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Francine, Marie and Lesley,
I wanted to thank each of you for putting together what was a great vacation. We found your recommendations included in the Itinerary very useful.
First, not sure who our (Blivess') driver from Edinburgh Executive Travel was but he was fantastic. The entire way in from the airport he narrated providing background information on Edinburgh and what was around us, the buildings and the history of Edinburgh.
Second, the hotels were over all very good to excellant and each and every one of them was in great locations. Even the Royal Hotel in Portree, which you may recall we asked about, was very good. The Motel One in Edinburgh was minimalist (no place to unpack and put things away if we had wanted to) but the location was great. All of the hotels had great breakfasts.
Third, George, our driver, was fantastic and would highly recommend him to anyone. First, there is no way I would ever recommend anyone from the US attempt driving secondary roads in Scotland. Besides his ability to find them, he was able to deal with the one lane two way traffic and remain calm despite all of the tourist who don't know how to drive on them. Dealing with that as well as driving on the left side of the rode and missing the scenery makes it a "no brainer" for one used to driving on the right side of the road - get a driver George had great suggestions and commentary on the schedule, what we were seeing, when we should see it and how to work around the weather. He was very flexible with our changes and he added humor to the trip. The van worked out very well and made it much much easier for us. The van added significant value to our experience.
Fourth, the people of Scotland were all very nice to interact with. Yes, a large number of our contacts were people in the tourist industry but even those who were not, were courteous and always tried to help.
Fifth, with respect to restaurants, it would be difficult to rank them but we (including the Puretz's) would agree that Restaurant Mark Greenaway was by far the best food and presentation. It was a little more expensive but worth it. We would unequivocally recommend everywhere we ate except one place. Recommended restaurants include: La Garrigue and Michael Neave Kitchen & Whiskey Bar in Edinburgh; Dungeon Diner at Culreuch Castle; The Granary - twice in Portree; Coast in Oban; Stravaigin and Fratelli Sarti in Glasgow. The only place we would not recommend was Piazza in Oban. The food and price was fine but it was very noisy. Not all of the restaurants were on your list and we were set to go to some others on your list but at the end of a long driving day, we made some changes to avoid additional travel time or very expensive cab rides. FYI, we also found in Edinburgh we could not get reservations for our target day or time even though we started contacting almost three weeks before getting there - The Military Tattoo and Fringe effect. In Portree, some of the restaurants did not take reservations
Lastly, don't know how they did it but hats off to Marie and Lesley for keeping the rain mostly at night or while we were driving and making the midges practically a non-event. Our weather truly was unbelievable.
Not your doing but the one thing I might have done differently is added a few days. Yes, the itinerary was exactly what we asked for. I guess we forgot we are not as young as we used to be and the short stays and driving was tougher on us than anticipated. Likely would suggest adding a day or two in Culreuch, Portree or Nairn. Maybe even another day up front to adjust to the time change. Again, it was exactly what we requested so passing this along for possible future discussion with clients. Hindsight is 20-20 and not sure if we would have been smart to heed if you had suggested it up front as one is always balancing the expected experience and the cost.
Thanks to all for a truly memorable vacation,
Mike and Patty
I would echo Michael's comments. Thanks so much for your help and patience with us.
Here are my takeaways.
The country is so magnificent in terms of beauty and the people are so friendly and helpful. Everywhere we went, people were friendly and more than willing to help.
I would also highly recommend David Hopkin as a driver. He is the person who drove us to the airport in Glasgow.
We saw a tremendous amount in Scotland in the time we were there. That was the benefit of our schedule. But, as Michael said, a few extra days here and there would have been helpful. Spending an extra day in Nairn with its beautiful beaches would have been a nice break with some down time. It's a balance of seeing a lot and spending few more days and dollars. So we saw so much but, the one night stays were tough.
Just want to let you know I got a call from Laura yesterday. She said everything was great. I want to thank you for taking good care of my clients.
Progressive Travel Management Inc.
Hi Lesley from Erle, Shirley, & Deloris:
We are sitting in Dublin airport having just finished a fabulous 13 days with CIE. We thank you for all your help in arranging this tour. Our only regret is not meeting you.
