White Glove Service® in Action

Travel Reviews: What our clients say.

Whether you’re snorkeling with sea lions in the clear blue waters of the Galapagos Islands, or sipping sundowners on the tan-colored plains of the Serengeti, you know that we are there for you anytime.

Our 24-hour White Glove Service® guest assistance begins before you leave home with our pre-departure documents. You receive a welcome phone call after you arrive at your destination. Our WGS® guest assistance team maintains contact at various times throughout your journey to insure that your trip runs smoothly or address any problem that may arise. WGS® can be tailored to your particular needs and interests. Big Five is leading the way in guest relations for the travel industry.

We love to hear from you.

Kenya Safari the best gift

I thought you would love to hear from these clients about their Kenya trip.  Father/daughter team. This was a present for her graduation from college. They were thrilled with the process and the result. This is what they said:  The trip was unbelievable. we had so much fun. Everything went just perfectly. The Maasai people are unbelievable.  They were running all the camps we went to. We got to know them and just loved them.  The (camp) up in the  mountains in northern Kenya. It is unbelievable. It was not a driving  camp. It was a hiking camp. We got to go out in the jungle. it was fantastic. It’s so remote, it’s unbelievable. Big Five did a good job. The game — they saw all the game they ever expected. It was everything we were hoping for and more. I am just trying to figure out how I can get back over there again. We saw any kind of game that you could imagine. But that was just part of it. The people are some of the most beautiful we have ever met. Thanks for setting all of this up. It really went well!


Ethiopia was great

Ethiopia was wonderful. The lodges were so beautiful, quiet atmosphere, hospitable staff, the food, everything was great. Touring Entebbe’s local market, they experienced the atmosphere, learned about the origin of the produce. They visited the reptile village and the fishing village. The first trek was medium. And the second trek was a short hike, which (clients) requested because they wanted to do some birding. Both treks were great, and sightings including baby, juvenile and adult Silverbacks in Bwindi.

 


South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

The trip was the most exciting time I have ever had and I think that I can safely say that for all eight of us who took this adventurous journey together.  The exclamations on all of the experiences ran the complete gamut of  expressive comments and reactions.  It was really wow!  And we did see everything, including a puff adder snake (small and dead, thankfully).

 

The accommodations were in the right order, too, the first being 5 star (omg), then we were eased into more rustic lodgings, but all wonderful in their right. I think this trip has given my family many memories to cherish and talk about the rest of their lives. I could go on and on.  Thank you for all that you did to coordinate us from our different cities to come together and just make it happen. There were a couple of slight hitches, but not hindrances.  The three way plugs used there are not UK, but the hotel/lodge folks had some for us to use. Having agents at each place to meet us was reassuring to me, especially.

 

It was just wonderful, all of it. And I will be happy to write something for you.  Also, will send a picture of us; I really wanted one of all of us in the first safari vehicle, but it didn’t happen. Many, many thanks!

 


Costa Rica amazing

Costa Rica was amazing! We had a wonderful time. The tours were top notch and exceeded our expectations! It’s hard to choose a favorite since they were all memorable. I truly was blown away by all the nature.  We hiked the Arenal to the furthest point and we had the same guide for the hanging bridges which was really nice. He was super knowledgeable with a degree in ecotourism. He knew every animal and explained the Arenal in detail…that we all feel like experts. He attached our cell phones to his special binocular device and we were able to get awesome pics. He also took his time and did a special demonstration with raw sugar cane…which we drank. It was really cool.

 

The zip line was great and again very accommodating guides. They helped us video along the way. We had a blast with the river rafting guides and got to know them during the ground transfer which took a total of 4 1/2 hours…but honestly it was so much fun we really didn’t mind. They prepared a typical lunch halfway through the river and you can tell they really took pride in making sure we had an enjoyable experience.

