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RAVE REVIEWS

PARIS

Tim and Carol, Duncan OK

When I met with Tim and Carol, Tim indicated that he had decided for his birthday he was going to hand over the reins of his travel planning to a professional. The family, in the past, had primarily spent their vacations at a Disney theme park, and this time they wished to visit Paris. The family wanted to visit the Louvre, Versailles, museums and historical landmarks. A day trip to Bordeaux was also important.

I worked with a preferred on-site to curate their itinerary. Why do I partner with on-sites?  Because in-destination support and on ground services are crucial in certain countries. On-sites exist for a very simple reason: to facilitate the organizing of unique and tailor-made travels and events for any size group with the least amount of hassle. They coordinate between hand-picked agencies and trusted suppliers to create unique experiences.

What was the final product of this collaboration?

 

Here are some highlights:

  • VIP Arrival Service and Private Roundtrip Transfers

  • Family room for 6 nights at Hotel Beaumarchais in Paris

  • Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower Private Tour

  • High Speed Train Tickets Round Trip to Bordeaux

  • Private Bordeaux Full Day Tour

  • Versailles Private Tour

  • And probably the highlight of the trip - a night in a two-bedroom suite at the Airelles Chateau de Versailles, Le Grand Controle, the only hotel at the Palace, to celebrate their anniversary!  What was included?  Unlimited access to the Orangery Garden, Le Grand Contrôle guests’ exclusive tour of the Domaine de Trianon every morning, Le Grand Contrôle guests’ exclusive tour of the Palace of Versailles in the evening, Golf cart to discover the gardens, Personal butler service, Breakfast created by Alain Ducasse, Marie-Antoinette sweet Afternoon Tea, Organic gourmet mini-bar, Access to the Valmont spa

  • I also arranged dinner reservations for them at  the Michelin star restaurant on property - Ducasse au Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle

  • Because the property is affiliated with Virtuoso, they also received a complimentary upgrade to next room category upon arrival

  • I also helped them with a travel insurance policy to protect their investment.
     

Eiffel Tower Paris

“If you are in need of a travel advisor for overseas trips keep Erin Smith at Cultivating Connections Travel Planners in mind! She and her travel partner Susana helped to make our recent trip to Paris a trip of a lifetime! From tours of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, a day trip to the beautiful city of Bordeaux, Versailles, and an unforgettable nights stay at Le Grand Contrôle, the hotel in the Château de Versailles where they secured us a room upgrade making her 25th Wedding Anniversary that much more special, everything was a smooth and seamless experience for my family and me. Erin and her travel partner booked all our tours, our six night stay at the adorable and so very Parisian Le Petit Beaumarchais Hotel & Spa, any and all transfers from the airport and between hotels. They booked all our train tickets and made sure everything ran smoothly. We had constant communication throughout our trip and could have contacted them if needed with any questions we might have had. They made sure we had a detailed itinerary and all our questions were answered before we left. We knew who our tour guides and drivers would be before we met them and they were all delightful! I honestly can’t recommend Cultivating Connections Travel enough. They worked closely with us to make our trip to Paris an absolute dream! Thank you Erin!”

 

- Carol G, Duncan OK

Image by Herr Bohn

ITALY

Martha & Marcia, Purcellville VA

When Martha contacted me, she told me that their trip, in theory, was to celebrate two "big" birthdays. In reality, they really just wanted to visit Italy.  And as a bonus, part of the family that lives in Europe was going to join them for part of the time.  They had all traveled fairly extensively in the past. Actually, while teaching, they sponsored student trips to the United Kingdom and France. The experience of introducing high school students to other cultures was rewarding. They wanted to visit Rome, Florence, the Tuscan countryside and maybe Venice.  (They quickly realized they were being overzealous with Venice, and decided to save that for a future trip.)  They wanted a balance of educational excursions with time to simply explore on their own.

