Testimonials & Client Photos
Hey Deena. Apologies for the delay here but wanted to let you know Kelsey and I had a wonderful trip! The resort was beautiful and we had an amazing view right on the water! We had great weather everyday and really enjoyed spending time at the pool as well as the excursions you planned! Both Zip lining and Snorkeling were such fun experiences and what really made them exceptional was the tour guides on both, they really showed us a fabulous time and these 2 activities were definitely highlights of the trip!
Below are a couple pics, the top one is from when we went snorkeling and the second one is from when we went out to dinner one night. Thank you so much for everything, we had an amazing time and are already thinking about where we want to go next!
Brittany & Kelsey, Chicago, IL & Silver Spring, MD - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, May, 2018
Bali & Ubud, Indonesia
Hi Deena. Thank you for everything. The whole trip was incredible, the most beautiful place we have ever visited. We are so happy that we stayed in Ubud and not just Bali. The hotel was beautiful, such a boutique hotel with gorgeous bed and pool. The whole place was genuine and very close to the culture. Everywhere we went, even when walking, the people were so kind and wonderful, thanking us for visiting, very welcoming. The culture was amazing, mixing both new and old. From the beginning at the airport, we were greeted with your VIP service, who was waiting for us. Amazing! They had cookies for us, and brought us to our guide and driver, greeting us like in Hawaii, with beautiful, scented Frangipani flowers. The guides were excellent and the tour excursions were stunning. The only time we had trouble was with the second guide for one excursion who did not speak English as well as the others. But we didn't care. We just followed along with him, and he took us to some beautiful places, so lovely. The scenery was incredible.
We met the lady in charge of the tour company, and she greeted us with a box of cookies and fruit too. So friendly and kind. Fritz, our third guide was the best, so amazing and sweet, and such a gentleman. He was always opening our doors, offering us cold water, as was our dear driver, Maddie. So professional and he had a great sense of humor. He shared interesting information about family and traditions, and we never once felt awkward during our drives. We are in hospitality and taught to go above and beyond. They went above "above and beyond" and we didn't have any idea what they could do to make the experience any better, it was so amazing. For example, they know what we do for a living, and knew that we made chocolates and enjoyed coffee. As a surprise - and not pre-planned - they took us to a place that made coffee. They talked to the owners, and asked if we could have a tour. It was not touristy at all, but they did it because they knew we would enjoy it. It was amazing
Regarding the fishing, to be honest, our experience in Key West was the best. The fishing equipment here needed to be a bit updated, but the boat itself was incredibly beautiful and comfortable, and the people were so amazing and kind. When it was time to eat, we told them we were feeling a little queasy because of the waves. They said no problem, we know of a little island that we can take you to! Then they took us to this incredible private island with a small restaurant, and beautiful colors. They anchored and a little boat picked us up, and we enjoyed some delicious Jumbo Shrimp and relaxed for about 45 minutes before heading back out. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone, everyone wanting to please you. And knowing I had problems with my knee, everyone always made sure I was ok, and they were not moving too quickly.
The highlight of our time in Ubud was getting to meet the General Manager and the Chef at their hotel. They allowed me into their kitchen and we were able to cook with the Chef while in my Chef's jacket, take photos, and take a tour. It was incredible and we loved it. This trip was exactly what we were looking for. Thank you so much for everything.
Chef & Esther Roby, Geneva, IL - Ubud & Bali, Indonesia, April 2018
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Hi Deena. Brad and I wanted to thank you again for planning such a magical vacation to Bora Bora!! I am not sure how any experience or beach can ever top this place. It truly was more beautiful in person than in the pictures. We were able to unwind within a day of being there and we could not have been happier with the accommodations and everyone that worked there. Highlights, not particularly in order, but close.
#1 - The beach and scenery! Our end of pontoon overwater bungalow had the best unobstructed view of the mountain. We would just sit on the balcony in the morning in absolute peace. It was nice that there weren't really waves like a typical ocean. It also felt as though the resort was ours! There was only a handful of people on the beach, at the pool or around the resort every day which was great. You could really just relax in peace or head up to the pool bar to meet some new friends (which of course we did). We think our has the best spot, especially beach wise. It was SO shallow for so long and had the best view of the mountain. The fact you could walk out in knee or waist high water and sit in nets allowed you to relax in the ocean like you would in a pool. But with a 10000x better view.
#2 - Shark Feeding and snorkeling with Sting rays and Manta rays. Although scary at first to think we were just swimming in open water with about 40 black tip sharks and 2 Lemon Sharks, there really was a sense of peace with the animals and the guides made everyone feel so safe. The guides were hysterical, especially the one nick named "Crazy" , we heard that Crazy pulled an Octopus out of a home and placed him on peoples heads so the tentacles looked like dreads. It was also amazing to snorkel above a huge Manta Ray and then stand in shallow waters with Stingrays flopping all over you. I can't believe they were so soft and nice! And the sharks that were just practically running into our legs, but never bothered us.
#3- Wave runners around the whole island. The views were incredible seeing the 7 shades of blue and in and out of the coves by the mountain. We shared 1 jetski, could have used 2, but it is actually hard to hold onto it for the full 1hour45min so I am glad Brad did all the driving and I could just watch the views. Once we got to our snack time in the middle of the tour, they let me ride the wave runner by myself and I was just laughing and shouting the entire time.
