Based in Horsham

Katrina Smith

Looking for help with your business travel? Find out how I can help here

It's Nice To Meet You

Hi, I am Katrina and I am based in Horsham, West Sussex

The service I provide is personal to you. I want you to have the best and most amazing trip ever. I am really passionate about travel and customer care. I first started in travel back in 1994 which gives me a wealth of experience.
I will organise absolutely any type of holiday, whether a cruise, a family beach holiday, a weekend break, a tailor-made trip, a wedding overseas or honeymoon, or a business trip. All with 100% financial protection.

I have visited so many wonderful places over the years. Some of my favourite places would have to be the USA – I love New York, Vegas and San Francisco (my kids would probably say Orlando is their favourite), The Caribbean - Barbados is a firm favourite of mine, and Canada, for the sheer size and diversity of it. The beauty of Thailand and the mystique of Morocco. Then there are cities like Vienna and Prague and Rome and Florence, and of course I can’t forget about cruising the Danube and the Rhine. I could go on and on….

The service I provide is very personal and unique to your own requirements. From the moment you contact me to the moment you return from your trip you will receive the best care and attention.

I can be contacted outside of the normal 9-5 hours and am available 7 days a week, at a time convenient to you. Whatever your budget I will create your perfect holiday.

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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:

Find me on social

My Videos

Introducing Myself to You

2/1/2021

Booking your holiday through myself - why wouldn't you?

Hosting Group Trips to iceland

1/15/2021

I host a number of small group trips, and this one is for November 2021 to Iceland.

Why We Use Katrina for All Our Trips

1/6/2021

Jon and Jeanette have booked many many trips with Katrina, and this particular trip involved a Harley Davidson and a very personal and tailored itinerary.

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.

Nile River Cruise

28 June 2022

In February 2020 I took the trip I had been dreaming of doing since I was about 10 years old (so quite a long time ago). I took a 10 day tour to Egypt, the first 3 nights were spent in Cairo and the next 7 nights were on a cruise down the Nile. After arriving late in the evening and going straight to our room in Giza, we woke up the next morning excited for our morning ahead – a trip to the pyramids. We were so delighted when we walked out of our hotel door (we had arrived the night before to darkness) and there across the road was a view of the pyramids – so close to our hotel! Our morning was spent visiting the pyramids of Giza, which did not disappoint. There are 3 pyramids – the Great Pyramid of Khufu (which you can enter) the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure – followed by the Sphinx and then taken a little way out across the desert plateau so that we could take in the amazing view of the 3 pyramids. We chose to spend the afternoon at out hotel, sitting by the pool and enjoying a fabulous lunch. The next day was to the Cairo Museum and what a day! The museum did not disappoint, with the wonderful famous gold death mask of Tutankhamun top of our wish list of things to see. We then flew from Cairo to Luxor to join our ship, the MS Tulip, a fabulous ship with 48 cabins which are fully air conditioned, have en suite bathrooms and all amenities. There is a lovely sundeck which is a fabulous relaxing area to enjoy the amazing views of the Nile. This is where you will also find the Deck bar. Meals on board are buffet style with plenty of choice – soups, salads, main courses (including meat and pasta) and a brilliant dessert menu. To start our tour we visited the incredible Karnak Temple – a complex of several temples, chapels and other buildings. The complex was dedicated to the gods Amun, Mut and Khonsu. It is also worth visiting here in the evening when there is a sound and light show. Luxor Temple was next on our stop it is situated in the centre of Luxor. Of course number one on my list of places to visit on our Nile cruise was the Valley of The Kings, made famous by Howard Carter with his discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The entry to the valley is included with the cost of the cruise, and includes 3 burial chambers. If you wish to visit King Tut’s tomb you do need to pay extra. After the Valley of the Kings it was on to the Temple of Hatshepsut the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Sailing down the Nile we stopped at Edfu temple. To get to the temple you take a horse and carriage and then you are presented with this fabulous temple dedicated to the god Horus – a falcon headed god – there are lots of statues to honour him here. The temple was built in 57BC. Another temple visited was Kom Ombo which is right next to where the boat docks. It was built to honour the crocodile god Sobek and Horus the falcon headed god. Here you will find a museum of mummified crocodiles. The ancient Egyptians believed if they dedicated a temple to the crocodile they wouldn’t be attacked by them – at that time there were loads of crocodiles in the Nile (not many at all nowadays – if at all). Our cruise then headed to Aswan for a visit to the Temple of Philae which is accessed by small boat on Agilika Island and then onto the Aswan High Dam, finishing with a visit to the Unfinished Obelisk. One trip not to be missed (and you do have to pay extra for this) is the coach trip to Abu Simbel. It is a long 3 hour coach trip (usually leaving very early in the morning) but it is 100% worth it. There are two temples carved into the mountain side – the Great Temple built by Ramses II and the Queens Temple dedicated to Nefertari. The four colossal statues of Ramses in front of the Great Temple are spectacular. Due to rising waters caused by the erection of the Aswan High Dam, these temples were moved 200 metres above their original site. The top of the cliff was dig away and both temples completely disassembled and reconstructed. Absolutely amazing! This trip was one I have now recommended to many of my clients. If you love ancient Egypt, if you love history then this must surely be on your Bucket List. There is a Nile cruise ship for everyone, it is just knowing which one to choose, and hopefully I can help with this.

Why Cruising is Great for Families

18 June 2019

Choosing the family holiday is never easy. Mum wants one thing, dad wants another, little Johnny wants to play games and his big sister just doesn’t want to do anything anyone else wants – sound familiar? With many cruise lines sailing from Southampton it is so easy. You turn up at the terminal, a porter will take your luggage (you will next see it in your cabin on the ship) and your car is parked for you. Straight into the terminal, check in and within 30 minutes you are usually on-board having lunch and a well-earned drink – what could be easier? As first-time cruisers many people have worries, such as will I get seasick, will one of the kids fall overboard, what if the kids get bored? Cruise ships have medical officers on board to help with any ailment, so in the event that you do feel a bit queasy they will be able to help with something to ease your stomach. Falling overboard is impossible. All balconies are of sufficient height to ensure this does not happen, and your children will not have time to get bored there is so much to do. What will the kids do? Most cruise ships will have kids’ clubs for every age, from 6 months (not all take them this young but I can let you know which ones do if this is a priority) to 17 years. There are cruise ships with bumper cars, ice rinks, water slides (Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas has the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest waterslide on the ocean), trampolines, rock climbing and zip lines to name but a few. What is there for us adults? A cruise ship has plenty for the adults, whether you just want to relax in the spa, attend an exercise class or attend a cookery class or perhaps have a meal in a speciality restaurant followed by a show, the adults can relax knowing their children are safe and happy in the Kids Club. Which cabin is right for us? There are inter-connecting cabins for families, inside cabins, balcony cabins, accessible cabins and suites. Royal Caribbean has the most amazing “Ultimate Family Suite”, this is a 2-storey suite with its very own in-suite slide, and air hockey table and table tennis on the balcony! It also comes with its very own Royal Genie (butler). Norwegian Cruise Lines have their Haven suites, which feature 2- and 3-bedroom villas, penthouse suites and spa suites. They all have a 24-hour butler and a sundeck reserved exclusively for The Haven guests. What is the food like? There is always plenty of choice where food is concerned, and if you have special dietary requirements the chefs will do everything possible to meet these requirements. Full board is included in all cruises, and some will be fully inclusive or have special drinks packages and speciality dining. One of my favourites is Sabatini’s which features on Princess cruises. Most cruise ships will have a buffet restaurant and the main dining rooms. Many will have a pizzeria, an ice cream parlour and a burger bar. There is definitely a cruise for every family. If you are now enticed to find out more about family cruising please give me a call and I can go through everything with you to take away the hassle and concerns.

