Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

What I Mean When I Say WOW: Real Trip Ideas from Real Travelers

by Wendy Perrin | October 10, 2021

Have you heard of my WOW Moments project?  Travelers who contribute reviews of their WOW List trips eventually earn a special surprise—a “WOW Moment”—on a future trip.  (By the way, if you’re holding a WOW Moment certificate that expired in 2020 because you couldn’t travel, no worries: We’ve extended your certificate’s expiration date. Check the new rules here.)  For now, travel vicariously via the WOW Moment reviews below and give yourself something to look forward to!

“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.”

Giardini Torrigiani, Florence.

Giardini Torrigiani, Florence. Photo: Brian Dore.

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

“[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!…”

El Arco, Cabo San Lucas Photo: Roberto Trama Mexico

Boating and fishing in Los Cabos. Photo: Roberto Trama

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

“We enjoyed so many experiences, from hiking to zip lining, an ATV tour, a private cooking class, a chocolate farm tour and tasting…”

Amazing panoramic view of beautiful nature of Costa Rica with smoking volcano Arenal background. Panorama of volcano Arenal reflected on wonderful picturesque lake, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Arenal volcano. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“We were driven to a pool by a waterfall…”

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

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 Johnson, 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

“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.”

Beautiful beach landscape with overwater bungalows Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives

Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“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…”

aerial shot of Belize ocean with sailboat

Explore Belize on the water or in the jungle. Photo: Belize Sailing Vacations

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

“We went mountain biking twice and white water rafting…”

woman rappelling and rock climbing in Zion national park

“Our two favorite experiences were exploring the very narrow slot canyons in Escalante and a WOW Moment of canyoneering near Zion.” Photo courtesy Amy Evers

PANDEMIC TRAVEL  “Melissa put together (in just a couple of weeks) an amazing trip to Arizona and Utah for my husband and I! Our trip was filled with incredible, fun, and active ventures. We started things on the relaxing side with golf for my husband (which he did again later in the trip), a massage for me, and a bit of pool time. We then moved on to a lot of very active experiences until the end when we relaxed again. We went mountain biking twice and white water rafting. We went on a hot air balloon flight. We hiked in many gorgeous locales. We did a cooking class (the food was out of this world), a sunset tour in the desert, a UTV tour, a stargazing experience, and jeep tours. We had some time to explore on our own as well. Our two favorite experiences were exploring the very narrow slot canyons in Escalante with a guide that took us off the tourist grid (we didn’t see anyone else!) and a WOW Moment of canyoneering near Zion. No doubt we are slight adrenaline junkies, but this trip really fulfilled our desires!” —Amy Evers

“We were serenaded at a private dinner outdoors and then rode back to the barn under the stars.”

Ron Klausner enjoys his WOW Moment in Uruguay.

The Klausners enjoy their WOW Moment in Uruguay.

“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

“These are experiences we would not have discovered on our own.”

Big Ben and Westminster Bridge on a cold, snowy winter day, London, United Kingdom

Big Ben and Westminster Bridge, London. Photo: Shutterstock

“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

“One of the most impactful travel experiences I have ever had—so much so that I was brought to tears”

View at St Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) from Vatican Gardens with beautiful green lawns, pines and palm trees, Rome, Italy.

A view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the green lawns of the Vatican Gardens. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“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”

man and guide looking over view in Africa

“In the late afternoon, we were taken to a very special, quite spiritual escarpment called Sundowner Rock.” Photo: Catherine Olsen

“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

“We visited the highest tower at Bran Castle, an area generally off-limits to the public…”

Legendary Bran (Dracula) historical castle of Transylvania, Brasov region, Romania, Eastern Europe

Bran Castle (a.k.a. “Dracula’s Castle”) in Transylvania, Romania, was actually the summer residence of Queen Marie. The castle is beautiful, but it has nothing to do with vampires. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“We were surprised with a cooking class at Carmen’s, the best restaurant in Cartagena…”

colorfully painted walls on a block of Cartagena Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia, is colorful, almost like New Orleans. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“We had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening…”

chef cooking over fire at Inn at Bay Fortune Prince Edward Island Canada

Inn at Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island.

