22nd anniversary

July 2024 - Hi Shelley. LOVED the trip and had an absolute ball!!!!!  Robbie gave an EPIC concert at Hyde Park and we saw the Abba Voyage concert (wonderful), Hamilton play, and high tea at the Gilded room. Hotel was excellent and perfectly located! Another home run by you talented folks at Absolute Travel.

June 2024 - Overall, all worked out and memories were added from our travels. First, our kids were impressed with the First-Class (Charter) flight from Halifax to Toronto. Thank You! Second,our 17U boys missed their connection in Toronto to Edmonton and were lucky to get another flight the same day. (coaches didn't hear the gate change. That was on them).  Finally, thank you for assisting and keeping us updated on our return rebooking and flight delay. All worked out. Looking forward to our continued partnership for Nationals 2025. Deon/Craig

June 2024 - I used Elayne Pink (her assistant/partner Shelly) to book a “simple” flight to Toronto. I hadn’t used a travel agent in over a decade yet in that period I’ve spent hours on hold with various airlines for flight cancellations, issues with websites not taking the hyphen in my surname (every time with Sunwing). Now all that combined with needing a wheelchair now and traveling at Christmas, I decided to pay their small fee. They indeed spent significant time online to straighten out the wheelchair (not the hyphen). Worth every single penny. Add to that that if my flight had been canceled, they’d be sorting out the changes, not me (I once spent nearly two hours on hold with Air Canada after a flight cancellation during a snowstorm. And that was trying to get to a deathbed, and again, a short domestic flight). Again, worth every. Single Penny. Pam Griffin-Hody

May 2022 - It was amazing! The resort was beautiful and the customer service was great. They were happy to switch us to a king sized room and gave us a lobster meal when we told them the trip was for our honeymoon. All staff were very friendly and happy to help. Shelley was incredible with us before leaving, we had some passport issues and she walked us through it all and gave us the info and support we needed. It was truly magical. Thank you so much for all your help!

April 2022 - Hello Elayne and Fred. We have just returned from our trip to La Bonita Paraiso, the Zoetry resort on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. You could not have picked a better spot for us. We asked for a boutique hotel, all-inclusive, quiet location. No 21 year old “activity Directors” hounding us to play volleyball or whatever and blowing whistles all day long. La Bonita was the perfect choice. You can safely ignore the few poor reviews of this hotel on Trip Advisor. The good reviews are the right ones . And your travel arrangements and document briefings were great. We will be booking with you again! Thank you. George Anderson and Jane McLoughlin.

March 2022 - Have to say, I have officially found my NS travel agency. These folks rock, from finding the right trip, to finding the right covid protection, to managing flight changes and seat orders on the fly (while in Mexico), I have never been treated so professionally by a TA. Every contact and action was flawless. Thanks Elayne, Fred and Shelley! You three made it so we were able to just enjoy our vacation knowing we were in good hands. Ian McLaws

January 2022 - We had a great trip to Varadero  !! The Covid protocols are top notch there . The resort was probably at around 30% capacity . As far as the Cuba docs you have to fill out they dont even look at it . On the way home not one person asked to look at our negative PCR papers or the ARRIVE CAN .Seems so unnecessary to do all that and nobody even look at it .1 out of 5 of us were selected for pcr test when we landed last night . That said it was an awesome vacation,  and i wish i could go back again next week !!

January 2022 - Thank you from the bottom of our heart. Dan and I were absolutely thrilled with our vacation, the resort was beautiful, the people were amazing and the sunshine and beach, well they were priceless. I have traveled with you before with a group of girls and we will definitely be traveling through you again! I have and will continue to promote you and your services! Thank you for everything! Cheers, Sue & Dan Skomsky 

January 2022 - Just managed to sneak back in last night before the storm! What a fabulous two weeks we have had at Royalton Hicacos ! Christmas and New Year celebrations and food were awesome! The beach was beautiful and we felt safe in the knowledge that you were there to help us with any problems that should arise ! Thankful and grateful nothing did. First time in Cuba and it won’t be the last. Thanks for all your support and professionalism Elayne Pink. Alison Neale

Janaury 2022- For many many (many!) years, booking travel has been a huge part of my job. Complex, complicated trips entailing every possible variable. Working with agents, and on my own. The mistake I made could have had horrible consequences. If my booking had NOT entailed using points, I would have booked with Elayne Pink at Absolute Travel. She is incredible! I know how very very lucky I was to catch a lucky break by getting a great Aeroplan agent on the phone who caught and fixed my mistake. And luckily it was the Air Canada portion, and I still had enough points for the fare difference. Soooooo … under the “learn from Sherri’s mistakes” column, big ol’ red check mark … ALWAYS use a great travel agent!
January 2022 - Just back from an amazing trip to Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana. A big thank you to Elayne for booking this perfect worry free vacation. She sent detailed information for our reentry to Canada and any questions I had were quickly answered. The Covid protocols at this resort were top notch and we felt very safe. We normally book three to four trips a year and from now on, we will book with Absolute Travel. Charlene Bowen MacAulay

December 2021 - Hi Elayne. Want to thank you for everything. We are back and were on the first direct flight back home to Halifax yesterday. Wonderful to fly direct again. All went well. Did our Switch tests before coming home and it was super easy. As an FYI our names on our vacc certificates didn't match our passports (our middle names were either absent or not complete on vacc certificate) and it was not an issue at all. We look forward to our next trip in February and thank you again for all your hard work to make things go so smoothly. Brenda

