Travel + Leisure "A List" 9 Consecutive Years
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South Africa 2012 • Four Testimonials
We are back from our once in a life time 30th Anniversary trip to South Africa. We went with 2 other couples, and focused heavily on photography during the trip. It was our best vacation ever and we totally enjoyed the South African people and the incredible scenery. The safaris at Lion Sands and Londolozi in Sabi Sands Game Preserve were simply amazing. Special thanks to all of the following: Our fantastic tour guide Brian Vandayar who hosted us while in Cape Town, our wonderful safari guides Landon Eades from Lion Sands, and Kate Imrie from Londolozi, Janie Bullard and Betty White at Distinctive Journeys for arranging the trip, David and Mally Skok whose local knowledge was invaluable in leading us to Plettenberg Bay which was absolutely beautiful, and finally Emmie Foot (Mally's mother) who was a charming mini-host and advisor during our time in Plettenberg Bay.
Shelia McDonald • South Africa
Janie and Betty,
We are home and getting settled from our nothing less than AMAZING AFRICA trip. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I feel so very blessed that I had the opportunity to visit Africa in my lifetime. Seriously, as I sit at my computer typing this email to you both.... the fact stirs in my mind---"I actually went to Africa"! By far.... the Safari's were my most favorite because in my mind---that is what Africa is about. Secondly, I would say visiting a village in Victoria Falls and going to an 8th grade and 9th grade class in the Londolozi area also topped our list. The kids were heart warming with our question and answer session. Two boys did a rap song for me and I danced as they sang and both the class and teacher were thoroughly entertained! Laughter was contagious and one quickly realizes how we are all the same but are just afforded different opportunities in life. Again, I am truly blessed!
I would be most happy to talk to you all about our experience but--Janie I know you have been many times and nothing I have to share would be new to you. I want to thank both of you from the bottom of my heart with your patience, kindness and support during the long months of planning and organizing our vacation. Our rooms were spectacular, the staff at all places made us feel like royalty and recognized it was our anniversary trip by doing their special touches in the room to honor our celebration.
Once you take a trip like this you crave more. Without at risk of sounding selfish, it just makes you want to downsize you home, not pay as much in property tax, drive a hybrid, and figure out a way to travel and see the world. The beauty of Africa made me have an epiphany of how BIG GOD IS! You marvel at his creation.
The two words "thank you" seem so small to me right now. I wish I could hug you both and kiss your cheeks so you could feel my warmth of gratitude and that again does not seem like enough.
Please know how appreciative I am of all your hard work and the effort you both put forth to make our trip one that will always be embedded in our memory. And, FIRST CLASS is the only way to fly!!!! (LOL) I told my husband---Babe, I like this....I mean...I like this a lot!
PS: Italy next year??? Amalfi Coast. If you have any information -- please send it to me. However, we have to save our miles so we can fly FC. I hear this is the time to visit Italy due to the exchange rate? I have not investigated that yet although, our future international travels--I feel this should be taken in consideration. Bucket List ---Ireland, Switzerland, Maldives, New Zealand (not necessarily in that order)
Holly Greene • Baltimore, Maryland
I have always planned my own trips. I am the type who decides on a destination and journey, then I buy 3 or 4 guide books and plan the trip myself. Three years ago, my husband and I decided to go to Turkey. I started planning. I was so excited, but found that it was much harder to plan the trip when I had to make several flights inside Turkey. I contacted several travel agents who specialize in Turkey. Some good friends who had been to Turkey suggested that we talk to their agent, Janie at Distinctive Journeys. I contacted her and along with four other travel agents. I courted all of them for about a month, sending them my ideas and desires for the trip. Janie was the only one who responded to the my plans. Seven years earlier, I had read about a hotel in Cappadoccia (Central Turkey) that is made up of a series of caves -- which is typical of the native houses in that region. All the other travel agents were trying to put us in a more traditional (and what I call "touristy") hotel, even though I insisted that I really wanted to stay in the caves. Janie is the only agent who listened to me and actually researched to find the caves that I had read about so many years earlier. The trip was absolutely perfect. I could not have even begun to plan a trip that would even get close to the experience that Janie provided for us on that trip to Turkey. Since that trip, we have been to the Lakes region and Tuscany in Italy, and on a month's tour in East Africa through Janie. Every trip she has planned for us has been perfect.