Ancient Fes

05 June 2019

I was recently invited by the Moroccan Tourist Board on a trip to Fes in Morocco. My journey started with a flight from Gatwick Airport to Fes with Air Arabia, a low-cost airline with direct flights from the UK to Fes. The flight is just 3 hours long, but it is worth noting this is a dry airline, so no alcohol is allowed on board. We arrived into Fes, to a beautiful modern air terminal, and then a quick journey to our hotel – the Palais Medina & Spa. It was now 01:30 hours in the morning (I am an early to bed person normally) so it was straight into bed for me! I awoke early the next morning, opened my bedroom curtains and was struck by just how beautiful everything looked from my balcony, looking across the hotel grounds to the gates of the medina. I was very lucky and had a junior suite all to myself – huge bedroom, a huge lounge and enormous bathroom with walk-in shower and bath and 2 basins, plus a further small bathroom. We were met after breakfast by our guide for the next two days, Abdel. Abdel was quite a character and knew the medina like the back of his hand. If you want to explore the souks, I would strongly advise you take a guide. It would be so easy to get lost. We visited a pottery and mosaic works to see how the mosaic tables, fountain and pottery items are made – it is very intricate work which takes so much concentration – beautiful! The medina is much more relaxed than the medina in Marrakech, no motorised vehicles are allowed (which is great) but watch out for the donkeys! It is full of sights and sounds you won’t find anywhere else. The colours and the smells are amazing. Fes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the narrow streets you are walking through 1300 years of history, with ancient and beautiful mosques to be found around every corner. The architecture is splendid. You can’t come to Fes and not visit the tanneries. We were warned that it had a certain smell about it that was not very pleasant and handed a sprig of mint to hold to our nose to block it out. However, I think we must have visited on a good day, as I really couldn’t smell anything, other than the glorious mint (I should imagine if you visit during the height of Summer you may very well notice it). We visited a shop with a terrace that overlooks the tanneries – what hard work it must be turning animal hides into leather, using natural dye. The methods haven’t changed since medieval times. Having spent some time in the medina, it is lovely to relax over a fabulous lunch in a local riad. We visited the Riad Myra and sampled a typical Moroccan meze. It is so peaceful and tranquil sitting here behind the wall of a quiet street off the medina. The next day we journeyed into the mid Atlas Mountains to the town of Ifrane, which has a ski resort – yes a ski resort in Morocco – I had no idea! Ifrane is so different to anywhere else I have visited in Morocco, with alpine style buildings. It is such a peaceful town. We visited the 5-star resort of Michlifen Golf & Spa, a beautiful 5-star hotel with an incredible spa. On route back to Fes, we stopped at Meknes, again a town with stunning architecture, smaller than Fes but still plenty to see, with miles of walls, beautiful gates and huge palaces built by Sultan Moulay in the 17th Century. It is definitely a city to visit as part of your holiday in this area. That evening we visited the Palais Faraj, a riad on the outskirts of the Fes medina. A beautiful hotel with a swimming pool and a marvellous restaurant. The food here is fantastic, and the Moroccan wine delicious – definitely a place to stay. If you want to visit somewhere different and perhaps a little less visited than Marrakech, then Fes is definitely worth considering. It is an ideal long weekend break, and you will see and learn so much.

Expedition Cruising with Hurtigruten

08 May 2019

Expedition cruising with Hurtigruten involves smaller ships with amazing and adventurous itineraries, exploring places like Antarctica and the Arctic, the Galapagos Islands and the Caribbean, the Norwest Passage, Greenland etc. I recently met with Mark from Hurtigruten to find out a bit more about them and their expedition fleet. What an amazing company they are, with over 125 years experience in exploration. Currently, they have 4 expedition ships with two new ships launching late 2019/early 2020: MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen. These two ships will use new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology. Single-use plastics, such as straws and plastic cups, have been removed from the whole fleet, and the use of polluting and toxic heavy fuel has also been banned. Add to this, the installation of new propellers on Hurtigruten's ships to reduce CO2 emissions by 2,300 tonnes a year and their voluntary beach clean-ups and the end result is the greenest fleet in the world. Hurtigruten have highly experienced experts onboard, such as marine biologists, photographers, oceanographers and more to make your trip a truly unforgettable experience. There are lectures on subjects such as history, climate change and sustainability to name but a few. Because their ships are smaller, they can take you to places the larger cruise ships cannot reach, closer to nature. It is fantastic to be able to see rare wildlife in their natural habitats, for example whales, penguins (my favourite) and polar bears. On a Hurtigruten expedition cruise, you will be provided with a complimentary waterproof jacket, as well as the loan of rubber sole boots – needed for the Antarctic, and the use of trekking poles. No cruise would be the same without good food – and Hurtigruten is certainly ensuring this is the case on board their ships. Whether you are a meat eater, fish fan or vegetarian, there is something for everyone. They have a very popular plant-based menu for vegans. Life on board the ship is informal and friendly, with a casual dress code, stunning views and very good company. You can’t help but feel at home onboard a Hurtigruten cruise.

Tying the Knot Overseas

12 March 2019

Weddings overseas are becoming more and more popular, with beautiful locations, exceptional weather and prices kinder to your wallet than a UK wedding. Planning your wedding can be one of the most exciting times of your life – but it is also one of the most stressful. From grand arrangements to the finer details that make your wedding unique, there’s plenty to organise to ensure your wedding goes without a hitch. When planning a wedding overseas, as a Travel Counsellor I will work alongside you to give you complete peace of mind. From ensuring legal documents are in order to working with staff in resort to make them aware of all your wants and needs, making for a wonderful wedding with none of the worries. Back in 1997 I was given the task of putting together the first Weddings brochure for a large tour operator. I travelled around the Globe attending weddings and sourcing unique locations for the “special day” One of my favourite destinations close to home was Cyprus, even back then this was a popular destination for weddings. Today Cyprus is even more popular. It is easily accessible from the UK and relatively inexpensive, which makes it possible for your family and friends to be with you on your special day. Further afield the Caribbean is a very popular choice for a beautiful, relaxed wedding on the beach. I recently organised a wedding for some clients at the Rendezvous Hotel in St Lucia. The hotel is quite simply made for romance. Here you can choose to marry in a tropical garden, under a canopy on a secluded stretch of beach, or even on your own private island! Many hotels will give you the guarantee of just one wedding per day, giving you an exclusive and special day. The Beachcomber Hotels in Mauritius offer this benefit. Mauritius has become hugely popular for weddings with a wealth of beautiful tropical settings, with a beachside wedding in the late afternoon proving to be the most popular. If you decide to get married in the UK and honeymoon overseas there are some wonderful places to visit but do remember that although Summer weddings are very popular here in the UK, many long haul destinations may not be so warm, or you may be visiting during their rainy or hurricane season. It is always best to check with a reputable travel agent, who also may be able to offer honeymooners little extras, such as free upgraded rooms, bottles of wine, flowers or fruit on arrival in the room. I recently arranged for a complimentary romantic sunset cruise for honeymooner clients staying in Mauritius, this is something they will remember for ever. If you would like more information on making your wedding overseas perfect, then please give me a call.

Beauty at Sea

06 March 2019

On 3rd March I was very lucky to be invited to the launch weekend of the new MSC Bellissima in Southampton. Bellissima is the second Meraviglia class ship, the first being MSC Meraviglia. Possibly my favourite part of the ship (although I have several favourites to be fair) is the atrium, which is a real “wow”. Here you find the famous Swarovski crystal staircases. There are 640 crystals per step. They are quite simply beautiful. Next is the LED screen ceiling above the promenade. It is the longest LED screen at sea. The screen changes images every 30 seconds and in the evening turns into a light and sound show. The promenade incorporates speciality restaurants, shops and lounges. I tried the teppanyaki restaurant and the food was fabulous, there is also a steak restaurant – The Butchers Cut and Hola! Tapas Bar and a sushi bar, as well as a macaroon shop and an ice cream parlour (you must try the coconut ice cream) and creperie, and the amazing chocolate factory – The Jean-Phillipe Chocolat and Café. Here you can watch chocolatiers make their chocolate. The chocolate was divine. I was very surprised by the Sports Zone where there was an indoor basketball court, as well as a full-size bowling alley and two Formula 1 simulators. There is also a 4D theatre and virtual reality games. This is a great area for all ages, as is the Arizona Waterpark which has three different waterslides. Located close to the Children’s Clubs. There is a Baby Club, Junior Club and Teen Club all are well equipped to keep children occupied and happy. For the adults there is the Aurea Spa which offers everything from vinotherapy treatments to 38 different facials, alongside a hair salon, nail spa and huge gym. I was given a balcony cabin, which was a good size with king size bed and large sofa, which converts into a bed. The bed was really comfortable. There was an interactive TV, telephone, safe, minibar and hairdryer. The bathroom was a very good size and had a good size shower. If you are looking for something a little bit special, then the MSC Yacht Club could be for you. It has the feel of a private club area with exclusive cabins with private facilities and butler service. There is also an exclusive Yacht Club bar and restaurant. There are 45 accessible cabins for people with accessibility problems. These are large cabins, with wider doors, a ramped threshold and lower vanity units in the lounge area. The telephone is amplified, and the TV has captions. The bathrooms have a roll-in shower, a fold-down shower bench, grab rails, lower sinks and a raised toilet. This is a great ship, especially for families. The facilities are amazing, the food great and the atmosphere fantastic. Give it a try yourself – for more information just give me a call on 01403 887190.