December 2021 - Thank you! With all the changes I am so thankful for you and your colleagues. I couldn’t even imagine trying to navigate the changes on my own. The piece of mind that I have knowing you guys are on top of it, will allow me to concentrate on my meeting and not all the travel requirements. YPO Canada

November 2021 - With all of the travel complications due covid, the trip you planned was absolutely fantastic with not so much as a single wrinkle in the travel plan. That was just referring to the physical travel, the experiences and things we seen and did during our trip starting with a four day stay in Amsterdam and onto a seven day cruise up the Danube River was something that was packed with amazement from beginning in Budapest through Austria to the final destination in Lintz Germany. We recommend this river cruise to anybody that is looking for a very welcoming and comfortable fancy ship with great food, fun interactive onboard entertainment, and great attention to detail in serving every last guest’s  need, then go on a Viking cruise up the Danube and book the trip through Elayne Pink and Fred Mack at Absolute Travel Specialists. Elayne knows her work and is very passionate to ensure the best planned trip and travel experience one could wish for! - Robin Lohnes

July 2019 - Yup - that’s from me after Elayne & Shelley resolves a very nasty diversion on my travel to Tonga. Severe thunderstorms created havoc and of course many folks in my flight were affected and agents are having a terrible time trying to rebook everyone. Well, Shelley & Elayne were able to get me a flight and back on track before the gate agent!! Now that is not only fancy stick handling, it is outstanding client service! Thank you both ladies - I think you should change your company name to Absolute Rock Stars!! Dr. Kennedy

April 2019 - Huge shout out to Elayne and Absolute Travel on your Cher Concert package! The seats were great, better than I have had fro such a concert! The location of hotel was perfect! We had so many choices of good restaurants short walking distance from our front door! As well as wonderful theater near by! Great choice thanks, they were so friendly and helpful at the Hyatt Regency Toronto! The flight connections were perfect so our daughter could join us from British Columbia, we all arrived and left at the same time! Thank you and I am already planning next concert package! Thanks Elayne, Marilyn

March 2019 - You have really outdone yourself planning this trip for us. This place in Jamaica is heaven on earth. Absolutely gorgeous. Food is fabulous, people are so friendly, entertainment is wonderful. The staff look after every little detail. I wish we would have stayed for 2 weeks. It is beyond words to describe. You just have to come here. It is safe here, no worries at all. Yah man!

February 2019 - Hi Elayne:So we have just returned home from our stay at the Majestic Mirage. Thank you so much for recommending this resort. Our first time to the DR a few years back at the Grand Bahia was not great so our expectations this time around were guarded. Well the Mirage did not disappoint. Despite a few wrinkles with our two room assignments upon checkin into day two, the remainder of our vacation was fantastic.The grounds are lush and green and to say the least very well maintained. The landscaping crew work continuously and tirelessly. The rooms are well appointed and well maintained. It is a perfect room set up for a family of 5. Some power outages in the rooms but I quickly fixed them by resetting the electrical panel.Housekeeping staff are professionals in their craft. Our housekeeper Eldwina (sp) needs to be commended for her hard work and attention to detail. Our room was left spotless every day.The restaurants were good. We only had the opportunity to visit Don Jaume, Kabuki and the two buffets. The two à la cartes were fantastic and service top notch. The two buffets were typical of buffets in an all inclusive resort. Good selection and flavours. Unfortunately we received raw (not undercooked) pork ribs and undercooked fish on our last dinner at the main buffet. But when addressed with staff it was addressed with the chef....we believe. No worries and no sickness. Bars were great. Charley at the swim up bar needs to be highlighted. This staff member knew our drink preferences after the first round and remained that way for the balance of the trip. Drinks around the rest of the resort were for the most part consistent and delicious. Evening activities were amazing and the kids really enjoyed them. Dancers and singers were amazing. Edwin our butler was one of the shining stars of our vacation. He addressed our every need and was quick to respond to our texts. He was always only a short distance away as well. It was like we would think of something and then he would appear. Staff in general seemed very happy to be working at the Mirage. Also greeting you and remembering you. Always willing to lend a hand with a request or when asking for directions. The beach was beautiful and well maintained. Lots of room to lay and relax. Water was warm and activities were fun and involving. The kids loved the pool activities especially the foam party. I could go on and on about this place. Elayne, thank you again for the recommendation. If you need references about our experiences, I would be happy to provide. We will be back, already planning for January 2020 for Kelly’s 50th birthday! Side note is Air Transat. As you know, I was apprehensive about flying a charter. Transat pleasantly surprised me. Purchasing the Option Plus option was a smart move. Staff rivaled WestJet in terms of friendliness and attention to detail. They were service focussed. Also, while I know weather dictates a lot, we were lucky and flights left on time if not a bit early and they were uneventful. Now back to shovelling. David V. Ing and Family

October 2018 - Shelley & Elayne; The memories will last forever. Thank you you so much for all you have done for us. Mel and Bonnie - To read all the testimonal on thier Martime tour click here.