Since we have been traveling with Janie, we have had the smoothest, most wonderful experiences. We have met delightful people through our guides, stayed in the most fabulous places, and had the most fun. They have been adventurous and stress-free vacations. Each year, I trust Janie more and more. This last summer we went to Africa, I turned loose the reigns and let Janie plan every detail. We saw every kind of animal imaginable, took walking safaris, ran 5 miles through the bush with a Masai warrior who was our guide for four days, went on the most beautiful balloon ride at sunrise over the Serengetti, climbed Kilimanjaro with natives from the Chagga tribe, and much more. We felt that we were in Africa alone. The experience has filled me in a way that is hard to explain.
One interesting thing is that I have never met Janie in person. We email and talk on the phone when we we are planning our trips. I have recommended several friends to her and every one of them has been completely happy with their trip that she has planned. Now we are in the middle of planning another trip with Janie.
Janie is a big picture type of person. She goes for the entire experience of the trip, while simultaneously making every detail great.
Leon and Barbara Aronson
My wife and I have engaged travel agents for many years to plan our trips. A few years ago we started using Distinctive Journeys and they have raised and exceeded our expectations of travel agents. They are more than travel agents, they are travel advisors who have gone to great length to plan the perfect trips for us and they have never disappointed us. Regardless of where you live in this country or in any part of the world, we highly recommend them for all of your travel needs.
Leon Aronson, DDS, 2011 Vice President, International College of Dentists
Kimberly Dickson - Disney Adventures
Janie, thank you so much for planning our most recent Disney adventure. It was fabulous! The room was fantastic and huge – we never bumped into the girls once, literally ;) thank you for the gifts as well. The girls used the autograph books at the teen club and gathered Facebook addresses, cell numbers, etc., from all of their new friends. Cool idea! Both Michelle and Mary Katherine loved the pens and postcards also – great postcards for scrapbooks! We had a really good time and enjoyed being out of the stifling heat wave here in Atlanta. Thanks for all you do for us!
Jack Woodall - Honeymoon
Janie, First of all I would like to say that you did a great job putting together our honeymoon. The whole process for us from start to finish was seamless. We didn't have to worry about a thing. The resort beat all expectations. The service was impeccable and the food was wonderful.
What really added to our resort experience were all the extra perks we received by working with you. It is a small world and we ran into two couples that we already knew from the states at Cap Juluca. This allowed us to make some comparisons. They booked their own trip and definitely received some perks from the resort but not close to the same level.
Through you, we had a $500 resort credit, 3 free dinners, 1 lunch, a couple's massage and a snorkeling trip included in our package. To help put it into perspective, a dinner for 2 at one of the 3 restaurants on Cap Juluca could easily cost $150 for the 3 courses. The dinner vouchers were worth $450 at least. All in we probably received roughly $1500 worth of perks working with you while the most I heard from the other two couples was 1 free lunch and $100 per day resort credit. I would say that we received almost between $700 and $1000 more than the other couples depending on which one you compared to.
Bottom line is it was very advantageous to use your services. I appreciate your help and will recommend your services to anybody planning a honeymoon or special trip.
Holly Greene - China - Panda Bears
We had the most wonderful trip to China. There are so many highlights, but the one I want to share is when we got to meet the pandas. The guide you set us up with was amazing and she made the whole thing possible. She had told us the night before our visit to the panda research center, that we may have the opportunity to feed and play with some baby pandas. We would need to make a contribution to the center, the pandas would need to be willing to visit, as well as the trainers having the time to facilitate this experience.
