- What are the benefits of using a luxury travel advisor?
There are many! First and foremost, we create bespoke, customized itineraries based on your preferences and interests. Each proposal we make is completely different depending on the client’s desires – there are no “stock” trips! We also eliminate the headaches and time you would spend comparing endless options online for your destination. We have networks and relationships with the best touring companies all over the world to give you the access to the best guides, drivers, and travel experience. Some of our partners provide amenities just for our clients – this may be complimentary breakfast, a credit for the spa, an upgrade of room category on arrival, or a discount on your stay. Finally, we will monitor your trip while you are traveling, and assist with any unexpected “bumps” you may experience along the way!
- How long does it take to plan a trip?
The amount of time it takes to plan a trip from Discover Call to Booking of the last component depends on a variety of factors, including how far in advance of the trip you’ve contacted us, the complexity of the itinerary, how many suppliers we are coordinating with across the globe, as well as any tweaks you decide you’d like to make to the initial proposal.
In general, it takes 7-10 business days after the initial Discover Call for us to complete your customized itinerary. After the proposal is delivered, we ask that you review and respond as soon as you are able to thoroughly review, in order to prevent the space and itinerary concept from being booked.
Please note that, while we always try to stick to our estimated delivery date, there are events out of our control that may result in a delay (an emergency from a currently traveling client, for example). We ask for your understanding when the need to take a few more days arises.
- How far in advance of a trip should I contact you to kick off planning?
We LOVE advance planners! Even if it’s a year out – feel free to reach out! Many of the world’s most alluring destinations – including Africa, Patagonia, the Galapagos, New Zealand, and Australia – are often booked up 12-15 months in advance, as are December & January holiday vacations. If you are planning for a milestone celebration – a 50th birthday party that takes over a hotel, for example – 18-24 months is a good time to start thinking about traveling.
We find the “sweet spot” for booking a typical annual vacation is 6-9 months in advance. This way, we can ensure you have the best guides, space in the hotels you want, and – if desired – those hot restaurant reservations.
In order to make the trip planning process most efficient, we do ask that you “kick off” the trip process only when you are ready to book. We are happy to discuss “ballpark ideas” to help hone in on a specific destination, but if you are not ready to proceed with booking the trip and a proposal “goes stale” (usually ~1-2 weeks after it is delivered), we then have to start the process from scratch, and often lose valuable space, the best guides, and have to rework logistics. For this reason, you can rest assured that we share your enthusiasm for finalizing details as quickly as possible, to make your trip as magical as possible!
- OK, I get it – you love advance planners. But I have been swamped this year, and haven’t gotten around to planning [insert important event that MUST be celebrated with a FANTASTIC vacation]. And, it’s happening in a month. Can you help?
It never hurts to ask….and we have helped many a last minute planner! Though our consulting rates are higher for inquiries that are departing within 2 months (and rates for hotels/flights/cruise lines are often higher at this point as well), we are happy to discuss your needs to see if we can assist.
We only ask that you commit to being decisive, responsive, and enthusiastic about finding a great option that will work! We, in turn, promise to get you the information as fast as we can, and find the best availability for what you are looking for.
- And what about Christmas/New Year’s Holiday?
Yes, of course! However, please be aware that due to decreased space and difficulty finding availability closer to the space, we do have a separate rate structure for these inquiries.
December Holiday Planning Fees: All bookings between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3 are considered holiday bookings, which is the busiest time of year to travel.
- If you book between January 1 and May 31, the fee is $450, regardless of destination.
- If you book between June 1 and August 30, the planning fee is $600, regardless of destination.
- Due to lack of room and flight availability, we typically do not take holiday bookings after September 1.
- I usually plan my own trips, but I’ve spent months searching the internet and there seems to be no space available where I want to go. My traveling friends are also filled with endless advice, and I want to make sure I follow all of it! Can you help me?
There’s an old saying in the industry that says, “Travel advisors should be your first resource, not your last resort.”
We operate best with all cards laid on the table during the initial call, so we know how much research you have already done, what advice you’ve received from your friends, and any other useful pieces of information (such as, you originally were going to plan the trip on your own, but have hit a roadblock after booking one hotel and international flights).
While we can at times smooth out partially planned itineraries, our best partnership with clients come when the itinerary is created from scratch at the start, using input given during a Discover Call. Let’s put it this way: you wouldn’t want to hand over a self-built car frame to a factory and ask them to finish it up and put their logo on it, would you?
- What budgets do you work with?