September 2018 - Hello and thank you for checking back with us! We loved Nova Scotia! We were very pleased with your suggestion to do Halifax and Cape Breton. We loved the Marriott in Halifax. The room we were assigned at first overlooked the garage so we asked for one with a view, and we were able to get one for an additional $20 per night. It was much, much better. The breakfasts were great, and we ate dinner there once which was fine. Access to the parking garage from the hotel was excellent. We went to Peggy's Cove, Lunenberg, and the Fisherman's Village near Dartmouth. The Distillery was satisfactory but not particularly to our liking because of its remoteness, but we understand that hotel options in the Cape are limited. Being so far on the western side of the Cape, it was a long trek to get anywhere. We did the Cabot Trail which was beautiful and we found a nice restaurant on the water for lunch. We also went to the Highland Village which we loved. We would have liked to see more but anything else was too far to drive to. Our room at the lodge was a little too rustic for us (no closet, shower very small and was difficult to start, no phone to the desk) and we had to drive to the main building to get sodas, ice, water or anything else we needed. On the positive side, the TV and the heat/AC and internet were very good. Breakfast was very good, dinner in the pub not great, and we didn't try the dining room. Thank you for all your assistance, and we used your pamphlet to guide us which was very helpful. We hope to get back someday and do the south and north shores, and PEI. Everyone in your office was very helpful and we appreciate that. In fact, all Canadians we met were very friendly and courteous. We felt like we were in the USA. Sincerely, Ken and Pam  

July 2018 - Lord Nelson Hotel was great, and perfectly located. We really enjoyed seeing Maud Lewis' tiny house at the Art Gallery. The next day, having lunch at The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, the "Maudie" actor Ethan Hawke came in to eat with his family! We were able to speak with him for a bit. Favourite restaurants: Bicycle Thief and Press Gang (we had "The Drill") in Halifax; Red Shoe Pub (we ate there twice); Windows on the Water in Montague; Georgetown Historic Inn; Piatto (great pizza) and The Merchantman Pub in Charlottetown; Main Street Restaurant and Bakery in Ingonish. Cabot golf courses were amazing, I got my first-ever birdie on Cabot Links. The PEI courses were lovely, too. Donelda's Puffin Boat Tour was great. Glenora Inn was lovely, we enjoyed the distillery tour. My only complaint would be that our room was in the brand-new log cabin which is quite a distance from the Inn, so we had to get in the car all the time.There was some confusion at the Oak Island Resort, the dinner package we had (4 course meal with bottle of wine) puzzled the dining room manager, she claimed they didn't offer that, but I had the invoice which mentioned it so she honoured it. The food there was somewhat disappointing. We really enjoyed Charlottetown, did the double decker city tour as well as the Queens Square Walking Tour. In the evening, we went to Atlantic Blue, Tara MacLean's concert at the Guild Theatre, very good. Lunenburg was beautiful. Visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and did a horse-drawn buggy tour. Mahone Bay was super-crowded, so we didn't stay long. Peggy's Cove is a must-see but as you warned, so crowded. We did that on our last day, driving the coastal route to the airport. We escaped Peggy's Cove and ate lunch further north. We enjoyed the drive. Our flight home was cancelled as the Toronto Airport was closed, no flights in, no flights out due to severe thunderstorms. We stayed at the Alt Hotel in the airport and got the 6:15 flight the next morning. That was really the only problem we encountered. It was a very relaxing vacation, great food. I loved the ceilidhs in the restaurants, particularly The Red Shoe Pub. The Hertz rental car was a Chrysler Pacifica, very roomy and a pleasure to drive. Many thanks for putting together a fine vacation. Lisa and Don

March 2018 - Elayne: You are the best! Thank you for guiding my family to such and amazing safe resort! Our first family vacation South was perfect and your company's professioanlism and detailed service made all the difference. When a travel agent can care for thier clients like family - means you will be truly looked after. Thank you for being so amazing! We can't wait toplan another family memory. You Rock! Faye

March 2018- This resort has been so fabulous we can’t thank you enough! Everyone is wonderful. We’re having such a great time its a beautiful resort and we want to come back next month just us and the kids. Our family had had the BEST vacation ever! Everyone and  everything at this resort is above and beyond what we were expecting. The food alone is worth mentioning because every meal has been fantastic! The kids are having the time of their lives and they don’t want to leave lol The rooms are absolutely gorgeous and the service from the staff is amazing. Everyone has been fabulous and we cannot wait to come back here. This will be our new home away from home. Thankyou again for everything, you exceeded our expectations with your travel planning and we will be booking our next trip back here very soon!!! this place is like paradise! Melissa

Feb, 2018 - Back home after our first family vacation south, Can't say enough about the kind staff at Ocean Varadero El Patriarca. Beautiful beaches, 30 degree weather for 7 days, tours to Varadero, dancing at the Beatles Bar and a day trip to Havana to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway. The best part was by far spending time with family and making new memories. Glad we could share them together. Thanks Elayne Pink and Absolute Travel for choosing this resort for us. It was beyond our expectations.

