“Thank you for everything. We had a great time and would
highly recommend your services. I wish you worked with more that
the South Pacific so we could use you for more future trips. The
Shangri la and Langham in Sydney and Melbourne are great hotels in
excellent locations with wonderful breakfast buffets The Mayfair
had small rooms and was not as nicely appointed but probably the
best in Adelaide Southern Ocean Lodge and Longitude 131 should be
rated 7 stars and are truly outstanding in all regards (food,
rooms, location and "experiences") and worth the expense for those
who can afford it or have a bucket list wish. We slept outside on
the porch both nights at Longitude 131 and the stars were amazing.
The Barossa valley tour was very good since it was just the two of
us and they took us to top places and they got us to taste wines
not offered to the general public (however it was 105 degrees that
day) The sailaway trip was first class but the snorkeling was below
expectations due to it being overcast and rainy and the water being
cloudy due to recent turbulence. The Sydney and Melbourne tours
were just about right and we had small groups for both (only four
Paul & Sharon, NJ - Jan 2019
“The trip was wonderful. It
was all first class. The drivers were always right on time for
every pick up. The small group tours were perfect. It's hard to say
what I liked best. In Melbourne the Metropol was very luxurious.
The location was great. The hotel infinity pool was awesome. The
tour group that did the Great Ocean Road tour was fantastic. The
guide, Frank, gave us so much information. We saw kangaroos and a
koala in the wild. The Phillip Island tour was fantastic. Again the
guide was great. It was neat to be able to watch the penguins come
on shore from the ranger station. Quite a unique experience. In
Port Douglas, our Sailaway cruise to the reef had 14 people on the
boat. The snorkeling was really great. The sunset cruise was so
pleasant. We only had 5 people with us this time. We saw several
turtles and giant clams while snorkeling. The Daintree rain forest
tour was another highlight. The aboriginal guide, Percy, knew so
much about the plants and animals in the area. We only had one
other couple on this trip. The guide brought us to a local fruit
stand to pick fruit for our lunch, took us to a stream where we
could swim, and stopped at a farm where they serve ice cream made
from local fruits. He even brought us to his home to show us the
baskets made by his tribe. The two days at Uluru Rock was just
right. The sunset dinner starts with cocktails, then dinner, a star
gazing time with an astronomer, followed by a walk through the
field of lights art installation. Magical. Our sunrise was a bit
muddled by clouds but again the guide was good. It was really hot,
-- around 100 degrees and the flies were pesky but I am so glad we
had an opportunity to see this area. In Sydney, we were greeted at
Pier One with a glass of champagne and chocolate covered
strawberries! They have a deck with you can sit and get a drink or
snack. It was Chinese New Year and we caught some of the
performances. The tours were good here too. The dinner cruise was
the perfect way to end the trip. We really enjoyed the views, food
and dancing. I don't think all these experiences have really sunk
in yet. Every day was something different. Thank you so much for
putting this together for us. The length of stay at each location
was perfect. We never felt rushed and had to time to explore the
area on our own. It was a trip of a lifetime.“
Susan & Phil, NJ - Jan 2019
“Fabulous! Fantastic! Wonderful! Superb! Our best holiday ever - we didn't want to get on the plane on Saturday. We can't pick one favorite place - they all had something special!
Sydney - Shangri-La hotel was the best choice. The view from the room and the Horizon Club over the Opera House and Bridge was amazing - far better choice than Park Hyatt. Rooms were very large and comfortable, and the staff were always friendly and helpful. Blue Diamond tours - we had Andrew as our guide for both days - was superb. He knew the best places to take us in the city and also took us on our Blue Mountains tour. We walked down into the forest floor at Scenic World before returning by cable car. And we didn't know we could have so much fun at Fetherdale Wildlife Park. Would happily recommend Blue Diamond tours for private tours.
Uluru - Longitude 131 was well worth it for a once in a lifetime visit. The staff, service and accommodation were excellent. Nothing was too much trouble. It was raining the first day, which was unusual, then clear for the next two. Dinner under the stars was a great experience - seeing the Milky Way and all the stars without light pollution was an awe-inspiring sight. Hot water bottles were provided for the cold! As we were leaving early, we opted to take a sunrise helicopter tour over Uluru and Kata Tjuta which finished off our trip in a special way. Everybody should do that!
Bamurru Plains - Again a fabulous experience. The flight was a great way to see the countryside and we preferred over the 3 hour bumpy road journey that other clients had. There had been very little water there this year, so we couldn't have the airboat tours, but we had quad bike tours instead which were great fun, even when we came back covered in dust! Would happily revisit.
Port Douglas - Coconut Grove apartment was perfect. Plenty space, and right in the center of town. Also I think the washing machine never stopped after our trip to Bamurru Plains! The Silver Sonic trip to the Great Barrier Reef was very well run, and a nice size of boat - not too many passengers. I enjoyed the scuba diving, and the rest of us happily snorkeled. The Cultural Walkabout adventure was an experience! It was great fun, and we learnt a lot about the local Aboriginal life, but I never thought I would be walking for miles through the sea shallows to look for mud crabs, then wading/squelching barefoot through mangroves to collect mussels and snails, then having lunch from these cooked at our guide's mother's house, before going swimming in a hidden spot in the Mossman River away from the usual crowds. It was a complete contrast to other tours we had, which we loved. Port Douglas is just a pleasant coastal holiday town - not at all brash with lots of nice restaurants and stores, so much so we started considering that as one of our places to visit on a longer term basis once we retire. Very relaxing. Winter was definitely a good time to visit there. Having the central location was also ideal
Melbourne - Melbourne Private Tours are an excellent company. We had Peter as our guide for the Philip Island and Penguin Parade Tour. That was very informative day, and having our own park ranger to talk to us was ideal. Being winter, there had been very high tides, so we couldn't do the full Ultimate Penguin Tour, but did Penguins Plus, which was still special. Peter was also supposed to take us on the Great Ocean Road, but took ill. So the company quickly reorganized tour guides, and had John instead. He grew up in the region and was the best. Fortunately the weather also co-operated and we were able to have our flight over the Twelve Apostles. Would recommend using them anytime for private tours. The Hidden Lanes and Arcades was fun, as we would never have seen all these places. Then it gave us plenty of places to go back and shop at! Well worth having this short walking tour interspersed between two long driving days.