Guide Becky was very pleasant and oh so knowledgeable. Brian was so informative and continually amusing. The hotels were first rate and the food delicious. Our favourite hotels were Brehon, Croak , Merrick in Galway and Fitzpatrick in Dublin. The Tattoo at Edinburgh was a highlight of the tour and one of the reasons we chose this tour.....we were not disappointed! We certainly saw a lot and covered a good deal of the UK but we felt rushed at times. Our favourite attractions were St Paul' s Cathedral in London, Kilmainham Gaol, Titanic exhibit, Tour of Dingle Peninsula, Cliffs of Moher and Galway walking tour led by Brian Nolan.
We will certainly recommend your company and CIE tours to our friends.
Erle, Shirley, Deloris
Life is like a Camera - Focus on what's Important..
Capture the Good Times - Develop from the Negatives....
And if things don't work out......Take another SHOT.......
We are home in Jerusalem, safe and sound and I want to take this opportunity of thanking you for a beautifully organized tour of Scotland as arranged by you and the others at Best off Scotland. It was not an easy group I know, especially as a number of the participants were rather elderly and had some walking difficulties. However, all of them had a wonderful time and an extremely positive experience of Scotland and its people. In particular there was high praise for Norma Allen our guide who was so pleasant and yet totally professional. One of the tour members commented that she had been on many organized tours, but without a doubt, Norma was the best guide she had ever experienced. The driver, John Johnson was totally professional, full of humor, and highly highly sympathetic to the needs of this group.
As I told you at the outset of our relationship. I had been a travel agency owner in the United States for over 40 years and have organized many groups during that period. You were one of the most delightful, knowledgeable, and efficient of organizers I have come across. Your ability to handle the special needs of this group and your willingness to follow through on every request, no matter how trivial really ensured the tour's success. I am often asked by friends and acquaintances to organize a tour of Scotland for individuals and from now on there is only one person I will recommend, Lesley Burns.
Please forward my thanks to Marie and Duncan Dewar. Marie for meeting us at the airport and Duncan for having put up with American Express. They own a tour operation to be proud of.
Kindest regards and best wishes,
PS Hope you will visit us in Israel one day. You have many friends here now.
Thank you very, very much for the huge information sheets and voucher you sent me. Mrs Sorio was so satisfied, and I had no doubts about it ;)
Thanks also for the list herebelow
Regarding the sightseeing passes I printed 3 copies for 1st period + 3 copies for 2nd period and gave them to pax so I think everything’s all right
I consider you one of the most efficient, reliable and affordable DMC I’ve ever worked with
Have a nice evening, ciao
Everywhere Travel s.r.l.
Hi Lesley and Marie,
Thank you for your help in planning our trip and for helping out on the Sixt issue.
We enjoyed the trip thoroughly, especially our time in Scotland. The hotels you planned for us came with very convenient parking facilities, something I really appreciate.
I must say the folks in Scotland were friendlier and more welcoming than I thought and the service standard is excellent. And that includes you.
I will surely recommend your services to my friends who plan to visit Scotland.
Meanwhile, thank you for a wonderful job done.
CYC Movers (Commercial) LLP
Quick note: I got to chat with Ray and he was full of compliments for the way their trip worked out! He's so grateful, as am I, for all of your conscientious hard and excellent work! Thanks so much!
Take care of yourself, and please let Marie know that you get GREAT ACCOLADES once again from super satisfied clients!
WEST x 6 (24 nights Scotland & Ireland) - The West group had a very emotional farewell the night before they left, and I got an email that 'we toasted both you and Lesley'------they loved their trip! Thanks so much, again and again, for all the great help you provide for me and my clients!!
Nelson x 8 (4 nights Scotland) - Have spoken to all Nelson party in the last couple of days, fabulous trip - they all raved and raved and raved about their driver!
Hodge x 2 (2016 British Open) - Everything has been great. Hotel has worked out really well. I want you to give a special thanks to Graham at Ayr Citadel taxi as they did an amazing job, each and every driver. Took us on time and picked us up on time as well. I would highly recommend them to anyone in the area. So please give our thanks to Best of Scotland Holidays. Many thanks for arranging this for us.
