SARATOGA BRIDE, Next Stop…Paradise

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Diving into the information-saturated world of vacation planning can feel like wading through shark-infested waters. It is possible to experience the honeymoon of your dreams however, and it may even include actually swimming with sharks.

“We were able to swim with sharks and stingrays in the turquoise water, to feed (them) as they swam right alongside of us, gliding their smooth bodies on our arms and legs,” said Tara Jackson.

She was swimming around in the French Polynesian island of Moorea with her new husband, Scott, when a giant 12’-wide manta ray glided by beneath them. An experienced traveler, she’d explored 28 countries but had never been a part of something as extraordinary as her honeymoon turned out to be.


“The word “incredible” doesn’t do our experience justice,” said Tara. After their September 2016 wedding, the couple enjoyed a combination of romance, culture, and adventure on their spectacular dream honeymoon.

“The water goes from a deep royal blue, changes to a tropical green, to a baby blue, and into a white sky blue. It is incredible. Literally, it’s something you wouldn’t believe is real unless you saw it,” she said.

The Jackson’s over-the-sea bungalow afforded them a view of the dolphin sanctuary next door, accompanied by the sounds of dolphins singing in the night. They boarded the luxurious Paul Gauguin cruise ship, which carried them in style through the romantic islands, while Jet Ski and ATV excursions gave them awe inspiring opportunities to examine the intricacies of the landscape up close.

The hardest they laughed during the entire trip was when they were invited to participate in a cultural dance with the locals, said Tara. They were honored by the traditional Polynesian Blessing Ceremony, and delighted to taste regional cuisine, such as fresh tuna in coconut milk and spices. They were enchanted by the hand-crafted black pearl jewelry for sale, and amazed by another scent, that of jasmine, which Tara found especially breathtaking.

“When I close my eyes and think about it, I smell jasmine. They carry it around and hand it out. It’s in their hair, and presented on plates of bamboo leaves. The smell is so calming and relaxing. It’s everywhere and it’s just so cool,” she said.


Getting this kind of VIP treatment is not something that the Jacksons likely would’ve experienced without the help of a dedicated travel agent.

“The internet cannot VIP you,” advises Anne Gordon of Live Life Travel, an affiliate of Worldview Travel, Virtuoso Member. Typically getting calls from people after they’ve gotten frustrated from trying to plan a vacation themselves, she serves as a detail-oriented, unbiased mediator with the global expertise, access, and connections to make dreams into a reality.

“From step one, to when the plane landed at home, it was just a dream,” said Tara.

Gordon’s clients, including Tara, are often given tailored care-packages with items including an itinerary, packing list, and luggage scale, and can contact her with questions at any time on their trip. She sources information from her own travel experiences, site inspections of locations and resorts, professional development seminars and events, as well as a large network of contacts.

This kind of insight has guided travelers through the unforeseen pitfalls of planning. She advises how to best accommodate the hemispherical and seasonal variances or to obtain a sunset view off the shores of Key West unobstructed by a cluster of cruise ships.

“Everything that we plan is very customized and personal to each client.”


Sensitive to the considerations of a couple who would likely be exhausted traveling to Thailand after their wedding reception, she ensured cocktails, food, and massages were lined up waiting for honeymooners Christopher and Desiree Mefford upon their arrival.

In addition to relaxing on the white sandy beaches surrounded by the lush greenery of Koh Samui Island, the Meffords went kayaking and on a zip-lining adventure through the Chiang Mai jungle. They visited the impressive and revered temples, were treated to a private market tour, got an authentic cooking lesson and ate with a local family.

“I’ll spend as much time as it takes to get it right,” assured Gordon. She appreciates, gets excited about, and loves the opportunity to help someone, she said.

“Go for what you really, really want.”


Knowing how important a room with an amazing view can have on creating a uniquely amazing experience, Gordon arranged for Jeff and Shirah Bettinger’s honeymoon to Italy’s Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast to include a room with an unforgettable view of Mt. Vesuvius across the bay.

In their special Pompeii excursion, which included climbing in 4x4ss up to the volcano’s summit, the Bettingers enjoyed the country’s exceptional wine.

“Volcanic ash makes some of the best wine in the world. You would never think that, but it’s true and we wanted them to experience that for themselves as part of the excursion,” she said.

While discovering the charm of old-country Italian lemon farms, the authentic tastes of lemonade, limoncello, fine olive oils, Italian wines, cured meats and cheeses graced the Bettinger’s menu, all while they took a Neapolitan pizza making class as well.



Live Life Travel Mother Daughter Travel

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Trends in Wellness...Mother/Daughter TravelWRITTEN BY ANNE GORDON, OWNER, LEISURE TRAVEL
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