father of all tour guides” and it was a fabulous way to end our trip. He took us on an amazing tour with numerous special surprises, including being able to visit a noblewoman’s private home with an incredible art and antique collection. She showed us around and was very clear that she does not do that for just anyone, but she is friends with Jason (and his brother) and so she was willing to open her home to us. It was a true highlight of our monthlong vacation. In addition, we gained access to the private summer home of the President of Malta…and we very much appreciated that Jason was able to arrange this opportunity for us.
We absolutely loved our time in Malta and are very grateful for the amazing trip that Jason organized for us. We really treasured our time there. Most of our friends have never been to Malta and many have never even heard of it…but after traveling there we are telling all of our friends that they must go and they must talk to Jason!!” —Elliot Laskin
Germany: “In Berlin, we had the joy of our surprise WOW Moment…”
“We have just returned from a spectacular two-and-a-half-week trip to Germany. We found a beautiful, diverse country with friendly people and an interesting but complex history. Claudia listened to our needs and desires and addressed them admirably. She contributed great ideas and arranged outstanding driver/guides, hotels, and restaurants. Great guides can make or break a trip. Ours went out of their way to make our trip special. For example, Uli in the Rhine Valley brought a scooter for me to facilitate long center-city walks. Andreas in the Bavarian Alps and Munich put remarkable effort into helping Lynn trace her family roots.
To cover a broad swath of Germany in the time available, we moved every third day. Each time, we regretted leaving our wonderful hotel. The locations were ideal, our rooms perfect, the staffs friendly and responsive, and the breakfasts terrific. Especially memorable were our room in a real castle with a patio overlooking the Rhine River and our balcony overlooking Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles in the Alps.
A variety of special experiences planned by Claudia enhanced our trip. They included visits to the Berlin Wall and Potsdam, castle visits, boat trips on the Rhine and Lake Constance, and a side trip to Strasbourg, France. In Berlin, we had the joy of our surprise WOW Moment, earned after two Wendy Perrin trips. It was a special riverside gourmet dinner followed by a wonderful nighttime cruise on the Spree River. This cruise, with all the city lights and activity, gave us a whole new perspective of Berlin. I could go on and on because we can’t stop talking about this trip.” —William and Lynn Martin
Peru: “Our WOW Moment was a tour of the ‘real’ Lima with a local guide. We got the scoop of the good, the bad, and the ugly related to the nuances of life in Lima…”
“How many different ways can you say the word “amazing”??? Marisol and the experts on her staff were the sum of all the ways it can be expressed. One example is upon landing in Lima our first day. One of her team went out at 11pm at night and found and DELIVERED a new knee brace to our hotel, as the one my husband packed had been “misplaced” by the airline. We had an early flight in the morning, so this was nothing short of miraculous. Without this brace, my husband may not have been able to explore Machu Picchu or the other sites planned. Because of the almost immediate responses of the team, we were able to tweak our itinerary on the fly when the need arose (like when we got a stomach bug). It would not have been the same trip without the magic of Marisol’s on-the-ground and planning crew. They are all worth their weight in gold!
Our WOW Moment was a tour of the “real” Lima with a local guide. We got the scoop of the good, the bad, and the ugly related to the nuances of life in Lima. Not just the tourist façade view of things. The fabulously in-depth tour was capped off with a visit to the Circuito Magico del Agua, a light/laser/fountain show in Lima. The projection show story was the perfect synopsis of all of the history we had learned that day in addition to being beautifully magical! We even convinced our guide to run through the water tunnel with us where we all got drenched! A good laugh is a good laugh in any language! ” —Andrea Reed
Ireland: “Sitting on one of the columns at the Giant’s Causeway sipping Bushmill’s Reserve whiskey gives a new meaning to ‘whiskey on the rocks’…”
“Because we were traveling to different cities (Belfast, Dublin, Killarney, Cong and Galway), Jonathan suggested a driver rather than self-driving, and he was so right! Having the pressure of driving removed gave us so much more freedom to explore the areas and enjoy the days. Also, the drivers did not just drive, they provided historical facts, made suggestions of out-of-the-way places to visit, knew the best local places for a pub lunch, the best place to buy a special gift, the place to stop for the best view/photos, etc.
The hotels Jonathan suggested were truly amazing. In each, we felt very special, and we are sure Jonathan’s connections made a huge difference. The Merchant in Belfast, the Shelbourne in Dublin, and the Killarney Park in Killarney were all wonderful; it is difficult to describe how nice it is to walk into a hotel and be greeted like an old friend! And Ashford Castle…there are not enough superlatives to describe this hotel…top notch service, magnificent rooms, excellent restaurants and bars, and an attitude that ‘nothing is too much to ask.’ Many of our outstanding experiences—a day trip to the Aran Islands, a sheepdog demonstration, a food tour in Galway, etc.—we would not have known about, had it not been for the suggestion of Jonathan and his team.
Thank you, Wendy, for another memorable WOW Moment. Sitting on one of the columns at the Giant’s Causeway sipping Bushmill’s Reserve whiskey gives a new meaning to ‘whiskey on the rocks’. Everyone passing by us was jealous!” —Vanessa Hulme
Greece: “The e-bike tour that we had there was incredible, especially the sunset—a true WOW Moment!”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “My son and I traveled in Greece together, and Mina’s team did a great job of identifying activities and places of interest for us. The most breathtaking place we went was Meteora, where we got to see, close-up and personal, the monasteries that were built on cliffs and how they functioned. The e-bike tour that we had there was incredible, especially the sunset—a true WOW Moment! On the island of Naxos, on our river walk hike, our guide led us through the backcountry to unique places off the beaten path and showed us old water mills and different plants, wild herbs and vegetables that cover the landscape. Our catamaran day cruise was also an amazing experience, with snorkeling and great food. On the island of Crete, the landscape was truly beautiful and unique, and we were totally blown away by the Blue Palace Resort & Spa, with its spectacular view looking out on Spinalonga, especially in the mornings. The people in Greece were so inviting, easy to talk with in English while teaching Greek words along the way, and so generous when serving us their delicious meals. My son and I are now officially addicted to tzatziki! Thanks so much for helping us plan this once-in-a-lifetime trip together.” —George Powers
Egypt & Jordan: “We felt like Egyptian royalty sailing on our own private yacht on the Nile…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “Jim crafted a mind-blowing three-week journey through Egypt and Jordan for us. His local team made everything worry-free, especially at the airports and with our Covid PCR tests (which, by the way, were so inexpensive compared to what we had to pay in the US!). Arrangements were made for doctors to come to our hotel and administer the tests, and we received the results the next day. It was also comforting to learn that everyone in the travel/hospitality business in both Egypt and Jordan had to be vaccinated.