Feb, 2018 - Hi Elayne;
First off, many thousand thanks for doing what you always do - coming up with ideas, listening to me change my mind, fine tuning thoughts, then handling all the details - including the Day Off (what's that, Elayne) check in for us.
The resort was, indeed, a WOW! This is not a negative comment when I say I don't need that kind of classy pampering - I can do just fine without it - BUT... it was lovely!  It is a beautiful resort - the architecture, the service, the pool, the accommodations, the food!!!. I really liked the layout (once I figured out how to get back to my room!!). It is kind of like a small Costa Rican town layout - you know, the big square with restaurant, bar, concierge, etc. surrounding it. Lots of shade up there too and fantastic hammocks to lie around in. Every evening they brought in crafts people to set up little stalls - so you really got the feeling of walking in  a small town. Our room was ground floor which I like - patio rather than balcony. Close to the pool, which was handy. I am a big beach girl, more than a pool girl, but as you know, CR is not known so much for it's swimming beaches (with some exceptions). Lots of rips and rocks. The Marriott had a nice if small beach for walking and while there is no life guard and they warn of rips, there is a place for you to play in the water. Esp at low tide. I found I used the pool more than the beach (not my norm) largely because of needing the umbrellas for shade. It is HOT there! Even an early morning or late afternoon walk on the beach is hot. The pool is huge and meanders throughout the property so you never feel you are all crammed together. Plenty of umbrellas for all the folks. Necessary!!! There were 4 of the 10 days when we either weren't able to put the umbrellas up or had to take them down - it was windy season. Really windy. But very nice for cooling a person down. Food was great - lots of choices; we never had even a mediocre meal. The big thing about CR is that while it is a small country, the distances take a long time to travel. Looking at the map, I had visions of doing a number of excursions from the hotel. Well, things take a long, long time to get to. Tim and I went to the volcano where we zip lined and then went to the hot springs. Left at 7 am, returned at 9:30 - a great deal of it was in the bus. So, with my 20 20 hindsight, and while I prefer staying in one place and venturing out from there, if I were to advise someone of what to do with 8 - 10 days in CR, I would say to stay in two very different locations. The flights all went smoothly. Business class was verrrry nice!
Anyway, a long winded typically Kathy way to say it was a great trip and we both thank you so much for making it happen.

Jan 2018 - Hi Elayne,
Just wanted to say thanks again for helping to make our family vacation a great one! My brother and i have always talked about travelling South together with our families and our trip was perfect. We loved everything about Dreams Riviera Cancun - beach, food, service, entertainment, cleanliness and grounds. It was great for both families and for couples. The only con (and it wasn’t a con for us but might be for others) is the entertainment in the evening was pretty loud so if you wanted an early night, you would need ear plugs to sleep. I actually liked being able to listen to the music from our room but families with small kids might feel differently. Erika

Congratulations Absolute Travel. Elayne, you go girl! You and Shelley have kept me from having meltdowns. Thanks for handling all the little things so easily and professionally. It is so comforting to hear “it’s already been taken care of”

Ladies and Gent,
All of your travel and visa arrangements worked like a fine tuned three piece brass band. I want to thank you again for the prompt professional service you provided in response to our short timeline, complex situation. You guys rock. Robin Lohnes, CEO Dominion Diving.

"just wanted you to know that you guys are awesome. Seriously, within 24 hours of other agencies telling us it was an impossible task, you had everything arranged and fixed for us, every detail, even the smallest. We especially saw your commitment to us when we had a weather delay on our return flight and within minutes you had our flight rescheduled and a hotel booked when the City was sold out. We would not have been able to finish shooting without your expertise, Thanks a bunch for all your work."
Graeme Hopkins, Assistant Production Coordinator, Trailer Park Boys.