#4 -The People! The natives were so nice and accommodating but never bothered you. It wasn't commercialized so you got the true island feel and the natives were so patient with us trying to learn their language and always had a smile on their face and were laughing. When we left one of the workers gave me presents (Bora Bora bracelet, key chain and magnet) and they all thanked us "for being so nice and making them feel like they were part of our party". So we def. walked away with some new friends :)
Bora Bora will always have a special spot in our hearts, I have dreamt about it almost every single night since I have been back. We hope to return there again, and not just make it a "once in a lifetime" spot. Again, THANK YOU for another amazing trip that went off without a hitch. It always makes the trips more enjoyable when we have you there to take care of everything. We truly appreciate your expertise and guidance
Crystal & Brad, Chicago, IL - Bora Bora, March, 2018
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Dear Deena, Jeff and I are so thankful for you going above and beyond for us. We appreciate every minute you spent making our dream honeymoon come to life. You went the extra mile and we want to thank you and your family for letting us borrow you for hours and late nights. You are excellent at what you do.
Jeff & Jill, San Diego, CA - Bora Bora Honeymoon, Feb. 2018
Dear Deena, Thank you for touching base and for following up on the few issues we had. The trip as a whole was amazing, and we truly feel like we experienced the whole of New Zealand. We're still sifting through photos, but highlights included Bungy Jumping, the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise, helicopter ride (so glad we still did it despite the initial cancellation!), and Blanket Bay. It was a once in a lifetime trip. Thanks for your help throughout the planning and issues on the trip. Have a great rest of your week
Ali, Chicago, IL - New Zealand Adventures, Jan. 2018
Spain & Greece
Dear Deena, We are about to board our final leg from Philly to Indy. We had an amazing trip! We were so pleased with the accommodations (comfort & location) in both cities. The trip also confirmed what you said about 3 destinations being too hectic on such a short timeline. Nice call! One of the highlights was definitely the sunset cruise in Santorini. I'm sure that would have been an amazing adventure no matter what, but the company you booked with took it to the next level! The boat/number of people on board was the perfect size and the crew was so charismatic. Also, our resort in Santorini was wonderful - it was definitely a good idea to book us at a place that had the shuttle to the beach and Fira. The staff here was incredibly helpful anytime we had an inquiry and most knew us by name by our second day there. Thanks again for everything!
Krista, Indianapolis, IN - Barcelona & Santorini, Aug. 2017
Tanzania, East Africa
Thanks Deena. You have been absolutely fabulous and no problem at all. There were so many things you had to take care of and it's amazing how you have taken care of everything. Our trip would have been much more complicated and uncertain had you not addressed all these issues (e.g the suggestion you had about contacting insurance when baggage was missing was way beyond what you needed to have done).
Our tented camps and the lodging have been awesome. Really nicer than we expected. Our drivers are great, and also very helpful people. Everything has been fabulous. We saw all the animals we wanted to see except the Rhino, which we knew would be tough. Everything has gone really well and special thanks for all your help. You have been absolutely fabulous to work with! We will drop a note once we get back to Dallas! (More photos to follow.)
Matthew, Dallas, TX - Tanzania & Dar es Salaam, August 2017
Hi Deena. Unfortunately, we’re home. THANK YOU for putting together a truly wonderful, sweet, special, and memorable 25th anniversary celebration for Tracey and me. You were so thoughtful, excellent, and outstanding. Without a doubt, we made the right choice to have you put together such a wonderful celebration for us.
The Resort was beautiful and a great experience over-all. The pool, the beach, the rooms, the restaurants, spa, sports, everything you want is right there and done very well. Great place. The staff, the hundreds of staff, were all super friendly, excellent, and ready to serve well - every single one of them. The only exceptions were the waiters in the restaurants during dinner hours. They present you with a wine list, which is very pricey. If you don’t want to pay extra for a bottle of wine, they get a little pushy. If you still refuse, they literally change their attitude and service towards you. It’s not bad, just not as good and pleasant. This was a bit frustrating, knowing you had to deal with this each evening for dinner.
The entertainment there was almost non-stop and so much fun, whether you participated or just listened/observed. All day long there were activities at the pool: pool Zumba, pool aerobics, live bands, mechanical bull riding, pool volleyball, dance contests, cigar wrapping class (at the pool), Spanish lessons, sushi making classes, and more. All of it was done so very well. The staff are excellent and all the guests loved them. Then you still had beach volleyball, water sports like sailing, jet skis, paddle boards, para sailing, swimming with the dolphins, and more.
All Inclusive Service: Women walk around the pool all day long getting drinks for you tirelessly. Amazing. Coffee, restaurants, snacks, all free, always available. Amazing. Special taco stands or other lunch specials occurred almost daily. The Preferred Club was a very nice touch and should be taken advantage of regularly. We often went over to the Preferred Club around 5 pm, between our day at the pool and heading out for dinner. We would get fresh nuts, fruit, sushi, assorted cheeses, and any wine or specialty drink we wanted. We would sit just outside the door to the club in a semi-private patio area. It was so nice. We had an amazing time that we will so fondly remember the rest of our lives. We are so pleased and we are so incredibly pleased with your work. THANK YOU!! Love and Blessings from Tracey and me.