Our itinerary was amazing at every turn. Highlights included: In Cairo, walking along the narrow, shop-lined streets of Old Cairo and then the even narrower alleys of the Khan al Khalili. We gained a true feeling of what the city was like in ancient times. In Aswan, we appreciated being able to speak with a local in the Nubian Village and visit his home and learn about a part of Egyptian culture you hear little about. We loved our Nile cruise on the Farah. Having only 25 passengers on a ship that can hold 120 made our cruising experience extra special and very safe from a Covid perspective. In the Valley of the Kings, the most magnificent tomb was that of Nefertari, where we were the only people inside and our guide was very gracious in allowing us extra time there so that I could take photos of everything! And in Jordan, our guide worked his connections to gain us access to the Petra by Night experience an hour before it officially opened to the public! Walking through the candlelit Siq alone and coming upon the candlelit Treasury, we were awestruck.
Wendy, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for arranging with Jim our very special WOW Moment. Imagine our faces when we were taken to a yacht for a private sunset cruise on the Nile all around Elephantine and other islands. Sunset was magical as the colors of the sky, Nile waters, and surrounding land changed from yellow to golden to pink and then deep purple, followed by the twinkling lights of Aswan as night fell. This glorious sunset experience was followed by a seafood feast on the boat with a private chef. We felt like Egyptian royalty sailing on our own private yacht on the Nile!” —Mary Lou Voytko
Hawaii: “The most sumptuous gourmet picnic we have ever enjoyed, complete with champagne. We toasted the beautiful scenery, our gorgeous picnic, the kids below on their surfboards…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “We just came back from a three-generation trip to Oahu, Hawaii, which included a WOW moment (June 2022). First, your WOW List Travel Advisor, Dani, was fabulous—she knew just what we were interested in seeing and doing, and planned the trip we wanted around the grandchildren. Everything went seamlessly, and we could concentrate on the kids, and not the logistics. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Dani again, or to recommend her to my many friends who love to travel. She made sure we had the best rooms, provided amenities at both resorts, and made this one of the best trips ever!
And now the WOW moment—I have to say we were all impressed beyond words! We had planned a surfing lesson at Turtle Bay for our two grandchildren at the Jamie O’Brien Surfing School. Dani arranged, on a promontory above where the lesson was taking place, the most sumptuous gourmet picnic we have ever enjoyed, complete with champagne. We toasted the beautiful scenery, our gorgeous picnic, the kids below on their surfboards—and Dani and Wendy Perrin!!!! It was a perfect day, a perfect spot, and we loved every minute of it. But that was not to be all —when the lesson was over, who came out to greet us but Jamie O’Brien himself! Needless to say, we were all dazzled—especially the kids who had been watching this Hawaiian surfing legend on YouTube! This was all perfectly orchestrated—and was a WOW moment my family will never forget.
By the way, my grandkids are now asking when they can be in our next WOW moment!!!!!” —Nancy Bern
Kenya & Rwanda: “We had a private tour of the Ol Pejeta Conservatory Northern White Rhino Project…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “What began as a thought to go to a warmer place in February morphed into a bucket-list trip to Kenya and Rwanda! My main focus for the trip was not just an animal safari, but also to experience the African culture, see the local conservation efforts, witness the labors to preserve endangered species, and incorporate my interest in the work of Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. Dan truly listened to me and created an itinerary that checked all the boxes—not an easy thing to do!
Dan’s connections with the best local operators and guides made things so much easier. From meeting us at the plane with a wheelchair, getting us through Customs & Immigration, arranging COVID testing or self-quarantine when required, escorting us to our guide/driver, even tracking down a missing suitcase and getting it delivered just as we were leaving for our safari, I’m sure we could not have done it without them.
The lodging Dan suggested was amazing! At Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages in Kenya, we had a very private and secluded cottage with a verandah for dining and just relaxing. We received royal treatment from the moment we arrived; our personal butler (John), chef (Victoria), night “watchman” (Robert), and guide/driver (Mike) were all great! Our hosts, Andy and Sonja, ensured we felt welcome by adding little touches that made all the difference. At Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel in Rwanda, our quiet room with a secluded patio meant we were never aware of the other guests. Our room attendant (Salus) always made sure we had everything we needed. Even though the tables in the dining area were well-spaced and everyone wore masks, the manager offered to serve our meals in another building that was more easily accessible for me. He even prepared a special candlelight dinner by the fireplace on our last night.
