Based in Biggar

Marisa Ippolito

It's Nice To Meet You

Hi

I am Marisa, your very own personal Travel Counsellor and I’m based between South Lanarkshire and Edinburgh.

The difference when you book with me is that I really go all out to listen to what ‘you’ want from your holiday and work hard to make that a reality. You have my personal contact numbers and email and can call me any time… no call centres. I have organized many fabulous holidays and trips for my valued customers from my UK wide customer base.

I can offer you a vast selection of holidays and can also tailor make your trip using hundreds of approved Suppliers as well as mainstream holiday companies. Working to your budget I will do all the hard work for you to ensure your hard earned dream holiday is all you expect and more.

I offer the highest level of Personal Service before, throughout and after your trip which is why many of my customers return to book and kindly recommend me to their friends and families.

I am also contactable 24/7 if you need to get in touch.

Very importantly your money is 100% safe, protected by either ATOL or the Travel Counsellor Trust. It’s the best financial protection in the business and ensures you have complete peace of mind when booking with me, which is crucial to so many customers today.

A BIT ABOUT ME:
I’m very widely travelled, I Climbed Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu, fished in India, trekked by camel in the deserts of Rajasthan, searched for Tiger and Rhino on the back of an elephant and took a small jet past the summit of Mount Everest!

I equally love a short break closer to home and when away always look out for tips my customers might enjoy from great restaurants to secret hideaways.

I am a certified Open Water PADI Diver and an intermediate skier.

WHAT CAN YOU BOOK?
SUMMER SUN - Europe & World-Wide, the World is your Oyster
WINTER SNOW - Ski, Northern Lights, Santa in Lapland, polar bears in Canada!
CITY BREAKS - Romance, Culture, Foodies, Christmas Markets
CRUISE the seven Seas from the Scottish Islands, the Med to the South Pacific or Antarctica.
HONEYMOONS - Let me help find your dream wedding or honeymoon, ask me about our unique honeymoon/wedding registry.
ADVENTURE - Group Trip, Special Occasion, LAST MINUTE ESCAPES no matter how big or small, call me anytime.

Discretion if required, guaranteed.

**IF YOU WOULD LIKE REGULAR UPDATES OF CURRENT SPECIAL OFFERS, PLEASE FORWARD YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS VIA THE BELOW MESSAGE LINK**

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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:

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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.

DAIOS COVE CRETE ~ Your Luxurious Indulgence!

28 January 2012

I was very fortunate to have been invited to stay at the stunning Daios Cove in Crete in Oct 2011 and thought I would share my experience with you here. Daios Cove is a stunning 5* Spa Resort set in its own private beachfront location minutes from the bustling market town of Agios Nikoloas in the North East of the island. Nestling on a hillside with views that change as the daylight sun moves around the resort, you will never tire of sitting on your own private balcony with personal infinity pool until the setting sun gives way to the evening twinkling lights on the hills and Agios Nikolaos in the distance. Daios has a wealth of luxury accommodation; 300 rooms, suites and villas nestle on the hillsides on either side of the bay with 3 funiculars and a troup of buggies that are always on hand to make sure you are whisked to wherever in the resort you need to go! The architecture and furnishings throughout are new and contemporary, the admirable stonework evident throughout is thanks to a workforce of over 800 men who took 3 years to dynamite the hillside and create the beauty that is Daios. They utilised and carved the natural stones from the blasting, allowing the resort to blend in with the natural surrounding and colours. You can choose from luxuriously furnished generous 45 sq m Deluxe Rooms, many with sea view and private pool on your balcony, to 1, 2 and 3 Bedroom Suites up to a very indulgent 130 Sq m in size. The restaurants in Daios offer a choice for all tastes including a great family restaurant. The Ocean Club overlooking the bay was sophisticated and as well as being made from fresh local ingredients there were fun elements of surprise to the presentation on the plate! The Greek Tavern was seafood heaven and the Lobster Bisque is not to be missed! The Crystal Box Bar was a great spot to meet up and partake in a cocktail or two; the stewards acknowledged your preferences and were always ready to stir some fun into the mix! There is a children’s club onsite allowing parents to indulge in a spot of peaceful sunbathing or an hour or three in the stunning spa. There is also a watersports centre at the beach, (although not run by the hotel itself) and they have water skiing, canoes, a couple of pedaloes and a dive centre. You can also hire snorkelling equipment. How much easier can it be than jumping on the tender and being whisked off to the boat out in the bay waiting to take you for the day trip to Spinalonga Island, which was once a leper colony and is now a site of historical interest. Lunch was served on board and those who wished to could jump off into the clear crystal seas for a spot of snorkelling or swimming on the way back. A fabulous day! Daios has something for everyone and in the stunning horseshoe bay setting in your own luxury villa with private pool, you cannot want for more. If you would like to experience for yourself the beauty and luxury that is Daios Cove, give me a call or drop me an email and you can be on your way!