Blaine & Tracey, Harrisburg, PA - Playa Mujeres, Mexico, Aug. 2017
We are having a wonderful time! Prince Edward Island was wonderful. We had a wonderful dinner at "The Keg". The prime rib was to die for. The lobster a bit chewy, but still tasty, and the service was excellent. We both love this trip. The tidal bore was no big deal, wavy muddy water, but we got to see a couple of dolphin pods swimming by, which was fun. Singing Sands don't sing, but if someone were staying on the island for a week, I'd definitely recommend it. The lighthouse was fun. The 9:30 Whale Tour followed by the beautiful gardens was so perfect. We saw adult and fledgling Bald Eagles, Harbor Porpoises, Whales, Razor Bill Owls, and on the ship tour, they brought in samples of live sea creatures. I enjoyed the tea and crackers with salmon, and the live animals were great. Great time! By the way the Anne of Green Gables musical was awesome!
Laura, Chicago, IL - Prince Edward Island & New Brunswick, Canada, Aug. 2017
Spain & Portugal
We had such a wonderful trip and were so grateful for the conveniences that Deena provided us. We love working with Deena because she removes the stressors of travel and allows us to simply enjoy our vacation. She makes sure everything is taken care of from flights to transportations, to finding us the perfect hotels for our taste and budget. The Hotel in Lisbon was incredibly nice, and couldn't have been a better location. We absolutely loved it (and didn't hurt that they gave us a glass of champagne upon arrival and had another bottle waiting for us in our room!). Some of our favorite attractions (which were listed in our travel deck) were Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Barrio Alto in Lisbon, Belem Tower, Sintra, and Cascais. Overall, it was a magical trip and we will absolutely be contacting Deena for our next excursion! Here are some pics of some of our favorite experiences.
Mike & Tara, Chicago, IL - Barcelona & Lisbon, July 2017
Dear Deena, We are both so grateful to you for once again helping us to have a wonderful vacation! You smooth out all the wrinkles and know how to make us smile when we reach our destination. Your extra effort and attention to the smallest details in advance for us has always paid big dividends in pleasure! Our most recent trip to Cancun that your brought together on VERY short notice was just lovely, relaxing, luxurious, and exactly what we dreamed of. Saying thank you is not sufficient! Please know how much we appreciate you. (Review is below):
My daughter and I just spent 4 amazing days at the Secrets Resort in Cancun. Everything about this resort is set up to welcome you to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean. From the moment you enter the spacious contemporary lobby with it's refreshing scent, you feel pampered. The furnishings, decorations and lighting are elegantly simple and offer multiple sitting areas to gather for sipping a drink or playing a board game or just gazing at the large modern centrally located fireplace.
We stayed in a master suite with an ocean view and the room was over-the-top fantastic! Loads of space to spread out and to make ourselves at home. All the amenities were luxurious and we felt so comfortable and spoiled. We spent at least an hour each evening on our balcony watching the sunset with a lovely breeze to keep us comfortable.
There were 4 pools, so we tried them all and thoroughly loved each one! Each has a slightly different feel and gave us a new "view" and experience. The water is heated, so it's easy to stay "in" the pool for a long time to relax. The multiple restaurants and 24 hour room service provide delicious, multi-ethnic food choices, as well as pool side menus and a wide variety of beverage choices from wherever you are. Meals are served leisurely and with such beautiful presentation.
The spa was so fantastic...great massages and terrific relaxation areas for before and after treatments. When you exit the elevators for the floor that the spa and a few restaurants are on, you are greeted by the most enchanting scent! We commented on it EVERY time we smelled it. Well done, Secrets! Every single staff member at Secrets made us feel special. Their kindness and service enhanced our experience by their genuine care that we were enjoying ourselves. It was really hard to leave the gorgeous blue waters and laid back days we spent here. We both would gladly return!! Love,
Janet & Caitlin, Naperville, IL - Mexico Adventures, May, 2017
Dear Deena, on the way to the airport. Wow, what an incredible trip. I have no words for your incredible organizational skills. It was amazing. And to coordinate all those moving parts from so far away is amazing. The tea ceremony was incredibly beautiful.
And both guides were amazing. Not only great guides but very very nice ladies. Memories of a lifetime. Thank you again so much for helping us create life time memories. I hope to see you upon my return and share some more feedback about our trip. Thanks again, and I hope to see you soon.
Chef Roby, Chicago, IL - Japanese Adventures, April 2017
Tokyo & Kyoto, Japan
Hello Deena. I just wanted to thank you so much for all the follow up for what happened at the start. We were very happy with how everything was handled and the rest of the trip was very smooth! I was completely blown away by this trip to Japan! I feel that with the week we had, we were able to make every minute count and that is all thanks to you and your planning. I have been to many places abroad, but this was just far past any expectation I had! The guides were also a huge part of this, and I want to mention their names because they really did make our vacation that much memorable as they became friends too. Yoko and Nana were truly amazing people and made our adventure in each city special. Again, thank you so much for the wonderful time I had in Japan with my father, it was truly the greatest adventure! Sincerely,
Adrian Roby, Geneva, IL - Japanese Adventures, April 2017
Deena! So SO sorry we have not written you sooner! Once we got back, the time adjustment was tough and catching up on work really kicked our butts, lol Anyhow - the trip was AMAZING! Thank you - thank you - thank you for all of your hard work planning it! We would be happy to speak with you on the phone and fill you in on our favorite parts. There are too many to write in here! The whole trip went on without a hitch thanks to you. Our guides were absolutely fantastic getting us everywhere and were some of the most genuine people ever that we loved spending time with, A+++ service! I will send over more pics later, my email is having hard time getting them.