Our WOW moment was perfect! We had a private tour of the Ol Pejeta Conservatory Northern White Rhino Project, met the two remaining Northern White Rhinos, and learned about the global efforts and cooperation amongst countries to save the species.” —Sue Newton
Rwanda & Uganda: “At the beginning of the Nile River, we had lunch out there at an amazing lodge with rapids rushing all around us…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “We travelled to Rwanda and Uganda for the month of January 2022. We are so glad we threw caution to the wind and travelled during Covid. We felt safer in Africa than we do at home. Cherri did a wonderful job of putting together all the pieces of a complicated multi-country trip with multiple lodgings in both countries. She arranged all the Covid testing and made it as easy as possible. We were the only ones staying at the various lodges for most of the time. At most, there was another couple. Also, we saw very few other tourists. The Nile River was devoid of any other tourist boats. On safari we rarely saw another Land Rover. The genocide museum in Kigali was empty, as was the art gallery we went to. As for the WOW Moment arranged by Cherri, all I can say is WOW WOW WOW! We flew by private helicopter from Entebbe to Jinja, the beginning of the Nile River, had lunch out there at an amazing lodge with rapids rushing all around us and then returned in time to catch our flight back home. My only regret is that I did not travel earlier during the pandemic. Go now before it is too late!” —Ron Klausner
Italy & Switzerland: “We walked across the river in Florence to a more residential neighborhood and visited an artist’s studio, where she welcomed us and helped us make our own mosaics in her found-object style.”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “My family of six—including four daughters, ages 5 through 11—traveled to Italy and Switzerland in November/December 2021. Maria pulled it all together on relatively short notice; I think we had only four weeks of lead time. She arranged for great hotels, fun excursions, and private guides in Florence and Zurich who were fantastic with the girls. It was really nice to have the same driver the whole time we were in a city, and each driver was excellent and very accommodating. We had a fantastic time making pizza in Florence, and another major highlight was our WOW Moment. Thank you so much, Wendy, we really enjoyed it! We walked across the river in Florence to a more residential neighborhood and visited an artist’s studio, where she welcomed us and helped us make our own mosaics in her found-object style. While they dried, we enjoyed sandwiches and cake in the cafe. The artist and Elvira (our guide) were so friendly and welcoming it was a real treat to spend the afternoon with them. As for Covid, we felt pretty safe: Things felt mostly normal (but with masks…and a QR code app in Switzerland). The Italians and Swiss seemed comfortable and ready to move on, which put us at ease as well. Maria arranged for Covid tests for us prior to our return flight. Everything went smoothly, and it was nice not to have to worry about anything. I will definitely call Maria again when we return to Italy or Switzerland.” —Rebecca Bartlett
Belize: “After we wore ourselves out dancing, we were guided to a beautifully laid table on the beach and served an extraordinary 6-course private dinner…. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “We almost never return to the same country. As we confronted the possibility of trying to travel between Christmas and New Year’s in 2021, we decided to make an exception to our ordinary rule and return to Belize. The wisdom of that choice was completely validated by our experience the second time around. First, Patricia planned an excellent itinerary, matched by superior management of all logistics. Our family of five, with our three active teenagers, spent four nights in the jungle, then seven nights at the beach. While based in the jungle, we kept our three teenagers busy with horseback riding, cave tubing and visiting the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich. We enjoyed fantastic gourmet meals and even squeezed in some time at the spa and the pool. Then, at the beach, we enjoyed leisurely days at the pool and also snorkeling, fishing, and barbequing on the beach.
The highlight of the itinerary was the unexpected WOW Moment. Knowing that we have a strong interest in learning about local culture, Patricia arranged with the Black&White Garifuna Restaurant to come to our hotel for a private, immersive evening focused on the Garifuna Afro-Caribbean culture. We were treated to a magical singing and dancing performance, and then got dancing lessons and drumming lessons. We also received short, digestible lessons on Garifuna history, language, holidays, and cuisine. After we wore ourselves out dancing, we were guided to a beautifully laid table on the beach and served an extraordinary 6-course private dinner prepared by O Restaurant at Las Terrazas resort. While we dined, the singing and dancing continued. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Importantly, Covid safety protocols received the attention they deserve. We stayed only at hotels with the strictest Covid policies and appreciated the ease of getting rapid antigen tests on the day before departure. Patricia promptly answered all of our questions about Covid requirements and safety conditions. We definitely felt safer in Belize than we did at home. All in all, the trip was an A+. We had quality time as a family, and interesting, memorable experiences in a beautiful, diverse country. Thanks to Patricia for making it all so easy. We are very grateful.” —Robyn Smyers
Italy: “We were meeting the Marchesa Elena Torrigiani at her estate and grounds in the middle of Florence! Her family goes back generations and is considered royalty in Italy.”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “We just returned from a fantastic 3 week trip to Italy that Maria had arranged for us. It was a complicated itinerary going from northern to southern Italy, with many wonderful stops on the way. Maria carefully vetted all the hotels, guides and restaurants that she arranged for us and they were wonderful.… When we thought it couldn’t get any better in our 3 days in Florence we had a Wendy WOW Moment that was over the top!! We saw that Maria listed “a one of a kind experience” in the early evening. Of course, we tried getting hints from [our guide] Elvira, but she was not sharing anything, until we were almost at our destination and told us that we were meeting the Marchesa Elena Torrigiani at her estate and grounds in the middle of Florence! Her family goes back generations and is considered royalty in Italy. The garden is 17 acres and she personally led us through the gardens and explained all the monuments, trees, etc. The best site on the grounds was a neo gothic tower and walls from the Middle Ages! Elana was so charming and a wonderful host as she told us her interesting family history up to the present. She finally led us to an outside bistro where we had a wonderful dinner. What a way to end the day. Thank you Wendy!” —Sandy Collins