Overall we were extremely happy with our trip - thank you so
much for organizing this experience for us - we thought we'd only
be going once, but we can't wait to go back and see
Fiona, Elly, Chris & Andrew, NY - Jul 2018
“We had an outstanding trip. You & your team did an outstanding job of planning. I require a lot of detail and what was provided made me feel very comfortable. I'm glad that we had a direct flight from Houston to Auckland. Air New Zealand was very good. No matter what seats one has (thank goodness we were at least in premium economy), 14 hour flights are long. I don't sleep. Great selection of movies and good wine, though.
The Skycity Grand Hotel was beautiful, their breakfast was exceptional, and the people were very helpful and friendly. One night we ate at "The Grill", a restaurant in the hotel. We weren't impressed. Our steaks were cooked to the recommendation of the chef, but were very tough. I should have said something, but didn't. The hotel was ideally located for sight seeing and restaurants. I loved that it was in walking distance to our next adventure as well as to Avis where we got a rental car. On our 1st full day in Auckland, we went on Ananda Tours through Waiheke Island. I'm so glad that we spent the day on the island, that was beautiful. We also had the best tour guide, Ginny, who was vastly familiar with the island and all the people. Kudos to Ginny for making the day outstanding.
The next day we drove to the Waitomo Caves to see the Glow worms. I guess I was glad that we saw them just to say that we did. They are unique. Solitaire Lodge was incredible. The rooms were huge and modern with fantastic views. The pre-dinner drinks and canapes were outstanding as well as the meals.
McHardy Lodge was beautiful with a nice view of the ocean. Yvonne, the owner made the place an even better experience. She was very engaging, interesting, and helpful. I highly recommend. The Long Island Guides person took us on a very good tour. Speaking to a Maori elder was one of the highlights of the trip.
The Peppertree B&B was one of the best places where we stayed. We loved Heidi and Werner who couldn't do enough for us. Their B&B was gorgeous, but what they did with their property was totally captivating. We picked plums from their tree, ate fresh figs for breakfast, walked among the grape vines and fruit trees, fed the ducks, and watched their sheep and cows. They also pointed us to fantastic restaurants in town.
While there, we went on a tour with Gary from the Marlborough Tour Company. He chose wonderful vineyards to explore and showed us more of the northern part of the South Island. It was great. Hapuku Lodge was outstanding!!! I couldn't believe the great views from the spacious, modern room. The food was also excellent. They were close to both the beach and the mountains. What could be better?
As we drove down the coast from Hapuku Lodge, we came across a pod of seals. They were entertaining. Farther south, we came upon a pod of dolphins off shore. They were moving north, but at a slow rate. We pulled over and watched them do flips, jumps, and swim backwards on their tails. They were a highlight of the trip.
Mt John Observatory Tour with Earth and Sky Ltd. was phenomenal. We had a perfect night to study the sky with extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guides.
Our last place to stay was the ultimate place to stay, Azur. What incredible views from our huge, comfortable, modern room with a spacious bathroom. Everyone there was incredibly helpful and drove us around town or to the airport as needed. I'm glad that we got to stay here. The Milford Fly Cruise Heli was amazing. Riding on a helicopter so close to the mountains was thrilling. The cruise took us through picturesque waterfalls with an entertaining ship captain. The plane ride back was good, but the helicopter experienced fewer bumps so I did like that better.
Our last tour was a half day tour
with Nomad Safari. We got to see many of the sites where "Lord of
the Rings" was filmed. Our tour guide was enthusiastic and
knowledgeable. It was a great way to end our stay in New Zealand.
Thanks again for everything.“
Candace, FL - Mar 2018
“Great trip....We loved both hotels and had fun finding
restaurants in both places..The reef snorkeling was perfect...warm
and flat and easy... Beautiful Coral. My Architect husband like the
Opera house tour and that lunch was over the top.... In Sydney the
1/2 day city tour was excellent... the guide was fun! and we saw
everything....quickly! We also liked the bay ferry trip. The blue
mountain trip was good... Thanks for planning such a good trip for
Sara, CA - Mar 2018
“We had an amazing trip to
Australia! Aspire Down Under exceeded our expectations, and Shelby
did a great job coordinating every detail of our trip. The entire
itinerary was professionally coordinated, hotels were perfect,
tours were exceptional, and every drop off/pickup driver was on
time and friendly. We did not have to worry about a thing! Our trip
highlights were definitely the Kangaroo Island Odysseys tour,
Quicksilver tour to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, and the Blue
Mountains tour in Sydney. Centrally located hotels, impressive
accommodations, and additional tours also enhanced our overall
vacation. We highly recommend Aspire Down Under.“
Paul, CA - Feb 2018
“I have to tell you the trip was really fantastic. I want
to tell you that the tour of Auckland with time unlimited tours,
our guides name was sofia, she was fantastic and the tour was
fabulous. We really enjoyed the private tours the most. Also both
of the tours in Port Douglas were great. The Walkabout Cultural
Adventures, our guide was Juan, was fantastic as well. The other
private tour we had for the Phillip island penguins was also really
great. Would highly rec all the activities you arranged for us. As
far as accommodations, the Coconut Grove apartments and Qualia were
by far our favorites, and we wished we had a couple more days at
Qualia. That is a wonderful place to stay. Overall, I was really
happy with everything. Thank you so much for making this a trip of
a lifetime. I would highly rec you and your company as well. Thanks
again for everything.“
Simone, CT - Apr 2017
“Absolutely fantastic. Aspire
Down Under is a MUST if you're seeking a smooth, well-planned,
well-organized, and top-notch vacation in Australia and/or New
Zealand. We spent 2.5weeks between the two countries (four cities)
and it couldn't have gone better. I'll be the first to admit I've
never been a travel agent person, as I like to organize and plan
vacations myself. However, I found myself at a loss when
researching tours, activities, accommodations, transfers, etc in a
continent that I wasn't familiar with. Aspire Down Under removed
all stress and was excellent in correspondence - listening to our
desires/thoughts and recommending activities appropriately. Also,
they were fantastic about changing the itinerary further along in
the planning process if we decided to go a different direction. I
cannot speak more highly of them! I plan to use them again when I
Sarah, IL - Apr 2017
“Hi Joanne, we wanted to thank you for creating the most memorable and outstanding honeymoon that we could've ever imagined. Sorry it has taken so long for us to get back to you, but we have been swamped at work since we've been back and it feels like we are finally caught up.