Crystal & Brad, Chicago, IL - Thailand Adventures, March, 2017
Hi Deena. Sorry about the delay. I’ve been beyond busy. Yes, it was an incredible time! We absolutely loved the resort. I got the balloons and cake upon my arrival, which was very special. Thank you! The food, service, and pools were all amazing. I would definitely go back if given the chance. We didn’t take many pictures of the actual resort, but I’ve included a few of all of us.
Grace & Friends, Oklahoma City, OK - Cancun, Mexico, February, 2017
France & Italy Coastal
Hi Deena. We had an awesome time in France and Italy. Everything was amazing and went smoothly! We enjoyed each of the hotels and the transfers were great! When we arrived in Nice, we immediately saw our driver, Jean. He picked us up in a black Mercedes and had water for us. He got us checked into our hotel and let us know that he would be our driver that night. He recommended a restaurant for dinner and made reservations for us. He was great to work with and recommended some places to see on our 4 hours together. We settled in to our hotel and were surprised by a knock at the door with two decadent deserts and a personal note to make us feel special. Jean took us to Eze, a charming hilltop town and gave us some time to explore, then gave us a driving tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo. He took extra time with us allowing us time to eat without cutting into much of our tour time. We loved the sea views from the hotel in Nice. It was an amazing place. The staff was very friendly, accommodating and service oriented. Loved it!
The second day we slept in until noon and spent the afternoon exploring Nice further. We walked to a Russian Cathedral and then to a fort lookout called Belanda Tower that had panoramic views of the area. We walked through a market area to get there and stopped to eat outdoors on the way back. In the morning our same driver, Jean, picked us up and took us to the train station. He parked and took us in and directed us to where we would catch the train. He was a great guy and we enjoyed getting to know him.
Once we arrived at the train station in Genova, we were greeted by Nicolas. He picked us up in a black Mercedes and had water and towelettes for us. He was extremely friendly, knowledgable and easy to understand. He drove us through Genova (Genoa) and through his town of Santa Margherita to Portofino. After eating along the water, we hiked up to the church and out to the lighthouse. We took time to peek into a store or two on the way. Then we hopped back in the car and headed to Portovenere, our home base for the next two nights. The junior suite we had had a wonderful balcony and amazing views out both windows. On one side we could see the sea and the other side we could see the town of Portovenere. They gave us your sweet welcome note and a bottle of wine with some fresh fruit. After settling in we headed out into town and walked along the narrow interior streets and explored the church and cliff edge. We had a nice dinner along the water enjoying some local fish. The next day we took the early ferry to Cinque Terre. We felt like we did the Amazing Race at Cinque Terre. We arrived at the farthest town, Monterosso, by ferry and worked our way back using the train. We enjoyed a nice lunch at a recommended place called Gianni Franci in Vernazza. We spent our wisest 1.50 Euro and took a bus to the top of Corniglia and then walked the steps to come down. We headed to Manarola next, one of our favorites and hit Riomaggiore last.
When we got up the next morning we headed to the airport. We were excited to see Nicolas again. He had water for us and provided us with a nice scenic drive and lots of information on our way to the airport. He was a great driver and extremely personable. He dropped us off at the terminal and we spent the rest of the day flying. Our next driver was waiting outside baggage claim. When we arrived at Capri, we were met at the end of the dock by a driver from our hotel who transferred us to Anacapri. Such an interesting ride with the extremely narrow streets - smallest traffic circle I have ever seen. When we arrived at our hotel, we were welcomed like family and shown around. What an amazing place. Spectacular views and so welcoming, and many places to sit and relax. You felt as if you were visiting their home, which is the way Fransisco explained it when he welcomed us. We loved our room and everything about the place was amazing!!! The food was delicious, very special!
We had just missed the sunset when we arrived but made it in time for a wonderful dinner. It rained hard during the night and so we woke up to an overcast day. The concierge felt it would be too rough for a boat tour around the island, so we walked into town and had a delicious calzone. We took a taxi to the Blue Grotto and due to the weather, we were able to quickly see and experience the boat ride through the small opening. We took a bus back into town and then rode the chair lift to the summit of Monte Solaro. It was beautiful on the way up and back. Upon our return we took a hike recommended by the concierge out to the lookout way above the lighthouse at the far end. By the time we got back it was starting to shower again. We headed back and relaxed, excited for another delicious dinner. It rained again during the night and so we chose to just relax at the resort in the morning and scheduled our transfer for around noon.
It was a quick ride to Sorrento. We had a nice room overlooking the water. They had a plate of petit fours waiting for us when we arrived and made a dinner reservation for us in the hotel. Once we settled in, we walked around the shopping area and grabbed a late lunch. We shopped and relaxed until dinner. We enjoyed the 5 course menu option by their chef who they said had earned a Michelin Star. The meal was exquisite.