San Jose del Cabo: “[Our guide] helped our 10-year old son learn how to snorkel and helped him spot puffer fish, angel fish, and other cool wildlife. And then made us the most amazing gourmet lunch on the boat!…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “We flew for the first time in almost two years (in June 2021), rented a very private home near San Jose del Cabo—with a gorgeous outdoor living space and pool—and felt completely safe. Julie helped us all along the way, including helping us decide to stay closer to San Jose Del Cabo than to the more touristy Cabo San Lucas. That turned out to be a great decision. We were traveling with our small family of three, including our young son. We had a 24/7 concierge named Hector the whole time, and he did a great job with questions about the house, activities, grocery stores, restaurants, and the like. We appreciated this as a touch that a great travel planner can help provide. He even arranged for a local doctor to come to our house for the required Covid test to re-enter the US. Simply unparalleled service! We were also lucky enough to have a WOW Moment on this trip: We were picked up at our house by our guide, Oscar, who is a lovely man with a great knowledge of the local area, its geology, history, traditions, culture, and food. Oscar took us to the marina in Cabo San Lucas, where we took a private boat to a secluded cove for a private snorkel. We were so happy with the location, especially as we saw how crowded the other snorkel locations were. Oscar helped our 10-year old son learn how to snorkel and helped him spot puffer fish, angel fish, and other cool wildlife. And then Oscar made us the most amazing gourmet lunch on the boat! We had some delicious local fish, sashimi style, and a ridiculously amazing guacamole. He loves food almost as much as I do! To top it off, Oscar helped us find a local fishmonger on the way back. I bought marlin and bonito, both caught that day and cleaned and cut to my specs, with a friendly pelican who enjoyed eating the fish scraps. We grilled the fish over the next two days, and they were amazing! A total home run, and we were so grateful for this outing. Julie, Wendy, and team, a sincere thank-you!” —Chris Kloes
Costa Rica: “We enjoyed so many experiences, from hiking to zip lining, an ATV tour, a private cooking class, a chocolate farm tour and tasting…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “My daughters (ages 15 and 16) and I went to Costa Rica at the end of May 2021, and Irene arranged a trip exactly to my specifications. We had adventure, culture, relaxation, and beautiful accommodations. We enjoyed so many experiences, from hiking to zip lining, an ATV tour, a private cooking class, a chocolate farm tour and tasting…. We also had our WOW Moment, which was really something special. Edgar picked us up in the late afternoon, and we drove to the lake where a boat was waiting. There was a three-piece band and a dance teacher aboard. We were serenaded and taught to dance the salsa. Back on shore, we were taken to the private home of a chef in town. He and his wife prepared a delicious four-course dinner, and we could see the prep, as the kitchen was outside by the table. The food was fantastic. Little did we know that Edgar had been observing our food preferences throughout our trip, and dinner was chosen from his recommendations. So much thought was put into the experience. My daughters and I will remember that night fondly.” —Karyn Sallus
Belize: “We were driven to a pool by a waterfall…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “The big question was where to go once we had been vaccinated. Belize seemed a great choice with a level 2 rating, easy entry with a vaccination certificate and direct flights from Newark airport which by definition would have passengers on board who had either been tested or vaccinated. We immediately contacted Wendy’s recommended travel agent, Patricia, and set up zoom calls. She could not have been more helpful and we ended up staying in three places. Her first recommendation was Cayo Espanto, a private island with a few luxury villas and with two butlers assigned to each villa. It could not have been a better choice, with great private snorkeling trips, bone fishing and water sports at the island. She then arranged a charter flight on Tropic Air to take us over the Blue Hole (well worth doing) and then to fly us out to Hidden Valley. A highlight there was a WOW Moment when we were driven to a pool by a waterfall where lunch had been set up with table and chairs, sparkling wine in an ice bucket, a hammock and towels for bathing. We transferred from there via the Mayan site of Caracol to the Lodge at Chaa Creek, a magical place we last visited 25 years ago. It may be more modern, but it is still magical with the same owners who live on site. There Patricia organized a birding trip for us with a local expert, we canoed on the Macal River, lounged in our private plunge pool and hiked throughout the property. Patricia kept in touch with us by text throughout the trip and met us at Chaa Creek. It was a great 8 day trip and we felt very safe there with all the staff we interacted with being either vaccinated or in the process of being vaccinated. Finally we flew home on a plane with 13 passengers on board!” —Tony & Jane Ford-Hutchinson
The Maldives: “Our WOW Moment at Gili Lankanfushi was such fun! We and the dive master and two naturalists headed out and we had a fantastic dive.”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “Justin was fantastic! We planned our eight-day trip to the Maldives to split time between two resorts. Half was at the St Regis on points. When there was Covid at the other resort we chose, Justin was very proactive at getting us into Gili Lankanfushi [pictured] instead. I can’t imagine dealing with the nightmare of finding a new place eight days before arrival without someone like Justin to work through the logistics. He was quite right in discouraging two seaplane-distance resorts, given our short time in the country and the unscheduled nature of seaplanes in the Maldives. His recommendations for restaurants to prioritize at both resorts was spot on, and he was very helpful with plans for scuba, advising on better house reefs, etc. Our WOW Moment at Gili Lankanfushi was such fun! We and the dive master and two naturalists headed out and we had a fantastic dive. Then we headed across the atoll to use a drone to try to find whale sharks and manta rays. While none were to be found, it was still a blast to watch the naturalists use the drone to hunt for them!” —Kim Prater
Belize: “From our outing to the ATM caves to a very special horseback riding morning and WOW Moment overlooking the entire property along with an outdoor cooking experience…”
PANDEMIC TRAVEL “We can’t say enough good about our recent trip to Belize. Patricia was amazing to work with, and her recommendations of the Lodge at Chaa Creek and Belize Sailing Vacations were the perfect combination for our family of five. We were scheduled to begin on the water but due to some unforeseen flight changes, Patricia recommended that we start on land and made all arrangements for us. The experience at Chaa Creek was incredible… from our outing to the ATM caves (one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done) to a very special horseback riding morning and WOW Moment overlooking the entire property along with an outdoor cooking experience, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. From the jungle, we headed back towards town to meet our catamaran and crew. As new “sailors,” we can’t say enough about this adventure. Our chef, Ellen, fed us better than we could have imagined, all while giving us a taste of local flavor, including conch ceviche and conch fritters. Our captain made the adventure especially fun for our 11-year-old son by allowing him the chance to help onboard the boat with the anchor, fishing rods, etc… We are truly appreciative to Patricia and her team for this wonderful introduction to Belize. We cant imagine a more perfect pandemic getaway.” —Kate Rader
Uruguay: “We were serenaded at a private dinner outdoors and then rode back to the barn under the stars.”