A Little Piece of Paradise in Jamaica

05 November 2018

I have recently returned from the most amazing stay at the Roundhill Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was originally opened in 1953 and was the private haunt of style icons and the jet set such as Noel Coward, Oscar Hammerstein, Errol Flynn, David Niven, Princess Margaret, JFK and Jackie, and more recently Harry and Meghan. It still retains the old style glamour and delivers the same high level of service. The first thing that hits you when you arrive at this hotel is the beauty of it. The most amazing view of the Caribbean Sea. Set on a small peninsula with beautifully manicured gardens and grounds. We were greeted with cold flannels and a lovely glass of rum punch whilst we checked in. We were then shown to our room by Kingsley (who has been with the hotel over 45 years!) who gave us lots of information on the hotel and grounds as he walked us the short route to our oceanfront room in Pineapple House. Ralph Lauren sits on the Board of Directors for this hotel, and has designed the interiors here. He also has his own villa on the resort. Our room was a really good size with a patio overlooking the beach. We had a large bamboo four-poster bed with a ceiling fan and sofa and chairs to relax in. There was also an air conditioning unit. The bathroom was large with a huge bath and separate rain shower. The ground floor rooms all have patios and the upstairs rooms have louvred windows that open up to the most marvellous views of the bay. These all have vaulted ceilings. One thing to note is that the rooms in the Pineapple House do NOT have TVs – which we both were very happy about. There is a shared TV lounge if you really cannot manage without. As well as the 36 rooms in The Pineapple House there are 27 villas dotted around the hillside. These range from 2-bedroom villas to 6-bedroom villas. You can book a whole villa or just part of it, to share with other guests. Most villas have private pools and each is individually designed and decorated. Each villa has its own staff to tend the gardens and to prepare breakfast for you to have in your villa. There are two restaurants at the hotel, The Seaside Terrace which serves a la carte food and the Grill which serves a mix of a la carte and buffet. The food was amazing! The cocktail bar is lovely with personal service at your table. Large comfortable chairs look out across the ocean. In the afternoon complimentary afternoon tea is served here between the hours of 4 and 5 pm. A very traditional afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, scones and jam and lovely cakes, and many different flavoured teas and coffee to choose from. One evening whilst we were at the hotel we had a BBQ set up on the beach for everyone. This was no ordinary barbeque, tables were all beautifully dressed, torches lit and a huge buffet set up with the most fabulous selection of food along with a steel band to entertain us. It was one of the highlights of our stay. Another evening the Managers hosted a cocktail evening for all the guests, and even the Managing Director, Josef Forstmayr attended and ensured he spoke with every single person. Personal service really is high on this hotel’s agenda. A short and delightful walk along the coast (about 200 yards) is the Spa which is a wonderfully restored 18th Century Plantation House, with a huge lawn facing over the ocean, perfect for afternoon yoga classes and seaside massages. There are seven treatment rooms, including a couples suite. There is also a beauty salon and manicure and pedicure station. There is also a huge fitness centre and gym which has a large outdoor pavilion for yoga classes. A children's club is available, which is complimentary and is available for children of all ages. Daily activities range from nature walks, football, arts and crafts, water sports, reggae lessons and movie hour. One morning we decided to venture out on the complimentary glass bottom boat to explore the house-reef. Roundhill is working with local marine scientist to restore the corals, fish and shellfish of this reef. They are growing corals in a nursery and then planting those grown corals back to the reef. These corals, in turn, provide good nursery habitats for baby fish, lobsters and crabs to grow. We spent most of our time lazing on the beach and swimming in the beautiful warm waters of the sea. The water is shallow and smooth. There is a large infinity pool with delightful cabanas and loungers if you prefer a pool to the ocean, or why not try both. A pool bar services both. You just lie back and your waiter will come to you! Heaven! I cannot speak highly enough about the amazing service and the amazing staff at Roundhill. Absolutely everyone, and I mean everyone from the gardeners, to the housekeeping staff, to the waiters, to the concierge and managers were first class - their attention to detail and friendliness was exceptional - I have never experienced service like this anywhere before. A word of warning – if your idea of the perfect hotel is a large all-inclusive with loads of restaurants and bars and loud music and tons of entertainment laid on, then Roundhill is not for you! But if you want relaxation, romance, quiet family time, beauty, exceptional service and great food then this could be your idea of heaven. Will I go back? In a heartbeat!

Barbados - A Culinary Experience

01 October 2018

Barbados is one of my favourite Caribbean islands. With unspoilt beaches, clear waters, wonderful rum cocktails and amazing jerk chicken, what’s not to love! 2018 is the Barbados Year of Culinary Experiences. Bajan cuisine brings together the influences of the Caribbean, Africa, West Indies and Europe to create a truly unique and authentic culinary experience. Barbados is unofficially known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean with over 100 fabulous restaurants on the island. There is a huge selection of fine dining restaurants with stunning panoramic views – one of the most famous being The Cliff restaurant located right on the cliff edge on the west coast of the island. No trip to Barbados would be complete without a trip to Oistins Fish Fry. Every Friday hundreds of people, tourists and locals gather in the fishing village of Oistins for a good old song and dance. The rum flows, and there are so many fish stalls serving up flying fish, swordfish, tuna and much, much more. As the night wears on DJs play and performer take to the stage. It’s a night you won’t forget. One of my favourite restaurants, both for lunch or dinner is The Fishpot. Housed in a waterfront 17th Century fort, it is right on the beach just north of Speightstown. It has an impressive wine list and delicious food. I particularly liked the Asian Tuna. Another firm favourite with returning guests is Daphne’s restaurant part of the Elegant Hotels group, which has seven luxury hotels in Barbados. The restaurant serves Italian cuisine with a Caribbean twist. Daphne’s has hosted celebrity guests including Simon Cowell, Rihanna, Claudia Schiffer, Gerard Butler and more in its stunning oceanfront location. An event not to be missed is the Food and Rum Festival which this year is being held October 18th to 21st. Local chefs and mixologists are joined by celebrity chefs to create exciting culinary delights for this event, and of course it wouldn’t be complete without rum – Barbados is the birthplace of rum. You have to try a Barbados Rum Punch – there is nothing else like it!

Ravishing Riviera Maya

04 July 2018

In June I was lucky enough to gain a place on a trip to Mexico with nine other Travel Counsellors. I had not been to Riviera Maya before, so I was very excited to sample this part of Mexico. We flew with Thomas Cook in Premium Class which I would 100% recommend - they have seats with extra space, upgraded in-flight entertainment, premium meals, complimentary drinks, increased luggage allowance and priority check-in. We stayed in 4 different hotels during our trip, starting with Dreams Riviera Maya. Our room was a Preferred Club Ocean View room on the third floor which was huge with an indoor Jacuzzi bath and a further Jacuzzi on the balcony. Ground floor Preferred Club rooms have plunge pools. The rooms looked out across the swimming pool as well as the beach. Whilst staying there a wedding took place which I was able to watch from the balcony - it was beautiful - so if you are looking for somewhere to get married right beside the sea - here is the place! Dreams Riviera Maya is all-inclusive and is great for families and couples alike - there is so much going on, with great restaurants and premium drinks included. Our next hotel was the Occidental Xcaret. This hotel is set in beautiful grounds in the rainforest, with monkeys, iguanas, deer and exotic birds around every corner. The beach here, although small is lovely with a fabulous beach restaurant overlooking the sea, and a beach bar that serves great mojitos. The hotel has 11 restaurants and 7 swimming pools and is set right next door to the Eco Park, which we also visited. You can swim the underground rivers, take in one of the shows, sample the food at several different restaurants (we tried the Mexican, which was very good) or swim with the dolphins or stingrays. This makes for a great day out. Next it was adults only Secrets Akumal - this is a beautiful hotel with 3 swimming pools (one a nice quiet pool for sitting with a book and just chilling - with a cocktail in your hand of course, one for activities and the other with the swim up bar). The food here is excellent, with Asian, French, Mexican and Seafood restaurants - the food at the seafood restaurant was fabulous (and I don't even like fish particularly). From the beach you can snorkel and swim with the turtles which is amazing to do. We also took a 20-minute drive to the Tulum Ruins, which as a bit of a history buff I was especially keen to do - it did not disappoint. I would however recommend visiting early morning, before the temperature gets too high and the crowds too busy. Lastly, and by no means least we visited Grand Velas resort - what can I say about this hotel, other than Wow!! We were in the Grand Class Suites which are adult only and face onto the beach. All rooms have plunge pools on the balconies and terrace, along with a large Jacuzzi bath in the bathroom. The rooms are huge and beautiful. The Ambassador area is for families and again large and some with inter-connecting rooms. Families are well catered for here with a baby concierge, strollers, bottle warmers, cots etc. The kid’s clubs are excellent. The third area is the Zen area, set in the rainforest this area is for couples and families. It has such a chilled out feel to it. This is also where the spa is housed - and the spa is one of the best I have ever visited - you must try the Water Ceremony. All in all Riviera Maya has something for everyone, whether you are a couple going to get married or on your honeymoon, whether you are a young family with toddlers or a family with teenagers, or whether you are an older couple (like me) looking for some winter sun in a beautiful location. I shall definitely return.

New York, New York

14 May 2018

What can I say about New York that hasn't been said before? We did a five-day trip to New York towards the end of April, staying at the Warwick Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The hotel was central to so many places of interest - just a 10-minute walk from Central Park, 10 minutes from Times Square and 10 minutes from The Rockefeller. It is a fabulous hotel which in the past has hosted the likes of Elvis Presley, Cary Grant and The Beatles, to name but a few. The rooms are large and luxurious. On our first full day we decided to use the Hop on/Hop off bus to get our bearings. This was a great way to start our trip, albeit a rather slow means of transport due to the excessively heavy traffic in New York City. Thereafter we used the subway. We made our way to the 9/11 Memorial which immediately brought back memories of that terribly tragic day. The memorial is wonderful, sad and yet inspiring at the same time. It is most definitely well worth a visit. To visit the museum allow yourselves at least 3-4 hours. We then visited the One World Observatory. I am not going to say too much about this experience (I don’t want to spoil it for you) except it has a very surprising start, which left me in awe! It was fantastic and I 100% recommend it. We rounded off our first night by sipping cocktails on a rooftop bar looking out at the Empire State Building - what more could you want? Day two was spent on a tour with a difference. We joined an Urban Adventure tour called Tenements and Tastes. The tour was a walking tour which lasted three hours and took in the streets of Little Italy, Lower East Side and Chinatown. We sampled some amazing food, such as knishes, dumplings, fresh mozzarella and pretzels, and learnt all about the immigrants that first arrived in New York and made New York their home. We rounded off day two with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get the most amazing view of Manhattan. By this time my feet had lost the will to live, so a ferry ride back across the Hudson was called for before getting ready for dinner at a great Mexican restaurant and of course more cocktails - I had one of the best Mojitos I have ever had. On day three we had a bit of a lie in, before heading to a wonderful restaurant overlooking Central Park for brunch. Here I had the best eggs benedict whilst taking in the most amazing views of Central Park - what a wonderful way to start a Sunday. We topped it off with a long walk through Central Park and attending a food festival. That evening we watched the sun go down at the top of the Rockefeller - just wonderful! On our last day in New York we did a bit of shopping and then visited Ellens Stardust Diner - no trip to New York would be complete unless I visited here (so everyone told me) and of course they were right. An amazing experience, a diner with great food, and all the waiters and waitresses sing Broadway and Pop songs - when they sang songs from Les Miserables it brought tears to my eyes - a great way to finish our trip to New York. Top Tip: New York can be exhausting and is especially hard on your feet. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes.