 

The fishing was fantastic…we did a full 8 hours and caught four yellowfin tuna which our hotel prepared for us and some other guests that night. Again, the guides were great, safe, and really wanted us to catch. So much so that we trolled all day and ran out of gas…but the captain was prepared for that as well and had reserve drums below deck.

 

Let’s not forget the accommodations! They were amazing with great views and super remote locations. Not sure if I mentioned but I am a private pilot and I really enjoyed the internal flights to these incredible places. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ride co-pilot but Gil took some amazing footage of the take-off and landings. It was exhilarating! The staff at each hotel was very accommodating and took extra time getting to know us. Maybe part of the Costa Rica culture…in any event we were pleased with everything. You guys did a great job and we are really looking forward to our next adventure! Thanks again for the transfer to and from Fort Lauderdale International. Talk soon.

 


Jordan & Egypt done right

Since I know you monitor our progress thru the whole trip, you already know we are back and had a wonderful time. Aside from all the amazing sites that we saw, I had a few short notes on the company you use: It’s hard to express our gratitude over the expertise that the Big 5 company displays in showing us Jordan and Egypt. They are simply fantastic.  Everyone from the drivers to the guides are top notch people.  The itinerary was formed together perfectly and had a lot of effort put into it.  Each day was filled with another experience and never overloaded us.

Our first guide and driver were in Jordan and they did Jordan right.  Both of them got to know us and really geared each day to make sure our interests were covered.  For example, I was very interested in the Biblical mosaic map inside one of their churches.  So our guide spend a lot more time to make sure we understood the history behind the map.  Once he got us into the church itself, he went around uncovering parts of the map that the church normally keeps covered with carpet.  This meant a lot to us and it was obvious that his relationship with the caretakers of the church was very strong.  He has a Masters in Archeology and really knows Jordan and its history.  We enjoyed his company (and the driver) very much.  At another point, the driver realized that (Guest) started to like Turkish coffee.  He then (during a coffee stop on the way to the Dead Sea) convinced the owner of the coffee stand to show her how to make the coffee properly.  So she made us all coffee on the side to the road.  At the end of the trip the driver presented us with a box of his favorite Turkish blend for her to try in the US.

 

These are only a small part of what we experienced, but it’s the small things that make the trip extra….

 

Egypt was even better.  From our experience, Big 5 has the top Egyptian guide in the country.  I think there isn’t anybody she does not know, including meeting the current president (on two occasions), has a meeting next week with the wife of Anwar Sadat, and knows the families of the security guards at various temples.  But the best is that there was not a question she could not answer.  She is simply the best—– and the support staff used for transporting us around the country is equal to her as well.  She is an Egyptian national treasure.  I expect to see her face on the 10 pound note someday or with her negotiation abilities, perhaps the 50 pound note.

 

I’m very grateful that you and (Agent) are working with these wonderful people and if you ever need a customer’s recommendation, (we) would love to give it.  Thanks again for all your help.

 


Grand Guatemala Adventure

El Mirador was incredible.  Our first helicopter ride was exciting and fun.  What I’d say about El Mirador is that you’ve got to use your imagination about the place because it’s not excavated like Tikal.  It’s so vast – 39 acropolises as compared to Tikal’s 3.  Lunch at the top of La Danta was unbelievable.  Las Lagunas has become one of our very favorite resorts in the world.  The service is impeccable.  There’s a server, who may be one of the most hospitable people we’ve met in the industry.  They have a spa which (daughter) visited on Monday…she was blown away.  And having the 3 free days was just what the doctor ordered.  The three of us don’t need to go-go-go.  Spa time, pool time, and hanging out in the incredible cabin are all up our alley. We went into Flores twice, and we super dig that town.  Remember that we requested a specific guide for El Mirador?  Well as serendipity would have it, he was at our restaurant in Flores on Monday night!  You’ll see a picture of the 3 of us with his wife and daughter.  You can’t make this up!  How does this happen in a vast country of 17 million people?

