Lee and Maggie Valenta had their hearts set on the perfect 40th anniversary trip to St. Lucia.
Then the pandemic hit and new travel rules were put in place. They could still go, but the prospect of dedicating extra days to quarantine wasn’t going to work for them. Do they cancel and wait until next year? Or, was there an alternative that would allow them to still celebrate this special milestone?
Enter Acendas Travel advisor Ann Gray, based in Minneapolis. She had designed the St. Lucia trip and she knew just how much it meant to them. So, she sat down with them and explored the options. She suggested that Sedona fit their personalities and offered the amenities and experiences that would make for a memorable experience.
“We have been working with Ann since 2014,” Maggie Valenta says. “ We had a bad experience with a different agency so we were leery, but she came highly recommended by a friend. We’ve used her for countless international trips.
Ann is always amazing. She is always prompt in returning emails and never misses a detail. This includes details from beginning to end – best airfare, private walking / driving tours of cities, restaurant and hotel recommendations etc. She has literally made our trips successful. That says much about her and Acendas Travel.”
Says Gray, “whenever you have a trip cancelled that you were looking forward to, there is naturally some disappointment. So, I wanted to find a place where they could go and have a similar or better experience. Sedona made sense because the weather in late November was going to still be good, there were nice accommodations and the food, hiking and art amenities met their interests.”
“Sedona made perfect sense for us,” Maggie says. “We had been there 25 years ago, and it has only gotten better. We did a little bit of everything. We enjoyed the art, the spa, took hikes, and even took a plane ride around the Grand Canyon. We got so close to the features that you felt you could reach out and touch them. After the flight, we took a Jeep ride around the south rim. It was just spectacular.”
From a housing standpoint, the Valenta’s were not disappointed. Rather than stay at a hotel , they opted for the L’ Auberge de Sedona, which featured small cottages.
“Because Ann knew how important the view was in our hotel on our recent trip, she searched until she found the best room and then protected it,” Maggie says. “ When we checked in, the clerk said: “there is a note on your reservation that says ‘DO NOT MOVE!’. Now, that is an excellent travel agent.”
The Valentas are seasoned travelers, so even though the circumstances were different, they were not fazed by the new protocols. In fact, they felt the travel experience may have been one of the better ones they experienced. As Maggie noted, ”if you are a true traveler, then you are naturally adventurous and know you will face challenges.
But the pandemic has caused some angst and roadblocks to their wanderlust as they near retirement age.
“We’ve been to 50 different countries, and our goal was to get to 70 by the time we hit 70 years of age,” Maggie says. But with Covid that is going to be difficult. Of course, with Ann helping us, I am sure she can make it happen!”