Hi Elayne:
Our "Danube plus" tour last month was a trip of a lifetimes. Thank you for your careful planning.
Arrived at Václav Havel airport in Prague a bit overtired to put it mildly, but impressed by how well this international airport works, modern, efficient, speedy and professional. As an observation, it doesn't seem to matter where you are in Europe; the immigration police are NOT friendly. A pleasant Hello in English or their language only gets you a cold silent stare. Maybe a hand gesture to move on.
Taxi driver gave us a short synopsis of the Czech Republic on our way to the hotel. The Hilton Prague had English-speaking staff that were attentive to any need. The Zinc restaurant had an all you could ask for buffet breakfast. The freshly baked croissants were a highlight as well as the made-to-order omelets which were cooked to perfection. A hearty breakfast meant lunch on our own could be light and inexpensive fare. Dinner the first night at the hotel was much earlier than most people eat. We were starved and totally tired. Although we were the only guests in the dining room at 6:00 pm, we were welcomed and given food and wine recommendations by the multi-lingual waiter, who was not Czech. The food was very VERY good and Czech beer is among the best Pilsner's in the world. We tried to eat locally as much as possible at food stands and small bistros. Very good and much less expensive than at the hotel dining room. Especially the Czech fusion dishes.
The astronomical clock in the Old Town was one of the highlights: The majesty of centuries-old churches, castles, and other buildings was a huge leap for me because Canadians tend to tear down its "old" buildings, those of 50-100 years of age. The Czechs have edifices dating back to the 12th century and earlier. The hotel is ideally located and within easy walking distance of the Old Town which makes it very convenient (well, for those who are not significantly mobility challenged). Saw a Pachelbel concert in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House for approximately €30 and on our own went to the music museum where almost every instrument known to man was displayed together with their ancestors. I'll send a photo of a green "giraffe" harpsichord.
Joined the AMA Waterways tour the next evening and met our cruise director over an evening "champagne" get-together - actually sekt but good all the same. Next morning had a coach tour of the city old and new. Next day we took a coach from the Hilton to Regensburg, to Germany, a medieval walled city in Bavaria. Local guides took tours at various walking abilities throughout the town pointing out shopping and eating opportunities as well as historical sights and facts. After Regensburg, back on the coach to Vilshofen (I love pronouncing that word "FEEL SHOW fen") where 3 rivers converge. We boarded the AMA Waterways AMASerena around 3-ish, had a snack and more wine or beer, were shown to our staterooms followed by a briefing and meet the crew, about 1 crew to 3 guests). It is amazing how well appointed 250 sq feet of living space can be for 2. The French balcony, which is glass enclosed, and the outside balcony which is, well outside, were small but great for just relaxing watching the scenery go by, especially in the evening and at night. For more spectacular sights the main and upper decks were the place to be, particularly when coming into a new city or going through the numerous locks. The ship feels motionless when sailing, including docking and leaving port. There are 3 engines on the ship. I can't speak for those with staterooms at the stern as we were about midship. The Danube flows very quickly so there was often the illusion we were sailing when in fact we were docked. And vice versa when the ship was sailing and keeping up with the flow or slightly ahead of it and there was a feeling of not moving until we saw the shore going by. Surprisingly for me there is no ship's wheel that the captain steers. Just 3 black round disks something like slightly smaller shuffleboard discs with a handle on top. Watching the pulling into and leaving the numerous locks was really interesting, just slight twisting of the disks, a centimeter or 2, and the ship was inched (or centimetered) into place, usually beside another ship with 12-18 inches between ships and 18 inches or so to the lock's walls. Fascinating engineering marvel in my mind. And if you weren't watching you would never know what was happening. The ship is very "green". Vacuum toilets hardly use any water and don't smell at all; mostly LED lights, among other efficiencies. There is an elevator going to all floors except the top deck. AMA has small swimming pools, the only river cruise line to do so. Oh yes, potable water throughout the ship. Bottled water for shore is excursions and upon return along with cool towels and cold flavored water tea or water. You notice how superior AMA is when passing other river cruise ships and especially when docked aside another ship in port. To get to terra firma, it was sometimes necessary to pass through the lobby of another cruise line's ship. We had limited opportunity to see the other ship beyond the lounge, dining room, and top deck. However none of the other ships appeared to have French and outdoor balconies like AMA. Most had only big windows in the staterooms. Can't speak for food aboard other ships but it was excellent on the AMASerena. The Chef's Tasting Table was a culinary experience not to be missed. Without being asked dietary restrictions substitutions were made by staff. Personally, a beautiful and delicious diabetic dessert was presented without request. At each meal wait staff always asked if there were any dietary restrictions, dairy, eggs, gluten, diabetic, low fibre, fish, etc. and accommodations were suggested and seamlessly made. The chef's recommendations, including regional wines and foods, were always a good choice. If nothing appealed, you could always order off the menu with selections such as filet mignon, vegetarian, vegan, pasta, eggs Benedict for breakfast, and more. You only need to ask. In fact, if one were on a gourmet glutton trip there was an opportunity to eat all day and most of the night.  Early riser and late riser breakfast as well as "regular full course breakfast"; tea coffee and cookies or sweets; light lunch in the lounge or full course lunch in the dining room; afternoon tea in the lounge; full course dinner in the dining room; sweets and coffee or tea in the lounge; late evening tacos in the lounge, followed by coffee/tea and sweets in the lounge before bed. And tea or coffee and biscuits at any time in the lounge. Then you could drink off menu to your heart's content until midnight or so to the music of the ship's onboard musician, or regional folkloric music and dancing after dinner. The beer and wine selection were for the most part among the best of the countries visited. Unfortunately many are unavailable in Canada and were very good. There was a wine for most tastes, if not all.
Shore excursions were varied. Hiking, cycling, regular walkers' groups as well as gentle walkers (aka slowpokes) for city tours; bus tours; making soup and plum polena pastries in Bratislava, Slovakia at the Bratislava Hilton where we were also treated to a Slovakian dry red or white wine as well as the fruits of our labor and we got to keep our chef's apron. In the Wachau Valley in Austria there was the opportunity to learn about and taste apricots in all forms, jam, apricot liqueurs among other treats. Or one could go on a walking tour of Melk, where the 9th century Benedictine Abbey. 9th century, just think of it! Vienna was next. Who can say enough about Vienna. Too bad the visit was so short. A lifetime is too short, even with a Mozart/Strauss concert in a former palace thrown in. Thank you SMA for the complementary Mozart/Strauss CD included in the optional night tour. Finally Budapest. One of the most beautiful scenes in the world, especially on the Illuminations Tour the Captain took us on at night. The ship sailed back up the brown, not blue, Danube so that when we rounded the corner to come back into Budapest, the whole city was lit up, especially the parliament building. "Magnificent" understates the magic of the view.
Probably the best tribute to AMA is its staff that go well above and beyond to serve the needs and desires of its passengers. Staff make you feel like a welcome guest, not just a paying customer. Particularly so for people with disabilities. It is the "ne plus ultra" of cruise lines.
Thanks again Elayne/Absolute Travel for making the arrangements for a trip of a lifetime. - Janet Pond