The next day we met our driver, Dale, and began our tour of the Amalfi Coast. He was a great driver and very nice. It was drizzling all morning. He gave us some time at Positano and Amalfi where we could walk the streets and check out some shops. Then we headed to Ravello and he made a reservation for us at a nice restaurant with amazing views and delicious cuisine. He recommended that after lunch we walk to the see the gardens of Villa Rufolo. It provided us with views of the beautiful garden and wonderful elevated views of the coast. He also took us to the neighboring town of Scala to see a church that was over 1000 years old, a simple building on the outside, but quite large and interesting to see inside. The rain stopped around lunch time. When we got back, we were tired from a day of touring and had eaten a large lunch at a fine restaurant so we chose to eat pizza via room service and relax for the evening. On our last day in Italy, we got up and took a train to see Pompeii. We were so close, why not! We found the station easily and got to Pompeii in great time. We paid for the audio tour and took a good amount of time seeing the sights. After we had the feel of it we headed back to Sorrento. We grabbed a late lunch and shopped for any remaining souvenirs we needed for our family. After a brief rest, we headed back out for our last dinner in Italy at a restaurant about a block away. We were treated to a piano player right outside our balcony playing the live music on the veranda. We packed up and were greeted the next morning by our last driver who dropped us at the Naples airport for our journey home.
Every part of our trip was amazing, Deena. All the connections were seamless. The drivers were terrific. The accommodations were gorgeous. It was an amazing trip. The only thing we would have changed was the weather. Anacapri and the Amalfi Coast were so beautiful, but to have seen them on a beautiful day with sunshine, would have been amazing. However, there are just certain things beyond our control.
We were so thankful to get to go on this trip. I have wanted to do it for so long. We were thrilled with every part of it. Galen got a little travel weary on the day we flew from Genova to Naples, but when we arrived in Anacapri, he agreed it was all worth it. Anacapri was our favorite place. This hotel was truly special! Thanks for all the time, effort and thought you put into our trip. It was a trip we will never forget! We can’t thank you enough for making it so easy and enjoyable and looking out for us in every way. You are AMAZING, Deena! We appreciated all your hand written notes and the special welcome that we received at each accommodation. It was an outstanding trip. we can’t thank you enough for all your efforts!!!
When I get some time, I’ll forward some pictures or a link. It is hard to capture the beauty but it triggers our minds to remember.:) Hope you have a great weekend!
Galen and Kim Eby, Lancaster, PA - France & Italy European Adventures, October, 2016
Kenya Safari & the Seychelles
Hi Deena! Sorry for the delay in responding. We have been meaning to write to you about what an AMAZING time we had. The trip was unbelievable!
Your planning and ordering of everything was impeccable! Having someone meet us at each place made us feel so relaxed that we could just enjoy and be escorted to where we needed to be.
Our first camp was one of my favorite places. The tents were so beautiful and the little details such as rabbit covered water jugs in bed at night, hot embers to keep the room warm, copper bathroom fixtures, the unbelievable organic farm! And then of course the people. Sue, Willy, Alice, Mats, and India did a great job making us feel like we’d been welcomed into their home. But best of all was our tour guide, Legei. I think Patrick and I both walked away feeling like we had made a new friend and wish our paths would cross again. He was so knowledgeable but light hearted and just so much fun to spend the days with! I got a little choked up saying bye to him when we headed to Masai Mara. Specific highlights from Lewa:
- Found a rhino horn driving into camp that had been lost by a male battling Sonya (female) to mate with her. Horn was turned over to the authorities immediately but so cool to see.
- Saw baby cubs, a lioness chased up into a tree from a failed water buffalo attack, cheetah brothers hunting at night, grevyz and zebras everywhere, and the resident giraffe that came up to say hello.
- We hiked into Ngare Ndare and saw several amazing waterfalls, swam in one of them, and gave some local girls a ride. Patrick loved waving and yelling ‘Jamboooo!!’ to everyone along the way; all of whom kindly waved back.
- Hearing our tent unzipped in the morning and spying the “cheeky monkeys” looking for the cookies then promptly rezipping our tent when they made eye contact with us.
- A surprise lunch set up after a canopy walk and a surprise sundowner – they went above and beyond to add little touches and surprises
Onto Masai Mara which was such a different beautiful place than Lewa. It really came across as a five star hotel with an incredibly attentive and kind staff, run perfectly by Maurice, and facilities that were gorgeous, especially with the hippos just hanging out. Benson, our awesome guide here, was wonderful about finding many opportunities to share information or facts about the land and people. For example, why there are “umbrella trees” everywhere, the traditions of the Masai, animal behaviors, etc. Our highlights from there:
- Balloon ride!!! We both loved this so much! It was so cool to float over everything and then have breakfast out in the open.
- Saw cheetahs that were eating a fresh kill, watched the crossing at one of the most photographed points and saw a baby wildebeest taken by a crocodile, found 13 lions on one single day. The game viewing here was unbelievable! While we never saw a leopard on our trip, we saw so many animals we didn’t even think of initially and some that I’ve never seen such as jackals, hyenas, exotic birds, etc.
- The meals were excellent! All five star and felt so luxurious – Big John outdid himself every time!
- We did a village visit where Patrick engaged in a jumping contest and I got to dance and sing with the women…eally I just tried to move while I took it all in.
We really maximized our safari days to the point staff was commenting on it at both Lewa and the Mara. Doing the private tour was definitely the right choice for us!
And then the Seychelles! The Four Seasons accommodations are hard to even describe! We spent almost all of our time relaxing in our villa even to the point we were ordering room service just so we didn’t have to leave that spectacular situation. There’s not a lot for me to write about on this part of the trip because we really just chilled out, read a lot and walked around every now and then. We did one day trip to snorkel and visit some of the other islands which was nice.