Sydney- What an awesome city and we felt like total Sydneysiders by the time we left! The Four Seasons was in a perfect location and was what you would normally expect from a Four Seasons. We loved the Circular Quay/Rocks area as there was so much to do and see. The Bridge Climb was so much fun and it was actually pretty cool that "Modern Family" was filming an episode right below us outside of the Park Hyatt hotel. The Blue Mountains excursion was really cool and was well worth the trip. Our tour guide Alex was so great and I would recommend that anyone going to Sydney should do this trip. Later that evening, we did the SeaSydney dinner cruise which was amazing. There was only one other couple that was on the cruise with us and it gave us such a great view of Sydney Harbor at sunset. Additionally, the food they prepared was very delicious and hard to believe it was prepared in the small kitchen. The next morning we went to Manley Beach and it was just so picturesque. We had breakfast pretty far away from where the Ferry station at a place called "the Bower" which offered such a beautiful view and great food (we highly recommend that anyone going there heads to that same spot). We had to leave later that afternoon so we only got a few hours there. We really had one regret about Sydney as a whole, which was that we didn't have a little more time there because we would have loved to spend a whole day at Manley. Some recommendations for food around the Four Seasons/Rocks Area: Brew for breakfast, Pony for dinner (although their lunch menu looked pretty tasty), Opera Bar for lunch or for drinks at happy hour/sunset, and there is a bar right outside of Pony (I can't remember the name but I believe it was called the Oriental Hotel) that has a nice little beer garden that you can have drinks on a nice afternoon/evening.
Adelaide - To be honest, Adelaide really grew on us. When we first got to Adelaide, we were comparing it to Sydney which is pretty unfair because it is very different. When we were there, they had the Adelaide Fringe Festival so there was a lot going on. The Majestic Rooftop hotel was fine, it was in a part of town that had a lot of restaurants and pubs which offered a lot of variety. The wine tour that Paul took us on was great! He was so knowledgeable about the Barossa and local wineries it made for a wonderful day. I would say our favorite part of the whole trip was the excursion to Kangaroo Island- what a great day and wonderful experience! That was probably one of the nicest tours that we have ever been on. Jaime and Scott were excellent tour guides and they took us to some really amazing places and we got to see a ton of wildlife. The lunch that they provided was simply amazing and was one of the better meals that we had while in Oz. They took us to a local farm where they had a tent set up and they prepared grilled fish, halloumi and salad with wine. This excursion is a MUST and was well worth the trip.
Hamilton Island/Qualia- WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sure that could be a sufficient enough review but wow! This place was as advertised and everything we could have hoped for. We keep joking that we are really spoiled now and will compare every vacation to this, it was really perfect. When we signed in, they gave us an opportunity to sign up for excursions like a helicopter tour of Whitehaven Beach, a Sea Plane to the Reef, etc. We had such a great time on Hamilton Island/Qualia that we will definitely be making a trip back in the future.
All in all, what a great trip you planned! The people in
Australia were so nice and its such a beautiful country. Its funny,
we thought we traveled farther than the average tourist in
Australia, but everywhere we went people told us how much stuff we
missed and that we need to plan another trip back- we agree. Thanks
Adam & Sam, NY - Mar 2017
“1.Give us an overall rating of the services provided by Aspire Down Under on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. 5 star
2. What were the most enjoyable or memorable parts of your trip? This is a difficult one. It was all superb. We expected enchanting scenery, and the people turned out to be the best part.
We flew business class on Air New Zealand. We had never flown on a flight that long. With all their service, amenities, good food, and a comfortable seat that made a bed, the flight went by very quickly.
We started in Auckland at a great B & B, The Great Ponsonby ArtHotel. Our travel agent, Phil, had thoughtfully arranged for our B & B room to be available for our very early morning arrival in case we wanted to freshen up or nap. Wow, what great breakfasts and services at this B & B. The hosts even drove us to a site a couple of times, in lieu of a taxi. Great start for our trip. We then had a 12 day cruise on the Oceanic Discoverer, a small ship, with Coral Princess Cruises out of Australia. We love small ship cruising, and this one was fabulous. Food was delicious, crew most caring, passengers were fascinating and friendly. Guides were very knowledgeable. We were treated to impressive lectures and PowerPoint presentations on NZ history, Maori people, fauna, flora, volcanoes, earthquakes, important conservation efforts and more. Fun Shore excursions included a visit to a live volcano, an informative and fun visit to a Marae, wine tasting, bird viewing, historic sites of Cooks explorations, swimming with dolphins, visit to a sheep ranch, and, of course, some shopping time. The days were packed with fun, great people, great excursions, and, need I say, scrumptious food. The Cruise ended at Milford sound (a beautiful area).
Our next stop was Queenstown. We stayed at the Dairy Private Luxury Hotel B & B. The key word here is Luxury. Paul and Matt where exemplary hosts. Their afternoon tea, with homemade sconces and treats, was elegantly presented and yummy. The location was good, near the Bird Sanctuary and the Gondola. The only drawback was a 5 flight of stairs down to town. There was a ramp that zigs-gaged down for us old folks. We took the old 1900’s steamer to a farm for a sheep herding, shearing, and a BBQ lunch. That was much fun!
After Queenstown, we spent one night at Fox Glacier. The accommodation there (Te Weheka) was Ok, more like a motel than a B & B, but comfortable. The best part there was they had a washer and dryer for our laundry. We did not try to go out to the Glacier. Been there, done that, and the weather was not cooperating.