FRED OLSEN: BOUDICCA ~ SHIP VISIT

02 September 2011

FRED OLSEN SHIP VISIT SEPTEMBER 2011 I was recently lucky enough to be invited to visit a couple of cruise ships in dock in the UK. Naturally I jumped at the chance in order to pass valuable advice to my customers who always appreciate the inside knowledge to assist them when deciding on which cruise to book. I hope you find this information helpful and would be happy to provide a quote or further advice on any cruise you are considering for your next holiday. Travel Counsellors has access to some of the best offers in the industry and I would be very happy to pass them on to you! FRED OLSEN CRUISE LINES BOUDICCA The Boudicca did not ‘wow’ me when I first entered the ship in all honesty (and I must be honest as I know you would want me to be) as I couldn’t help noticing some areas that could do with a bit of updating such as the furnishings in the Neptune Lounge which were a bit worn on some edges. However as my visit progressed throughout the ship my initial thoughts faded fast as I soon ‘got’ what Fred Olsen is all about. The Boudicca does not go in for the glitzy fancy bling so obvious on some other larger cruise ships. Instead it focuses greatly on service and the ‘experience’. The ship is small and the crew to guest ratio is high therefore customers are quickly recognised personally by the staff, guests get to know each other throughout the cruise. This is evident in the 56% repeat cruisers with Fred Olsen as many guests depart their cruise having made friends for life and often return to meet up on other trips. The other public areas on the Boudicca are very relaxed with an emphasis on comfort. Great comfy couches complimented by massive viewing windows. There are piano bars, quiet corners and the library has a great selection of books including many of your everyday novels that previous cruisers have left behind, so no need to carry your own supply! The great thing about Fred Olsen ships is that currency onboard is Sterling, no matter where you are in the world. There are no obligatory tips added onto the drinks bills either, another great plus! The pool area is larger than I have seen on some of the giant ships. The gym is state of the art with flat screen TV’s, you can even arrange Yoga and Pilates with qualified instructors. The spa is made for pampering with packages for both ladies and gentlemen to help you look your best for the formal evenings. West End style musicals and 60’s/70’s shows keep you entertained with plenty of singing and dancing. You have the choice of waiter serviced meals or buffet style and the afternoon teas I hear are to die for! I had a buffet lunch on board and I must say the quality of food and vast choice was nothing short of superb. Lunch was the tipping point for me and my decision is made, I ‘will’ be taking a Fred Olsen cruise at some point in the future. And I absolutely recommend you do too! I ‘get’ it!! Fred Olsen is small and friendly, big is not always beautiful. Smaller ships can reach hidden gems of places where the large ships cannot access. Every staff member I passed said hello and had large smiles on their faces! As I disembarked I passed through the waiting area where new guests were waiting to board the Boudicca for her UK and Ireland cruise from Rosyth. Although in our tour we were told the average age is 50/60 I noticed the waiting guests were a vast mix of ages and even spotted a few families with children. I believe the Boudicca offers something for everyone and if you are happy to miss out on the bling of the cruise giants you will love the relaxed and friendly feel of the Boudicca. Call me for the latest offers and I will be glad to assist you on board! Marisa