 

The Uaxactun experience was maybe my favorite (close to the upcoming description of the graffiti tour).  Not sure if you’ve been there…but after a ride of 25 km of terrible road conditions, you arrive in the most hospitable, wonderful village.  The ruins are awesome.  (We) enjoyed climbing the numerous accessible temples.  Our guide was knowledgeable and engaging.  We had an incredible lunch served by the matriarch of the city.  Her story is incredible.  Her husband was a business leader in the 80s, with a significant gum (as in chewing gum from the trees in Uaxatun) business…he died and this incredible woman took over.  Long story short, she took over, grew the business, and invested in Mayan art (through the black market), and has a priceless collection which we got to see!  In Guatemala City, our guide was our guide up to Lake Atitlan last year.  We became friends in our two days with her, and friendship grew in GC this year.

 

We’re so glad you suggested the graffiti art tour.  Our guide, who is a world-renowned professional graffiti artist, was the one of the most incredible people we’ve met in Guatemala.  His passion, creativity, and genuine love for not only his work, but Guatemala is inspiring.  The dude spent all morning with us and wouldn’t accept a tip.  I can’t tell you what an amazing experience we had on Friday. We think (daughter) got stung by a scorpion on the way home.  It traveled with us all the way back to Ohio! I wanted you to know that we were taken so very great care of the entire trip.  It was flawless.  Everyone was where he/she was supposed to be at the correct times.


South Indian adventure

I want to thank you for all the thoughtfulness that went into our amazing South Indian adventure. We have a friend who knows a photographer and writer, Stephen Huyler, who seems to be the only person , in our circle, that has been to Chetinad, and is a
regular guest at Chidambara Vilas. It was a thrill to be a guest in this magnificent home.
Our guide and out driver made our visit the first 6 days of our trip all the more special. While professional to a fault, (guide) made us feel like family as we travel the lonely roads of Chettinad looking for the perfect Chettinar mansion to visit. She is so well informed and discussed the local customs, history, cuisine, religion, architecture and arts with great enthusiasm. She was a real pleasure to spend our time with.

 

(Driver) was the only man behind the wheel that we would have trusted to navigate the mountain road coming down from Periyar in a monsoon storm! On that, we could not have been more charmed by the accommodation at Spice Village. Upon arrival, I asked if it was possible to stay in Sir Paul McCartney’s cottage. The manager, surprised and with a knowing smile, wanted to know how we knew about it, only to book us into the secluded cottage. It was the perfect place to read and listen to the rain as it came down during our stay there. (Being from So.Cal. where it never rains, it was a real treat for us.)

 

Upon check-out we told the manager that there could be some changes to their web site as it doesn’t begin to explain the property or the delicious meals that they served us while there.

 

Our drive down to Kerala was ambitious and we arrived in heavy rains as we boarded our houseboat for our backwaters tour. Because of the weather, we were not able to go into the small channels, but went straight out on to the lake. The crew fixed us a beautiful lunch, and we took a nap in the comfortable cabin. The captain was a very personable man, and when we told him at dinner not to give us too much food, he smiled and said that whatever we did not eat, his crew would finish! A great experience!

 

I don’t think we have to tell you what an amazing experience the Falaknuma was. I have clients who had been “In Residence” some years back, and told me about the carriage ride up to the Palace.  (We) are completely into granting ones fantasies, so when we got off the houseboat in Kerala, we emerged in linen suites, ready to be received by the palace Livery.
I guess it pays to play the part, because we were certainly treated like royalty. The general manager greeted us after the first day asking us how we were enjoying our stay and seeing that we were utilizing spa, asked if the hotel could pick up our next spa treatments. We were also treated to dinner, compliments of the Palace in the Nizam’s dining room, 101, for a very special meal served by our butler.

 

We also had a very informative day in the Palace Library with the Librarian who selected books for us as we had requested knowing more about the Nizam and his environs. (On our walk with the Historian, champagne included, we told him that we had looked on the internet for information about what the Palace had looked like when the Princess opened the doors after 40 years and who was with her. Of course it was him, and they encountered wild dogs and poisonous snakes! (We hung on every word!)

