Giving Back to the Communities We Visit

Giving Back to the Communities We Visit

GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES WE VISIT

While The Divine Destination Collection co-founders Deb Niven and Allison Frame work hard to create flawless travel adventures that combine luxury and adventure with a touch of the spiritual – they also try to find effective ways to give back to the communities they visit, especially in economically challenged areas.

“We get so much out of visiting these amazing destinations that we are committed to leaving a positive impact everywhere The Divine Destination Collection travels,” says Allison.

That positive impact can take many forms. For example, when The Divine Destination Collection travelled to South Africa, the group brought along two huge hockey bags full of school supplies with their luggage.

The supplies were for Tongabezi Trust School in Zambia, which provides education to underprivileged children in the rural area of Simonga. The school receives no government funding and relies solely on private donations.

As part of their itinerary, the entire group visited the school and had the chance to meet the children and see first-hand what an impact their donation made.

SUPPORTING THE LOCAL ECONOMY

“We also learned a valuable lesson,” says Allison. “It almost cost more to transport the supplies from Canada than the total value of the supplies. We realized it made more sense to buy the items at the local destination. That way we could spend all our money on the donation, instead of delivery costs, and also support the local economy.”

So when The Divine Destination Collection visited the city of Cusco on their way to see Machu Picchu in Peru, they bought a variety of local items, such as pajamas and shoes, to donate to the San Judas Chico Girls Orphanage, a home for girls aged 4 to 16.

“The girls sang for us when we arrived,” says Allison. “It was very emotional. The girls were so appreciative.”

After Cusco, the group went on a four-night cruise down the Amazon River, where they brought along dental kits full of toothpaste and toothbrushes, as well as soccer balls and dolls, to give to a local rural Amazon community.

“Everything has to be transported by barge, so it’s hard for people living in the area to get supplies,” says Allison.

A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR DMC

In Bali, supporting a local orphanage was again part of the itinerary, where our travellers donated 42 school bags filled with supplies, as well as a printer, cases of paper, and cleaning supplies.

“Our local DMC [Destination Management Company] told us about the orphanage and we were able to find out exactly what they needed.”

In fact, Allison and Deb often look to the DMC they are working with to find impactful ways to make a contribution to charities in each country. These donations are included in the price of the trip, so each guest knows they are making a difference.

But sometimes a donation occurs by happenstance.

Before leaving for Mexico, one of Allison’s contacts in Toronto mentioned that they had some kid’s soccer uniforms they wanted to give away. “So I took jerseys, shorts, and socks with me on our trip to Mexico and gave them to students in a rural Mayan community.”

HELPING PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT

Besides striving to make a positive impact on the lives of the people in the countries they visit, The Divine Destination Collection also tries to incorporate sustainability practices into their travel and activities.

“The recent flooding in Venice is just one of the latest devastating effects of climate change,” says Allison. “As concerned global citizens, we want to try to protect the environment and lessen our impact as much as we can.”

For their trip along the El Camino in Spain, no plastic water bottles were allowed. Everyone was given their own Divine Destination Collection water bottle and could fill it up from glass containers set up at all the refreshment and lunch stops along the trail.

“We were committed to leaving no plastic footprint,” says Allison.

For the upcoming June 2020 trip to the South of France, all the hotels and vehicles were selected with the environment in mind. “We wanted to stay in hotels that have sustainability programs in place, and travel in greener vehicles whenever possible. The local DMC we are working with in France is really into sustainability. That’s one of the reasons we chose them,” says Allison.

“Our goal is to leave each destination a little bit better than we found it to show our appreciation for allowing us to visit.”

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Memories of A Highland Adventure

Memories of A Highland Adventure

MEMORIES OF A HIGHLAND ADVENTURE

To Sue Sparkes, the best thing about any Divine Destination Collection trip is – you don’t have to think!

“They take you everywhere. They think for you. They plan for you. There is no detail that they have missed!” she laughs.