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

“We were guided to a beautiful shop in a charming neighborhood…”

Caves Legrande is one of the oldest wine shops in Paris

Caves Legrande is one of the oldest wine shops in Paris. Photo: Caves Legrande

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

“The works of art are even more amazing when you see them through that lens…”

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna Austria

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“We walked up a spectacular set of steps, through increasingly tropical vegetation…”

Long Exposure shot at Deer Waterfall - Serra da Bocaina.Waterfall located in Trail of gold the ancient path used by the Portuguese in the extraction of Gold. Brazilian Highlights. São José do Barreiro. - Image

Deer Waterfall in Serra da Bocaina National Park, Brazil. Photo: Shutterstock

“We were told we’d have lunch at a local restaurant in Paraty. We headed up the mountain in a Jeep, on an increasingly bumpy road, wondering out loud what kind of restaurant could be at the end of such a crazy road. Our guide, Gabriel, just grinned. Upon arrival we walked up a spectacular set of steps, through increasingly tropical vegetation, and arrived at Le Gite d’Indaiatiba. We were greeted by the wife of the Frenchman who envisioned this place, a charming open-air restaurant with tables surrounded by hundreds of books. ‘Go up the mountain and swim in the pool while we prepare your lunch’, she said. So up the mountain, past the helipad for the rich and famous of Brazil, we arrived at the pool and settled into the crisp cold water and surrounding tropical sounds. We were in paradise. Back down to the restaurant we hiked and sat down to a pre-lunch drink and delightful conversation with the owner, as we were serenaded by Grateful Dead music in the background. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves—and what an amazing feast! This is the kind of magic that Bobby plans for you in Brazil. We also went piranha fishing on the Rio Negro, made night treks in the Amazon, toured the opera house in Manaus, enjoyed bike rides along the beaches in Rio, learned how to samba, and were treated like royalty every step of the way. Thank you, Wendy, for your WOW recommendation. And thank you for our WOW Moment helicopter ride over Iguazu Falls. It gave us such great perspective on where we’d been hiking for three days and was quite an adrenaline rush.” —Judy and Robert Rodwell

“Giving us insider access and insights not typically available…”

Evening View, London, England

Evening view of London. Courtesy Visit Britain

Jane and Philip planned itineraries, both in and outside London, that we simply would not, or in some cases could not, have arranged on our own. Highlights included a visit to a castle dating to the 11th century that is a private home and not open to the public. Jane’s personal connection allowed us to spend several hours as the guests of the owner, with a fascinating tour of the house, grounds, and extraordinary collections of art, antiques, and memorabilia. We also had a terrific WOW Moment: a tour of the Inns of Court with a barrister as a guide, giving us insider access and insights not typically available. All of our arrangements were excellent, with knowledgeable and personable guides and drivers, and there was enough free time in London to allow us to relax and enjoy those unexpected discoveries that are always among the best parts of a trip.” —John Sanders

“Receiving a sacred Tsewang blessing from the high priest…”

building and temple and green mountains in Patan, an ancient city in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal.

Patan, an ancient city in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. Photo: Shutterstock

“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

“We wanted a mix of history, art, culture, Jewish history, and Game of Thrones—and each of our three guides delivered.”

Aerial view at famous european travel destination in Croatia, Dubrovnik old town.

The old town of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo: Shutterstock

“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…”

seaplane flying over Sydney Harbour with bridge and opera house

A seaplane tour flies over Sydney Harbour.

“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

“It was magnificent and thrilling—and what a surprise!”

Balinese dancer Dewi Aryani performs for travelers during a special presentation

Balinese dancer Dewi Aryani performs for travelers during a special WOW Moment. Photo: Edith Netter

“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

“If there is one aspect of the trip that deserves special mention…”

Belize

The Lerner family in Belize

“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

“Our girls are still talking about…”

The Gill family WOW Moment.

The Gill family WOW Moment.