Kathy, KF Tours,
Fox x 24 (10 nights Scotland) - Can't believe the trip is over. I got an email when they got home from John Fox, just saying, "everything was fabulous and I will stop in and tell you all about it" He said, the tour was smooth and perfect, and the coach driver was perfect.
Suzanne, Browns Tours and Travel,
Garden Tour x 24 (11 nights Scotland) - Just got back to Minneapolis late last night...what a trip! First of all, the Garden tour was a success! Everyone loved the tour and everything that you had set up. Peter’s only comment to me at the end was that people wanted more free time, but wanted to see all that they saw, and not add any more days!!!
Whisky Tasting Group
I heard from the group. You did a FABULOUS job, they all had a wonderful time!
P.S. Hope to work with you again soon.
Travel Experts--A Virtuoso Affiliate
North Coast 500 Package
I wanted to let you know that our tour of the highlands went very well and we really enjoyed the holiday.
Due to the fact that we had lots of baggage I changed the original hire car to an Audi A4 but otherwise all was great. I must admit I enjoyed our stay in the Forss House the best – great place and the old lady who manages everything is truly amazing. The visit to Orkney was very interesting and I am so glad that you urged us to take this trip.
Overall a great holiday and we will return again next time with fishing tackle.
Thanks for such good organization and we will recommend your company to all of our friends.
Thank you for organizing our trip. London and Edinburgh were thoroughly explored using the hop-on bus. We even got sunburned touring the Firth of Forth by boat. We even figured out how to get on the train. Going to Skye this morning and on to Orkney. Beautiful country. Where is the rain? Thanks again
Michael B Read
We’ve just returned from our Scotland holiday, and wanted to let you know that we had a great time in Cardiff! What a wonderful city!
Loved the book festival – we could have stayed for days! Our driver/guide couldn’t have been nicer! (I forget his name at the moment)
Oh – and thank you for the GREAT weather we had throughout our trip! Couldn’t have been nicer! In fact, I had to shop for some cooler clothes – I didn’t bring enough with me!
This letter is long overdue (and long :-), but I would like to share with you just what an incredible experience we enjoyed in Scotland (Aug 11-17, 2015, designed by you and Peggy Felton), thanks to your driver, George.
I think you and I spoke briefly on the phone on August 11, when we called from Dublin to say we had missed the flight to Glasgow. Before our trip, you may have heard from Mrs Felton that it would be a bit of a sad trip for all of us - Mrs Felton having lost their daughter and her two nephews. (Their mother, Mrs Felton's sister, Kathy was also with us on the trip.) Mrs Felton's daughter, Krissy, was my best friend, who I was lucky enough to know for 48 years - my whole life. So even though we were all so excited to be in Scotland, we were also sad to be missing the amazing people we loved and feeling some trepidation as to how the trip would go and whether we could make each other feel better.
From the moment George greeted us in Edinburgh, we knew we were in good hands and it was going to be an amazing trip, no matter what. George is just so personable, so authentic, so big hearted and so entertaining. The roads were so foreign and crazy to us, and yet all of us felt so incredibly safe with George at the wheel, both physically and emotionally. George's knowledge of Scotland was incredible and his great stories never failed to inspire and deepen the Scottish experience. We felt George's love and pride of Scotland on every beautiful road.
George showed us such an immediate sense of empathy, spirit, adventure and goodness, that we knew in our hearts that if George was there, everything was going to be okay, and not just okay but so fun every, single moment in the van and out. I think the best thing about George is that he really listened to what everyone wanted and then magically created an above and beyond experience for everyone, way better than ever expected. For example, we were told at the train station that there was no possible way we would get same day tickets on the 'Harry Potter' train but George sent us for lunch and then miraculously found a rail employee in the parking lot and somehow convinced this rail employee that we had to have them and the next thing we knew, there was George with an extra sparkle in his eye and we were on that train with six tickets!