From Fox Glacier, we went to Greymouth, where we boarded the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch. The NZ trains are super. They were comfortable, offered food that was edible and even tasty (said she who tried a horrid pork pie on Brit Rail in England)! The attendants were gracious and helpful. My husband and I got a laugh out of the “Disabled Toilet” on the train. What is wrong with it? Who disabled it? In the US, it would be labeled for the handicapped. The scenery on the trip across the Alps was magnificent. The train spiraled up and down.
We arrived in Christchurch very late and left very early. Julie at our B & B, the Orari, was very accommodating with our schedule. I believe I would have liked to spend more time there in her B & B, but Christchurch is not really ready for tourists after their devastating earthquake. From Christchurch, we rode the Costal Pacific Train to Blenheim. The scenery was colorful and fun. I believe the trains were a good choice. Both my husband and I got to enjoy the scenery rather than being concerned with driving on a different side of the road and trying to finding our way. In Blenheim, we stayed at the Old St. Mary’s Convent Vineyard Estate. The B & B was elegant. I found the hostess, Maria, especially friendly and helpful. Of course, since she had cats, she was my immediate friend. J The grounds and gardens were so peaceful. My husband loved his walk in the morning among the exquisite gardens. The B & B is situated among the picturesque vineyards. We marveled at how straight the seemingly endless rows of vines appeared. While in Blenheim, we had the opportunity to spend time with a relative we had never met. That was special. From Blenheim, we went to Picton and boarded the ferry to Wellington. Again, we marveled at the lovely scenery. We again traveled by train back to Auckland. We had an overnight back in the Great Ponsonby Arthotel. Gerry’s breakfast was still a highlight. Then the flights home to Texas! The trip exceeded our high expectations!
3. Your overall comments on the trip and the travel company? Phil at Aspire Down Under was an impressive agent. He was prompt in answering emails. He quickly learned what we wanted and planned accordingly. Our total trip was about 28 days, and it was spectacular! We cruised; we road coaches and trains. We stayed in lovely B & B’s. We saw fabulous scenery. Met some family we had not seen before. Ate excellent meals. Everything went exactly according to Phil’s plans. He provided a most comprehensive itinerary, with no detail overlooked. No glitches or problems. I would say that was pretty damn good for an Australian man in New York, working via email with 2 Texans, for a big bucket list trip down under! Phil was an excellent and thoughtful communicator. He even emailed us on the trip to be certain we were OK after the Earthquake in Wellington when we were there. (We were in a Pub and missed the whole thing! LOL) I would recommend Phil and Aspire Down Under for anyone wanting a great experience in their areas of expertise.
4. If you could take your trip
again, what would you do differently? I would go when we were
younger (I am 72 and Dave is 61). It was all so great, and I would
have liked to have more stamina to do even more.“
Carolyn, TX - Jan 2017
“Got back last night after a wonderful trip- thanks to you
! Praise is due! Sir Samford was a truly grand hotel with great
staff and marvelous rooms and public areas. The sailing trip was
very well done. Ayers Rock's only flaw was the AC in the Hotel
really couldn't cope with the heat . I would have liked freezing
but it was merely cool. The tasting tour in Wellijngton was a smash
hit too. We were surprised by the casual elegance of Port Douglas.
What a beautiful town with impeccably landscaped homes, boulevards
and public areas. Great restaurants too. Feel free to use this
email any way you would like to. The Kiwis and the Aussies are
MARVELOUS friendly folks.“
Bill, FL - Jan 2017
“Overall, it was great, and we wanted to really thank you for the work you put into organizing and planning the trip. Everything went smoothly, and we were thankful many times over the course of the two weeks that you had arranged everything so that we didn’t have to worry about logistics at all and could just focus on enjoying ourselves!
· All of the car transfers were perfect. Drivers were all at the appointed places at the right times. Very courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful. · Sydney: Pullman was great. Location was ideal, and the facilities were more than adequate for our family. · Blue mountains tour: Tons of credit to Rob and his wife for ringing us at the Pullman upon our arrival and letting us know that the weather was going to make the blue mountains tour pretty much worthless, and giving us the chance to back out of it and refund the fees. The outcome was that the other parties also cancelled so Rob took just our family around on a revised tour itinerary (at our request), where we went to Featherdale and he drove us around the city and the suburbs and showed us the sights from the van. Even took us to Harry’s Café de Wheels for an impromptu snack. Rob was very knowledgeable, and as nice and helpful as could be. I left a videocamera in his van, and didn’t even notice until he dropped it back at our hotel later that evening! · Hamilton island: Great spot—Reef View hotel was a little tired, but the island itself couldn’t have been better, and the fact that the hotel wasn’t at the cutting edge of amenities or “newness” had no negative impact on our trip. It was the perfect spot for our family—plenty for the kids to do, the “kids eat free” was great for us, too. We felt that the little wildlife park on Hamilton was a hidden gem on the island, and the staff there were really great. For kids the age of ours (10, 9, 5) it was a great way to see some wildlife up close. · Silky Oaks: Really first class in every respect. Facilities were great, food top-notch, and service absolutely beyond compare. Everyone we met was very helpful and went way out of their way to be as accommodating and helpful as possible. I can’t say enough about what a special and amazing spot Silky Oaks is. Our private tour was one of the highlights of the trip. Norm, our tour guide, was everything you could ask for: very knowledgeable, very accommodating, and just a lot of fun to spend the day with. I’m not sure we could have kept our three kids very busy all day at the lodge, so having a day full of activities was just the right thing. · Kuranda: We really enjoyed the skyrail trip down from Kuranda, but railroad trip up was a little boring for the kids and the town itself wasn’t so exciting for us since we aren’t really that into shopping. We wouldn’t have wanted to give up the skyrail experience as a way to see the rainforest from a really unique perspective, though. · Quicksilver Reef Trip: Great trip. Very well organized, from transfers to all the information and amenities on the boat. · Uluru: I was skeptical about whether the trip would be worth it out to Uluru, but it turned out to be another great highlight of the trip. As you suggested, the Desert gardens was pretty basic, but it was more than sufficient for the time we were there. I really wanted to convey how impressed we were with the SEIT tours, though. The tours were great because of the small number of people on the tours, and the tour guides were very knowledgeable and fun. Of course, Uluru and the olgas were stunning. The unexpected highlight of the whole Uluru experience was our outdoor breakfast cooked by our guides!