 

After a rose-petal departure, we returned to Kochi and the delightful guide! Having arrived later that we thought, (guide) had his work cut out for him as we commenced on a walking tour of the Fort. He was very well informed about the politics and the culture of the region and we gleaned a tremendous amount of information from him in the short time we were in Kochi. It was all the more challenging by the fact that while in India, we were on a shopping trip for our business, and stopped to look at some earrings for a client. Not finding what we needed, (guide) took us to a place that not only had what we were looking for, but we spent another hour with the merchant as well. Needless to say, this made out sunset walk on the promenade into a adventure in the night market, complete with (guide)’s iPhone flashlight app to light the way.  Entering Broyntan Boatyards room for the first time around 8:30 p.m. we changed our clothes and enjoyed a very creative meal in the Historic Restaurant. After we finished a whirlwind day and it was off to bed, a very comfortable bed indeed, for a 3 a.m. departure. Our driver, I am sorry his name escapes us, was terrific and got us to the airport on time for our flight to Hong Kong.

 

In conclusion, we were so happy to be working with (agency) and Big Five, the two completely got the theme of our South Indian Dream and we will never forget both of your thoughtfulness in the planning.  10,000 Thanks

 


Life Changing

(Clients) had an incredible time on their trip. You did an amazing job and made “trip of a lifetime” possible for this wonderful family. Thanks so much for all of your effort to make this booking a huge success. They are already looking into another trip for next year to the Middle East and I will send you the request.

On another note, the school visit was truly life-changing for them. I could not have made this possible without you and your expertise. They called me yesterday wanting to know if it would be possible to provide desks for the teacher and students and how they would go about doing this. I think they had already talked to one of the contacts that was with them about this possibility. Is there someone you can put them in touch with or can Big Five assist with this? I know this is asking a lot but I’m trying to help them – they really want to help the school.  Let me know what you think.

 

Thank you again – I will certainly contact Big Five for all future Africa programs!


Love South America

I’m sorry for the delay in sharing our thoughts about our recent trip to South America. We absolutely loved our trip to South America. We would say the number one highlight was the Galapagos where we very much enjoyed being on the Santa Cruz ship, and all the expeditions each day to the different islands on the zodiac boats with the knowledgeable naturalist guides. I believe we saw 13 of the Big 15 Wildlife. It was a very busy week but we loved every minute of it.

We also loved Peru, visiting Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu very much lived up to it’s deserved reputation as one of the wonders of the world with it’s beautiful & pristine natural setting. It is really hard to fathom how the Inca’s built this granite citadel using those large boulders and no mortar. Unbelievable. All 3 of the hotels were wonderful in different ways, and the airport pickups and transfers to hotels all were on time without any problems. We also enjoyed all of the guides you arranged especially the ones in Cusco & Quito who were the stand outs. The Hiram Bingham train both to & fro was also a new and fun experience. We enjoyed the experience of the train, the meals and drinks, and the music. We also loved spending the day touring in Quito, and thank you for having us stay in the Casa Gangotena Hotel which we absolutely loved.

Also, our trips to Bogota & Rio de Janeiro were interesting and fun, and our South American airline transportation worked well and on time. I had preconceived negative ideas about both cities, but we thoroughly enjoyed our stays in both. Rio is far more beautiful than I expected, and we had fun social venues each night on top of Sugarloaf and at the Museum of Tomorrow.

Thanks again for all you did making this definitely a trip we always will remember.


South Africa amazing

Y’all met my clients expectations and even surpassed them.  They had an amazing trip.  I thank you both so much!  I’m so totally impressed with Big Five and (Destination Specialist).

 

Thank you Thank you thank you


Safari adventure in Kenya

We had a wonderful trip!  Big 5 did an excellent job and we loved the two people assigned to us in Nairobi. They were super nice, took great care of us and were excellent guides. Governors Camp was a perfect base for the Masai Mara and we had a terrific guide there. Very happy with everything. Thank you again for putting this trip together so quickly. Best regards. T.


