Based in Sheffield

Helene Kirkham

It's Nice To Meet You

Hello

My name is Helene Kirkham and welcome to my web page.

I have over 30 years’ experience in the travel industry and I have a passion for offering a quality and bespoke service to all my customers. As I’m sure we all know, there is no substitute for personal experience and good quality customer service and I am happy to share both with you.

I started my career at the age of 17 as a trainee in a small independent shop in Sheffield, and I am now delighted to be working with Travel Counsellors offering my customers independent and impartial advice and helping them turn their dream holiday into reality. I am passionate about travel and I commit as much care and attention over my clients' holidays as I do my own. After all, we all work hard during the year and we want our holidays to fully meet our expectations and more.

I have been fortunate to travel during my career to many destinations within Europe, the Caribbean, North America, North Africa, Canada, South Africa, Indian Ocean, the Far East and the Middle East, but no matter where your dream destination is, I will be delighted to help you.

I am available at weekends and some evenings by appointment so if you are too busy during the day then please don’t hesitate to let me know and I'll be more than happy to arrange a time to discuss your travel plans at a time convenient to you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my web page and I look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes and Bon Voyage!

Helene

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Contact Me

Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:

My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Mauritius

06 July 2015

The Shandrani Resort & Spa is just 10 minutes' drive from the airport in the South East of the island and is a Deluxe All Inclusive property. The hotel is beautifully situated on three beaches and is lapped by the clear waters of a unique marine park. The All Inclusive Serenity Plus covers the hotel’s five restaurants ( including an excellent buffet restaurant), unlimited champagne from 6pm, unlimited premium wines and spirits, beach and pool service and mini bar. Unlimited water skiing, ‘Bob Marlin’ kids club (ages 3-12) and one 45 minute massage per adult per stay at the Clarins Spa. The hotel has been recently renovated and the rooms (incl Family Apartments) are all bright and spacious! The Shandrani was certainly one of my favourite hotels out of all those we stayed in and visited but please note that due to its location to the airport, aircraft noise is noticeable. The Dinarobin Hotel is a 5* Deluxe hotel situated on the South West coast of the island. The luxury accommodation is housed in six crescents of suites, five of which have pools and there are also two exclusive villas situated on a secluded beach. The hotel has five restaurants (nine if you include those at its sister hotel Le Paradis) and has an excellent reputations for fine dining. The Spa by Clarins has an excellent reputation and I can personally recommend a full body massage here! Those who are looking for something more active will certainly enjoy the tennis courts and excellent water sports available here, not to mention three international golf courses - including the 18-hole Championship golf course at Le Paradis. Finally, five kilometres of beach tops off what is a beautiful hotel. Just along the beautiful beach and accessible by buggy from the Dinarobin is its sister 5* hotel, Le Paradis. Le Paradis lives up to its name in that it is located at the heart of a private peninsula with stunning views across the shoreline and set against an iconic mountain (Le Morne). This is a hotel for those looking for land or water sports and golf lovers will not be disappointed with the nearby prestigious golf courses. The hotel is undergoing refurbishment of its public areas at present but will be open again mid July 2015. It offers a variety of bright and contemporary accommodations including junior and senior suites and 13 luxury villas. Excellent dining again and with access to Dinarobin’s restaurants then guests have a total choice of nine restaurants during their stay. This is such a beautifully situated hotel with a lively atmosphere and I