“For our first stop in Uruguay, Maita sent us to a property north of Punte del Este called Sacromonte. It was heaven. Four cottages in the middle of a vineyard on more than 500 acres. The owner treated us like royalty. A local Belgian-French couple had recently opened a ‘private’ restaurant in their home that we wanted to try, but there was a minimum group size necessary for dinner, so Maita called the next door neighbors, a Canadian couple, to ask if they would join us for dinner. After an incredible meal, the Canadian couple, who live a 10-minute drive away on 1,000 acres, invited us to join them at their recently renovated estancia for coffee the next day. What a great experience! Our next stop was lunch at the Bodega Garzon, a Francis Mallman restaurant at the top of a hill in the middle of an even greater vineyard. After lunch we then drove to the beach town of Jose Ignacio and stayed at another small, intimate property, Playa Vik. While there we went to a polo match at its sister property, Estancia Vik—our first—and it was spectacular. After the match we ate and drank with the players and exchanged stories; the polo players were from around the world and were all fluent in English and had very interesting personal lives. Our WOW Moment was the following night, back at the Estancia: We took a horseback ride at sunset, played golf on a ‘homemade’ course, were serenaded at a private dinner outdoors and then rode back to the barn under the stars. Magnificent! Maita and her staff put all this together and also recommended an amazing Buenos Aires restaurant for us, Aramburu, one of the finest and most inventive meals we have ever had in our lives. Eighteen courses of total originality, paired with six wines. OMG! It doesn’t get any better.” —Ron Klausner
London: “These are experiences we would not have discovered on our own.”
“It has become our practice to consult Wendy Perrin’s WOW List whenever we plan a trip. This time our goal was to spend Christmas in London. We spoke with Jonathan about our previous visits to London and our desire to see and do something new. As we had already seen most of the highlights of London, Jonathan suggested other tours we would not have thought of. One was a Charles Dickens walking tour; our guide was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining, and we now understand how London during Dickens’ time influenced his writing. Another highlight was a private ‘Behind the Glass’ after-hours tour of the Churchill War Rooms. We had seen the War Rooms before, but nothing can compare with going there in the evening when it’s closed and actually going into the rooms that are not accessible to the public. These are experiences we would not have discovered on our own. Jonathan also executed a surprise “Wendy WOW Moment” for us during our stay. It was a private tour and tasting in The Stafford’s amazing wine cellar, which was built in the 17th century and used as an air raid shelter during WWII! The master sommelier, Gino, gave us the tour and made the experience very special!.” —Susan Ketchum
Rome: “One of the most impactful travel experiences I have ever had—so much so that I was brought to tears”
“Jennifer’s team provided top-notch, personalized service throughout our week in Rome. The private guides she selected for us were experts in their fields and added so much nuance and color to our personal tours. For example, I have a love of Baroque art, and our art guide was a former art-history academic who specialized in the Baroque period. Not only was Susanna able to really dig in and educate me more about art from this period, but we also did a specialized Caravaggio tour that culminated in visiting an art restoration studio with restorers who had worked on some of the Caravaggios that I had just seen hours before. Being in that studio, up close and personal with the art, was one of the most impactful travel experiences I have ever had—so much so that I was brought to tears. Jennifer’s team went above and beyond, even going so far as to secure a somewhat obscure gift for a work associate and have it sent to our hotel. They also arranged for the most lovely lunch for my husband and me at the chic rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Eden, with unparalleled views and warm and attentive service. I also want to thank Wendy and her team for the wonderful WOW Moment in Rome! The food tour in Testaccio was so much fun! We loved trying the Trapizzini (at Trapizzino), and I really enjoyed Mastro. Jason loved meeting the owners of Giolitti. Thank you for making our trip special.” —Gina Melton
Africa: “Seeing the thousands of wildebeest on the Serengeti plains, the Silverback gorillas looking deeply into our eyes…but it was the people we met that made our trip so exceptional”
“We have many vivid memories of Africa, thanks to Cherri: the thousands of wildebeest on the Serengeti plains, the mothers giving birth and the wild dogs stalking their newborns. the Silverback gorillas and their mates looking deeply into our eyes during a tropical rainstorm in the jungle, the bull elephant pinning back its ears and giving us a warning when we got too close….But it was the people we met, in a way that did not feel touristy (including Kalahari Bushmen and Masai and their families), that made our trip so exceptional. We had one morning in the Southern Serengeti, where the day began with a visit to our Masai guide’s uncle’s traditional boma. We were invited inside his grandmother’s mud-and-dung hut for a tour of her humble home, but only after she’d carefully swept the mud floor and cleared a seat for us on her husband’s simple cot. Her son, who spoke fairly good English, explained why they’d moved up into the hills until the wildebeests and the tourists left the area. We continued for a bush walk through the hills, accompanied by more Masai; the hike culminated with breakfast, cooked over the fire, at a stunning cliff-edge perch overlooking the Rift Valley. You’d think the day couldn’t get much better, but we still had our WOW Moment ahead of us. In the late afternoon, we were taken to a very special, quite spiritual escarpment called Sundowner Rock. After a spectacular sunset and sundowners with about a dozen local Masai, we were led around the back side of the rock, where a surprise dinner was being cooked for us in a cave over an open fire. Two fires, actually—one with local goat roasting on sticks for the Masai, and the other grilling chicken and beef for us. After we’d all feasted, the Masai sang and danced and entertained themselves (and us) by the campfire, and we reveled in how lucky we all were. It was truly magical. And the African night sky was extraordinary. One of the most memorable evenings of our lives! Thank you, Wendy, for a once-in-a-lifetime WOW Moment!” —Paul Bennett and Catherine Olsen
Romania: “We visited the highest tower at Bran Castle, an area generally off-limits to the public…”
“Raluca found us extraordinary accommodations in Romania. She tracked down a private residence in Bucharest where we had a private suite and were treated like personal friends of the family. We had three nights in Brasov in a lovely three-room hotel and four nights in Maremures in our own house on a 70-hectare property. The house was probably 100 years old and had been saved from destruction in the local village, moved to the host’s property, and completely remodeled inside. Raluca even arranged for a cook to come to the house and make us breakfast and dinner—truly special. Greg, our guide, made adjustments to the itinerary on the fly to accommodate our requests and suggested activities as he came to know us. For example, he arranged a trail ride for our daughter at a horse ranch. And Wendy, thanks for the WOW Moment. We really enjoyed getting to visit the highest tower at Bran Castle, an area generally off-limits to the public. Our very experienced guide had never been there.” —George Stephens