I’ll send pics once we get them all downloaded. Again, we can’t thank you enough for everything! We are wondering if you handle planning for other areas or if Africa is really your specialty? We don’t take many trips of that magnitude but would love to work with you again in the future and will no doubt recommend you to anyone looking at Africa.
Patrick & Anne Dickinson, Chicago, IL - African Safari & Seychelles Honeymoon Adventure, Sept., 2016
East African Safari & Seychelles
"Hi Deena! We were waiting to get a couple of days under our belt before writing to let you know just how much we're loving EVERY minute!! The details of this trip you've put together for us could not have been more perfect! And the accommodations, sights, animals and excursions have been some of the most beautiful in my life... Only topped by the people who seem to make this country the vibrant and warm place it is. I'll write with more details when we get back but this has been the most amazing trip of my life so far!! We can't thank you enough!"
Anonymous, Chicago, IL - African Safari & Seychelles Beach Adventure, Aug, 2016
"Hi Deena. So sorry I haven't sent you feedback, you were on my to-do list! It's been hectic getting back into real life. The highlight for both of us was the elephant excursion. So cool, and even better than expected. Phuket was amazing; that hotel was incredible! We both want to go back to that specific Anantara, but we're definitely a fan of the hotel chain now. Laying by the pool all day just can't be beat. I've also attached a couple photos, feel free to share!
You were wonderful to work with, we'll let you know if any other big trips are on our radar. Have a great rest of the week!"
Adam and Ali S., Chicago, IL - Thailand Elephant & Beach Birthday Celebration, 2016
"Deena, thanks for checking in on us. Also, thanks for providing such timely feedback in regards to our delayed transfer. The transfer was there at the proper time for pick up. In regards to Le Blanc, we were blown away. Talk about a vacation experience! We thought is was a perfect selection for a perfect honeymoon. The weather was perfect, the service could not be beat, the staff was friendly, the food was amazing (and did not get old), and we just overall did truly feel spoiled to be a guest there. We ended up choosing to do the spa package, the professional photos, and romantic dinner with our resort credits. Once again, thank you for everything. We could not thank you more for an unforgettable experience. All the best."
-Stephen and Kelly, Chicago IL - Mexico Honeymoon, 2016
Thailand Wedding & Honeymoon
Excerpts from client's excellent review -
"Hi Deena. Thank you for touching base! The trip was amazing overall. The heat took some getting used to. All that aside, it was great.
Chiang Mai - we really loved the trips to ENP and while PEF is much more interactive, I had some concerns given they ride the elephants (although better with one adult bareback than 2-3 on a heavy iron seat). We liked that they gave us photos and look forward to seeing them once we get home.
We also did a Thai Farm Cooking class which we loved, a trip to Doi Inthanon and spent part of a day roaming and checking out temples. Le Meridien is a beautiful hotel and in a convenient location but I think I was really surprised Chiang Mai would be such a big city. Not knowing alot about it, we expected it to be more rural.
Bangkok - We went to Wat Poh but opted out of the Grand Palace given the heat and crazy crowds. The highlights for us was probably our dinner at Banyan Tree. We also went to Lebua but it was even more pricy and the ambiance at Banyan was much better.
Koh Samui - we loved it! We were sooooooo happy to get to the beach. Anantara is stunning and we loved the night market / walking street. It was really cute. The only thing we found is they cleaned our room pretty late so they wanted to clean when we were getting back from our day trips.
Khao Lak - we loved it and The Sarojin!!!! It was so calm and peaceful compared to everywhere else. Aside from the wedding, we just did one trip to snorkel at Surin Islands. This was fabulous. The resort was expensive but there were other spots to eat along the beach. The wedding and waterfall dinner along with our pool Villa was unreal. We were so happy with how it turned out. I've attached a few photos for you - we don't have professional ones yet.
Krabi - we enjoyed Rayavadee and Krabi. We loved the assortment of monkeys. We saw some macaques really close after we did the viewpoint climb. I've attached a photo of one with a baby :-)
We really just relaxed for a couple days then had our private boat from the hotel to PhiPhi, Maya Bay and Bamboo Island. This was an amazing day. Maya Bay was amazing. The tide was going down as we arrived so almost all the boats had to leave. I can see how nuts it can be but we really lucked out. We also had a champagne sunset on Bamboo Island before returning back.
All of the transfers were smooth. We only had to call one in Chiang Mai who wasn't there but JR had gotten a local SIM so it wasn't an issue. We also really loved the Thai people. They are really sweet and soft spoken. They seem very protective of their environment so it's too bad a lot of tourists don't have this same respect. We are really glad we decided to go this route for our honeymoon and special day. It was the trip of a life time.
Thank you for all of your help planning it! I know I had tons of questions along the way."
-Serena S., Ontario, Canada - Thailand Wedding & Beach Honeymoon, 2016
Chile, Argentina, & Patagonia
"Deena, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Outside of a few minor bumps (Jenny's lost passport and contacts) the trip was terrific and everything we could have asked for. It was truly a once in a lifetime trip and I speak for both of us in saying that we couldn't be happier with our choice of Chile as a honeymoon destination. Each part of the trip was memorable in its own way and as you said, we'll have stories that we'll be telling people for the rest of our lives.