Thanks again for all of your help.
It was an amazing trip, and we couldn’t have done it without
Karl, CA - Dec 2016
“Thanks, and yes we are back and finally recovering a somewhat normal sleep cycle after about a week. We had a fantastic time and really appreciated the attention to detail throughout the itinerary you put together for us. My husband was amazed throughout the whole trip about the cool stuff we were getting to do and then doubly impressed at the price we got it for. We really appreciated that there was never any hassle or confusion at any of our lodging places or activities when presented with the voucher or basically just giving them our names.
The coach pickups were always there and on time to the point where I didn’t even worry about confirming the 3:15 a.m. pickup in Port Douglas (aarggh that was early!) Your guidance in suggestions for activities was great - the Brisbane Sofitel was great – and loved the location being right over the train station. We spent the afternoon at the Lone Pine Sanctuary and that worked out very nicely taking the bus from the location so close to our hotel.
The next day to the whale watching and dolphin feeding at Tangalooma was fantastic. We really enjoyed the day at the Daintree as well. The trip to Cairns was easy to navigate – driver was there to meet us. We enjoyed the Mantra Sea Port – liked the openness of the lobby and the room was perfectly adequate – decent location close to the lobby and we enjoyed wandering through Port Douglas on our one down day - the other two were also great excursions - the boat and snorkeling out to the Great Barrier Reef – we did have a really windy day, so made for a very rough trip to and from the reef - but the crew was great and once we got out to the reef it was calmer – that was a great experience. Unfortunately , Mark isn’t great with swimming and/or boats and did feel sea sick on both trips – the whale watching and the reef trip – but swears he enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
The early flight into Sydney ended up being desirable because
that gave us an early start in the city. We loved Sydney –
our hotel was in a prime location and the area was really cool to
explore - the bridge climb was fantastic – we had a perfect
day for it - probably 68 degrees and sunny and very little wind.
Then the cruise afterwards was a perfect relaxation time and way to
see more of the harbor. Enjoyed the opera house tour as well. The
only regret we have is that we wished we could have spent more time
in Sydney! With the wedding activities we were pretty booked and
felt like there was so much more to do and see in Sydney – we
will have to come back!“
Mary, TX - Dec 2016
“I had a WONDERFUL time, and you did a great job helping me have such a terrific trip! In case you're interested in specific comments for future clients, here are my thoughts: The hotel in Melbourne (on Batman's Hill) was just what I asked for. It was clean and comfortable and perfectly located. It was small and definitely not luxury, but fit our needs very well.
Phillip Island was one of the highlights of our trip. The tour company was good, though we did a fair amount of rushing from place to place. Seeing the penguins was fantastic!!!! We watched them for a long time and enjoyed every second of it. Doing the Skybox was a true luxury that we very much enjoyed, as it gave us a private talk with a ranger and very close access to the penguins. However, if your next travelers are watching their budgets, Penguins Plus got people equally close to the penguins even though they didn't get the personal touch from the ranger. Exemplar in and around Cairns and Port Douglas was excellent--friendly and extremely competent. They did a great job taking our luggage from one location to the other, and the hotel had it waiting in our room, which was very convenient.
The Hibiscus Resort was fantastic. I would stay there forever if I could! We got upgraded because someone else cancelled, so we ended up in a huge suite with 2 bedrooms and two baths. But even if we hadn't, each small suite was delightful, the place was gorgeous, and the breakfast was fantastic. Friendly people, nice pool--a definite thumbs up.
Quicksilver snorkeling trip was terrific, too. Because of the supermoon, the tides were off and we had to spend an extra hour and a half on the water, which meant we got to snorkel for a long, long time---perfect! Even without that, though, the tour was efficient and beautiful, with a nice lunch and tea. We saw incredible fish of every color and description, unusual coral, and even a shark. I couldn't believe I was actually snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef!
The 1-day Daintree Dreaming tour
with Adventure North was the other true highlight of the trip. Our
guide, Cavel, was fantastic, and the day was action packed from
beginning to end. It may be the best tour I have ever taken,
anywhere in the world! We walked through Mossman Gorge with our
Aboriginal guide giving us lots of info, then went to an artist's
studio where we actually made some dot art, then went to the coast
where we walked through the mud flats at low tide, looking for
crabs that later became an afternoon snack, then went into mangrove
swamps to look for mussels, then went to another person's house
where his wife cooked up the seafood (plus homemade bread and
muffins) and he showed us various artifacts. Finally, the guide
took us back out to the mud flats and showed anyone who wanted to
learn how to throw a spear. Amazing day. One note: it required a
fair amount of walking, not to mention picking our way through huge
roots in the mangrove swamp. So if you have travelers with limited
mobility, this is the wrong tour.“
Nancy, NY - Nov 2016
“Hi Joanne, I’m sorry for my delay, but I wanted to
follow up and let you know that we had a terrific time on our trip
thanks to you. Everything you put together for us was perfect and
so thoughtfully chosen, and you made the process incredibly easy
for us. Thanks for handling everything pre-trip so masterfully, and
thank you for creating the perfect itinerary for us – all in
a very short timeframe. We are already recommending you to anyone
interested in visiting Australia. We can’t thank you
Janet, MA - Nov 2016
“I have been meaning to reach out to you email you...we had a fabulous time! Everything worked out well! The Mantra in Sydney was perfect for our needs...great location and comfortable. The only challenge was their in-room WiFi which didn't work consistently, but even their coffee in the lobby was great!
The Blue Mountains tour was perfect with the owner Rob as our guide. He was so professional and made sure we saw so much. We loved Uluru and the tours. The Sounds of Silence dinner was well worth it...we had a beautiful night and really enjoyed it. I can't believe that I ever doubted going!
The Mandalay was great for our needs...a wonderful location, nice facilities, helpful staff. The Silversonic was fabulous...we were so lucky to have a perfect day (they said it was the best they had in weeks) with calm seas. The advantage of this tour is the speed with which they get you out to the reef so that we had plenty of time to snorkel. We left another tour boat in the dust on the way back.