Colombia: “We were surprised with a cooking class at Carmen’s, the best restaurant in Cartagena…”
“Marc organized a wonderful itinerary in Colombia that kept me, my husband, and our two teenagers completely engaged. We loved visiting the very different regions of the country and learning about each area’s distinct history and culture. The private guides Marc chose for us were wonderfully flexible with our needs and requests. We made last-minute switches on some days, and he dealt with them effortlessly and graciously. The best part about working with Wendy’s WOW team are the WOW Moments: We were surprised with a cooking class at Carmen’s, the best restaurant in Cartagena. We all enjoyed learning about the local cuisine, preparing, cooking, and ultimately eating what we had prepared! The restaurant was truly lovely, and we won’t forget our time spent there.” —Barbara Palter
Canadian Maritimes: “We had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening…”
“Jill planned a fabulous trip for us in the Canadian Maritimes that included an evening of Nova Scotia wines and local specialties at Le Caveau (you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Brant Lake Wagyu beef), staying at Glenora Distillery on Cape Breton Island, and dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Panorama at the Cabot Links golf course. The pièce de résistance was our WOW Moment at The Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island, where we had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening. A farmer regaled us with stories about his farm and some of what we would be eating, we had a feast of oysters, and everything was cooked over an open flame! Little did we know there would be another WOW Moment the next morning, when we met the chef carving up a 322-pound tuna in the kitchen. ” —Sonja & Brian Haggert
Paris: “We were guided to a beautiful shop in a charming neighborhood…”
“Jennifer had a great feel for the kind of experience of Paris that my husband and I desired. We had an incredible food tour in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and a private cooking class with a chef who taught us how to prepare the most amazing duck recipes per our request. He also took us food shopping prior to the class; visiting all of the little shops in Paris for bread, cheese, wine, and our duck was a treat! In addition, Jennifer was able to secure some very hard-to-get dinner reservations; we were able to dine everywhere on my wish list. Lastly, thank you, Wendy, for an incredible WOW Moment! Jennifer arranged our surprise WOW Moment at the oldest wine shop in Paris. We were guided to a beautiful shop in a charming neighborhood and into a private room for a wine tasting with a sommelier who said he was opening bottles that he had actually never been able to taste himself before, as they were that rare. He was thrilled with our WOW Moment too!” —Tina Sarafa
Austria: “The works of art are even more amazing when you see them through that lens…”
“Gwen provided excellent recommendations for ways to enjoy our time in Austria. The hotels and guides she selected were amazing, the transportation (train, driver, and rental car) seamless. She even teamed up with Wendy for our WOW Moment in Vienna—a private tour at the Kunsthistorisches Museum with a curator who gave us special insight into the Klimt brothers’ paintings on the Museum’s walls and ceiling. Not only did Julia teach us so much about the history of the works and the artists, but she had high-resolution photos of the works on her tablet that allowed us to zoom in on artistic details that you cannot see with the naked eye. This gave us a completely different perspective; the works of art are even more amazing when you see them through that lens. Thanks to Gwen (and Wendy!), we had a trip we will remember for a lifetime.” — Jennifer Webb
Nepal and Bhutan: “Receiving a sacred Tsewang blessing from the high priest…”
“We’ve worked with Wendy’s recommended travel specialists for Ecuador, Norway, Colombia, and Romania—and with other agents for Egypt and Peru—so we feel like we’ve had ample experience to know a good trip from a great one. We just returned from Nepal and Bhutan, and we can tell you that Toni is a WOW travel pro for sure! ‘WOW Moment’ does not even come close to describing the incredible experience we had at the Temple of the Divine Madman in Pukhara. The experience of receiving a sacred Tsewang blessing from the high priest there was truly extraordinary, and we cannot thank Wendy and Toni enough for making that happen. The Buddha of Longevity is with us all now! But the WOW did not stop there. Entering the Royal Suite at Zhiwaling was like walking into a fantasy. We sat inside the altar room in our suite and thanked Toni for making this trip so authentic and so extraordinary.” —Jenn Tabb
Croatia: “We wanted a mix of history, art, culture, Jewish history, and Game of Thrones—and each of our three guides delivered.”
“We were traveling over Easter and wanted to maximize our time in Croatia. We wanted a mix of history, art, culture, Jewish history, and Game of Thrones—and each of our three guides delivered. Our guides and drivers were knowledgeable, connected to their community, friendly, and great hosts. We saw and learned so much more than we could have seen on our own. Our driver Maro was like having a friend showing you around. Gwen was able to help us secure reservations at the restaurants we wanted, including Michelin-starred Restaurant 360 in Dubrovnik. We also loved her suggestions of Restaurant Dubrovnik and Adriatic Graso in Split — we had amazing meals and service. While in Dubrovnik we were surprised with our WOW Moment. We had a private boat ride from the new harbor to the old harbor just outside the Ancient Walls of Dubrovnik. We were served wine and charcuterie. Despite the rough waters, Captain Chris gave us a wonderful tour and a new perspective of Dubrovnik. It was such a treat. Croatia is a magical place, and Gwen and her team are there to roll out the red carpet for you.” —Joellen Shelden
“The views were stunning and provided a perspective we would not have had without Wendy’s WOW…”
“We would use Stuart again—our Australia trip was outstanding and everything went off without a hitch. Great properties, people, and experiences!! We also had our first Wendy Perrin WOW Moment, which happened to be a seaplane ride over Sydney Harbor and the Opera House. This is something that we would not have thought to do ourselves—and we would have missed out big-time! An amazing and fun experience. We even happened to get to travel up the coast a bit because the seaplane company needed to drop some passengers at a small resort destination. The views were stunning and provided a perspective we would not have had without Wendy’s WOW. Thank you, Wendy, for such a magnificent addition to an already outstanding adventure.” —Bill Schierl & Sarena Melotte
Bali: “It was magnificent and thrilling—and what a surprise!”