9 Days of Adventure in Sri Lanka

14 February 2018

I am finding more and more lately that my clients want personalised itineraries. They don't want "off the shelf" trips. This is something I love to do - to get to the bottom of what and where my clients want to travel. One such itinerary is a nine-day adventure in Sri Lanka. After arriving in Colombo, we take a private transfer to Negombo, which grew from a historic little town with many legacies of its Dutch and Portuguese settlers, into Sri Lanka’s first beach resort. You can explore the city by foot or in a trishaw. The next day we head to the river lands of Kitulgala, home to medieval caves and forests located on the edges of the tea country. It is a really wet area and home to five major river rapids. White water rafting is very popular and will get the adrenalin pumping for sure. You can also do a bit of trekking or canyoning. It is a good idea to spend at least a couple of days here, before heading off for Ella. The journey to Ella takes us through some of the most scenic areas of Sri Lanka, covered in one of the country's biggest exports, Ceylon tea. This area is shrouded in Hindu mythology, viewpoints and waterfalls as well as lots of walks and temples found between the tea plantations. Sri Lanka is the world's third largest tea producer. Whilst in this area you might like to climb Little Adams Peak or Ella Rock. You can climb Little Adams Peak morning or afternoon, but for Ella Rock it is best to start really early before the mid-morning fog sets in! After spending a couple of days here it’s on to Yala. Check out early from the hotel on Ella as you leave the hills behind to drive deep into the southern jungles of Sri Lanka. Arriving for your first Game Drive. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. Yala has 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. The park is teeming with wild boar, deer, leopards, elephants, bears, peacocks, flamingos, crocodiles and much more. After two days at Yala we journey on to Tangalle. It is a perfect beach resort, as well as being an important fishing port located on one of the largest bays in Sri Lanka and protected from the ocean by an enclosing reef. Tangalle is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see up to five different species of turtle, great for snorkeling or just relaxing on a beach. At the end of a perfect holiday it is back to Colombo for the flight back to the UK. If you would like a tailor made itinerary for your trip to Sri Lanka, then please give me a call - 01403 887190

Reflections of the Danube

27 October 2017

My husband and I were lucky enough to sample a Danube river cruise with Tauck recently. Sailing from Vienna to Regensberg and then onto Prague. Our journey started with 2 nights in Vienna staying at the 5-star Hotel Grand Wein in the heart of the city - just down from the wonderful Vienna Opera House and a short stroll to St Stephens Cathedral (where we did do the climb of over 340 steps to the top of the East Tower). An aperol spritzer was required afterwards in one of the local bars close by. The first night we met with our fellow guests at a gala dinner in the sumptuous surroundings of the Palais Pallavicini with an evening of classical music, ballet, champagne and dining. This is something neither I or my husband will ever forget! The next day it was on to sample the delights of Vienna, with of course coffee, strudel and chocolate torte - when in Vienna... Then off to visit the Belvedere Palace the home of the famous painting, The Kiss by Klimpt (but did you know it was originally called The Lovers) with our delightful guide Elphie - a most interesting lady, and so enthusiastic about her home city and its history. We finished the day off, just the two of us, on a rooftop cocktail bar called Lamee which offered the most beautiful sunsets over Vienna (and the cocktails were pretty good too). Our first day onboard MS Savor arrived. With a maximum number of 130 guests there was plenty of room for everyone. During our entire week onboard I did not notice any overcrowding at all. There were always plenty of dining tables, chairs and quiet spaces for when you just wanted to contemplate the scenery and world around you. The main restaurant, The Compass Rose is elegant and spacious and the waiting staff very inviting and friendly, with food that was just so delicious I had to try everything - diet started when I got home. You can choose to dine just the two of you, or join fellow guests. Most evenings we joined different guests sometimes just four of us, sometimes eight or even ten people. It really was a friendly cruise on which we made many friends. There is a second restaurant onboard, Arthurs which is the ships casual dining venue available for continental breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. The cabins onboard the ship are very spacious. We were in a loft cabin which had a mezzanine floor with 2 chairs and a table and large picture windows (the top windows opened to form a balcony type space). There is plenty of wardrobe space and cupboards as well as a mini-bar that is re-stocked daily with complimentary soft drinks. The bathrooms were full size rooms, with large walk-in showers stocked with Molton Brown toiletries. Wi-Fi is available and included in the price, as well as on demand movies. We journeyed along the Danube, stopping first in Bratislava visiting Cerveny Kamen Castle in the mountains and tasting locally produced Slovakian wines. Next it was Durnstein where Richard the Lionheart was held for ransom in the 12th century. This is very much wine country, so more wine tasting had to be done! We were very lucky that we had exceptional weather for October, beautiful sunshine for our cruise through the Wachau Valley. With the fall colours the views were breathtaking. We just sat back with our hot chocolates and took everything in - stunning. Another stop was made in Passau where we learnt the art of chocolate making with Walter Simon a local chocolatier. We also visited the fabulous Cathedral with its baroque interiors and the largest organ in Europe. We stayed to listen to a concert in the cathedral before venturing back to the ship for lunch. I should also mention the crew onboard the ship. There are four (yes four) Tauck directors onboard - the Cruise Director Stephen Marchant from Canada, then our Tour Directors, Gill from the UK, Sinead from Ireland and Emile from Bulgaria - all of them give 100% of their time to looking after their guests. I can say exactly the same of the rest of the crew, every single member of crew was friendly and personable and went out of their way to ensure every guest was made to feel special. After seven nights onboard we disembarked our ship, feeling really sad to leave her and ventured to Prague for the last part of our trip. We have two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague which culminated in a farewell dinner on the rooftop terrace of the hotel. We made so many new friends on this trip. I would 100% recommend a Tauck cruise. You will get superb customer service, value for money and wont have to pay for anything during the trip other than souvenirs along the way as it truly is ALL INCLUDED!!! Please give me a call on 01403 887190 or email Katrina.smith@travelcounsellors.com if you’d like me to book you on this amazing trip of a lifetime - you will certainly not regret it.

Canada and Beyond

01 September 2017

Like a lot of people I have a bucket list of places I want to visit. Very close to the top of my list are Canada - specifically British Columbia and Alberta and Alaska, and what better way to see them than to travel in style and combine the destinations. An ideal itinerary would be to start in Calgary and drive to Jasper, take the wonderful Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver and then an Alaskan cruise – what could be better? Calgary, home of the Stampede, which takes place every July and features the Worlds largest rodeo is where I would start my tour. From Calgary journey to Banff nestled in the Rocky Mountains and then on to Lake Louise staying at the fabulous Fairmont Chateaux Lake Louise, next it’s on to Jasper taking in the Icefields on route. This trip would not be complete without experiencing a ride on the Ice Explorer onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier. In Jasper you board the famous Rocky Mountaineer for their “Journey through the Clouds” route (they offer 4 different routes) – taking in sights like the raging waters of Hell’s Gate, icy blue glaciers and the abundant wildlife. Rocky Mountaineer trains run between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies, with a route continuing south to Seattle. Their trains only travel during the day so that passengers never miss a second of the breathtaking views. To truly indulge book the Gold Leaf service which offers bi-level, glass domed coaches offering 180° views of Canada’s iconic scenery upstairs, and the best in regional cuisine served in a dining room downstairs, as well as deluxe hotel accommodations overnight. Arriving in Vancouver there is such a variety of hotels to choose from – the AAA Five Diamond-rated Shangri-La Hotel in the city’s tallest building or perhaps the historic Fairmont Hotel with its iconic copper roof or the contemporary Fairmont Pacific Rim. The Relais & Chateaux Wedgewood Hotel & Spa is a romantic choice, filled with plush furnishings and European grace. Named “Trendiest Hotel in Canada” by TripAdvisor the OPUS Hotel Vancouver combines lively modern design with laid-back chic and high-tech amenities. There is a hotel to suit most tastes. Whilst staying in Vancouver why not take a trip to Victoria via seaplane and visit the magnificent Butchart Gardens. You're sure to see an amazing floral display whatever the time of year you visit, from the emerging green leaves and bulbs of spring to summertime's perfumed flowers and fall's brilliant red and gold colors. Not to be missed are the evening illuminations and fireworks in the summer months. If you have the time, I would recommend an extra few days spent on Vancouver Island in Tofino. It is a year round destination where you can witness violent winter storms, enjoy the warmth of a summer day and explore the local wildlife. In the Summer months black bears can be seen, from May they leave their dens and head towards the ocean for food. From the comfort of a boat or zodiac you should be able to view or photograph them. Depending on the time of year you could also encounter grey whales, humpback whales, sea lions and bald eagles. To round off this incredible trip an Alaskan cruise is perfect. This cruise is probably on a lot of peoples Bucket Lists, especially following the BBC’s documentary “Alaska Live” in July. One of the finest luxury cruise lines, Seabourn has just returned to Alaska after a 15 year absence. Sailing from Vancouver to Anchorage (Seward) it stops in many of the well known ports such as Juneau and Ketchikan, but also docks in smaller towns such as Sitka and the small island of Klemtu in Alaska’s Inside Passage and Alert Bay a small First Nation community in British Columbia. There are a variety of shore excursions available when on an Alaskan cruise, including floatplane trips, wildlife viewing - can you imagine seeing black bears making their way to streams brimming with salmon or humpback whales bubblenet fishing for herring or salmon before making their 3000 mile migration to Hawaii. Embrace your sense of adventure with dog sledging on a snow covered glacier or relax and unwind with a day of wild salmon fishing off the Sitka coast. Also offering Alaskan cruises are Regent Seven Seas, Holland America, Silversea and Princess to name but a few. On this journey you really will see it all!