Budgets vary greatly depending on where you are going, number of days, how active you want to be, and whether any touring is done in small groups or privately.
Not including airfare, most of our full-scale North American (Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Caribbean) weeklong trips for two people start around $7,500 and our international trips (normally ~10-12 days) start at $12,500. That’s not to say we can’t plan trips for less or more depending on the logistics of the vacation or destination; however, in order for us to provide the most value to your trip and work with our highly vetted luxury travel partners, these are our recommended starting points.
- What is included in your Consulting Rates?
Our Consulting Fee, which is charged at the time a proposal is delivered, includes the following:
- VIP Status. When planning a luxury trip, our relationships all over the world often result in amenities that include room upgrades, resort credits and more.
- Professional expertise. We provide experience with and knowledge of destinations, air travel, industry suppliers and travel-related necessities like travel insurance, visas, passports, etc.
- A personal touch and security. You always have a live voice and someone to be your advocate when there are bumps in the road.
- Our time. Our Consulting Rates help cover our time and effort for research, management, communication, itinerary development, and support.
- Additional Bookings. While we do have an additional Concierge Service for extensive activity and restaurant bookings, we are happy to make reservations for you your first night in each destination, as well as up to 2 additional appointments/reservations (spa, theatre, etc) throughout your trip.
Additional fees do apply for Concierge Services and Airline Research & Ticketing. Please see Rates here.
- What do your Concierge Services entail? Can you get me into sold out shows and the best restaurants?
If you would like assistance with extensive restaurant reservations and recommendations, show tickets, spa appointments, etc, we are happy to assist. As researching and putting together these options takes a significant amount of time on top of the trip planning process, we do charge an additional $150 for this service, on top of our nonrefundable planning fee.
With our connections worldwide, our clients have enjoyed front row seats at the French Open Finals, Centre Court at Wimbledon, tickets to a sold out Bruce Springsteen concert, and orchestra-level seats to Frozen on Broadway, and more. There are situations when we have been able to get clients into sold out events and restaurant reservations; however, booking with enough advance notice have the best chance of finding a space.
Please note that while we are more than happy to share our restaurant recommendations with you, the restaurant scene in many cities changes by the month, not to mention, our clients (and on the ground reviewer’s) tastes are all different! While we share our best and most up to date knowledge, we cannot be held responsible for your tastebuds.
- I just want a hotel booking, and want the Virtuoso amenities applied that I can’t get booking on my own. I don’t need anything else. Can you book this for me?
Yes – we do assist with hotel-only bookings, for a very reduced fee – feel free to shoot us an email with what you are looking for.
- When my proposal arrives, will the individual trip components be broken down line-by-line, or will the trip cost be one price (much like cruises, or “set departure” trips)?
Whenever possible, we break down prices for you to see what the individual components of a trip will cost during the proposal. This allows you to decide what components you may want to keep, and where you’d like to pare back.
However, many of the world’s best tour operators negotiate confidential wholesale rates with their individual suppliers, and are contractually unable to break down costs for us when pricing a customized touring itinerary. They are more than happy to tweak the initial touring itinerary based on budget or desired pace of travel, but they cannot legally share the individual negotiated rates of tours, drivers, or in some cases even hotels, with us.
Despite this, we vet our suppliers thoroughly, and only work with those who we know are committed to negotiating fair prices for incredible experiences for our clients. While we know it’s frustrating not always to see the price of every item (we can’t see it, either!), but this has become the industry standard.
- Will you help book with points and miles?
We no longer assist with booking with points & miles; this is simply not our area of expertise. We do work with several third-party frequent flier experts that we are happy to refer you to if you are interested.
- Do you recommend travel insurance?
YES. Most of the trips we work with are large trips that require a final, nonrefundable payment several months prior to departure. It is too big of a risk, especially in this day and age, not to purchase insurance to cover your investment. From Zika to hurricanes to the terrorism attacks to unexpected earthquakes and volcanoes erupting, there have been so many completely unforeseen issues that have arisen in the past few years that are covered only if insurance has been purchased. We are happy to give you a quote through our preferred agency, but you can also book through your preferred insurance provider – the important thing to us is that you are covered.
If you decide not to cover yourself with travel insurance, we will ask you to sign a waiver stating this.
- What happens if I run into an issue during travel?
We are here to help! Please contact us if you have any issues during your travels and we will do our best to support you and resolve any issues expediently. We will also arm you with local in-country contacts such as your hotel, tour operator, or guide (if applicable).