“The WOW Moment that Diane arranged for us in Bali was magnificent and thrilling —and what a surprise! Four days into our trip (so we were still jet lagged), we were invited to a private area of our beautiful hotel to watch something riveting. We quickly forgot our jet lag. It was contemporary Balinese dancing at our doorstep. Dewi Aryani danced for us, and Rucina Ballinger responded to our many questions. We shared stories and learned about Balinese dancing. Dewi even got the two of us on our feet and dancing. Any dances we saw later in the trip could in no way approximate our experience with them. I should add that we had a lovely Balinese ‘tea,’ but the star of the show was Dewi .” —Edy Netter
Belize: “If there is one aspect of the trip that deserves special mention…”
“We worked with Patricia to plan a special vacation to Belize with our adult children and a girlfriend. We loved literally every minute but, if there is one aspect of the trip that deserves special mention, it is our WOW Moment at Naia Resort in Placencia, on the Caribbean coast. We really didn’t know what to expect as we were escorted down to the beach… until we could hear the beating of the drums and see the flaming bonfire awaiting us at sunset. Richard and his family taught us about the indigenous Garifuna people and their very interesting history and culture. The many dances, including the ‘Go Mommy’ chant for my wife Julie’s birthday, were so much fun. The entire resort came out to watch and dance with us.” —Stephen and Julie Lerner
Southern California: “Our girls are still talking about…”
“Our teenagers are still talking about our Southern California paragliding adventure over the beaches and golf course at Torrey Pines and our beach barbeque at Crystal Cove State Park while watching the sunset with our toes in the sand. Sheri was very helpful in recommending and organizing hotel stays at both the new hipster Pendry Hotel in San Diego and the luxurious Pelican Hill Resort outside of Newport Beach. We initially had a little misunderstanding with the resort regarding our room location, but after a short conversation with Sheri, we were quickly upgraded to a room with a much better view (thanks, Sheri). This type of personalized service is the reason we plan most of our trips using Wendy Perrin’s trusted travel experts. Since this was our third qualifying trip, Wendy surprised us with a WOW Moment—a day of adventure on charming Coronado Island. Our guide for the day picked us up at our hotel for a short ferry ride over to the historic island, where we spent the day riding electric bikes around the quaint residential areas, and then we kayaked out into the Bay. Thanks, Wendy and Sheri, for a very memorable day for all of us!”—Janette Gill
Chile: “We arrived at a spot in the middle of nowhere and were led by flashlight…”
“Maita planned a flawless trip for us to Chile. At the end of long days of hiking we had beautiful meals and fine Chilean wines to celebrate. The Explora lodges in the Atacama Desert and on Easter Island were amazing. And Wendy gave us a WOW Moment in the Atacama. We were picked up at 17:30 by our guide and told to bring a windbreaker and blanket. Then we traveled on gravel roads for what seemed like an hour. Our guide kept us in suspense until the last minute, when we arrived at a spot in the middle of nowhere and were led by flashlight to a table set for two. I felt like we were on the set of a Hollywood movie. We were on the Moon Crater in the Atacama Desert, having a gourmet dinner under the stars. This does not happen in the real world. After a lovely dinner we were treated to an hour of stargazing. The laser point was the only thing that made us feel like we were connected to the 21st century. It was an amazing evening and one we will never forget. Thank you, Wendy.” —Jeanne Lee
Belize: “We were in a dinghy on our way to go snorkeling when…”
“Without Patricia’s input, I would never have thought of chartering a catamaran for our trip to Belize. We very much enjoyed traveling along the reef in the boat and loved the snorkeling. The food was delicious! And being able to fish off the back of the boat was an unexpected bonus. And then we could eat what we caught! The stars at night were spectacular. Our WOW Moment was really cool too. We were in a dinghy on our way to go snorkeling when we saw a plastic bottle floating in the water. I asked if we were going to pick it up, and Captain Dan said no, we’re going lobster hunting! Those who wanted to went freediving with a spear and shot lobsters (it took me five tries). Then Kainie made ceviche and served it with all the fixings and a bottle of Prosecco. It was a really great experience that I’ve been sharing with friends and family.” —Deborah Wente
France: “Our WOW Moment was a private, behind-the-scenes tour…”
“Our trip to France arranged by Jennifer was wonderful. The surprise for my daughter’s birthday on a Seine river cruise was spectacular, and my daughter and grandchildren were shocked—and pleased. Our guided tour of the Eiffel Tower was superb. Our WOW Moment was a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the Palais Garnier, the Beaux-Arts Paris opera house—and it was very special for all of us. Jennifer also arranged for a rental car, all hotels, and recommended events and restaurants as we drove from Paris to Strasbourg, Colmar, Dijon, Burgundy and back to Paris. Each hotel she chose was extremely well located. When I return to France, I will be more than happy to have Jennifer make all arrangements.” —Richard Goldin
Paris: “She got permission for us to enter the ‘not for the public’ sites in the palace…”
“In Paris, it was all about special access, skip the line, and going to the private areas not accessible to the public. Our excellent guide to Versailles, Marie-Ange, is one of a kind. She knows the history and the palace very well, and she got permission for us to enter the “not for the public” sites in the palace. At the Louvre, Jennifer managed to arrange an amazing tour with one of the curators, followed by a secret food adventure—part of our WOW Moment—with a young chef who brought us to the best specialty shops for meat, seafood, chocolate, jam, puff pastry, and macarons. We managed to taste them all in two hours, then go to the Eiffel Tower for another skip-the-line service. Despite the packed itinerary in Paris, we still had a whole day for shopping on our last day. One last thing: They arranged a meet-and-greet service at the airport that was very helpful for us. The greeter handled our luggage, VAT refund, check-in, immigration, etc., with no hassle at all.” —Suryo Wibowo
New Zealand: “Cheri planned a WOW Moment for us that was simply spectacular…”
“Cheri on Mary Jean’s team has helped me plan several cruise voyages. There is typically an 11- to 12-hour time difference between where I live and where she is located, but she is incredibly responsive to my emailed questions throughout the process. During our most recent cruise from Sydney to Auckland, Cheri planned a WOW Moment for us that was simply spectacular. A driver in a private Jaguar sedan took my wife and me for a tour of Dunedin, New Zealand, out to a protected yellow-eyed penguin hatchery and finally to the Royal Albatross Centre.” —Kurt Brown
Australia: “The boat ride on the Yarra River gave us an amazing perspective of the city.”