The Citigate worked out fine...clean, good location and it didn't break the bank. There's a special Monet exhibit that we got to see at the National Gallery of Victoria that I would recommend along with a tour of the Rod Laver tennis center. Lastly, the airport shuttles all worked out well...were always where they needed to be and got us to and from on time.
We so appreciated the chance to see
such a wide variety of locations...all so different...even got to
have dinner with our daughter's host family. The jet lag was not
worth mentioning...I only felt a bit tired on the first day.
So....thanks so much for everything! This was our favorite trip to
date. Your expertise and guidance were so appreciated and were
critical to the success of our trip. Thank you!“
Ruth & John, NY - Oct 2016
“We absolutely loved the trip. Everything you put together for us was excellent. Really! There were no mishaps!
All trips to and from the airport to the hotels worked out fine. The Harbor Cruise was lovely. The tour company for the Blue Mountains was top top notch. The guide, Alex, was one of the best any of us had ever experienced. In fact, the tour company owners came to the pier to see if we were satisfied and to see us off the the last leg. Great choice of tour companies. We were very happy with the apartment in Port Douglas. The location was good, the apt was lovely and large enough for us, the pool and BBQ grill great and the manager Sue was very helpful. Another great choice.
All the tours in Ayers Rock were also great. The Kata Tjuta on Day 1 and Ayers Rock on Day 2 were both amazing and we enjoyed speaking with the tour guides. The camel ride was hokey but fun and I enjoyed speaking to the cameleers as well. What a lifestyle! These apartments were very basic but entirely functional.
These were the tours you set us up with. We also filled in with:
driving around the Gold Coast beaches on our own, the boat
Quicksilver in Port Douglas for diving and snorkeling (a highlight
for me). Hiking in the Rainforest, Stargazing in the Outback, and
Phillip Island for Koala bears and the little penguins. (We did the
VIP tour - definitely worth it). And tons of walking and taking
trams around the cities. I would definitely recommend anyone to use
your services. Thanks for all your help.“
Sue & Frank, NY - Sep 2016
“THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Our trip
was AMAZING!! Everything was perfect ~ down to the last detail! We
loved our itinerary and wouldn't change a thing. Every tour was
great as were the hotels and drivers. I want to give a special
shout out to the Kangaroo Island folks who were just so special.
They bent over backwards to show us their "home" and we loved it.
We can't say enough about our experience with them. Please feel
free to use us as a reference for your company as we are true fans!
Thank you for all of your help. We only wish Australia was closer
(and less expensive) so we can go back. Thanks again.“
Karen & David, NY - Aug 2016
“We had a great time and everything you planned for us was exactly as promised and described. There were no surprises or disappointments and the trip went off without any problems. Qantas is a wonderful airline and they made the very long flights very comfortable and pleasant. Much better than the US carriers!
The Adina in Sydney was a terrific experience. The room was so spacious and having the kitchen and laundry in the room was a bonus. The location was perfect and the staff was excellent. The Hibiscus in Port Douglas was fine as well. Hotels in Port Douglas are obviously more low key than in Sydney. The room again was nice and large for the 4 of us and the location was again perfect and the pool was very welcome in the heat and humidity. Staff was very friendly as well. All the tours you arranged were very enjoyable. The guides were all very professional and knowledgeable and they really went out of their way to show us a good time.
The Harbor Cruise was a perfect way to relax after a long flight and the Captain Cook Cruise company was very nice. We had a terrific guide showing us the sights in an entertaining fashion and the service/coffee/snacks were perfect for the trip.
The Quicksilver Barrier Reef excursion was very impressive and well organized and we all felt very safe in their hands.
The Blue Mountain tour company called us the day before the tour to warn us that the weather might not be good and gave us the option of rescheduling or cancelling without penalty. That was a very nice gesture on their part and we were very happy that we went ahead with the tour as planned and had great weather all day. The owner of Boutique tours actually came to see us at our hotel the day after our Wildlife tour to apologize for the behavior of one of the other guests on our tour. That is a level of service and caring that I have not often seen in our travels and was very impressive. The guide went out of his way to compensate for this other guest's poor attitude and the tour turned out to be so enjoyable despite her complaining. Boutique tours is highly recommended by our family for any of your future clients.
The Adventure North tour was a great experience and different from anything we have done before. The only thing I would suggest is to warn clients that the tour is somewhat challenging physically (particularly the Mud flats and Mangrove walks). We might have dressed differently for the day and been better prepared for the challenge, however the day was very memorable and we had a great time.
All of the airport transfers were promptly on time and the vehicles were comfortable and the drivers very friendly and helpful.
I would like to thank you again on behalf of myself an my family
for everything you did on such short notice. I'm sure we will wind
up back in that part of the world in the future and I can promise
you that you will be the 1st person I call (or e-mail) when we
begin making plans. I will try and give you more notice next
Alan, NY - May 2016
“I wanted to let you know the trip was really great. All the arrangements you made were excellent. The hotels were outstanding the travel arrangements were consistently accurate. The day trips were well worth it. I want to especially commend Blue Diamond tours. The trip to the Blue Mountains was breathtaking. The tour operators were great. The owners even came to meet us at the ferry.
One suggestion for other travelers
is to take the free walking tour of Sydney. It covers a good chunk
of the city and you learn a lot of history and interesting facts.
Plus they give you suggestions for fun things to do in town like
Tuesday nights at the Australia museum which has food and drinks
and entertainment. All of your recommendations were good ones. I
will definitely recommend Aspire to anyone going to Australia. We
loved the country and the people. We will definitely go again, next
time to Melbourne to see the Australian Open. Thanks
Paul & Jennifer, NY - Apr 2016
“Shelley, We just got back last night and had the best time of our lives! The itinerary that you put together was perfect. We loved the Bed and Breakfast in New Zealand with Janet and Colin making us feel right at home. Mike and I loved the caves and found Waitomo to be such a cute town.
However, we went to Melbourne and found we loved that city too!
We decided to do the tour that included the March of the Penguins
and we loved it. The Great Barrier Reef was a blast and the Beach
Club could not have been any more perfect. Mike and I loved both
the tours that you scheduled for us in Hamilton Island. We decided
to do scuba diving on the reef tour and it was amazing! The hotel
in Sydney could not have been in a more perfect spot! We loved the
city and did lots of day trips along with the harbor cruise. The
hotels in Australia all greeted us with champagne and a cute note.