would highly recommend to couples and families alike. Le Victoria is a lovely 4* hotel where all the accommodation is sea facing. The hotel has one of the largest lead in room categories and family apartments make this a perfect hotel for groups or families travelling together. It is situated on a beautiful beach and offers a unique ‘’Unlimited Diving Package’’ along with a wide range of land and water sports. Three restaurants include a buffet restaurant and the beachside L’Horizon restaurant which specialises in fresh seafood. Lively evening entertainment from a live band makes this a perfect hotel for familes, groups and couples! Just a short distance away is Le Mauricia Hotel, a 4* hotel which attracts those looking for a more casual atmosphere. Located in Grand Baie, the hotel is at the heart of the best destination for shopping and lively entertainment which are all within walking distance. The hotel suits those who are on a budget but still want to experience everything that Mauritius has to offer. The rooms are of a good size and the hotel offers an optional All Inclusive Package that is interchangeable with Le Cannonier. Just a few minutes away is the 4* Le Cannonier Hotel which is situated on a stunning peninsula with rich history. The hotel has a very ‘open’ feel to it with its winding pathways through seven hectares of tropical garden. Perfect for couples of families you can find lots of quiet corners including pools, ponds and small inlets. The grounds and gardens here are lush and cool under the warm sun. The hotel rooms also include two bedroom apartments and a unique ‘baby care’ room equipped with facilities for parents and children under the age of 3yrs. Why doesn’t every hotel have one of these? Two of the hotel’s most stunning features include its Wellness Centre which is built around the branches of an ancient Banyan Tree and Le Navigator restaurant which is located at the tip of the peninsula with spectacular ocean views. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves gourmet meals using fresh seafood. It is also the venue for amazing ‘lobster nights’, famous across the island. I can honestly say that I had one of the best meals in my life here – it was outstanding. Le Cannonier was without doubt my favourite 4* hotel that we visited – it has such a relaxed atmosphere and is well managed with a light and airy feel throughout. We then made our way to the outstanding 5* Trou Aux Biches Hotel which is 10 minute drive from Le Cannonier. This hotel offers luxury accommodation comprised of different categories of suites and private villas. An outstanding location and service makes this a perfect hotel for couple and honeymooners looking for a romantic setting and set on a beautiful beach that offers the most stunning of sunsets! The suites are set in gardens bordering the beach and are modern, private and luxurious. The Clarins Spa is one of the largest on the island and is set in the midst of the hotel’s gardens. Six restaurants offer menus inspired from around the world and you will truly be spoilt for choice during your stay here. This was a hotel that I would have no hesitation in staying in for my own holiday! Their service levels are high and the accommodations are all of a luxury standard. Our last hotel visit was to the 5* Royal Palm which was the first hotel in the Indian Ocean to become a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ and it reflects luxury and tradition in its 84 suites. Recently refurbished, the Royal Palm has a high percentage of repeat guests and it’s easy to see why. Attention to detail is high and the ratio of hotel staff to guest is equally as high which assures impeccable levels of service. Staff are discreet yet attentive and anticipate every guest’s need. All 84 suites are elegantly decorated and are all sea facing. Three world class restaurants are presided over by an award winning chef and the levels of haute cuisine here are outstanding as I was fortunate enough to experience! The hotel is set on a beautiful beach with white sands and is sheltered from the trade winds which we had experienced in the South of the island. The Royal Palm really is a world apart and if you are looking for an intimate hotel with world class facilities (including for families) then look no further!