CUNARD'S QUEEN MARY II - British Isles Commemorative Cruise

31 October 2012

I was invited to join the Queen Mary II for part of her commemoration voyage around the British Isles to celebrate her 5th Birthday. We departed Southampton and included ports of call in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Cork and Cherbourg. She is such a beautiful ship and will surely make you reminisce to a grander age when sailing in such luxury and opulence was a pastime afforded only by the rich. Filled to the brim with restaurants, a grand theatre, ballrooms and a truly fascinating planetarium, I loved my chance to explore the decks, seek out the nooks and crannies (I even found dog kennels for owner’s pampered pooches), eat glorious food and languish in luxury in the Spa. The ship’s rich history is apparent in a fascinating exhibition that is repeated in various parts of the ship with stories and photographs adorning the walls inviting you to stop in your tracks and learn about the glorious vessel you are sailing in. Entertainment was top class with musical performances by Lesley Garrett and lectures by guest speaker Carol Thatcher. The Commodore warmly welcomed us all at the Black and White Ball (which I just loved dressing up for and feeling special) as we all mingled with champagne in hand. There is a superb choice of dining restaurants; the exclusive Queens Grill and Princess Grill are available to guests booked into suites whereas I (accommodated in a beautiful Balcony cabin) dined in the fabulous Britannia Restaurant, 2 stories high with a grand sweeping staircase. I also tried lunch in an English pub, the Golden Lion, where you can get fish and chips or curry! Celebrity chef Todd English has a signature restaurant on board and offers the cutting edge of culinary design. White glove service afternoon tea is a very traditional affair in relaxing surroundings with a quartet playing discreetly in the background. On board, guest can enjoy many activities including casinos, 5 swimming pools (indoor and out), a fitness centre, sauna, steam and room. There is also a wonderfully stocked library where you can borrow a book and take it back to your room to relax. I had the added advantage on this trip of a special VIP visit to the ships galleys. What an amazing insight to just how mammoth a task it is to prepare top quality food for nearly 1400 guests, several times a day! The shiny stainless steel surfaces were so pristine you could eat your dinner off them! My only sad moment was having to leave the ship early in South Queensferry. However, I felt honoured to have sailed in the Queen Mary II and can recommend her to a wide guest profile. To my surprise, the clientele on board were a great mix of people from all walks of life and nobody felt out of place. My thanks go to Cunard and the wonderful crew for a fabulous cruise – I can't wait for my next one!

SARDINIA ~ Italy's Hidden Gem

06 November 2010

SARDINIA ~ THE EMERALD COAST Sardinia is truly a glistening Jewel in the Mediterranean and has a coastline of over 1000 kms with over 300 beaches. The north east of the Island boasts Costa Smeralda or the Emerald coast and you can understand why when you first come upon mile after mile of breathtaking talcum white beaches and seas in every imaginable shade of jade green & azure blue. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate with 300 days of sunshine per year. The Mistral is a dominant wind that blows on and off throughout the year coming from the northwest though it is most prevalent in winter and spring. It can cool down a hot upper 80 degrees sun and is favored by sailors and windsurfers alike. The island is popular with divers who enjoy extensive visibility and clarity of warm turquoise seas and there are many dive clubs dotted around the island offering trips & courses. The island also has a hidden interior with beautiful mountains and agritourism playing a big part in attracting the crowds away from the beaches. You can stay in stunning Boutique/Spa hotels that seem to blend in with the nature surrounding it or with local Sardinian people in their homes or farms to enjoy the unique opportunity of tasting local produce prepared as it has been for centuries. Driving is easy & by far the best way to get around, cars are best rented in advance. I have stayed on 2 different parts of the island, firstly in the south and the town of Cagliari. I loved living here for a few days and enjoyed walks up to the Bastione de St. Remy, Cagliari's most popular terrace, where you can view the City and enjoy people watching before settling on a cool glass of Italian Chianti, lounging on giant bed seating set outside in the sun. The city has a labyrinth of winding cobbled streets leading up to the Castle interspersed with many little speciality shops. Here you can find genuine art or crafts that are locally made. An absolute must is to look out the ice cream salons and drool over the coloured & textured mountains of delight laid out in front of you. See my photos to whet your appetite!! Good beaches are within easy reach of the town and local transport is easy in this part of the island. A second trip saw me fly into Olbia and head an hour and a half north to Cannigione on the Emerald Coast. This was for me more of a beach based holiday to relax and it definitely ticks all the boxes. Around every bend in this coastal necklace lie emerald and turquoise gems that seem blissfully happy to adorn the alabaster white coloured throat of this beautiful Italian lady, this Island of Sardinia. I could swear I heard opera emanating from every pink shell on the beaches as I walked! Every day I found a different small little cove and bay all to myself in which to sunbathe and snorkel from in complete privacy. Wonderful. The nearby millionaires playgrounds of Porto Rotondo & Porto Cervo play host to many stunning private yachts that swoon into the ports. Dazzling Porto Cervo, founded by the Aga Khan in the 1960s as a village retreat for the very rich and famous, attracts only the richest yacht owners & an annual berth for a 40ft boat here costs over $115000! The area also attracts a large number of 'A' list celebrities every year, although I unfortunately didn’t spot any whilst I was there! Food on the Island is a dream and you can shop for gold medal winning Buffalo Mozzarella and home cured, sweet hams for lunch, and enjoy fresh fish and octopus as well as local lamb, beef and roast suckling pig cooked using traditional methods over open wood fires for dinner. The wines are extensive and not so expensive. There are a number of excellent pizzerias as well for that easier well loved family favourite. There is so much to Sardinia, it is impossible to list it all here, however please feel free to call me to discuss more about how to get there, where to stay, what to expect, it is sometimes better to talk and I am happy to help! The best way though is to experience it for yourself…. to do that you need to go!! You only need to ask and I will send you there!

