Whether they are creating a romantic getaway for a soldier on leave from Iraq and his wife or staging the perfect setting for a proposal in Bali, Africa or California’s Napa Valley, travel agents often function as real-life Cupids.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Travel Market Report asked several travel sellers to share their favorite romantic bookings with us. Here are a few of their stories:
“I received an email from a Marine in Iraq. He was going on a two-week leave and wanted to plan something special for his wife. Via email and phone calls we narrowed it down to the Rivera Maya Mexico. He told her about it, and then had her call me to set everything up. She had not seen him in almost a year. I remember she called me almost weekly, she was so nervous and excited. We set up a spa day for them at her request, and he emailed me to set up a surprise romantic dinner on the beach. About a month after the trip was over and he was back in Iraq, she called me and told me they had a wonderful trip – and that she was expecting.” – Angie Ryan, Travel Leaders, Carrollton, Texas
What a Relief!
“Ray wanted to surprise his wife, Karen, with a cruise vacation. He was so excited that he started a year in advance with the plans, booking, and payment. For a year Ray would stop by and give me payments toward the cruise. We joked that I had become ‘the other woman’ in his life. When it came time for the big reveal, he planned a nice romantic dinner out. I created a special Surprise! flyer for him to present to her. But what he didn’t count on was her reaction. Not knowing what went on through the year between them, I can only surmise she wondered what he was up to, since money would be missing, and he didn’t always come right home after work. When she opened up the gift envelope she started crying … but not because of happiness. It was because she was relieved. She thought he was going to say he wanted a divorce. They both laughed, she with tears of joy this time.” – Sara Perkins, CruiseOne, Abingdon, MD
Rain and Fire(works)
“I booked a trip for a client to Bali, knowing that he was going to propose to his girlfriend. I arranged for a special dinner on the beach for the proposal. It didn’t go quite as planned. It unexpectedly stormed the night of the proposal, so they had to eat in the resort restaurant. The restaurant did try to set up an intimate section, but people kept walking through, and even though I’d let the staff know that his girlfriend was allergic to nuts, nearly every plate brought to the table had nuts. Then mistaking the special occasion, the staff began to sing Happy Birthday. Thankfully, they both joked about it. After dinner the rain stopped, so my client took his girlfriend to the beach canopy under which they were supposed to have dined. The rest I’ll let him recount: ‘I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. Right after she said yes, I stood up and we kissed and immediately, for some crazy but completely welcoming coincidence, someone at that moment set off a bunch of fireworks. It was perfect.’” – Susanne Hamer CTC, TravelStore Platinum
Ten Years and Going Strong
“A long-time customer called to plan a secret trip to Rome for his wife to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary at Easter time. Together, we planned a wonderfully romantic stay at a beautiful hotel in Rome. On arrival in Rome, the gentleman surprised his wife yet again with an arranged Papal visit to receive the Pope’s blessing of their marriage. Anniversary, spring, Rome, Papal blessing – romance lives even after 10 years.” – Candy Geiler, World Travel Mates/Results! Travel, Charlotte, N.C.
“A well-to-do client asked me to help him arrange his proposal. Both he and his girlfriend, who were in their mid-30’s, had been talking about a safari in South Africa. I arranged a trip with game viewing in the Sabi Sands. On their first outing we arranged for them to get the Jeep to themselves. Halfway through the evening game drive they stopped for a sundowner (a refreshment stop in the middle of the bush). The guide set up flowers, champagne and their favorite snacks. My client got down on his knee and proposed. The piece de resistance was when they returned to the camp; we had arranged for both of their immediate families to be at the lodge to celebrate their engagement. Although I was not with them, I remember her details of rounding the corner in the dark, as they got close to the lodge, still glowing with the excitement of the proposal, only to be surprised to see her family. I still get goosebumps when I think about the wonderful romantic proposal.” – Deborah Deming, FROSCH Classic Cruise and Travel, Woodland Hills, Calif.
Drunk on Love
“One booking that stands out was for a young couple. Though she didn’t know it, the young man intended to propose to her on the trip. I booked them at a nice hotel in the Napa Valley, and arranged for them to visit wineries. They even took a horse drawn carriage that went through the vineyards to four different wineries. It was at one of the wineries that the young man proposed. Of course, that winery visit turned out to be their favorite.” – Barbara Maxwell, ACC, Viking Travel, Westmont, Ill.
An Exotic Honeymoon
“The one vacation that stands out is a honeymoon I planned to Victoria Falls, South Africa and the Maldives. The trip was the combined dream of both people. Their first destination was Victoria Falls, Zambia, where they stayed in tree house accommodations just upstream from Victoria Falls. The next stop was Sabi Sands Game Reserve outside of Kruger National Park. The Maldives was the final stop and they stayed in a beachfront private villa. This vacation embodied romance, from the couple to the destinations to the accommodations.” – Carolyn Waffle, owner, Certified Travel, an Independent Affiliate of Avoya Travel, Binghamton, N.Y.