Madikwe Game Reserve - South Africa

22 June 2015

Arriving in Johannesburg after an 11 hour flight we boarded a 14-seater propeller plane for our 50 minute flight north to the malaria-free Madike Game Reserve which borders Botswana. There aren’t many airstrips where giraffe line the runway as you come in to land! Our first experience of the game reserve was on the drive to our first lodge, Madikwe Hills. Airport transfers here include sightings of zebras, impala and giraffes! Madikwe Hills Lodge is a beautiful property consisting of luxury lodges all stunningly designed and with your own private deck and plunge pools overlooking the watering hole. Elephants and buffalo are regular visitors each day to the watering hole for your own personal viewing! Rising early the next day our ranger and guide (Raoul and Johannes) took us into the reserve where we encountered elephants, rhino, zebras, giraffe, impala and also a wide variety of birdlife. Refreshments are provided and hot chocolate with a splash of Amarilo is very welcome on a cold morning! On returning to the lodge you can then enjoy a superb and well earned breakfast. The rest of the morning can be spent relaxing in your lodge or perhaps the spa, before lunch is served in the main restaurant. High tea follows at around 3pm before you head out again on your second game drive at 3.30pm. Our experienced rangers ensured we were not disappointed again and we came across two lions (brothers) who were enjoyed the last rays of the sun. Coming so close to them was such a privilege and we were very grateful to Raoul and Johanes for their experience in knowing where to look to find them! More refreshments were served in the bush before we headed back to Madikwe Hills for a wonderful evening meal. The following morning we enjoyed another early morning game drive and breakfast before leaving for the short drive to our next lodge at Tuningi. Tuningi is a friendly and intimate lodge where the staff quickly learn your name and are very much concerned with ensuring your stay with them is comfortable and memorable. Families are very welcome here and children are well looked after by babysitters and can go on their own treasure hunts and walking safaris. The thatched chalets (complete with outdoor shower) are very well furnished and comfortable and again have a private deck where you can view the elephants, buffalo and wildebeest that come down to the watering hole. Following lunch, our afternoon game drive with Cornelius was very enjoyable and he even threw in a puncture to demonstrate his skills weren’t just limited to flora and fauna – he can change a tyre in pretty good time too! On returning to Tuningi you can enjoy a pre dinner drink in the main lodge ( the game drivers also double up as bar staff!) followed by a home cooked, varied and plentiful evening meal. A choir consisting of the kitchen and waiting staff surprised us with some wonderful African songs after dinner that we all talked about for days after! Our early morning game drive the following morning was delayed by rain and we weren’t sure whether we would see much when we finally got going. How wrong we were! Madike Game Reserve is famous for its wild dogs but due to an outbreak of rabies seven months earlier, only five dogs remained in the whole of the reserve and it had been some months since any of the rangers had seen them. We had resigned ourselves that it would be very unlikely that we would see any when Cornelius received communication that they had been seen very close by with a kill. We put our foot down and arrived (along with other jeeps) very soon after they had killed an impala. We spent 20 minutes or so viewing them, along with the hyenas and jackals and were then privileged enough to be able to follow them back along the road as they looked for somewhere to sleep off their big meal. What an experience that was and how much we valued our knowledgeable ranger for getting us there in time! We all enjoyed our morning coffee that morning for sure – Cornelius picked up another puncture in pursuit of the dogs so he got some extra practice in again and had to change another tyre! After a hearty breakfast back at Tuningi Lodge, we set off for the 90 minute drive to Thakadu River Camp which consists of 12 tented lodges set in the forest on the banks of the Marico River. The tents are air conditioned (as well as heated in the winter) and have sliding doors which open onto a private deck with river views. We enjoyed a fine lunch before we set out on our afternoon game drive with our ranger Patience. We were all still on a high from seeing the wild dogs that morning but little did we know how our game drive would end. After some very close encounters with a group of elephants and our afternoon refreshments, it began to get dark and conversation turned to the only one of the Big Five we hadn’t yet seen…a leopard. There are over 40 leopards in the park but they aren’t so easy to come across so you can imagine how we felt when Patience explained that we were about to drive into an area where a leopard had been spotted in a tree with his kill. In the dark and so close that you could almost touch the tree, we were able to see this wonderful leopard in all his glory, relaxing and very much at ease with the game drive vehicles. After a few minutes of viewing he slowly made his way back down the tree right beside us and disappeared into the bush again. We were all so grateful for this experience and it meant that in three days we had seen all of the Big 5 thanks to our amazing rangers. On our way back to Thakadu we still had time to see hippos, a rhino with her baby calf and of course, one final puncture which Patience took in her stride…and in the dark! We had a wonderful meal back at Thakadu, down in the private Boma which was lit up with a huge fire and lights and it was incredible to be able to dine outdoors in the middle of the forest! Our electric blankets had been switched on when we returned to our tents and on a very cold night in June, it was most welcome! A very cold game drive the next morning yielded no sightings of wildlife sadly but our stay in Thakadu will always be remembered for that wonderful sighting of the leopard. We left Madikwe Game reserve the following morning for a four hour, scenic drive to Johannesburg which was to be our home for the next two nights. Johannesburg is undergoing a revival and redevelopment and our hotel, the Protea Fire and Ice was situated in an area called Melrose Arch which is a very cosmopolitan area made up of shops, bars and restaurants and is very safe to walk around in. Close by is Nelson Mandela square (five mins taxi ride) which is also great for shopping and eateries. The Fire and Ice Hotel is a modern and contemporary hotel and is popular with business and leisure guests alike. Great attention to detail is given by the friendly and helpful staff and it has a real buzz to it! The hotel is famous for its milkshakes and we were happy to test them out of course! Our only full day in Johannesburg included a visit to the Apartheid museum which must be on everyone’s list of things to do here. You could easily spend several hours in the museum but sadly we only had an hour but it was still a very moving experience. We then enjoyed a cycle tour of Soweto which I have to say was incredibly enlightening and really enjoyable. If you are staying in Johannesburg and looking for something a bit different to do then I would definitely recommend this. Our guide Jazz was very passionate about Soweto and we learned a lot in the hour – hour and a half that the tour lasted. On returning to Johannesburg we then enjoyed a brief walking tour of the downtown area and learned more about some of the street art/graffiti that you can see in this part of the city. After another wonderful meal in a local African restaurant in Melrose Arch we retired to our hotel for our last night in Johannesburg. South Africa is an incredible country and my experiences were much different to what I had expected, especially in Johannesburg. If you are thinking about SA for the first time or even if you have visited a different part before then I would highly recommend that you follow in my footsteps and consider a visit to Madike Game Reserve and Johannesburg.