I told George I wanted to take the family out for 'afternoon tea', which I would have staged in a boring old Inverness hotel, but instead, George took us to Glengarry Castle, where we had a lovely tea with a gorgeous castle all to ourselves, beautiful grounds and breathtaking views. George even helped me track down my husband's ancestors in Ullapool! I will never forget driving boldly across the grounds of St Andrew's golf course, as we shrieked in laughter, 'GEORGE, what are you doing?!' We thought we were breaking all sacred rules of the club, but George just smiled and let us know that timing is everything. Fore! The lookouts George took us to on Isle of Skye were absolutely magical. Come to think of it, everywhere we went was absolutely beautiful. Perhaps George's job is easy and it is just beautiful everywhere in Scotland? George made it so every day.
I have told all my friends and family about our incredible tour and now everyone wants to book a visit to Scotland with George as their guide. Mrs Felton's daughter Kim, who was on the trip and has never really been a big fan of 'family tours', said it best. "All our best Scotland stories inevitably lead back to George." Indeed.
We were so sad to say goodbye to George in Edinburgh. At the close of the Tattoo that night, we saw a white VIP van pull right into the arena, and we all exclaimed, 'there's George!' Alas, it was only wishful thinking, but throughout our incredible six day adventure with George, we would think of George and he would magically appear.
Thank you for giving us your 'best driver' who truly showed us the best of Scotland!! It would have been a very different tour without George.
Thank you so much for making it all happen. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.
PS I would be remiss if I did not also mention that 'Norma' gave us a lovely city tour of Edinburgh and really knew her Edinburgh lore! She was awesome.
Good afternoon. I’ve been meaning to follow-up with you about our trip and here goes.
Flight over went pretty smoothly. There was a little confusion at the car rental counter due to some recent change in company ownership, but we were able to work that out. Couldn’t figure out how to put the car in reverse and had to stop at a gas station for help – you pull up on the shifter instead of pushing down. Driving on the left was a real challenge at first – Duncan kept saying, “Wrong side Dad.” Got run off the road in the Borders area – good thing we had the tire and wheel insurance. Visited my Mom’s ancestral home including a quick stop at Ayton Castle – really nice country.
We enjoyed our stay in Edinburgh and accidentally explored a good bit of the city because we got lost going to the Royal Botanical Gardens – which were wonderful and enjoyed by all. Walked the Royal Mile and ate dinner at World’s End on the edge of the old city. Wasn’t crazy about the bleachers in front of the castle and found the style of the new parliament building awful. Ate haggis, rode a double-decker bus and spent a good bit of time walking the neighborhoods near the inn (whose staff were very nice).
Drive to Glencoe was beautiful – stopped at the Falkirk Wheel along the way. Claichag Inn was really neat and tucked away right at the base of some pretty impressive mountains. Duncan and I made a tough hike with a lot of rain nearby and we did some sightseeing by car while in the area.
We ate lunch in a nice little restaurant over-looking the Maillag harbor - we had already developed a fondness for Cullen skink and made it our goal to sample the local variant at every opportunity. The ferry to Skye was pleasant and the drive to Portree was really pretty - we stopped to visit a ruined castle along the way. Portree was a charming town and served as a wonderful base for exploring the island. We hiked Bla Bhein – stayed sunny for most of the hike; and visited Old Man of Storr (not sunny) and the Museum of Island Life – fascinating. We saw the McDonald castle at Dunvegan and visited the nearby Angus McGaskill museum. The ferry ride to Harris was nice and we went south to Rodel – beautiful and then north to the Circle at Callinish. The scenery along the way – especially on Harris was spectacular.
On the drive north, we went on a nice hike along the base of Liathach to a beautiful coire. Ullapool was a pleasant surprise – very nice little town. We hiked Stac Polly and drove up around the north side of the island. We found a little place for lunch – way off the beaten path – and enjoyed our frequent encounters with sheep on the road.
Inverness was Susan’s second favorite city. We made a long walk along the Ness river and wandered about much of the city. We had dinner overlooking the castle and visited the Cairngorns and Loch Ness center nearby.
We arrived in Glasgow early and Susan and I took the bus into the city and walked around – visiting the Cathedral, the Necropolis and the Glasgow School of Art - before having dinner downtown.