Java our guide knew all the pandas by name, knew their ages, and knew little characteristics about each one. Many tourists came and left after a five minute viewing. Java entertained our 5 year old daughter with her stories and information about the pandas for over an hour. During this time, we got to watch 5 pandas in their natural habitat. They were climbing trees, gnawing on branches (teething as Java told us), and playing in the panda house. For full details click here
Bill Jennings - Antarctica
As an avid amateur photographer, I excitedly subscribed to Distinctive Journey’s newsletter distribution to keep abreast of the best adventures available. I am so glad I did! Janie Bullard’s team of travel professionals found a lifetime’s adventure to Antarctica with the astronaut Neil Armstrong, no less! During the booking process, the anticipation and preparation for the journey, and during the expedition – Janie was enthusiastically there for me. Seeking the perfect opportunity to experience this great planet? Then call Distinctive Journeys to fulfill your dream! They will cheerfully exceed all your expectations.
David M. Kraxberger President ADEVCO Corporation - Hawaii
Having recently returned from a fabulous family vacation, I decided I must write and express my complete satisfaction with the trip.
Having been to Hawaii 3 previous times we certainly set a new benchmark this trip. All of the arrangements went flawlessly, and the Virtuoso properties are certainly the best. The Mauna Lani Bay in Kona is an outstanding property however you saved the best for last. The Kea Lani in Maui was tops. Thanks to your efforts they treated us like royalty. We really felt they appreciated us staying with them, and the Villa was over the top.
Thanks you for years of great service to our family on all the trips you have planned for us. I value your services and know you have earned what every fee you receive.
Looking forward to our next trip.
David M. Kraxberger
Dr. and Mrs. William S. Rousseau - Thoughout the World
It is our pleasure to recommend Janie Bullard as one of your featured travel agents. Janie has been our travel agent for about twelve years. During that time we have traveled to Galapagos, Antarctica, Europe, Asia, South America, China, Mexico, Canada, Africa and extensively in the U.S. Some of these trips required complex planning – she did a stellar job!
We recommend Janie with great enthusiasm.
Dr. and Mrs, William S. Rousseau
Donald E. Johnson, DDS - Throughout the World
It is my pleasure to recommend Janie Bullard of Distinctive Journeys to become a recognized agent for Conde Nast Traveler Magazine. I have used Ms Bullard's services for many years, arranging travel for my person and groups to Africa, Europe, the Galapagos, Chile, Scotland, England, Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Mediterranean cruises. In June we will be embarking on a journey to Ireland, and in September the International College of Dentists will meet in Australia and our group will visit here and New Zealand.
Working with Janie Bullard gives us the assurance that all details will be covered and that we will be able to enjoy our travels without complications.
Donald E. Johnson, DDS
Steven Bullock - Africa
"Thanks so much for setting up this trip to Africa for us. The travel to and from the camp was nearly painless. The camp itself was wonderful and the service was superb. The guides were very professional and they made every effort to find what we wanted to see and what I wanted to photograph. I was so very pleased you sent us to a place that had a workout facility so I could get a little exercise in the midst of eating all the wonderful food. The trip also gave me an opportunity to spend time with my girlfriend Lorrie, my friend, Mindy and my Goddaughter, Emily".
Dr. Ross Vaughn, Raleigh, NC - India
First you have to know that India has never been on my list of destinations. Several events conspired to get us there.
Our trip was incredible! Planning was extensive and no detail was left undone. Our guide became part of our family for the week and was great. His knowledge of and love for his country was apparent every day. We were honored with meeting his family at the end of our trip. The hotels we experienced were all destinations in their own right and were out of this world. The places we toured were amazing. The Taj Mahal at daybreak is not to be missed. The New Delhi train station at daybreak is also an experience all its own. Udaipur was my favorite, BUT India is a place of many contrasts. It is very crowded. There is much poverty evident everywhere. Traffic and drivers are at times frightening. The people are very warm, friendly-and colorful. History is all around. At the conclusion of our stay we all agreed that in India anything is possible. We had a wonderful time. Thanks.