Galapagos Islands family trip

Your White Glove Service® was excellent. (Destination Specialist) was great. It was a difficult trip to plan but it was done expertly. All transfers to and from airports went off without problems. Everyone was helpful. Tour in Quito was excellent.

This was about creation and evolution. It was eye opening for my entire family. Hopefully, it will help them appreciate the world and the importance of conservation and respect for the earth and what it has to offer.

 

It was a great active and educational trip. Thanks to Big Five and (Destination Specialist) for making it happen.


Lost and found in Egypt

Good morning,

I wanted to thank you personally for taking the time and reaching out to find my necklace at the (hotel)!  I was amazed it had been found and held – what great integrity and customer service they exhibited!  And again, I so appreciate you talking to the right people to find it.  Your care for me and my daughters when we were in Egypt was phenomenal – truly a wonderful experience made better by your care and coordination of all logistics! You did am amazing job!!  Thank you so much!!

 


Cambodia & careful planning

All the arrangements that you made for us worked perfectly. We were well taken care of both with wheelchairs in the airports and transportation and accommodations on the ground. The guides were all very capable and personable, but we especially enjoyed (guide) in Phnom Penh, who lived through the Pol Pot terrible times and freely shared her personal experiences.

 

We survived the heat and humidity and were lucky in that it rained only one afternoon. There were some evening showers but that didn’t affect our touring. (Guest) really enjoyed riding the elephant bareback, but that was the one event that I didn’t do as I felt there was too much walking involved. I took advantage of my free time to get a Thai massage. I was able to take part in all the other planned activities. When the guide at Angkor Wat saw me show up at the airport in a wheel chair, he arranged for a wheel chair for the longer distances at Angkor Wat.

 

What will I remember most? The beautiful architecture of the temples and palaces, the green, green scenery, the so gracious and welcoming Thai people, the many curves in the road going up and down over the mountains. Also, as it was the slow season there were few other tourists in general. Frequently we would be the only patrons in a nice restaurant and we would have 3 or 4 wait staff to take care of us! Thanks so much for all your careful planning.

 

 

 


Travel to Vietnam & Cambodia

We returned from our trip yesterday, and I wanted to write you about our experiences now, before the din of daily life begins again. Thank you very much for the care and attention you and your staff provided our family; it was an awesome experience!

 

Our guides made the trip.  (Guide) in Hanoi greeted us at the airport and took care of our every need.  He went out of his way to share personal experiences as well as historical highlights, and we knew we were in expert hands as we maneuvered through the challenging city traffic with him by our side.  A few of the highlights in Hanoi were the electric car ride through the Old Town and lunch at a local place specializing in Bu Cha that he recommended.  When it was time to say good-bye, he also helped us secure our airline tickets and get everything arranged before leaving.  These little touches meant the world to us.

 

(He) was no easy act to follow, and (Guide) in Saigon did not disappoint.  He has a hilarious sense of humor, and he and his driver kept us laughing as they transported us to emotional stops for Americans, including the Cu Chi Tunnels, along the Mekong Delta and to the Military Remnants Museum in Saigon.  His infectious good humor helped balance the impact of these visits. The highlight for our son was the evening Vespa tour on our last night and the meal we had with (Guide) in a local eatery.

 

Our last guide in Cambodia – was also wonderful.  He put up with our panting through the heat and humidity and shared his knowledge of temple history and architecture at each stop along the way.  The circus show on our second night – and our trip to “Pub Street” – are memories that we will cherish.

 

The accommodations were consistently fantastic.  Hanoi’s Metropole was like stepping back in time to a more elegant age, the Saigon Sofitel was perfectly located for evening strolls and had an impressive gym and the resorts in Hoi An and Siem Reap were luxurious and relaxing.  The cruise aboard the Au Cu 1 through Halong Bay delighted us in every way.