I'm still adjusting to not being in a South American summer climate and those late summer sunsets. I'd say that out of the four locations we visited, Patagonia and Valparaiso were our favorites. Patagonia is incredibly easy to love and probably the most picturesque area that we visited. Our cameras were put to very good work at all stops but Patagonia brought out our inner photographer most frequently.
We kayaked to a glacier (drinking cocktails with glacier ice), stood at the windiest point in the Torres del Paine Park (and almost flew away), hiked up to the base of the Towers (Jenny's favorite!!), almost got stampeded by some guanacos, saw the sun set at midnight, and were blown away by the unique scenery and landscape. I was also impressed by how quickly the entire staff at Patagonia Camp calmed Jenny down and allowed us to enjoy the stay there and not worry too much about the passport issue. The yurt we had in Patagonia Camp was terrific as well, the bed was incredibly comfortable, and we slept great down there.
Valparaiso is a very cool city that is fun and full of great restaurants and neat little art shops. I'm pretty sure that Jenny and I have been turned into seafood snobs thanks to the amazingly delicious and fresh fish that we had in every single part of Chile. (I'm only half kidding; it will be tough to order fish in Chicago any time soon).
The Matetic Winery Tour with Lunch was excellent, very beautiful area with great food and wine. I have to say that I'm not a big wine drinker but all of the wines that we had in Chile were terrific and I wish we could have brought back more than the 5 bottles we slipped through Customs. Our last few days in Valparaiso were very relaxing and an excellent way to wrap up the honeymoon.
I don't want to short change our stay in the Atacama Desert because that was a terrific and unique experience but Patagonia is Patagonia, tough to top that. The Tierra Atacama Resort was very nice and the staff was great. They have a terrific place and the view of the mountains was amazing. The only issues we had in the desert were the altitude and the insanely dry air and neither of them had anything to do with the resort or the staff. The Atacama Desert was full of surprises and cool stuff to see like the Moon and Rainbow Valleys, the Salt Flats, lots of flamingos, vicunas (and their babies), hot springs, and geysers.
It was 100% worth waking up at the crack of dawn for the geysers excursion. We saw a ton of wildlife and even saw some newborn llamas. My personal favorite was the stargazing just because of how clear the sky is and all of the stars and constellations that we'll never get to see in Chicago/the Northern Hemisphere. The food everywhere was delicious. We especially enjoyed having fresh bread and butter being served with nearly every meal. The Pisco Sours were terrific at every stop, and I was personally impressed with the good beer selections as well. All of the guides were very helpful and couldn't have been nicer. Everyone we ran into was very open and friendly regardless of our lack of Spanish.
Thank you very much for all of your help and for putting together this incredible trip with us. We definitely owe you dinner or a nice bottle of Chilean wine at some point in the future. If you have any questions about things I left off this email, please don't hesitate to email me back and I'll answer them to the best of my abilities and memory. Thanks again and talk to you soon."
-Dan & Jenny, Chicago, IL - Chile & Argentina Honeymoon, 2016
Hi Deena, I hope all is well! Thank you for checking in! We just got back last night and had the BEST time. Everything on our itinerary was executed flawlessly. We loved all of our activities and had so much fun - we especially loved the elephant home and the cooking class! Also, the drivers and guides were amazing - so helpful, always on time, and totally going above and beyond for us.
We cannot thank you enough for your help. This was honestly the trip of a lifetime and we are so grateful for your assistance in making it so special! Spencer and I are looking to book another trip and we just had to come back to you! We had such an amazing time in Thailand, we want to do it all over again in a new location.
Hope you and your family enjoy Thailand as much as we did!!
Spencer & Courtney Larkin, Chicago, IL - Thailand Adventures, 2015
"Italy is a treat for the eyes and stomach and soul. There is much beauty to see and the cities are very different looking than here in the States, which is just plain FUN. We did not run around to every tourist attraction and didn't feel that we needed to see everything! We explored and got lost and ate when we wanted and rested in the afternoons and soaked up the experience. We thoroughly enjoyed all three of our cooking classes and highly recommend them. We found beautiful leather gloves at Madova, just on the far side of the Ponte Vecchio. Also found lovely leather jackets in Piazza Santa Croce. In Venice, we ate twice at both Osteria San Marco and Marciano Ristorante, which were close to our hotel and had delicious pasta and Osso Bucco.
The first thing we tell our friends and family about our trip? That it was amazing and that Deena Gainor did our travel plans and if you go, you should have her plan for you!! Really, that is what I say! Then I tell them how delicious the food was and how much Caitlin and I loved everything we did. Do I sound like a broken record? Would I recommend Global Getaways to others? YES, YES, YES, I already have."
-Janet & Caitlin, Naperville, IL - Italian Adventures, 2015
East African Safari & Seychelles
"I would highly recommend you reach out to Deena and tell her what you're looking for. She is awesome. We flew into Nairobi then took a smaller plane out to Safari. We did a few nights in Amboseli and saw tons of animals - mostly elephants, giraffe, lions, zebra, etc. We also went to a local village one day to see how the locals live.
After that, we took another small plane down to Masai Mara and saw more amazing animals including all of the above plus hippos, leopards, water buffalo, rhino, etc. This was another amazing place with an amazing lodge. The food was unbelievable and the people were so nice. They really took amazing care of you, and our travel agent had it set up so that we didn't have to worry about a thing. We also did a sunrise hot air balloon ride which was amazing. We landed in the bush where we then had a champagne breakfast.