My customer stories

Sent by Susan Harris

I would absolutely recommend Helene. From the first time we spoke, I was impressed with her professionalism, her knowledge and her fabulous personality. Throughout the process, I have been confident that Helene has been taking the best care to arrange my holiday. She has informed me every step of the way about details of my trip and I haven't had to worry about anything. I will definitely use her services again and tell my friends about her.

Sent by Jane McGee - Drewett

Helene was absolutely fantastic her advice was non bias yet really understood what we were looking for and NOTHING was too much trouble even when we changed our mind goodness knows how many times she has the patience of a saint!!! The thank you card was also a beautiful touch cannot wait for our honeymoon to arrive.

Sent by Robert Barclay

Helene was recomnended to us by a friend and he was so right in saying she was very good. We have found her excellent in getting an itenerary and costs and she has a lovely approach to customer interaction. Would recommended her without hesitation

Sent by Steven O'Leary

Helen is always very helpful, and knowledgeable about the country’s and or areas I am trying to book which is A fantastic

Sent by Lindsay Carlton

Superb, efficient, friendly, professional, reliable...Helene is all of these

Sent by Marianne Buttrey

Helene helped us book long haul flights and Hotel & during the planning & booking of each stage, kept us completely informed. Helene understood our wishes of simplicity and has been very helpful with extra information by communicating with her colleagues on our behalf. Helene always responded to our phone calls and emails as soon as possible. We will recommend her to our family and friends.

Sent by Alexandra Barrett

Helene has been hugely helpful and patient with all the planning our trip has involved. It has certainly helped arrange a trip with as little stress as possible. Thanks very much

Sent by Carol Gaymer

Always a quick response and always offers numerous options and unbiased advice.......Additionally, just a super pleasant and polite person to deal with!!!

Sent by Christopher Harrison

Service from Helene is always outstanding. She always goes that extra mile to ensure her customers enjoy a top class product at a competitive price. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Helene to anyone

Sent by Sheila Ashton

Helene was fantastic in organising our trip to Salzburg so we can do the sound of music tour. It took all the hassle away from me with trying to organise the trip with 3 girl friends. I will definitely be spreading the word to use Travel counsellors and in particular Helene.

Sent by Christophre Galvin

The service was excellent from start to finish. It removed all the stress from what has previously been a stressful and time-consuming process.

Sent by Rosemary Richardson

Prompt, efficient and utterly charming! And Helen knows her stuff...... and knows me! A great bonus. Thankyou