Jonathan was referred to me a couple of years back by lovely clients of mine. He and his wife Fiona travel often to a variety of fabulous destinations and I have booked them exciting trips to Croatia, Barbados and most recently the Big Apple. I was thrilled to receive his feedback...
I have been longing to visit New York City ever since watching Home Alone 2 all those years ago. Our 5-night stay in the heart of the city was a dream come true and most definitely worth the wait.
I met Gillian through a friend of mine who has booked several holidays and has complete trust in her. We had originally booked a Maldives holiday for my 40th birthday, however Covid scuppered these plans which Gillian quickly changed to later this year.
We gambled on booking December in New York at the beginning of 2021 in the hope that all would work out and explained to Gillian what we were looking for. She proceeded to put a super package together - our only problem was the anticipation and lengthy wait!
In the meantime, we kept in touch and as restrictions started to ease a little to some destinations, decided to also consider booking a holiday in September.
Gillian came up trumps with a great deal for us at Sandals Royal Barbados, and with the guidance and restrictions changing constantly, she was always on the ball, keeping us up to speed with all requirements and hugely reducing any stress around testing.
We had a great time in Barbados, despite parts of the holiday being affected by the Covid situation, which Gillian and Holidaysplease addressed and resulted in a lovely response from Sandals. It is so reassuring and refreshing to be equally well looked after once you have returned.
And so, to New York, and Gillian once again showed her professionalism and expertise.
United Airlines had cancelled our flights several weeks prior to departure due to them pulling out of Edinburgh, so Gillian swiftly rebooked us on Delta flights before guess what? They did likewise, but she was right on it and managed to get us on British Airways flights through Heathrow whilst we just sat back and relaxed.
Unfortunately, BA then cancelled our scheduled return flight. However I knew Gillian would already be on it and ten minutes later, we had been sorted onto another flight. Stress? What stress? There lies the value of an experienced travel agent.
As the date approached, Gillian guided us to ensure everything was in place, including airport transfers. Our departure tests were done via drive-through with Express Test in Edinburgh airport, whom we had used for our Barbados trip. Our results and certificates were back the following morning and upon Gillian's recommendation, we also downloaded the Verifly app, to which we uploaded all documents and sailed through the airport.
Everything fell into place seamlessly in New York. The beautiful Knickerbocker Hotel is literally a ten second walk from Times Square and had everything we could want, including a magnificent trendy rooftop bar with plenty of heaters and blankets if things got a little nippy!
The room was plentiful and comfortable. There were still a few restrictions, including restricted eating times, but nothing that bothered us.
Vaccination status and ID were required in every eating place along with indoor mask wearing and we generally kept our masks on when in busy spots. However this worked two-fold as it helped keep our faces protected from the cold!
Unfortunately, shortly after arriving, restrictions in the UK changed meaning a PCR test was now required on returning. As always, Gillian was in contact and between her and the hotel, they guided us on the best plan of action. Numerous testing vans were all over the city which meant getting a valid PCR was quick, simple and free, and we got home without any hassle! Boy, the UK could learn from this.
We flew into Newark and out of JFK which was great, and New York City was just an amazing experience. Everyone knows the sights and sounds; however, it is not until you are there that you can fully appreciate it.
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is so beautiful. No further words!
We went up to the top of the Rock (Rockefeller Centre) rather than the Empire State Building and weren’t disappointed. What a view!
Exploring the Statue of Liberty was awesome though the Hudson can get windy so be prepared to wrap up.
Our horse and carriage experience in Central Park couldn’t have been more Christmassy, along with seeing all the stores lit up. It was just like the movie.
We look back on the trip with total happiness - it was great from start to finish. The only thing we missed out on was a Broadway show, but we just couldn’t squeeze it in but we will next time.
I will absolutely book again with Gillian. The only part of this holiday that she missed was actually being there, as she organised everything else exceptionally. She is always looking out for you, and having your best interest is a part of her ethos - exactly what you need in a travel agent.