After a few days here, we went back to Nairobi where we then flew out to Seychelles, and stayed at the Four Seasons….WOW this place was so unbelievable. Unlike anything I've ever seen. Very expensive, but very worth it. Everyone has private villas that are built in the mountainside with stunning views of the ocean. Each place also has it's own private infinity pool. You get around here with golf carts and the customer service is amazing. I'm happy to chat more, as I could go on and on with the details. Let me know if you need any other information or want to chat further. Have fun planning!"
Andrea, Chicago, IL - East African Safari & Seychelles Honeymoon, 2015
Hi Deena, Thank you! Our wedding was wonderful and so was the honeymoon in St. Lucia. The Sandals Grande resort was nice. A few comments below that might help you guide further clients:
- Weather ended up being perfect all week long! 80-85 and sunny.
- Room itself was more beachy than modern
- Service was 7 out of 10. The staff was very welcoming when we got there. Additionally, with out butler service, guests are not served drinks by the pool. All guests had to get their own drinks/food from the bar.
- Lots of honeymooners ages 25-35
- Gorgeous views of the island
- Dinners were good. It was nice that we got to take the complimentary shuttle to the other Sandals resorts to try their restaurants for dinner
- Lunch food was just okay (limited menu options got old after a few days)
- The private car to and from the airport was nice due to the 1.5 hr drive
Hopefully the above feedback helps. Overall, it was a wonderful vacation and we recommend the resort to young newlyweds like us! Attached please find some pictures. Feel free to use them and my feedback on your blog. Thanks!
Liza & Jacob Wilson, Chicago, IL - St. Lucia Sandals Honeymoon, 2015
Kenyan Safari & Seychelles
"Thanks, Deena! We had an amazing time (on Safari in Kenya and at the Four Seasons in the Seychelles). We didn't have to worry once about where to be or who was picking us up. It was wonderful and we can't thank you enough!"
- Zack, Chicago, IL - Kenya Safari & Seychelles Honeymoon, 2015
Charleston, South Carolina
"Hello Deena. I wanted to let you know we have finally arrived to the hotel and want to thank you so much for the very nice amenity. You are so wonderful! Just wanted to thank you again. We absolutely love this place! Charleston is so charming and quaint I feel like I am in France, so many details everywhere! Amazing food and people. Just a little cold these days but tomorrow should be a bit warmer, then again I know how bad it is in Chicago! Cant wait to tell you more when i see you. Ciao Ciao."
- Chef and Esther Roby, Geneva, IL - Charleston, South Carolina, 2014
Caribbean and Mexico
"Deena is the only travel agent I will call for my travel arrangements. She is someone I can trust with all my travel, and is always trying to find the best prices on travel for our family. Deena is very personable and at all times is working for the best interest of her clients."
- Leslie Holtzclaw, Greater Los Angeles area - Caribbean & Cancun
Hey Deena, I'm up early so I thought I'd send this to you now, since it's all fresh in my head.
Beach - beautiful, gorgeous and the water looked amazing! The water was warm and very refreshing. Service was great! We loved the cabanas. We enjoyed our time at the beach greatly!!
Pools - Thursday we went to the smaller quiet pool which was shaded. Very relaxing over there. Not the partying going on like the main pool. People were sleeping in the chairs all afternoon. It was great! The big pool was fun. Lots to participate in, people bringing you fruit in water, fun to jump between warm, hot & cool water.
Room - Suite 308 was Fantastic! Beautiful view as you saw. Towel animals at turn down were cool. Swans & doves kissing. Mini bar was awesome and was included! Laundry basket, nice touch. Shower, roomy. Whirlpool tub, HUGE! Plenty of space to move around.
Spa - Haircut was great! It was hard to communicate but I eventually got what I wanted and it was EXACTLY what I wanted, which was fabulous.
Concierge - When we checked in, we had 100 questions and Matthieau was great at answering them. He took his time and armed us with great information. He warned us to only pay in Pesos when shopping on the street. I wish he would have also warned us that the street sellers see the wristbands, and will try to get you to believe they work at the hotel, then get you to buy something from their Mother's, or brother's shop. It's a scam, so I'm giving you warning. Don't fall for it! About 5 people approached us that way.
Romance Concierge - We purchased a Romantic Evening Package. We really wanted the strawberries & sparkling grape juice. The rest was icing and the cost was very inexpensive. I loved the rose petals everywhere and the whirlpool being filled for us. The strawberries were fantastic too!
Olympus - They definitely had orange shirts on and were easy to find. They took us where we needed to go and were very friendly.
Food - Room service was great! They call when your food is delivered which is a bit annoying, but it was fast & good.
The restaurants were great! We had some very interesting foods & enjoyed most of them. We loved that we could customize our orders. We also loved that we could try new things risk free. Just order something else if we don't like it.
Overall, we knew we were on a budget & that this was NOT the Bellagio going in. We got the relaxation and quiet time we wanted and we enjoyed our stay here. The location was perfect and the view spectacular. It was what we expected and we really like the all inclusive thing! We loved not having to tally expenses. We also loved the food!
- Kristen, Dayton, OH - The Royal Playa del Carmen, Mexico
China, Caribbean, & Paris
Las Vegas, New York, & New Orleans