“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

“We arrived at a spot in the middle of nowhere and were led by flashlight…”

Atacama desert, Andes, Chile

Atacama desert, Andes, Chile. Photo: Shutterstock

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

“Unexpected surprise experiences along the way…”

woman toasting with wine on Easter Island

A WOW Moment on Easter Island

“I wanted to organize a surprise birthday trip for my husband to Easter Island, along with stopovers on the Chilean mainland at a Casablanca Valley vineyard and in Valparaiso. Since it was a rather last-minute trip, I was concerned that what I was asking for would not be possible because of availability. However, Jordan—and Krista on his team—were brilliant: They gave me lots of great options and ensured that this was an incredibly easy and stress-free trip to organize. My husband was both surprised and delighted. Highlights of the trip included meeting the people who looked after us—all very warm, friendly and knowledgeable—and the unexpected surprise experiences along the way, such as the graffiti lesson in Valparaiso and Wendy’s fabulous WOW Moment on Easter Island. It began with a private guided walk through fields, caves, and coastline, and it ended with music, pisco sours, delicious bites, a presentation of a book on Rapa Nui, birthday cake, and a sunset overlooking the moai and the ocean. It could not have been more perfect!” —Eva Strasburger

“We were in a dinghy on our way to go snorkeling when…”

Belize coast aerial photo

Belize from above. Photo: Wendy Perrin

“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

“Our WOW Moment was a private, behind-the-scenes tour…”

interior view of the stage at Palais Garnier, Opera National de Paris France

Palais Garnier, Opera National de Paris. Photo: Shutterstock

“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

“For our WOW Moment, Lindsey’s team arranged for us to enjoy…”

Pelican Hill resort in California, an aerial photo of the resort with the ocean in the distance

The Resort at Pelican Hill Newport Beach, California. Courtesy: Pelican Hill

“For our 40th anniversary celebration, Lindsey found us just the right place. She recommended The Resort at Pelican Hill, in southern California, and arranged for an oceanview room with a wonderful outdoor seating area that we enjoyed in the early mornings and most afternoons, watching the sun sparkle off the ocean, dotted with sailboats and with Catalina Island in the distance. For our WOW Moment, Lindsey’s team arranged for us to enjoy a Duffy Electric Boat in Newport Beach Harbor. The boat was stocked with an incredible antipasto tray and bottles of vodka, gin, and our favorite martini ingredients, with all the compliments. For two hours we cruised around the harbor. It was so much fun. The antipasto tray was so generous that we took it back to our room and enjoyed it with martinis for dinner that evening on our patio while watching the sunset. It was so perfect.” —John Arndt

“She got permission for us to enter the ‘not for the public’ sites in the palace…”

aerial view of Famous palace Versailles with beautiful gardens and fountains in France

Versailles palace gardens, France. Photo: Shutterstock

“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

“Cheri planned a WOW Moment for us that was simply spectacular…”

Unique to New Zealand, the yellow-eyed (hoiho) penguin is one of the world's rarest penguin species. Photo: New Zealand Tourism

Unique to New Zealand, the yellow-eyed (hoiho) penguin is one of the world’s rarest penguin species. Photo: New Zealand Tourism

“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

“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

“A photographer gave us a personal tour of several waterfalls…”

aerial view of Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia

Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia. Photo: Tim Baker

“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

“A not-to-be-missed helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta…”

Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park

Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. Photo Tourism Australia

“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

“An experience we would have never known existed…”

The Bund at Night, Shanghai, China

The Bund at night, Shanghai, China

“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

“An otherworldly experience that thrilled every member of our family…”

Aerial view of Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska

Aerial view of Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska. Photo: Shutterstock

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!

Destination

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by Irene Huhulea | January 4, 2018

Cruises

Planning a Cruise? Avoid These Rookie Travel Mistakes

by Wendy Perrin | August 18, 2015

Vacation Ideas

How to Spend a Romantic Weekend in Paris: A Gentleman’s Guide

by Sara Tucker | February 12, 2016

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