“Stuart put together a wonderful month-long visit to Australia for my husband and me, with a great balance of programmed activity and free time. We had a variety of activities—a sailing trip; driving the Great Ocean Road; wonderful, knowledgeable guides for our hikes—but we also had ample time to walk and hike on our own in the national parks and the cities. The biggest hurdle we had was that, once the itinerary was set, I had to postpone the trip by a few weeks. Stuart didn’t skip a beat—all was done with no worries. I wholeheartedly recommend him. I also want to thank Wendy for our WOW Moment in Melbourne. The boat ride on the Yarra River gave us an amazing perspective of the city. It was a very enjoyable addition to our 53rd wedding-anniversary day. Thank you!” —Sandra Southwick
British Columbia: “A photographer gave us a personal tour of several waterfalls…”
“My husband and I and our two teenage daughters wanted to go to British Columbia, but to avoid any really crowded areas. Marc suggested we spend a few days in Whistler, then a few days on Sonora Island, and end in Vancouver. He set us up for fun activities in Whistler—RZR cars, white-water rafting, zip lining—and we were treated to a WOW Moment: A photographer gave us a personal tour of several waterfalls, giving us photography tips along the way and taking family photos; although I am the photography buff in the family, he was able to engage the whole family and everyone really enjoyed the experience (thank you, Wendy!). We then took a seaplane to Sonora Resort, which the entire family agreed was heavenly. So remote, with beautiful scenery and gourmet food. On our eco-adventure tour we were lucky enough to be in the middle of a pod of about 100 dolphins. The food at Sonora Resort was so delicious that on the first night at dinner our daughter said, ‘Thank you for bringing me here.’ Finally, in Vancouver, Marc suggested the Fairmont Pacific Rim for us, which also was in a fabulous location. Since we are foodies, he planned a food tour at Granville Island, where there are so many booths that it was helpful to have an expert direct us; the tour allowed us to sample more items in small quantities than we could have done on our own. Although I was very involved with the details of our trip, I didn’t have to figure out where to go or how to get there or worry about logistics during my vacation. That made it a true vacation for me.” —Nancy Wolf
Australia: “A not-to-be-missed helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta…”
“My husband and I spent five weeks in Australia in September–October 2017 on a spectacular trip planned and executed by Stuart and Debbie. We had long wanted to visit our seventh continent but quickly realized that even with five weeks we couldn’t see the entire country. My top priority was to see The Kimberley, a remote area in northwestern Australia that even many Australians never get to. There is no way we could have planned this trip ourselves—it encompassed 18 flights and 14 places to stay, many of them among the country’s most unique. We could not have had a better trip. That it was topped by one of Wendy’s WOW Moments—a not-to-be-missed helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta—is just one more reason why Wendy Perrin’s experts are the best. Wendy’s experts (and we’ve used a lot of them) all share two essential traits—attention to detail in planning and careful execution of arrangements. Where they—and Stuart—are unmatched is in their ability to intuit what their clients want, need and, most important, will delight in. Kudos.” —Jan Heininger
Beijing & Shanghai: “An experience we would have never known existed…”
“The trip to Beijing and Shanghai that Mei arranged for my wife and me was outstanding. We requested ‘local’ hotels, and they exceeded our expectations; we ended up in areas with few other foreigners. Our food tour was one of our most memorable evenings; eating locally was a cultural plus. In Shanghai, we had the pleasure of receiving our WOW Moment—a motorcycle sidecar tour of the area near the Bund. We would never have known such an experience exists, nor that it would be so cool. The champagne toast on the bridge overlooking the amazing Shanghai skyline was a superb touch.” —Bill Schierl & Sarena Melotte
Alaska: “An otherworldly experience that thrilled every member of our family…”
“Tom planned a magical trip to Alaska for our multigenerational family that included our 10- and 12-year-old grandsons. He booked us adjoining rooms on Holland America’s Westerdam, which turned out to be an excellent choice and value. He arranged all our shore excursions with a private company. Each excursion was better than the description and a good value compared to what the ship was offering. The helicopter ride to the top of the glacier in Juneau was an otherworldly experience that thrilled every member of our family. Tom even arranged for all six of us to go in one helicopter, which is out of the ordinary. He also recommended a small zodiac tour in Ketchikan; we were divided 3 and 3, with my husband and son each driving a zodiac, following the guide. The best was when the guide waved a dead fish in the air and threw it into the water about 100 feet away where an eagle swooped right over us, picking it up. It then flew the fish back to its nest where we had just seen the fuzzy head of an eaglet. So memorable. But the absolute best was our WOW Moment. During our three days in Vancouver, we were surprised with a private food tour of Granville Island Market. We sampled salmon with wine, cheese and specialty meats, light-as-air donuts, and much more. It truly was a moveable feast.” —Christine Stoll
Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!
On every third qualifying trip, Wendy will add to your itinerary a surprise WOW Moment. A WOW Moment is an exclusive insider experience that helps make a trip extraordinary. Each WOW Moment is totally different. They vary depending on a huge range of factors, including the country you’re headed to, the timing of your trip, logistics, availability, and more. You can read a sampling of the more over-the-top WOW Moments (those most conducive to editorial coverage) here. Learn which trips qualify, and how the process works, here: Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!
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