Elayne: We love Xandari. After an 0300 awakening in Canada and long plane ride(s), getting to our room 30 minutes after landing was a welcome relief. The airport transfer was flawless. We’re feeling a bit guilty about taking up two huge villas — could certainly have fit comfortably into one — but they’re very nice. In fact, possibly the nicest we’ve stayed in. We’ve also enjoyed the beautiful grounds, the trails and the pools. The view over San Jose at night is lovely. We have yet to see our first mosquito. A few minor ailments accompanied us from Canada - colds, upset stomachs, a sore foot. Accordingly we made contact with the local B&R rep at 0700 the next day, asking whether we could rework the first day’s expedition to start later and be shorter. His answer was, “Of course. This is your trip and we will make whatever works best for you happen. We’re here 24/7, at the following local numbers …”. The perfect response. Our guide showed up at 11, introduced us to Costa Rica through a narrated driving tour, and took us to an authentic (i.e. local-filled and tourist-free) place for lunch. Back at the hotel, we swam in a waterfall on the grounds, dined, fell asleep. The next morning, the girls did not feel entirely well. Thus the boys set off with our guide for a tour of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens - spectacular flora and fauna - and then the volcano. Our guide inverted the order of events, fearing the volcano would be fog bound, and avoiding the crowds at La Paz - correctly on both fronts, as it turned out - the benefits of a private tour. We then lunched al fresco at a small place off the beaten path, set out in a private space. Very welcoming host, fantastic food, then back to the hotel to chill. Another memorable day. The kids are getting getter at Spanish. Whoever found our guide should see if he has any brothers or sisters that might be interested in guiding. Our general take is that Xandari is so nice that we’d be happy staying here for the rest of the vacation.
Pacuare was, as expected, a unique and fascinating place. Rafting in sets the tone - active, wild and, once there, quite luxurious. The Jaguar villa was gorgeous and huge (and had power). The attached plunge pool was lovely, as was the little tree platform overhanging the river, on which my son spent many happy hours reading. The food was also excellent … in net, quite an accomplishment given the logistics of getting stuff in. We enjoyed the canopy tour, except one part.The canyoning I found quite unnerving, as did my daughter. It just did not feel as safe as the zip - one rope only, with no safety back up and the guides seemingly offhand about things. In this it was similar to the last stage of the canopy tour, in which participants are lowered from the nest on a single line. A number of other guests remarked that they hadn’t liked the sensation at all. I think we’d have been reassured by a backup line and the implied dedication to safety; Pacuare should consider adding one, even if they feel it to be overkill. Otherwise they seem to be one equipment failure away from disaster. We later learned that the government inspects all the components of the the zip on a regular basis, something they might consider telling guests before the adventure … not sure if the case is the same for the rappelling equipment. The balance of our stay was excellent and the rafting out a spectacular finish. I’d highly recommend the place to prospective guests with two caveats: the one above as well as an admonition that Pacuare is truly in the wild, with highly poisonous snakes and ants and spiders etc. about. According to the guides, no guests have been bitten so far although there have been some close calls (and no antivenom on site although a helicopter is said to be standing by for evacuations). There were no mosquitos to speak of (and if there had been, they wouldn’t have made it through the netting in the villa). El Silencio, high in the cool cloud forest, was again an entirely different experience from the other two. We were in a master suite: spacious and modern, but requiring a short shuttle from the main lodge … not a bad walk along the road, although a path through the woods will hopefully be cut some day. The service was highly attentive, and the activities exceptional. My son and wife really enjoyed the local village visit, returning with tortillas and other foods they’d made. On night two, our family took over the smaller restaurant, where one of their chefs brought us back into the kitchen and joined us in preparing and then consuming dinner, teaching us his tricks along the way. Very special. The next day a private tour was organized to a local waterfall with an excellent and flexible guide; it was stunning. On the way back, they’d laid out a beautiful picnic lunch which we enjoyed, looking out over the mist-fringed hills. Again, a special event, and like the others one vastly improved by not having to be done on anyone else’s schedule. The transfer to the airport at 0400 took an hour and twenty minutes; we were happy to have spent our last full night at Silencio and not to have transferred to a marginally closer place. All of the transfers were executed flawlessly and included nice touches, such as refreshments on board and an Internet connection. One of our guides showed us around a local Wal-Mart, which was fun. I have only one small suggestion, which is that the company coordinating these supply a printed page (or email) with local emergency contact numbers in case, say, we’re not feeling well and need to alter things or can’t connect with the driver. In summary, a brilliant vacation, perfectly balanced between physical/intellectual activity and leisure. As I kept telling our hosts, God seems to have an especially soft spot for Costa Rica. We’d be happy to return and sample its other delights. Thanks to you and Elayne for your work to make it possible. CLICK HERE TO VIEW SUPPLIER WEBSITE

Elayne: I just want to thank you for the excellent service you provided. I had been to see a local agent a few times but always felt that I was being too fussy and taking up too much time. She didn't take the time to review /suggest any options that fit what I was looking for but slightly outside of my initial requirements. Your quick replies, confidence in making recommendations which reflected my preferences, enthusiasm for your job and attention to detail has been exemplary! Thank you for all of your help and I will definitely recommend you to others.

Dear Shelley - Thanks so much for making these latest arrangements for us. As usual, your efficiency and attention to detail are amazing! Thanks to you our previous trip to Italy and France was stress free and dream perfect. Your suggestions with regard to hotels resulted in our staying in unique (in the best sense of the word), comfortable , and easily accessible spots in Rome, Florence and Paris. In Florence, we were able to walk from our family run hotel, complete with balcony overlooking a shade-dappled, quiet inner courtyard, and walk 15 minutes to the Duomo! Doesn't get any better than that! Thank you very much. I'll be in touch as we make more detailed plans for this latest adventure.