 

Now we are back at home, buoyed by our fond memories of everyone and everything we met, and saddened that we had to leave. My husband and I are already tossing around ideas for our next adventure, and we will be sure to turn to you once again for your expert guidance. Thank you, thank you for all you have done to create an unforgettable experience for our family!

 


A boundary-pushing vacation in Central America

Having never been to Central America, it was important for our family to work with an experienced operator with trusted connections. Our amazing travel advisor recommended Big Five, and together, we experienced our best vacation ever. Our accommodations were fantastic.

 

While living in the jungle without electricity, waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and rappelling down 100ft waterfalls definitely pushed our personal comfort zones, it was always done within the parameters of safety, fun and new experiences (in addition to push comfort!).

 

Having (Big Five Destination Specialists) thoroughly explain the uniqueness of our vacation choices only added to the excitement upon arriving. The finely-detailed itinerary made for no surprises. Logistically, it was great to have people waiting for to take us to our next destination. Their local contacts checked in with us throughout our vacation, making sure all was well. Top marks for another great family vacation.

 


Wonderful safari

While at Saruni Samburu, the guests had wonderful safari. They spotted a number of animals including highlights of a family of cheetahs as well as lions and had an enjoyable close experience with elephants. Yesterday, on their full day in Samburu they enjoyed breakfast in the bush and some exciting wildlife viewing. After lunch they chose to relax in the villa the rest of the afternoon before heading out on a sunset/sundowner drive around the conservancy. Within seconds out of the lodge, they were already captivated by a number of birds they were looking for and spent the rest of the drive concentrating on birds. Being (guest’s) birthday, (Big Five) arranged a cake and over dinner, the Saruni Samburu staff dance and sang traditionally songs around the table with all other guests in celebration.

They left very happy and (guest) with a tear in her eye. She explained how it was only the day before that the doctor gave the go ahead for them to go on this trip and they were quite nervous about it; however, she is so thankful to have been able to experience this – that despite their age and health concerns.

 

 


Borneo (Malaysia)

I was thinking about you yesterday. I am going to call you when my clock is in order. This was a trip of a life time. I was so overwhelmed at times that I actually cried. Yes, tears of joy and the beauty around me. The guides were incredible.  I am one happy lady.  With a huge smile on my tired face.

 


Truly a trip of a lifetime

Dear Big Five:

Please accept our upmost appreciation for the attention to detail in planning our African safari to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Our entire trip from the arrival in Nairobi, Kenya to our departure from the same city was flawless. The Big Five ” meet and greet “ staff in all the cities we travelled through were exceptional, in particular in Nairobi. Our personal driver , transported us throughout Tanzania for five days was superb.

 

Your extensive knowledge of all the lodges we stayed at payed off in a wonderful showing of the Ngorongoro crater, Serengeti plains and the Masai Mara. At every lodge that we stayed at the staff gave us a wonderful private romantic anniversary dinner.

 

This was truly a trip of a lifetime. We highly recommend, without reservation your services and it would be our pleasure to serve as a personal reference should you request it. Under separate cover, I will forward some photographs of our adventure.

 

We look forward to having you plan our next family safari to South Africa.

 

Warmest personal regards,

 


Zimbabwe

We wanted to tell you how much we appreciated (Destination Specialist)! He was kind, patient, professional and capable,  and we really felt he had our best interest at heart.

 

We had spoken with a couple of other company’s and heard their bids as well as their “pitch”, but (he) was the ONLY one that heard exactly what we wanted and provided it all so effectively and with a lot of humanness!!  Our trip was challenging, with my turning 60, wanting safari, whales and waterfalls, and he did it all!

 

We felt SO cared for in the process of arranging the trip that we completely felt like Big Five had our back if we ran into any trouble once we got to Africa.

 

And that was VERY important to us. We will absolutely use Big Five for any more travel we have, especially for trips around nature, animals etc.

 

Thank you for providing such extraordinary service!