EGYPT - A Land of Plenty

06 November 2010

Egypt... Why is it that I have visited this country more times than any other I have visited in the world? Because it is special. Every aspect of Egypt is enchanting, mesmeric and I have never received a warmer welcome than here. I first went to Egypt 20 years ago, Hurghada was no more than a handful of buildings in a small street and the beach one long stretch of sand peppered with remnants of tanks and metal left over from battles. I went back to Hurghada 10 years later and didn’t know it! I saw no beach as in its place was a long line of hotels with the beach now their frontage! I kept going back because the people are the same, friendly, welcoming and have a deep love and pride for their country. And no wonder.... it is simply beautiful. There is a vast choice of hotels of all standards offering self-catering/B&B/all Inclusive. All Inclusive tends to be very good in Egypt although don't expect bacon for breakfast, it is after all a Muslim country! If you are looking for culture then CAIRO is great for 2/3 nights, enough time to view the Pyramids and go shopping in Khan el Khalili souk or market. I can highly recommend it as a real 'gone back in time' experience! Head south to LUXOR for a wonderfully authentic experience. You can opt for a NILE CRUISE of between 3-7 nights in order to peacefully meander this beautiful River and view locals living their life; children splash and play, you may spot an old man washing his goat or praying on bended knees at the river’s edge and graceful white Ibis birds are often spotted poised catching small fish. The Cruise Boats have 2 or 3 decks, from very comfortable to luxurious and take you to visit the ancient sites. If you prefer to remain on dry land then great hotels lie close to the Temples of Karnak and Valley of the Kings & Queens where many of the Ancient Egyptian Gods including King Tutankhamun lie buried. I have been to Luxor many times and can truly say I have never felt more relaxed than on return from a holiday here, it is a very unhurried pace of life and after only a few days you will easily fall under Luxor’s spell. HURGHADA ~ SHARM EL SHEIKH ~ DAHAB There is a number of Red Sea resorts dotted along the Egyptian coastline offering a wonderful beach holiday for all. Well suited for Couples, Families and singles here you can enjoy all the delights of a seaside playground. Hurghada is a good choice if you want to enjoy a TWIN CENTRE with Luxor. Naama Bay in Sharm El Sheikh allows close proximity to the evening promenade shopping and entertainment. The Egyptians love to stroll in the evenings and there is a buzz here. Whereas staying in many of the hotels 20 mins drive away along in Sharks Bay and Nabq tends to be quieter outside in the evenings, good if you prefer to be hotel based although you can take a cheap taxi into Naama and have the best of both worlds. Dahab is a smaller version of Naama bay and therefore offers peace, beauty & and the small town for evenings. EXCURSIONS: Here are a few of my firm favourites; CAIRO – Cairo Museum/Pyramids (Sound & Light show at night)/Khan el Khalili Souk/Horse & Camel riding around the Pyramids LUXOR – Valley of the Kings/Felucca boat trip on the river Nile (especially at Sunset)/Sound & Light show Karnak Temple(wow!)/a trip to Abu Simbel SHARM EL SHEIK Quad Biking in the desert (especially at sunset when the desert glows red!) / Night excursions with Bedouins & camels to the desert (preferably private or with a smaller group) / Trip to the Coloured Canyon in the Sinai/Climb Mount Sinai & visit St Catherines Monastery in the desert/take a day trip to Jordan to visit Petra. And of course how can I forget, SNORKELLING & DIVING for which the Red Sea is famous. There is free snorkelling to be had all along the Red Sea every bit is as good as Australia’s great barrier reef. A trip to Ras Mohammed National Park or Tiran Island is a must. Take your own equipment as your experience will be more enjoyable if your mask fits your face properly. I have many more insider tips waiting for you… Now, which hotel would you like me to book for you?!