What did we book for them?  Roundtrip private transportation, 4 nights in a deluxe room at Sina Bernini Bristol in Rome, a golf cart tour of Rome, a private Landmarks of Ancient Rome tour, a private Bites of Authentic Rome tour, a private Vatican tour, high speed Executive Class rail tickets,  6 nights in a deluxe room at Palazzo Vecchietti in Florence, a private Intro to Florence tour, a private Uffizi and Accademia Gallery Tour, a private Cooking Class in Florence with Dinner, a private Chianti Wine Trail tour, 4 nights in a two bedroom garden room at Relais Villa L'olmo in Impruneta (Tuscan countryside), and a private tour of Siena and San Gimignano with a stop for a Tuscan lunch and wine tasting in a winery.  Of course, I also helped them with a travel insurance policy to protect their investment.

Fortunately, I teamed up with a trusted on-site to help curate this trip.  While Martha and Marcia were in the country, it was announced that a rail strike was going to interfere with their services.  Before we knew it was even occurring, the on-site had rearranged the itinerary and rail tickets to cause as little disruption to their plans as possible.  In addition, when the return flights were canceled and rescheduled for the following day, the on-site made arrangements with the hotel and transfer service to extend their stay with as little inconvenience as possible.  Examples like this are why I collaborate with partners with in-destination support.
 

“Exceptional Erin!  From our initial meeting through the trip, Erin listened to the type of experience we hoped to have, and she delivered on all of our wish list, plus more. When we explained that it was a "bucket list" trip, she suggested activities we wouldn't have thought of, and they were some of our best experiences. From accommodations to expected sights and special activities, we appreciated her attention to details, and her understanding of what type of trip we had in mind.”

 

- Martha A, Purcellville VA

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SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

RIVER CRUISE

Stacey, Charlotte, NC

When Stacey reached out, she told me her parents had talked about going on a river cruise for years.  When her father passed away, they had never gone on the trip.  She wanted to take her mom on the river cruise that had been talked about for so long, and I was honored to be of assistance.

We discussed the different rivers, available itineraries, and river cruise lines, and which cruise lines fit the bill for what they wanted to do (and which ones to avoid).

What did I book for Stacey?  Flights, transfers/transportation, a pre-cruise night at a phenomenal hotel in Amsterdam - Sofitel Legend the Grand in a Superior Twin Canal View Room.  Amenities included:  Guaranteed room/suite upgrade to the next category at time of booking, daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom, $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay, pre-cruise stays include complimentary one-way transfer to or from Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability and complimentary Wi-Fi.  The cherry on the top?  A Cello Deck twin balcony (French balcony + Outside balcony) cabin aboard the AmaPrima for their Captivating Rhine sailing from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Basel, Switzerland.   I also helped them with travel insurance policies to protect their investment.

Image by redcharlie

"Amazing Support!  I loved working with Erin to plan my mother/daughter European river cruise. She helped me find the right cruise company and helped me make it special for my mom. And when we were about to head out, she was available for all of my last minute questions!"

 

- Stacey R, Charlotte NC

Image by Sarah Elizabeth

IRELAND

Tyler & Emily, Moore OK

When Tyler contacted me about a potential trip to Ireland, he knew they would very likely return to Ireland for future trips, and wanted a vacation where they weren’t constantly on the go. They didn’t need to see it all in one 5-7 day trip. They did want to see the Cliffs of Moher and stay in a castle for at least one night.

Because Tyler and Emily wanted a more relaxing getaway, I focused on just the western region of Ireland so they weren’t spending all their time driving from one destination to another.

I booked them for two nights in Killarney, two nights at Ashford Castle near Limerick, and two nights at Gregan’s Castle in County Clare. Tyler and Emily were perfectly comfortable driving themselves, so an automatic transmission rental car was available for pick-up upon landing at Shannon International. I also helped them with a travel insurance policy to protect their investment.

They were able to leisurely enjoy the Killarney area, and took horse carriages to Ross and Dunloe. For their stay at Ashford Castle, I arranged Afternoon Tea and a “Hawk Walk”/falconry experience. And, of course, they visited the Cliffs of Moher, where Tyler proposed!  (We are now working on their upcoming honeymoon plans.)

“A perfect customized vacation!  Erin gave us exactly what we wanted! We took a trip to Ireland and Erin provided perfect hotel/location recommendations while keeping our wants/preferences in mind. She made the trip very relaxed and took care of the hard parts. We highly recommend her!”

 

- Tyler S, Moore OK

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