Independence of The Seas - Mini Cruise

03 May 2017

My husband and I, and five other Travel Counsellors with their partners and children decided to take a weekend away together and sample a mini-cruise from Southampton to Bruges and Le Havre with Royal Caribbean. The first thing to think about from the ladies point of view was what to wear. Even though it was just a three night cruise, there is still a formal night – a fabulous opportunity to dress up all glam! But no need to worry about baggage allowances, we could take whatever amount we wanted. So four pairs of shoes later, several evening dresses, handbags, day clothes, umbrella (well it was April), we were ready. On arrival at Southampton our bags were taken from us, and would not appear again until they were delivered to our cabin – brilliant. We boarded, with minimal fuss (there was a bit of queuing whilst getting checked in, but no real problems). Each evening a ‘Cruise Compass Newsletter’ was delivered to our cabin to provide a full run-down of the following day’s activities. This gave times and venues for everything happening onboard. There are a huge variety of activities onboard – from Broadway shows like Grease to ice shows and a Celebrity Showcase – we had an evening with Bobby Davro. You can learn to play poker, attend art auctions, learn to make a cocktail, play football or mini-golf or even try out the Flow Rider – where you can surf the waves. If you want to sit back and relax then there is the sun deck with its pools, the solarium and plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. If you have children that want to be entertained there are children's clubs where they will be taken care of in a safe and secure environment. As well as the main dining room, which is where we chose to dine, there are also signature restaurants such as Chops Steakhouse Grille and Portofinos Italian restaurant. The teenagers might like to try out Johnny Rockets, a 1950s diner-style restaurant which features burgers, chilli dogs, fries and milkshakes. There is also the buffet restaurant – Windjammers. Our first full-day was spent in Bruges where a monumental amount of chocolate was consumed, along with various Belgian beers. If you visit Bruges make sure you visit The Old Chocolate House, their hot chocolate and waffles are to die for. Likewise The Beer Wall is a great place for beer sampling, although it does get very busy. Then it was back to the ship to get ready for the formal night. Our second day was supposed to have been in Le Havre, but unfortunately the French Port Staff were on strike so the ship made a detour to Rotterdam. It was a lovely warm sunny day in Rotterdam so we decided to stay onboard the ship and catch a few rays and explore a little more of what the ship had to offer. A really nice day relaxing and looking across at Rotterdam city. We had a fabulous three days away and I would certainly recommend a mini-cruise for multi-generational families wanting to take a break away together – there is something for granny and grampa, mum and dad, the teenagers and the little ones. A great way for a group of friends to get away together, yet not be on top of one another the whole time.

Marrakesh - Modern and The Traditional

03 April 2017

I was very lucky to go on a trip organized by the Moroccan Tourist Board in March. I have been before, but over 20 years ago so I was eager to see what if anything had changed. Marrakesh is just a short 3.5 hour flight from the UK. The transfer to our hotel was very quick, being just 15 minutes from the airport. We stayed at the Movenpick Mansour Eddhabi Hotel which is well placed to see all that Marrakesh has to offer. The interiors of the hotel are fabulous, bright colours, sumptuous furnishings and lots of relaxing water features. The bedrooms are large and modern with very comfortable beds! I stayed in a classic room which was large at 30m square, but if you are looking for something larger, they have two bedroom suites which feature large bathtubs and terraces or balconies and are 72m square. The ultimate though is the luxury penthouse suite with its own infinity pool. I was very excited to be visiting the souks and especially the Jemaa el-Fna, the main square and market place in the medina. Our driver dropped us off just outside the entrance to the souks with a guide (by far the best thing for first time visitors to do is hire a guide), without him I am sure we would be lost and still looking for a way out of the meandering lanes of the souks. Each street in the souk is different, some specializing in beautiful lanterns, others slippers and shoes, and then others woodwork and spices. By far my favourite were the spice stalls with all the different colours and the vast array of aromas. The souk is an experience so different to anything else I have experienced. There is so much to take in, whilst also listening to the calls of the shopkeepers enticing you in to view their wares. It also takes on a very different feel in the evening. The Jemaa el-Fna is best viewed from above, so head for a restaurant or café with a rooftop terrace and look down on the square or across to the Koutoubia Mosque, the highest point in the city. We finished off our visit to the medina with dinner at Le Salama, a traditional Moroccan restaurant serving platters of freshly cooked meats, tagines of vegetables and plenty of Moroccan wine, all accompanied by belly dancers! This visit certainly was everything and more than I expected. I would not hesitate to recommend Marrakesh to my clients and will definitely look forward to returning in the future.

The Lovely Island of Cyprus

26 January 2017

I recently visited Cyprus courtesy of the Cyprus Tourist Board. Our first stay was in the lovely Olympic Lagoon Resort in Ayia Napa. This is a fabulous hotel with several swimming pools and even a lazy river. There are many different types of accommodation at this resort hotel some with their own plunge pools and some great family rooms with small terraces and gardens. The hotel also organises weddings and has a number of areas where you can enjoy a private wedding away from other holidaymakers. My favourite was a sunken garden area with small pools and waterfalls – truly romantic. The hotel is approximately 15 minutes by car from the resort of Ayia Napa, which isn’t just for the 18-30s who want to party all night. It is a lovely resort with an old 15th century monastery (which is worth a visit) and its own museum. We next stayed in Paphos at the Athena Beach Hotel which is very popular with guests who return year on year. The food at this hotel is excellent, as are the cocktails! The hotel is very popular with Bowling Groups and has 18 rinks between the Athena Beach Hotel and its sister hotel the Athena Royal. Whilst in Paphos we visited the amazing UNESCO Archaeological Park which is home to some truly amazing mosaic floors. They are still uncovering more on a daily basis. The restored roman villa – the House of Dionysos is really worth visiting, along with several other restored villas. Just a little further down from the archaeological park is the famous Tomb of the Kings. This had been on my list of “must dos”. As a bit of an ancient history buff, I was really looking forward to visiting this site, and I wasn’t disappointed. It is spread over a vast area with impressive undergrounds tombs that date back to the 4th century BC. They are magnificent, made of solid rock and decorated with Doric pillars. Although called the Tomb of Kings, it is more likely they housed the bodies of high officials. On our last day in Cyprus, we visited Aphrodite Hills Resort, which is approximately 20 minutes from Paphos town. The resort is home to a collection of individual villas and apartments. The apartments share a pool and the villas have either shared pools or large private pools. There is a year-round 18-hole championship golf course with an academy and club house, as well as world-class tennis facilities, a football academy and a Spa. Cyprus really does have something for all ages and interests. If you would like more information please give me a call.