Best wishes,
Margaret & Ray Rockwell

Hi Shannon,

"I was in the process of writing you a "real" letter, but will send an email, instead!

First of all, thank you so much for your generosity in donating a trip to the IWK. I always buy a ticket, never expecting to win, and was beyond excited when I did. I never could have (or probably ever will) afforded a holiday away, and you made it possible through your
generosity. Thank you.

Second, thank you for all your help. I realize that you don't get much out of helping someone who you are GIVING a trip to, and you were very patient with all our changes and discussion and fussing.
Thank you for putting up with it, and facilitating our trip on such short notice!

Finally, the trip was great. All of our connections and stuff worked smoothly, and Transat was very helpful and nice.
If you are looking at sending someone there, the location is wonderful - right on the end of all the resorts, so you can walk for endless kilometers on the beach, past houses and parks and nothing but wilderness. The resort is quite small (500 rooms?) and it was only
about half full - the paradise side that we were on was almost empty, so very nice and quiet! The resort was beautiful, especially the rooms. Service was friendly, if not very prompt because they are understaffed, and we were expected to tip everywhere, which I wasn't really expecting so didn't have any small bills. The food was reasonable as well, and the little village nearby was very normal, not touristy at all. I would go again, but not until it is finished. We had to wait quite awhile when we got there because the room was still under construction.
The pools are fabulous, and the spa on-site is AmAZING. We did a tour with AllTournative, and went rappeling, zip-lining, swimming in cenotes, kayaking, messing around in mayan ruins, etc. The guide was fun and very knowledgeable as were all the guides from that company. we learned a great deal about the Mayans and their culture, and the tour was eco-friendly and locally supported, A very slick and professional outfit that provided a real adventure without all the kitsch and touristy stuff. We went to Coba and I would go again in a
minute. We also went snorkeling on the coral reef - for 2 dollars they took us out in the boat, provided all the gear, and a guide to the reef. Best $2 spent EVER!

Thank you thank you thank you!! It was great!!!!!!!"
Eileen Burchill

"I just wanted to take a minute and drop you a very well deserved note regarding the top notch job you, Fred and Shannon have been doing for me, my family, and our corporate employees.

Today when I called you at the usual last minute, to change tomorrow's Montreal trip with my Specialty Services Manager, and asked you to reschedule for April 4th, including hotels and car, you did not miss a beat and in fact within an hour you had Shannon call to confirm new times and details.

In looking back I see that you have arranged over 14 trips for Tammy and I (sometimes with our children) in the past two years alone, over 25 business trips for me personally, at least 12 package vacations for our employee incentive plans, and countless other business transactions for Hoyt's staff members from air through hotels. The common demominator in all of this is that not once have we had a connection problem, never have we had a problem at a hotel check-in, and even last minute flight changes have been caught and we were advised in advance.

When my son had a medical problem in Cuba, you personally took the call and arranged for our Medical Insurance to pay the Cuban Hospital. When I wanted to make a last minute change in Europe, one call and you had it under control. While standing in an airport line-up in St. John's due to an aircraft malfunction I called and you had my flight changed and a confimation number for me before I reached the counter. Subsequently I avoided what turned out to be a five hour delay for my former fellow passengers as you nabbed me one of only two empty seats on an earlier flight that was about to depart.

Through your connections we watched the Rolling Stones from three rows back from the front stage, and saw the Eagles in Toronto from the VIP section. The hotels you arranged in London, Paris, Barcelona, St. Tropez, and Florence on just some of the different trips you helped plan were all clean, comfortable, and places we would return to in the future. Your level of detail in arranging "all inclusives" and cruises has been impeccable, and we have yet to encounter any problems of any type from connections, counter staff, room quality, level of service or quality and selection of food and beverages.

Elayne, you and Fred should be proud of what you have built, as evidenced by the level of service you have consistantly produced for us every time we have called on Absolute Travel. The words "personal touch" (although used far to often by advertisers) truly describe what you have delivered for us on each and every occasion.

Sorry to ramble, but this THANK YOU is way past due!"

Best regards
~ Randy Hoyt

Hoyt's Moving and Storage Ltd.
902 876 8205
902 456 2799
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


"OH MY GOD!!!! Where to begin.............seats were awesome, Elton John
was FABULOUS!!!!! We've been to a lot of concerts but this by far, was
the best. I could go on and on but I suspect you're going to here
exactly the same from everyone else. Thank you so much. Please keep us
in mind when you have other concert packages, but I doubt any will
measure up to this one. We're especially interested in an "Eagles"
package. Hope to talk to you soon"

Thanks again.
~ Patti Reynolds

"Good Morning Shannon. I smiled when I got your email because I was planning on getting in touch anyway.
We had a wonderful vacation. The Iberostar Varadero was lovely. The barstaff, food service staff, our maid Vivian and the entertainment staff were all great. Some of the girls in the entertainment staff remembered my name and always called me in for the activities, which I really liked. I'd go back to the Iberostar in a heartbeat, or another Iberostar. Great place for kids. Thank you Shannon for all of your very helpful assistance. Tom and I appreciate all of your efforts more than you know".