We were so touched and took over 900 pictures. It was the best trip
ever and we loved everything!!!!! Thank you so much and we would
recommend you to anyone!!!“
Chrissy & Michael, NJ - Mar 2016
“The trip was a true "bucket list" trip - Shelley with Aspire Down Under did a phenomenal job of putting together all the elements we wanted, but kept it within our budget. She was great when we needed to make some major changes about 6 weeks out, and continued to take care of us all the way through the adventure. We had a wonderful time and created some life-long memories. I recommend Shelley and Aspire Down Under at the top of the scale!
The first of our two most memorable
parts was the day in Queenstown, NZ when we took the Shotover High
Five tour in the morning (including a Shotover Jet boat ride,
helicopter ride, tour of Skyline Queenstown, luge rides, and
Skyline gondola ride back to Queenstown. The second was the
fabulous Coral Princess cruise (5-day, 4-night) of the Great
Barrier Reef out of Cairns, Australia - I cannot say enough about
this incredible cruise - everything from the staff, the
accommodations, the food, the snorkeling and intro to scuba, the
lectures, the other guests - everything was just amazing. I am SO
impressed with the Coral Princess cruise company.“
Sara, CA - Feb 2016
“Hi Shelley, I just wanted to let you know that we made it
back from our trip safely yesterday. Erin and I both really enjoyed
Fiji, but we absolutely loved New Zealand! It was a truly amazing
honeymoon and we really appreciate all of the hard work you put in
to make it happen! We will definitely recommend Aspire Down Under
to our friends, and we hope to make another trip back down to New
Zealand and Australia in the next year or two
Jonathan & Erin, AL - Jan 2016
“Sharon, We just arrived back
from our honeymoon in Australia. Everything was outstanding! All
the arrangements were perfect and the hotels were great. The
wildlife tour out of Sydney was excellent - the guide was very
friendly and knowledgeable and we got to see a lot of interesting
wildlife so we definitely recommend it if others ask about it.
Lizard Island was stunning - we are very happy we added it into our
trip. Thanks for all your help and guidance for our trip.
Everything was setup perfectly and was hassle-free.
Adam & Ariel, NY - Dec 2015
“Shelley we can not thank you enough for the amazing planning you did for us on our honeymoon. Every hotel tour and transfer was spot on and amazing. The only thing we were disappointed in was all of the rain you planned for us! Haha. It really did rain a lot but it didn't dampen our spirits.
Every tour in Australia was absolutely fantastic. The great barrier reef was like swimming in an aquarium even though the ride home was rough to say the least. Jungle surfing was the coolest. I have to send you a picture of me flying upside down in the rainforest. My wife was so nervous for it but the staff there was great. She had the hugest smile on when it was all over. On the Blue Mtn tour we fed a baby wallaby joey straight from the pouch! One of the highlights of the trip for sure. The Yarra Valley wine tour was absolutely beautiful. The scenery and wines there are stunning. The camel ride at ayers rock was super cool too. We got an amazing sunset there which made it even better. The West Macdonnell ranges watering holes were awesome. We saw wild dingoes which acted like our dog at home which made us miss him even more.
The hotels in NZ were great and the wine tasting trip to Waiheke island was fantastic. Solscape eco lodge in Raglan was so cool too bad the surf was knee high. Nelson was great but the rain wouldn't stop. Abel Tasman NP is stunning.
Fiji was absolutely spectacular as well. The planning for the boat trip to Tavarua could not have been better as we lucked into a 10-12 foot swell with perfect conditions. A dream come true. Melanie loved it as well. Ian Muller is a Fijian legend and it was an absolute pleasure to meet him. The Intercontinental is the most amazing hotel on the planet. Im so glad we picked it. We ended up going to the local village on our las day and it touched us so much. Such a stark contrast to the resort. I ended up giving half the clothes in my suitcase to them.
Shelley I can not thank you enough for all of the hard work you did for us. Every hotel you booked for us Melanie and I looked at each other and said "this is amazing". We met so many cool people and saw so many beautiful sights that when someone asks us "how was your honeymoon?" I wont even know where to start. I cant thank you enough for an amazing job.
PS we're still in LAX awaiting departure but wanted to tell you
how nice it was to see your email. Truly professional.“
Christian and Melanie, NY - Nov 2015
“Can't tell u how pleased we
were with our trip!!!! Absolutely fantastic service with everyone,
and we loved our Great Ocean Tour guide, John!!!!!! He was awesome!
We had fun even in the rain!!!! Saw tons of koalas and Roos! Many
beautiful parrots. Our drivers, flight, Crown Metropol, and most of
all Silky Oaks was supreme!!! Wouldn't have changed a thing, and
you did an outstanding job!!! The people were amazing friendly
everywhere!! We want to do great white cage diving next! All the
best and look forward to the next expedition!!! Great
Jacqueline, LA - Sep 2015
“Hi Joanne, I've been meaning to write to you ever since
we came back from our wonderful trip. It couldn't have been
better!! We had the time of our lives and the plans you made for us
just worked out perfectly. We loved the hotels and the tours that
you chose for us. The Hilton in Surfers Paradise was "over the
top," the Mandolay in Port Douglas was outstanding and in such a
great location, and the Holiday Inn in Sydney was just perfect also
in its location. We were thrilled to be able to walk through the
Rocks section of Sydney, head down to the Harbor, and have
everything be so close to the hotel. We came back from Australia
not only feeling that we had seen a beautiful country and had a
wonderful time, but that we had learned so much from the Rainforest
and Mudflat expeditions, in our time with the Aborigini artist, and
through the great Reef adventure. Honestly, I will always remember
this trip. It was worth every penny!! Thanks so much!“
Barbara, CT - Aug 2015
“Shelley, Shelley, Shelley,
the trip could not have been better!!! Jim remarked at least every
other day how wonderful the accommodations were, how remarkable the
people are, and how smoothly the days went by. We talked about you
quite a bit. There were a few points that were exceptional that I
wanted to point out. The Rees Hotel in Queenstown was fantastic.