Perfect Honeymoon Paradise

24 January 2017

On 24th October 2016 my new wife and I set off for our honeymoon to Mauritius. Katrina had organised everything for us so we didn’t have any worries at all. She had even organised for us to use the Marhaba Lounge at Dubai airport whilst we were waiting in transit. Mauritius was everything we expected, with its white sandy beaches, fabulous watersports and great hotels. We had an amazing time, staying at The Veranda Grand Baie Hotel, and one of the most memorable times was a fabulous romantic sunset dinner cruise for just the two of us with a live guitar player and Scottish country dancing to “Cheerleader” – yes amazing! We tried to fit in as much as we could whilst there, visiting Pamplemouses Botanical Gardens, with the huge turtles and bats in the trees. They are the third oldest botanical gardens in the World and have beautiful exotic plants and trees to see. We went snorkelling where we saw manta rays and even cycling around the island (I hadn't been on a bike in over 10 years so was exhausted at the end of it, but it was so worth it.) The staff at the hotel were excellent, they were so helpful. We enjoyed a traditional Mauritian dish or fried bread, which although not on the menu, if you ask for it, they will make it for you. Every time we ordered it, it came out different with a different drink or condiment with it. We especially liked the fried bread with salsa and hot tea (the fried bread with beer and sweet chillies was pretty good as well). We were sad to say goodbye to Mauritius and Grand Baie, but married life and home beckoned. Mr and Mrs Macdonald

Koh Samui

05 January 2017

My sister and I visited Koh Samui in November 2016. We flew via Phuket and arrived into one of the prettiest airports I have seen. Our stay was at the Baan Samui Resort which is right in the centre of the hustle and bustle of Chaweng. However once through the entrance of the hotel everything was calm and serene. We were greeted with a welcome cold flannel and a lovely cocktail and shown to our room. The hotel is a small hotel with a beach restaurant and bar and buffet restaurant and large pool. It is situated right on the beach. The hotel staff are first rate, I cannot recommend them highly enough. I would definitely return. Whilst in Koh Samui we went on a private tour of the island. Our guide and driver were so professional and went into great detail about everything we visited, and we visited so much – The Temple of the Big Buddha, the Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks, the Temple of Wat Kunaram to see the mummified monk and then on to the Na Muang Waterfall before lunch at a lovely restaurant on a deserted beach. The day was finished with a 2-hour session in a Spa – fabulous! I would really recommend whilst in Thailand that people try a thai massage. We had a massage on the beach in Chaweng which was amazing and cost very little. You should also sample the fabulous thai food. There are so many restaurants in Chaweng to try, from fresh fish dishes (you can select your fish from the catch of the day) to amazing thai curries. Koh Samui is a wonderful relaxing island, somewhere to just sit back and recharge those batteries, so get in touch with me for more information about this amazing destination.

Magical Elephant Hills, Thailand

14 December 2016

In November I was very lucky to visit Elephant Hills elephant camp in Khao Sok in Thailand. Let me first of all start by saying Elephant Hills is a sanctuary for elephants, not somewhere where they are ridden or made to work. Here you feed them, help to scrub them down and generally watch them have a very enjoyable life. Elephant Hills is a luxury tented camp. I must admit I was concerned about creepy crawlies getting in to my tent, but I had nothing to fear – the only things getting in our tent were my sister and myself! The tents are spacious with good comfortable beds, fans, tea and coffee making facilities and a fabulous en-suite bathroom with toilet and hot/cold shower. You can even get the internet in them. Words are not enough to convey how beautiful it is in this part of Thailand. With mountains and forests surrounding the camp and the sounds of monkeys and other creatures it is truly magical. Of course it was the elephants we wanted to meet and in the afternoon of our first day we were taken by kayak to meet them. They played in the pond and rolled in the mud ready for us to hose them down, give them a good scrub and get up close and personal to these amazing, beautiful creatures. Then it was time for tea for the elephants. We chopped up fruit for them and then fed them by hand – fabulous! What a privilege this was. The second day we were off to the Rainforest Camp. This is a floating tented camp! It is situated on one of Thailand’s most spectacular rainforest lakes. Surrounded by jungle and towering limestone mountains the scenery was amazing. Again the tents have ensuite bathrooms. The tents are powered by solar and wind energy so you need to be very mindful of wasting electricity. There is no internet here, and I couldn’t imagine wanting it. This is such a unique way of experiencing the true beauty of Southern Thailand’s rainforest. We relaxed on the deck at the front of our tent and watched the sun go down (with a cocktail in hand), swam in the lake, kayaked through the klongs and channels in search of monkeys (which we did see) and enjoyed a fabulous dinner with our fellow campers. If you are going to be visiting Thailand, I would whole heartedly recommend including a trip to Elephant Hills. This was an experience both my sister and I will never forget.

Guest Blog from Heather Kingdon on Trip to Tromso

14 December 2016

I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights, so when Katrina mentioned Tromso in Norway I was immediately interested. My daughter and I set off on Friday 25th November on a Norwegian Airlines flight and were so excited when they announced on the tannoy that they would soon be turning off the cabin lights as the Northern Lights would be appearing on the left hand side of the plane – and that’s where we were! This was an absolutely wonderful trip - in fact everything worked for us from the Northern Lights to Whale Watching! The Clarion Aurora Hotel was amazing - lovely staff, clean and comfortable rooms and complimentary waffles, tea and coffee each afternoon and also complimentary light evening meal. Breakfast was generous and plentiful. I would recommend getting the cable car which runs from Sollivien up to the mountain ledge in a very short time. At the top you can enjoy views of Tromso and the surrounding mountains and fjords. You feel like you are on top of Norway! The Northern Lights were amazing - it's so difficult to really capture what we saw by camera - you just cannot appreciate the wonderment of seeing these shapes and vague colours moving across the sky. It was a wonderful trip and the blizzard on the way home was the icing on the cake! To round off a wonderful weekend we went whale watching and were so glad we did. We saw Orcas galore, lots of humpbacks and sea eagles. Just an amazing feeling being surrounded by whales and because we were in a rib, we were their level. I would thoroughly recommend this trip. Thank you Katrina Smith

Fabulous Barbados

17 July 2016

This was our family's first trip to Barbados and it was just as we had expected, if not better. We travelled out with British Airways from Gatwick and arrived punctually. Picking up our hire car was quick and easy, and then we were on our way to our villa in St James. Our villa was one of 8 villas, all with their own plunge pool, use of a large shared pool and right on the beach (no road to cross just through the garden and onto the sand). We had a 3 bedroom villa all with ensuites, a well-equipped kitchen, lounge and dining room. As well as a holiday I wanted to visit some hotels in order to be able to match clients with the perfect hotel in the future. There is nothing like first-hand knowledge. Our first visit was to Little Good Harbour - it is situated in a quiet, fisherman’s village. It offers cottage style accommodation, with full kitchens and large terraces or balconies. There is a choice from one-bedroom to 3-bedroom properties. Either with a garden view or sea-view. There are two swimming pools, a small gym and a small spa. The beach is across a small road, which is where you will find the Fish Pot Restaurant - the food here is amazing - we loved it. The next four hotels we visited were all part of Elegant Hotels - Colony Club, Tamarind, The House and Crystal Cove. All 4 of the hotels are somewhere I would happily stay myself. We started with Colony Club. On arrival we were greeted with cold towels and a refreshing drink to cool us down. The hotel is situated in beautiful gardens and right on the beach. The garden view rooms are beautiful, as are the sea view rooms. Although I was told the hotel was pretty full you would not have known - there is so much room for everyone and everywhere is so peaceful. There are 4 swimming pools and then you have the use of the beach and all the water facilities on the beach. The Tamarind was next on our list and again a lovely warm greeting from all the staff. All the rooms are large and bright and inviting. There are two pools and an adult’s only pool, along with a gym, fabulous spa and two restaurants. Use of all water sports on the beach is included. Separated from the Tamarind by the renowned restaurant Daphne's is The House. This is a small boutique hotel, just for adults. It has 34 rooms and uses Daphne's restaurant for meals - a really great choice for people wanting a more personal service and intimate atmosphere. Our last hotel visit was to the all-inclusive hotel - Crystal Cove - again we were met with cold towels and a cooling drink - much needed! A wonderful friendly hotel with great facilities, especially for families. I would not however recommend for people with mobility problems, as the hotel is built on an incline. There are 3 pools and a lovely swim up waterfall bar. The children’s club here is amazing, and the lady that runs it wonderful. All 4 of the above Elegant Hotels have complimentary use of a water taxi for transportation between the Elegant Hotels - so you can try the different properties (The House can pick up the water taxi from the next door Tamarind Hotel). We spent a lot of time visiting the island and loved our trip to the East Coast to Bathsheba as well as our trip to the Animal Flower Cave in the North - be sure to try the restaurant here. By far our favourite excursion was the catamaran trip we did with Calabaza Sailing - we loved it so much we did it twice! Swimming with the turtles, snorkelling the shipwrecks, drinking rum punch and getting to know fellow holidaymakers was great and the staff were excellent. What I had not realized before visiting Barbados was the great food I would get to sample. There are some absolutely fabulous restaurants to try. Our favourites being The Fish Pot, The Beach House and Lone Star and for a great beach café Ju Ju's next to the Lone Star. Barbados certainly has something for everyone. If you would like to know a bit more please give me a call, there is so much more information I can pass on about this beautiful island.

My customer stories

Sent by Marilyn Clark

Katrina was great at doing all the hard work & meeting all my needs for my holiday. A first class service. I will recommend Katrina to all my friends near & far.

Sent by Paul Davies

Katrina has organised our family holidays for a few years, in what I imagine has been a very tricky time for travel agents. It is in this time that the quality, organisation and repute of a good agent is worth it's weight in gold as it's easy to get it right when the system works but when Covid hit in 2020, as we had booked through Katrina, we had everything refunded within a couple of days and required no admin input from ourselves. This was a God send as I was fully focused on ensuring the survival of my business and had little time to deal with the administrative side of things. At the same time we had stupidly organised another holiday separately for that Summer and we lost every penny, so the cover that Katrina provides was great. Skip to 2022 and the current travel chaos. Easyjet cancelled our flights to and from the holiday that Katrina had booked for us but Katrina had rebooked us onto other flights, at no extra cost and no administrative input by ourselves. The big things she gets done well and even the little touches that makes the holiday a little more special and reduces the admin bits for ourselves, such as booking us in, organising cars and even provided pre-filled travel tags for our luggage. Would I book through Katrina again? In a heartbeat. I probably won't book a holiday without her again and can fully recommend her.