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'..

14 August 2010

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'... As the song goes! California has a wonderful wealth of delights and one of the best holidays I ever had.. twice! There is something to suit everyone and I tried almost everything when there in order to be able to let you, my customers utilise this information to ensure your own holiday is just as perfect. The first of my trips saw me fly into San Francisco and stay at Fishermans Wharf for a couple of nights. The area is lively and full of character. Lots of little seafood cabins and restaurants ranging from top notch high service to takeaway's serving bowls of bubbling Clam Chowder served in a rye bread edible soup bowl! You are within walking distance to the ferry for Alcatraz made famous by the film with Paul Newman, the Bird Man. Don't forget to stop in to say hello to the hundreds of large Sea Lions resting on sea platforms in the harbour next to the ferry point, very noisy and you may need to hold your nose but fantastic free entertainment! A must is a trip on the famous trams to downtown San Fran and if you like shopping you will be in heaven! Hair raising when you find your tram at the top of a steep 40 degree slope but exhilarating on the way down just like in the movies. The drive (by open top convertible) was easier than I thought leaving SF and the roads, though busy were well signposted. You soon get the hang of driving on the right and even get brave enough after a while to overtake! Off to Death Valley via Lone Pine, west of the Alabama Hills & Mount Whitney used as locations for at least 269 movies and television. Lone Pine looks and feels exactly like living in an old Western Movie set. Death valley in the Mojave desert is stunning, the lowest point in America and one of the hottest and driest. This national park is a Desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicoloured rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone people and to unique plants and animals. To fully enjoy the area I recommend a minimum of 2 nights here. I visited the Devil's Golf Course, a dried up lake bed and now salt pan formed by large salt crystals. If you go there and stand still and quiet you can actually hear the crystals cracking and forming, you are witnessing living Nature! There are a few great shops at Stovepipe Wells (where I stayed in the park) for quality mementos and Furnace Creek also has a good hotel. Onwards to Yosemite National park and to me the real highlight of my trip. In order to do the wonder of this stunning park justice I feel it best to quote a few famous people who loved this grand place: “I have seen persons of emotional temperament stand with tearful eyes, spellbound and dumb with awe, as they got their first view of the Valley from Inspiration Point, overwhelmed in the sudden presence of the unspeakable, stupendous grandeur.” – Galen Clark, Guardian of the Yosemite Grant "I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in "creation's dawn." The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day". - John Muir What can I say? The true beauty of Yosemite lies in it's giant waterfalls with rainbows below, the monumental mountains, half dome, Glacier Valley, The Giant Redwoods and Sequoia's. So well organised and planned for your visit. You can stay in one of only a few good hotels within the park or live like the Waltons in a real log cabin. You may spot a mother bear with cub as I did! Plan to spend 3 nights here but more if you can. On each of my trips I just 'had' to stay in Yosemite, drove then to on to Los Angeles, shopped in Rodeo Drive & Hollywood, took a 3 day Cruise to San Diego & Mexico, missed Disneyland at Anaheim, alas no more time! On the other I drove to Las Vegas, visited Grand Canyon and searched for Aliens at area 51! As I said, something for everyone. Now, when shall I plan your trip?!!

My customer stories

Sent by Janice & Michael Harris

Marisa has been an invaluable help with her personal style of service and has made me feel that I can trust her completely to identify the best holiday she can for us at the best value. I have just recommended her to others in my office as I am confident she is the best!

Sent by Paul Krol

I would like to thank Marisa for coming to the rescue when our holiday was cancelled due to the other travel company going bankrupt. Her expert advice helped us recover all our money. I am looking forward to my new holiday safe in the knowledge that we will be with a company that looks after its customers, from the start of our booking until the end of our holiday and protects us in these uncertain times.

Sent by Stacey & Paul Foy/Kennedy

We just want to say that we can’t thank you enough for all your help booking our Honeymoon. We really appreciate you trying so hard to keep our costs down, giving us our Honeymoon Registry & even promising to try & obtain upgrades & Honeymoon extras. Your customer service really has been top class! You have a customer for life & we will certainly be recommending all of our family & friends!