I have been organising holidays for the Norwood family for over a decade and was thrilled when Gemma and her fiancé, Thomas, reached out for some honeymoon help.
After a few discussions, Canada was the chosen destination and I excitedly put together a mixed itinerary that included Vancouver; bear and whale watching on Vancouver Island; as well as Whistler, the Rockies, and ending in Banff…
Although we had been married in spring, holiday restrictions at work led us to a June honeymoon.
We didn't have a set idea of what we wanted, but an active honeymoon, visiting at least two separate places and decent weather were our prerequisites.
Susan has previously booked memorable holidays for my parents, and I knew she would come up trumps.
It was a difficult choice as all her ideas were fantastic, but after much deliberation and discussion, we chose the Canadian road trip as the itinerary looked extra special, neither of us had been, and the opportunity for 18 days off work may not come around again for a while.
Our outbound journey was seamless, flying from London to Vancouver with Air Canada. Susan had organised a private transfer with a friendly driver who delivered us directly to our hotel.
Everything about Canada felt fantastic from the moment we landed. The people were so friendly and welcoming, the weather was great and the scenery totally spectacular.
The entire trip was filled with an array of amazing adventures with different modes of transport, accommodation and types of experiences.
Susan had organised an ideal SUV hire car; advance ferry tickets; an itinerary that included Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Whistler and Banff; and a selection of wonderful hotels.
Our very favourite was the Best Western Tin Wis in Tofino, sat right on a beach that provided lovely long walks, spectacular views from our balcony and the hot tub, plus delicious breakfasts. The Buffalo Mountain Lodge, in Banff, was a close second - our room was a luxurious wilderness cabin with a balcony offering an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains. Both were so very different from anywhere we'd stayed before and felt authentically Canadian.
The Crystal Lodge in Whistler and Magnolia Hotel in Victoria were in the heart of the village/ city, giving us a good break from driving, and the Sheraton Wall in Vancouver was also perfect for exploring the city. We didn't really have much time to spend in the hotels with so much to do but each was a great choice with charming rooms, friendly staff and in good locations.
Tofino truly took us by surprise. Neither of us had heard of it and we had no idea how beautiful and peaceful it would be. The beaches were stunning, lined with forest and dotted with islands, totally unlike anything we have seen before.
Susan had included bear and whale watching in our Tofino itinerary and they were two of the most amazing experiences ever and such special memories. We saw eight bears including a mum and her cub and, on the water, we saw a pod of orcas which included two babies.
Susan sorted everything - all we had to do was phone the day before to confirm the time as they vary depending on the tide, and then turn up. The company that ran the excursions was very well organised and both trips lasted three hours, allowing plenty of time to see the animals in their natural environment.
Other highlights included a fantastic visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria, and the Peak2Peak gondola in Whistler, which was so worth overcoming my fear of heights to see people skiing in July and the incredible views.
In Banff, Johnson Canyon, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake and Sulphur Mountain were all spectacular, and canoeing on Lake Louise has been a dream of mine for many years and was every bit as thrilling as I had imagined.
Whilst Tom hadn’t been imagining it for quite as long, he loved being out on the lake and looking at the amazing mountains reflecting off the water. Hiking around the lakes and mountains was delightful, too.
We marked the last night of the trip with an unforgettable dinner at the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a fitting farewell before our drive to Calgary and return to the UK.
I’ve recommended Canada to pretty much everyone that will listen to me, and we will undoubtedly go back. Susan did an outstanding job. We had the best time and loved every single place we visited and stayed. She kept us updated with all the information we needed throughout, including the offer of assistance to complete the required documentation.
From the first phone call we had, I had total trust and confidence that her expertise and knowledge of so many different places plus her care and attention to detail would be invaluable in planning the perfect trip. I was right. Thank you so much, Susan.