Sent by Paul James

I was speaking simultaneously with a High Street Travel Agent and with Katrina. Katrina presented herself in a professional, competent, knowledgeable and enthusiastic way. There was a vastly favourable service and communications from Katrina, leaving me wondering what (if anything) the High Street Agent was actually doing for me. We have chosen Katrina, with confidence that our ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday is in safe hands.

Sent by Simon Cunningham

Very quick service that accurately reflected our relatively short conversation. Katrina thought of options that we had not previously thought of and we are very much looking forward to our trip.

Sent by Emma Webb

The holiday I booked with Katrina was absolutely amazing, it all went smoothly (even with the added stress of all things COVID related) and this was all down to Katrina’s help and planning. She replied quickly whenever I contacted her and always had detailed responses which was helpful because I hadn’t had much experience in holiday booking before. Booking with Katrina gave me peace of mind and meant that I had someone to call if there was ever an issue. Amazing service, will definitely will booking holidays with her again.

Sent by Michaela Maloney

Our experience was absolutely amazing - from the original booking and keeping us updated and guided through the complexities of PCR and pre-travel arrangements - as well as policy changes on PCR vs LF while we were away - not to mention a fantastic host in Iceland where we had the most fantastic time!! Definitely recommend booking and travelling with Katrina!!

Sent by Richard Horn

Katrina came highly recommended. We gave her our holiday brief and were very impressed both by her friendly manner and her swift and efficient 'same day' response. She presented us with several options fitting our requirements and we subsequently chose one that would not have been brought to our attention without her comprehensive knowledge and assistance. Communication was excellent and our holiday was booked within days of making initial contact. Amidst all the confusion surrounding travel in our post COVID world we have peace of mind and have felt confident and stress free booking through this excellent service. Would highly recommend Katrina and would definitely book through her again!

Sent by Barbara Queenan

Highly recommend Katrina, great customer service . She takes time to understand what is important to her customer and her knowledge is invaluable. Will be asking for her expertise again in the near future

Sent by Leslie Bright

First class service - as always!

Sent by Nicola Humphrey

Katrina is super efficient and helpful - fully recommend her!

Sent by Gina Newbold

Why go anywhere else to book your holiday when you can book from the comfort of your home. Everything is clearly explained, all documents are printable and Katrina is on hand 24/7 for problems when you are away. We have had two wonderful holidays with no hiccups - so straightforward highly recommended

Sent by Tracy Jackson

What can I say? The hotel was amazing – the holiday was EXACTLY what we both wanted (& needed!!!), we will be going back. Neither of us wanted to come home. It has made me realise I need to have holidays now and then away from it all. Plus having you made my life sooooo simple – it’s usually me that organises everything so by the time I get anywhere I am too exhausted to enjoy myself but this was a breeze.

Sent by Gemma Baxter

We recently made the decision that we wanted to go to the Maldives, but didn’t know where to begin as there are so many islands. Katrina and I spoke and her knowledge of the islands was vast and she was able to recommend one straightaway based on our requests and budget. We stayed in a water villa for 2 weeks and we had a holiday of a lifetime. During our stay we booked to dine in an underwater restaurant for my husband’s birthday. Katrina told them it was his birthday and they prepared a special desert for him, which was a lovely surprise. Katrina took care of everything, I had a number of questions before we flew and her response was always quick, she checked our connected flight was on time and messaged us throughout the journey. It was such a smooth process booking with Katrina that I did not hesitate to book a three night stay to Brugge to visit the Christmas markets in December this was also a smooth booking process. I would not hesitate to recommend Katrina of Travel Counsellors, she is excellent at what she does.

Sent by Chris Lees

Amazing service, before, during and after my trip! I am so glad that I got talking to Katrina at a networking event a few months ago. I explained that I had arranged to travel to Japan for the first time and needed help in arranging both accommodation and internal travel while there. I didn't know where to start! Katrina was brilliant in understanding my needs and what I wanted from my trip and from that conversation put together the perfect itinerary for my trip with great hotels, local accommodation options and a seamless travel itinerary as well. What had been a daunting trip became an amazing experience, largely in part to Katrina's support, understanding and brilliant connections. Thank you Katrina!

Sent by Matt Piper

Due to workload at the time the thought of trying to book a trip for my wife's surprise 30th birthday was going to be a struggle. I approached Duncan and Katrina with my criteria for the trip and within no time at all they came back with various options. Even whilst they were on holiday they were updating me and confirming all the details. I have never used a Travel Counsellor before but I would not hesitate to recommend them and I will be looking to work with Katrina and Duncan again in the very near future.

Sent by Rachael Sadler

I am currently on holiday, Canada and the USA, all arranged by Katrina! Can’t praise her enough, always on hand to help with any queries, even whilst we have been away. Top service!

Sent by Joanna Bowles

Katrina was extremely helpful ,professional but so friendly and answered all my questions I never felt rushed and it is lovely to know she is at the end of the phone if I have any further queries A very easy and comfortable experience and I will be using her services for any future trips

Sent by Karl Dimmock

Despite asking Katrina for her assistance at the last minute, she came through and not only delivered exactly what I was looking for but saved me nearly half on the cost of the tours provided by the cruise company. I would have no hesitation in recommending Katrina's services to anyone

Sent by David Christmas

Katrina arranged our fantastic holiday to St Lucia. She was very professional and attentive. She took all the hassle out of researching and booking our trip and I would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone.

Sent by Sirish Gurung

We had the most amazing time on a China trip! Every aspect was arranged to perfection. Thank you Katrina, for arranging it all. I am sure I will be in touch soon.

Sent by Paul Davies

Katrina's fantastic and makes the process easy. She's always left me feeling that she has listened to what we want from a holiday and offered accordingly rather than sell us what she's got.

Sent by Georgia Fox

Katrina organised our trip to Lapland, with fabulous attention to detail from my first enquiry to our return, wonderful personal touches included Santa letters and gifts to the children, clothing lists, hand written luggage tags and “for parents’ eyes only” notes to ensure we forgot nothing. It wasn't looking good a week before our departure date with reports of agents cancelling trips because there was no snow in Lapland!! Adults and children alike went into panic mode but Katrina kept in touch with us on a daily basis (un prompted), letting us know what was happening and sharing snowy photos as soon as they were available… I cannot recommend Katrina highly enough, I’ve already recommended her to numerous friends.

Sent by Peter Maskell

Katrina has helped myself and my family book a number of holidays and is both highly knowledgeable about destinations and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the hotels there too! Although you, like I, might think that it’s usually best to go on line for the cheapest deal, it may not always be the best. Katrina’s intimate knowledge adds value and her speed of action and attentive detail provides added peace of mind that itself is invaluable. I highly recommend utilising her expertise when you’re next looking for a holiday, or short break.

Sent by Sarah Harvey

Katrina Smith is our Travel Counsellor and back in February of this year we booked a family holiday through Katrina. It was a Caribbean cruise and we are so delighted with absolutely EVERYTHING Katrina has done for us. Firstly she had the knowledge to recommend which would be the most appropriate ship for our family dynamic. It was spot on, we had an amazing holiday! We knew right from day one Katrina had our care and welfare as a top priority. Katrina really goes the extra mile, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend Katrina and her services to anyone. Thank you Katrina, until next time

Sent by Sylvester Swanston

Katrina is ever the professional. I felt like a valued customer and that Katrina would do her utmost best to ensure that all our requirements were met. I have already recommended Katrina to my family and friends and they have been very happy with the service they have received from her. I will continue to recommend Katrina.

Sent by Helen Henderson

Katrina has been fabulous, really friendly and helpful but always incredibly professional. The info she’s given has enabled us to choose a holiday that all 7 of us are really looking forward to. I would not hesitate to recommend her, really really pleased with everything.

Sent by Martin Riley

My plans changed a number of times due to events beyond my control. Despite this Katrina remained enthusiastic, supportive and extremely patient - going to every effort to ensure my trip would be what I needed - which it was - eventually! I'm deeply grateful and recommend her whole heartedly!

Sent by David Saunders

The process of booking the holiday through Katrina, the ease of it all and the small touches such as the gifts and card, were excellent and I have already recommended her to friends. Yes, we can all jump on the internet and book a holiday, but the time saved, stress removed and the knowledge that Katrina was always there to answer questions ( even silly ones whilst slightly drunk on the holiday ), is priceless in my opinion. The holiday itself was met with some trepidation having not travelled abroad with 2 young children before. The whole package put together by Katrina, the extra information and attention to detail ( hand delivering to me all our travel documents, ready for holiday ) made our trip so much easier. Upon our return to her lovely Welcome Home card, 2019’s holiday is already being discussed and can assure you, Katrina will be the first to know and asked to assist.