The Grand Mercure Monnaco in Nelson was to die for (we upgraded to
a one bedroom apartment which was fabulous--very English Country
style. We went to the Wilson's Abel Tasman Kayaking which was
fantastic. Toured the Doubtful Sound on our own with Real Journeys.
I could go on and on. Suffice to say that it was fantastic. Thank
you for putting our dreams into a reality.“
Nancy K, CA - Jul 2015
“I want to thank you for arranging for us possibly one of
the best trips I have ever taken. I had never used a travel agent
before but knowing so little about this area of the world I thought
I had better. To be very honest, I wasn't sure how things would go
and if the extensive itinerary you had planned for us would go
smoothly. There were so many flights, shuttle pick ups and tours
that I was sure that something had to fall apart somewhere. Well,
much to my delight I was proven so very wrong! Everything happened
like clock work and exceeded our expectations. I will remember it
John & Erica, FL - May 2015
“We just returned from our honeymoon on Wednesday morning, and I wanted to THANK YOU for all of your hard work. We had a wonderful time. Everything was handled meticulously. Thank you, especially, for encouraging us to stay at the Four Seasons in Sydney despite the Trip Advisor reviews. We absolutely loved the hotel and do not understand how anyone could criticize the service. Their breakfast was incredible, and it was such a pleasant surprise to learn that it was already included.
Royal Davui was the most relaxing, romantic, luxurious place I have ever been AND John was in heaven with the diving and snorkeling. If you have any other honeymooners in the future, please feel confident highly recommending Royal Davui to them.
John and I plan on returning to
Australia again to revisit Sydney and see Melbourne and Kangaroo
Island in the future. When we do--even if it's not for a few
years--I will certainly be contacting you again. Thank you for
creating such an outstanding honeymoon experience for us. I will
remember it always.“
Steven & Paula, NY - Jan 2015
“Hi Phil, Hope all is well! The honeymoon was amazing!
Every location and hotel accommodations were perfect. The car
services were great and very reliable. They also had so much
information to share as well as travel tips. It was a trip of a
lifetime. We will definitely encourage others to utilize Aspire
should they ever have the opportunity to visit your beautiful
homeland. Hopefully we can make it back one day to visit the areas
we missed. Thank you for a great honeymoon. It was
John & Meg, NY - Jan 2015
“This is a thank-you for
arranging a fabulous trip to Australia for my wife and me. We
thoroughly enjoyed it. The accommodations were wonderful -- we had
a view of Uluru from our room at the Desert Gardens Hotel and had a
grand panorama at the Shangri-La that included Sydney Harbor Bridge
on the left and the opera house on the right. All of the drivers
were knowledgeable, courteous and prompt; we had no complaints.
Yes, we did have a bit of rain on our trip to the Blue Mountains,
and the sea was pretty choppy on our way to the Great Barrier Reef,
but it was a wealth of new experiences. We won't hesitate to
recommend Aspire Down Under to anyone who's planning a trip to that
part of the world.“
Fred & Mary, CO - Jan 2015
“Joanne, Cory and I wish to thank you for what was, without question, the most spectacular vacation of our lives. From the moment we arrived in Savusavu and put ourselves in Aspire Down Under's fully capable hands, to the moment we touched down at LAX on December 18th, we were in heaven. The entire itinerary was seamless, and every detail was just as you said it would be. We didn't have a single hiccup, and that's due entirely to the professionalism, courtesy, and attention to detail that you have exemplified from day one of our interaction.
I know I'm not always the easiest customer to deal with (I
believe that my name and photograph are in the dictionary right
next to "obsessive compulsive"), but you never made me feel
anything other than cared for, and that manifested itself on the
journey itself, which was simply tremendous. Should we ever venture
back to that part of the world, and with any luck we will, you and
Aspire Down Under will be our first point of contact.“
Cory & Stark, NY - Dec 2014
“Qualia meet and exceeded all
my expectations. The reality for once matched the buzz. It's
setting at the far end of Hamilton Island ensures privacy and once
you enter the gates, peace and tranquility is all around. Great
landscaping and nature gum trees abound. The Leeward and Windward
pavilions are both impressive in their right, however I would
strongly recommend anyone considering qualia to go with the
Windward pavilion. Not only do you get the personal plunge pool,
the pavilion design just feels superior. With a new pricing plan
for accommodation and breakfast only imminent, it will make the
Windward pavilions pricing more attractive. The dining is
exception, the lunch I experienced was a pleasure, food, service
and a great view over pebble beach. Impressive.“
Debra & Tom, NY - Jun 2014
“Hi Shelley: We just wanted to let you know how our trip to New Zealand went. We had a fantastic time. Thank you so much for the big part you played in it. All the hotels, tours and shuttles went as planned and we enjoyed them all so much. Our favorite place was Queenstown and the Brown's Boutique. What a wonderful three night stay. The room was great with a beautiful view.
The other hotels were good too. No complaints. Our only
complaint is that we didn't spend enough time in New Zealand. There
is so much more we want to see. Maybe someday. We did arrange for a
tour to kiwifruit country. Our concierge in the Auckland Hyatt
lined it up for us. We hired a trip by van. It was expensive but we
had a great time. Since I am a kiwifruit farmer it was especially
meaningful. The drive alone through the countryside was worth the
trip and the drivers were so friendly and informative. We had a
great time on the rest of our trip to Australia too. Thanks
Mark and Deb, CA - Jun 2014
“Arrived in Port Douglas to
the best surprise of trip so far. The Mandalay Luxury Beachfront
Apartments are great. 20 yards and you walk through the dunes and
onto 4 mile beach. 4 mile beach is the perfect N Queensland beach,
endless sand, great surf and plenty of winter sun. Compared with
some of the larger resorts which are set quite a way back from the
beach, quite a bonus. The ground floor beach front apartment we
have is spacious, modern, fully equipped kitchen, day bed and
outside dining patio. Tough to ask for more. Macrossan Street is
less than a 5 min walk and endless dining options, boutiques and of
course a bakery for the best meat pies.“
Sheila, NY - Apr 2014