All-in-all, it was a wonderful experience and we really appreciate all you did to make it memorable. By the way, the binder that you and Best of Scotland prepared was wonderful and very useful and it was obvious that a lot of time and care went into its preparation – thank you.
We’re not sure what we’ll be doing next summer, but will keep you in mind as our plans materialize. In the meantime, best wishes in working with this year’s CMLC winner and thank you for your continued support of their mission.
Hope you have an enjoyable fall.
We are almost back to normal. The trip was fantastic: places, people, food, history, travel, we're all really good! The itinerary was great- we covered a lot of ground! All the houses and hotels were excellent and the VW van worked out really well.
I'll get you more details in a bit - seems like as soon as I sit down at my desk and start working on the photographs, hours fly by and I don't get anything else done.
Thanks again for everything, you and Marie did stellar work and it was so good knowing we had places to stay and the means to get there!
Sent from my iPhone
We have made it home, though we were sad to see our two weeks end. The trip was a resounding success for us and just about everything went smooth as clockwork. We will certainly recommend Best of Scotland to anyone looking for this type of trip. I made notes along the way of things we wanted to give you specific feedback on, and these follow below. Thank you again, so much, for all your help and attention to detail, and for putting so much personalized thought into our itinerary. We hope to return in the not too distant future to see the rest of the UK, and we will surely call upon your services again when we do.
A belated thank you for planning such a great trip for my client - they loved it - had a few hiccups which they said had nothing to do with you or me, and the airline really messed them up on their return . Still haven't had a chance to speak to him directly but from his return home thank you card, two postcards while traveling and emails they certainly enjoyed every part of their holiday.
Thank you so very much.
Till next time.
Tamsin & Cooke
Naples, NC, USA
I just want to thank you for helping to make my client's vacation in Scotland so memorable. They enjoyed the Fairmont and the Radisson. The two guys even got to play the "Old Course"
They were so happy that we included the Tattoo & Witchery tour. The boys loved it.
If I have any future requests for travel to Scotland, I will be sure to contact you.
Judy Litner, President
Travel Express Intl. Ltd.
Great Neck, New York
Just wanted to drop you an email and tell you that we had a great time at the Open and that the accommodations you provided were fantastic, better than expected. The people we encountered in Scotland were extremely helpful and polite. We could not have had a better time except for a few instances of your "summer weather", although we were prepared. The transportation to and from all of our destinations was very well done. We could only wish we had that efficient public transportation in the States.
We would definitely recommend your company for anyone considering a trip to the Open or just going to Scotland. You have a beautiful country and great people. Again, thanks to you and the staff there that put this package together, it was worth every pound/dollar.
Philip J. Castagno
Attorney At Law
Louisville, KY 40253
Just wanted you to know we had a fantastic time. All of our connections were made, all the drivers were there, all the hotels were expecting us. It was a fabulous trip! We didn't have breakfast at one of the hotels (Westerwood) because we were leaving for the airport too early, and we missed a couple of whiskey tours due to time constraints. But everything went very smoothly. Please let Marie know that our driver for Scotland, Craig, was awesome. He even showed us places that were off the grid, as did our driver James in Ireland. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit Belfast because it was July 12 and they did not know if there would be trouble that day. But we had an excellent time, run run run run run...
I write again to say thank you for perhaps the best holiday I have ever experienced (and I've had many!) My son, Thomas, and I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Scotland. I have taken the liberty to attach a few photos for you. Thomas wears a smile that divulges his happiness! I can't help but smile, as well, as I look at the photos I recorded during our travels.
The Jury's Inn was a very comfortable hotel; the staff were friendly and helpful. They took good care of us. Meals were outstanding!
We had no problems with the Golflink service, or navigation to Musselburgh. On the golf day at Kingsbarns, we simpy taxied from Leuchars to Kingsbarns. We had lunch at the clubhouse and returned to Leuchars by taxi. It was a magical day.
I will highly recommend your service to anyone who asks. The truth is, I have already recommended your service to a fellow asking about The Open in 2016.
Thank you again for all you did for us. You helped make a wonderful memory with my son.