Sent by Malcolm Parr

We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Crete. This is the second holiday we have booked through Katrina and everything was perfectly organized both times. People often talk about providing a good service, but it is rarely given. Katrina is different because she actually provides an excellent service. Her attention to detail is extraordinary which meant we could totally relax from the first day to the last day. We shall definitely be using her services again - in fact while we were still in Crete my wife said to me "where shall we go next"!

Sent by Carl Sadecki

Whilst I have known Katrina for many years this was my first booking with her as my Travel Counseller, I can 100% say that I will be booking with her again and be recommending Katrina to friends and family. At first, I was a little unsure whether to burden her with a group of lads on a stag do, however, Katrina jumped at the chance of finding us the right city break that would keep us all occupied and out of trouble. As a group, I knew it wouldn't be straightforward and we found ourselves having to make a couple of changes to flights which were dealt with quickly and professionally, we were kept informed right up to our departure and found the recommended activities were just what we were looking for. I would recommend Katrina, not only for her industry knowledge and experience but also for her passion and love for what she does, always striving to create the best trouble and stress-free experience for those she is booking breaks for.

Sent by Emma Butterfield

I would just like to say a big thank you to Katrina for organising our lovely trip away to Jersey, and what a lovely touch being chauffeured driven from the airport to the hotel. The hotel was lovely and we had a relaxing spa day which was just what we needed, oh and the weather was just perfect! Once again thank you so much!

Sent by Chris Swanston

From the outset, Katrina was incredibly approachable and helpful, assisting my fiancé and I in planning our honeymoon. All we had to do was tell Katrina where and when we wanted to travel, and she took care of the rest, ensuring high quality at each step of the way. We would most definitely recommend Katrina to anyone, the efficiency of her work provided us with the peace of mind that only true professionals can. I have and will continue to recommend Katrina to friends and family. Katrina is one efficient lady.

Sent by Suzanne Greengrass

Katrina has now organised two trips for us - our honeymoon and a family holiday to Disney. Both have been brilliant - great places to stay, best times for travel and everything organised. It’s so relaxing to know you have a professional in control and she is friendly, approachable and great if there are any issues! Would highly recommend and already have our next holiday booked with her!

Sent by Elspeth Hackett

Had a fab long weekend in Kraków booked through Katrina. Nothing was too much trouble - we were given choices to help us to match to our requirements and everything ran extremely smoothly. Would definitely recommend both Kraków and booking through Katrina. Thanks

Sent by Karen Hardie

Outstanding service from beginning to end. Everything ran completely seamlessly. I would highly recommend and will definitely be using Katrina for future trips!

Sent by Elizabeth Molineux

Katrina provided responsive, personal pre-travel service. We moved from facing an insurmountable wall of decisions to having an enticing itinerary for a perfect destination, and a holiday booked, all within a matter of days.

Sent by Sarah Horwood

I have just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Thailand over Christmas which Katrina organised. She did everything to ensure we got the best and everything ran smoothly, which it did. We did multiple flights which again ran well and even found recommendations for scuba companies which we used as well. I would recommend Katrina and use her again... shame she couldn't help with the jet lag.

Sent by Geoff Dyckes

I booked a surprise birthday trip to Norway through Katrina. From the initial conversation, the process was simple, smooth and very efficient. Katrina choose a great hotel. Within the booking Katrina provided ideas of places to go and she even checked us in, out and homeward bound. When she says with her its personal, it truly is.

Sent by Marie Allen

Katrina organised a wonderful holiday for us in New York State. My husband, youngest son and myself visited New York City and Rochester, where my older son is studying as part of his university course. Katrina created a fantastic package for us, booking flights and hotels which matched our (rather complex) requirements perfectly. All the details are taken care of by Katrina. She checks you in on your flights, hand delivers your tickets to you and she even writes out your luggage labels for you! We cannot thank Katrina enough for finding us such wonderful places to stay and we have so many very happy memories of our trip. She even managed to arrange glorious weather for us! This is the fourth holiday Katrina has organised for us and I would have no hesitation in recommending Katrina for all your holiday requirements. Thank you Katrina!

Sent by Dawn Baker

Katrina has been a revelation! She not only saved us hours of trawling through websites for info and how to book, she put together three options based on what we were broadly looking for as well as utilising her experience. I am so pleased we have booked with her. Rest assured, we will be using her again in the future as well as recommending her to others.

Sent by Julie Harris

Thank you to Katrina, we appreciate her service and will definitely be using Katrina and recommending her in the future. We have had a brilliant week.

Sent by Melanie Newcombe

Katrina did a fantastic job of finding us the perfect location and hotel. We often stay in villas as we don't like large impersonal hotels. The one she found for us in Barbados was lovely and small, which gave it a more personal touch. The service she provided was second to none. We even got an upgrade on our room which was really appreciated and made the holiday even better. Thank you Katrina.

Sent by Ceri Ashley

We usually book our own flights, accommodation and car hire whenever we go away but for our honeymoon we wanted an expert to take care of it for us. We gave Katrina a very basic brief and budget and left her to do the rest. Katrina chose Barbados and could give us personal knowledge about the Hotel she'd chosen for us. All we did was turn up! Everything was organised for us - she even checked us in for the flights. We had one of the best rooms at the Hotel and some lovely added touches to make our special holiday completely perfect. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend and will be more than happy to let Katrina do the organising for us next time we can get away. Thank you!

Sent by Debbie Pickles

Finally, I’ve got round to writing a thank you to you for organising both our trip to Portugal and, more recently, to New York. Once I put these requests in your hands, I knew everything would turn out well and indeed it did. We were astounded by our room in Portugal and were delighted by the bottle of chilled wine that awaited us upon arrival. Similarly, the Bryant Park in New York was just as welcoming and Tony was delighted with the card they left for his birthday and a mini cake ! Everything you have arranged has been first class and I most certainly will be booking with you again Katrina and will continue to tell my own clients and friends about your attention to detail and service. Many thanks for everything you do .

Sent by Rachael Sadler

In this busy world it's easy to forget to take a break, de-stress and get away from it all, yet that's exactly what I needed to do but on a budget with some criteria to please various family members too. However, the very thought of trawling websites, comparing prices, checking Trip Advisor, seemed exactly the sort of task to stress me out further. Along comes Katrina, a perfect 'Holiday PA' -experienced, efficient, very patient and helpful offering a friendly, professional personal service which resulted in me booking my recent very relaxing holiday to Marrakech. Can't recommend her services highly enough!

Sent by Des Henderson

Thanks Katrina Smith for helping arrange my bespoke 40th birthday present for my other half. I had a plan, my wishes and desires and you fullfilled them. Not only was it an easy relaxed professional stress free scenario which I would recommend to any one without hesitation ..but this also winds Amanda up as she has no clue where she is going!!!!

Sent by Philippa French

Katrina is really helpful, especially when I gave a very vague brief as to what we were after. So lovely to have just one point of contact, when you have a query. The personal service Katrina gives is so important when your holiday is just a short period of your year and you need to get it right.

Sent by Michelle Betts

A huge massive thank you to Katrina for arranging our magical memories trip to Lapland this Christmas - you took all the stress out of the planning and arranging, booked us THE perfect trip and we had a wonderful once in a lifetime experience. You made it extra special for the kids with all the personal touches including our beautiful luggage tags and emails with the elves. And thank you for calming me down when I called in a panic about BA strikes and passport dates! I can't recommend you highly enough to anyone planning a holiday & would of course use you again without any hesitation.

Sent by Heather Kingdon

This was an absolutely wonderful trip - in fact everything worked for me and my daughter from the Northern Lights to whale watching! The hotel was amazing - lovely staff, clean and comfortable rooms and complementary waffles, tea, coffee each afternoon and also complementary light evening meal. Breakfast was generous and plentiful. All in all a fabulous trip, I would recommend Katrina without hesitation.

Sent by Graham Dilliway

I was well aware that Katina was very enthusiastic about Travel Counsellors but I was not prepared for her to be quite so efficient, responsive, and diligent regarding our holiday arrangements. Katrina was pro-active in her approach and was very happy to accept my own suggestions and comments. Even though we have travelled extensively in some parts of the world, we are new to the Caribbean but Katrina put us at our ease with her well thought out proposals. I would not hesitate to recommend Katrina to relatives and friends and would be very happy to use her again. We highly appreciated Katrina's input.

Sent by Justin Macdonald

Planning a wedding is stressful enough and having to plan a honeymoon just adds to it. Katrina sorted all of it for us, we simply had to say what we were looking for, where and our budget. That was it. It was made so easy. We were kept up to date with information and offered excursions. It was fantastic!

Sent by Wendy Peacock

Katrina is extremely knowledgeable, responsive and very proactive. All our questions were responded to very efficiently and effectively - even outside of normal business hours. She provided proposals for what we asked for but also came back with other suggestions that we had not even considered. We actually ended up booking a destination that was not on our original list. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Katrina to friends and families and will definitely look for her help in booking other holidays and travel in the future.

Sent by Lisa Hammond

Katrina arranged our perfect holiday. The service she provided was brilliant. She was so accommodating from the bigger things to the small little details, we felt in very safe hands. Katrina did her upmost to provide me with all the info I needed about wheelchair accessibility in all her destination ideas, this also was a massive plus for me as it can be quite difficult and stressful to get information when you book yourself. If you want or need a good travel consultant Katrina is the one!