By Allie E. Almario
Nothing feels better than seeing rave reviews about a custom trip itinerary we’ve designed for our travelers – it’s what we do and what we love to do. Read up on what Premier Tours guests Brian and Dana Leonard reported on their spectacular 10th anniversary wedding trip we created for them – an itinerary we called Love, Ecuadorian Style. It’s practically honeymoon planning at its best!
We paced the trip throughout the Andean cloudforest and hand-picked hotels, haciendas and lodges that represented a spectrum of lovely accommodations, including Mashpi, chosen as one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges Of The World. Here’s their report about their travels:
OMG I cannot even begin to tell you how magical our trip was!!
I will never try to organize my own vacations again. Every detail was covered and it ran so smoothly.
Each of the properties was in its own way so special.
Casona De la Ronda in the historic Quito downtown was phenomenal. We both were shocked when we entered the large main doors and the outside world was completely shut out. One minute there was accordion music and people chattering in the streets and the next it was completely silent. Their breakfast was well laid out and their cooked-to-order eggs were delicious. They left a bottle of champagne in the room for us and a nice congratulations note.
Sebastian and Alejandro were superb as a guide and driver. It was such a joy to travel with. Sebastian. He was such an intuitive guide that he knew to take me to meet a local weaver. I could have sat and watched and listened to Matica all day. I was excited to buy one of her pieces for myself and a good friend as well. She was such an empowering woman with what she does for the local community.
Hacienda Cusin in Otavalo stepped it up a notch with a private villa. I watched the sunrise one morning from the roof patio as well, the only day Imbabura mountain was clear! They also had a special surprise for us at dinner the first night – we were serenaded enjoyed delicious chocolate cake. Our fire place in the villa was lit and they placed hot water bottles in the bed while we dined. We even took a nice horseback ride and went back to the Otavalo market on our free time.
The Mashpi manager Ana was so warm and accommodating. We were given the most amazing suite. Everyone from the dining staff to the manager knew us personally. They went out of their way to make food dairy free for me without even having to mention it. Manolo was our guide for the hikes. I asked if anyone goes out on the dragonfly cable car ride at 6 AM to listen to the animals and he said we could do that. It didn’t really occur to me the logistics behind this question. The operator was in place, there was a guy at the end waiting for us as well as breakfast and hot coffee laid out. I’m not used to the personal attention while I travel, but I’m going to say it was a welcome treat. Manolo was from a local village and had eagle eyes and ears to spot things. He was able to answer every question we had about the flora and fauna as well as the property itself. He has been at Mashpi since the beginning. He arranged all the difficult hikes personally for us and took us out on a night hike to look for creepy crawlies and frogs. I held a GIANT whip scorpion spider and Brian a green tree snake. Fears faced all around, except Brian wouldn’t hold the spider, LOL.
We were quite surprised to see a few children at Mashpi from 18 months to 12 years old. But they seemed to be having a great time as well.
When I heard that the checkout was at 1130 AM and knowing our flight was so late that night, I asked Ana to arrange if we could go to their property in Quito to wait out the last of our time. We found out that we did not have to leave until 3 PM that day with a personal airport transport. That special touch you arranged for us was perfect. The driver dropped us off at the Wyndham at the airport for dinner and to relax on their couch with Wi-Fi rather than at the Quito airport for so long.
So with all that said, we both are still so excited about having experience yet again another magical trip with Premier Tours. After Africa and Ecuador, we are already planning our next trip to the Galapagos, probably with our littles in tow to experience it as well.
Thank you again!
Dana and Brian Leonard