I want to thank you for all your help in planning my trip to Scotland, The Open and London. You were simply wonderful and patient and great. I really appreciate all your help with answering my questions and all your suggestions. We had a wonderful time in Scotland, I simply loved Edinburgh...wow what a wonderful historic city so quiet and nice or not depending on where you went and what you wanted to do. Beautiful scenery and wonderful walking...I cannot wait to go back!!!
Again thank you so much, fabulous to have had your help,
Thank you for checking in and I will keep my eye on the account to see when the deposit comes through. I spoke with Tom today and he was very pleased with the trip, weather notwithstanding! He and his daughter decided to extend until Tuesday, so they were able to witness the final round and the playoff. We managed to get them a hotel at Glasgow Airport for Monday evening, but by the time they left St. Andrew’s, stopped by Jury’s for their luggage, got the train to Glasgow and a taxi to the airport, it was nearly 2 AM. All part of the adventure though. He is already talking about going back in 2021, if in fact the Open is held in St. Andrew’s that year.
The only glitch was one of their own doing. They were able to attend an event on Tuesday and meet golfers, etc so they decided to forego their tee time. They did, however, go out on Wednesday and play. They did not take their voucher (though it was for Tuesday anyway) and paid to play on Wednesday. I was just wondering if you had a relationship with Aberdour such that they would consider crediting Tuesday’s round back to his credit card. (I think I know the answer but thought I would ask any way!)
Thank you so much for putting together such a great package and making me look good! I appreciate your help.
All the best,
Hurley World Travel, Inc..
The following is a report I received from McFarland’s travel agent about his experience at Trump International. Thank you for your excellent work for him. For your information, he is going to Ireland in 2016, which is why you won’t be hearing anything about him for next year. I expect he will be back on your side in 2017.
Duncan had glowing reports on the accommodations, food & service at the MacLeod House. Nothing negative to report. You can be assured of the best of everything for other bookings.
He was not excited about the course and likened it to Chambers Bay with too much distance between greens and tees, which made walking difficult and tiresome.
Hope this helps for future bookings.
Loved the castle and the whole tour. Saw some of the downton abbey folks as they were filming. Tour guide at the castle and on the bus were great. Saturday was a challenge. The two of us walked the course and enjoyed the town but we ran out of steam before play started. Clear though why play was postponed. Yesterday great. Really had a wonderful time yesterday. Wish we could stay for today's final but must move on.
Thanks for everything. Had a ball.
As we make final preparations to return this morning to London in
anticipation of our departure for the U.S. tomorrow, I write to say thank
you for helping coordinate a terrific holiday for my son and me in Scotland.
It was a magical time, marred only by elements beyond our control (namely
the wind at St. Andrews on Saturday!) The final round of The Open will play
out without us!
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and will highly recommend your services to
any who may ask about planning a journey to Scotland.
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks for a great trip.
Steve Berry Book
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The 2018 Open Golf Championship Carnoustie
Price: £1299 per person sharing
Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Angus (July 19-22 2018); 5 nights Accom; Full Breakfasts; 4 Packed Lunches for the championship days; All Train Travel from Aberdeen to Carnoustie; Open Golf Season Ticket; VAT
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2018 Guaranteed Teetimes Old Course St.Andrews
Price: From £2487 per person sharing
7 Day Golf Package
Guaranteed Old Course St.Andrews Teetime
Our package includes the following:
6 nights accommodation at the 5 star Fairmont Hotel, St.Andrews including breakfast each morning; 1 round over The Old Course, St.Andrews April, May, June, July or August; 1 round over one of the other St.Andrews courses; 1 round over Kingsbarns; 1 round over Carnoustie; 1 round over St.Andrews Castle; 7 day rental of an auto Minivan ; VAT @ 20%.
Edinburgh New Year's Eve Celebrations 2017/18
Price: £1231 per person sharing
5 Days/4 Nights Edinburgh Hogmanay Escorted Tour
This tour features:
Edinburgh Castle tour; Ghost tour of Edinburgh with a local guide; Glenkinchie Distillery tour; Palace of Holyroodhouse; Rosslyn Chapel, one of Scotland’s most beautiful heritage attractions; St Andrew's, "the home of golf"; Breakfast daily; 3 dinners including New Year’s Eve dinner plus more.