"AWESOME!!!! I don't know how u managed it but we had the best room in the resort...and there were 2200 people there that weekend! Oceanview, right on the beach. It was Room 1928. Any room in the 1900 block on the second or third floor would be absolutely fine but we were right in the middle and couldn't have been more perfect!!!! Very quiet. The food could have been better but who cares!!! The resort itself is clean, the shows were great, many pools, many bars, and much much fun!!! Our plane was early...and thank GOD we were on CanJet. We had these Digi Players and we watched two movies on the way down, we had hot towels, had a snack...and I got bulkhead going down. Perfect!!! No problems whatsoever with my legs either way!!!! The 6 am Sky Service flight that was supposed to leave at 6 am was delayed and we ended getting there before they did. Our room was ready upon arrival and we were at the pool bar by 11:30 a.m. What a trip!!!! Nothing went wrong!!! Amazing. Fat Cat Catamaran was awesome and u can recommend to others going down. Snorkeling and speed boating. Bob caught a 22lb Barracuda off the back of the boat. Ask me if he was excited!!!
We met and hung out with 5 different couples from across Canada and the US and we all had the same
experience. Wonderful!!!! Everybody remarked on the resort. It is nothing short of spectacular!
Well, well worth the money. Thanks for recommending it!"

~ Fredricka MacLean

"Hi Elayne,
Just a quick note to let you know our trip was excellent. Hotel was
awesome (perfect location - walked everywhere!), flights were great,
and INXS concert was out of this world! They were absolutely amazing!
Thanks for everything."

"The Madonna concert was fantastic! We are very glad that you had a concert
package for her concert. The Hotel was great. It was a great trip!"

Thank You!

"We were SO PLEASED that you and the Absolute team made quick arrangements to rebook us on Air Canada when CanJet closed operations.

"Hotel in Florence was FABULOUS! I would recommend it to anyone. We had a room with upstairs/downstairs, 2 bathrooms each with shower, and 2 TVS, kingsize bed. We really liked the hotel and their service. Only downside - parking (in a private parkade immediately behind the hotel) was 81E for 3 nights! One thing for sure...parking is at a premium everywhere in Europe.

Venice hotel was also FABULOUS! The staff were great and we really enjoyed our stay. Again, parkade as one arrives in Venice and then it's walking or water taxis/buses from there. Parking was 20E a night there. The hotel was quite close to the parkade so we simply walked.

We stayed at an airport hotel in Nice on the return (Camponile) and it was fine. 74E a night. Underground parking available if one needed it at 6.5E. Our return to Paris was uneventful. We had purchased all our train tickets in Paris before we left to avoid the mess at CDG when we got back so could just hop on the train and go. (Good thinking, huh?!) The Inter Hotel Francais in Paris was great! For a 2-star hotel, I considered it a good deal. The room was VERY small but extremely efficiently organized - something like a travel trailor! The hotel was diagonally located across the street from the Gare de L'Est so it was really easy to get on the metro and train system from there.

Flight back was ok, but long. The terminal 3 is not connected to the train system so we had to manoeuvre our way to shuttle to get there. A bit of a hassle but we had fortunately allowed lots of time to prevent unnecessary stress. We had a scheduled layover of 7 hours in Montreal that ended up being 9 hours because of weather issues on the eastern seaboard on Friday. We finally made it back by 1 a.m. and were glad to see our bed!

Hope these comments are helpful as you serve other clients. Again, we were really happy that you had moved quickly to rebook our Montreal-Halifax return flight since we would not have even been aware of the CanJet situation. Little Canadian news in Europe and we were not spending our time reading things on the internet.

Cheers! Have a great day."
~ Mary

"Thanks so much for meeting with Nadia and I yesterday - you were totally awsome!....as always.
Nadia felt such relief after meeting with you re details of her gift to Jenny vis a vis Florida and New York.
Your fast, efficient, compassionate help was just what both of us needed.
Thanks to you on a personal note I did book 2 Europe Rail passes with the NA site - the 3 days rail pass was the way to go - can get tickets to me in time and they did recommend reservations on the morning TGVs going south .$500 Cdn for two Paris to so of France - not too bad.
On another note - I also called CAA re International Drivers License - they stated today that Intl. Permits are now mandatory! New to me - you might want to know that. Good think you also tweaked me to call them.
Soo, many thanks for many things.
I will leave you and Nadia to work out plans and details"
~Linda Brown

"The Elton John concert was amazing!!
Our seats we unbelievable.
The weekend was great. Il Germaine is a fabulous hotel.


"We loved Venice! We were in the most beautiful location! It was called Sant'Elena. The beautiful hotel we were in use to be a convent. One side of the hotel was the area of Sant'Elena, the other was the waterside lined with a beautiful walkway and park. Right next to our hotel was a little family type Italian restaurant. One huge thing we noticed anywhere in Italy was that the service was amazingly efficient! The servers are all fast and do there job very well, it was interesting just watching them. I guess they have lots of practice from years and years of tourists! Our last location was the Amalfi Coast. Yikes! Look up that place too! Cinque Terre times 10 higher! We travelled up the mountain, (cliffs!!) winding, very narrow road, for 1 hour from Salerno to our hotel "Grand Hotel Excelsior". (about 1000 feet from sea level) I wouldn't want to be the one building those places!

A special thank you to Elayne at Absolute Travel Specialists. who met with us always at our convenience and always had the time and patience for us! In case anyone ever needs a "great" travel agent here is her email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."

~Maria Moro-Blackburn


"Hi there, the Elton John concert package we purchased through you was
amazing. Worth every cent. Wouldn't hesitate to book a concert
package through you again"

Thank You so much,
~Heather Silver