Sue has travelled with Divine Destination Collection to South Africa in the past and joined co-founders Allison Frame and Deb Niven on the group’s recent journey to Scotland – Mists, Mystics and the Whisky Trail.

“Everything was a surprise. All you had to do was be at a certain place at a certain time. And no matter where we went, the food and drink was outstanding. Everything is planned to the greatest detail. The transfers were even first class!”

Although Sue says it’s hard to pick one highlight, she says she loved the mystical Clava Cairns. When they arrived, there were picnic tables waiting for them, complete with buckets full of wine, bubbly, hot soup, and gourmet boxed lunches. To make the event even more magical, a flautist played as they enjoyed the scenery and explored the Cairns.

EVEN SCOTLAND’S FAMOUS SOGGY WEATHER BROUGHT SURPRISES

Another highlight for Sue was when a walk on the moors was cancelled because of extremely soggy weather. In its place, one of the TDDC guides took them on what they thought was an impromptu walk around the three golf courses at Gleneagles, filling them in on the history of the famous property. But when they came up over a hill, there were two pipers playing.

“It was so beautiful. Everyone was in tears,” says Sue.

The pipers led them to a gazebo where they sat around a fire pit and sipped hot toddies. The guests were also all given matching purple tartan scarves as a memento of their time in Scotland.

The last evening aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia was a huge standout. “We had it all to ourselves,” says Sue. After a champagne reception, the group had the chance to wander throughout the yacht and get a peek into royal life. “We had a magnificent meal and were entertained by adorable young Scottish dancers.”

“It seems like every time I turned around, there was something new.”

Leanne Hunter also enjoyed her experience aboard the Britannia. “I knew that going aboard the Britannia would be incredible, but I wasn’t expecting the food to be so amazing! It was the best dinner of the trip.”

But what really stood out for Leanne was her first glimpse of Inverlochy Castle, in the Highlands outside Fort William, where they stayed the first two nights. “It was the first of many jaw dropping experiences, walking into this beautiful, historic castle.”

A COUNTRY MADE FOR HISTORY LOVERS

A history buff, Leanne loved learning about Scotland’s fascinating past.

“I didn’t expect such a rich, cultural experience. The TDDC guides were great. They gave such a vivid account of what happened in Scotland’s history, and made it all the more fascinating by telling the history in story form, and often to music.” 

The visit to the Culloden Battlefield, the site of the final Jacobite Rising, was also a highlight for Leanne. “Even though it was incredibly sombre, it was wonderful to see how it’s been beautifully honoured.” 

Leanne also loved the surprise of seeing the pipers at Gleneagles. “The hotel was beautiful and the hike through the famous golf course was magical, especially when the bagpipers appeared in the distance, piping us into a cozy outdoor area with a fire and a ‘wee dram.’”

FAMILIES AND FRIENDS

In Edinburgh, Leanne loved the architecture and the rich history in such a bustling, vibrant city. “I could have stayed there for another week!” she says.

While in Edinburgh the group had the chance to dine with a local family to get a taste of Scottish culture. It was a great meal and the family was very warm and welcoming, says Leanne, but what made it extra special was when the daughter stood up and sang Caledonia, a beautiful Scottish folk ballad.

“It was unrehearsed and spontaneous. We were all teary-eyed. It was wonderful.”

Leanne says one other surprise was how much she enjoyed the whisky tasting. “I’m not a whisky drinker, but I did learn to appreciate it,” she laughs.

And finally, an unexpected part of the trip was how easily the group formed friendships. “We were all strangers at the beginning, but sharing the same wonderful experiences together creates a common bond. That may be the most spiritual part of this adventure for me.”

FOR THE ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT

John Kafieh finds the Divine Destination Collection trips to be more like an “adventure” rather than a vacation.

“They are more of a learning experience than just a sightseeing tour,” he says. “And the learning has as much to do about the discovery of things about ourselves, as with the destination itself.”

Like Sue and Leanne, John says he finds it difficult to pick just one highlight of the trip to Scotland. He enjoyed staying at the Inverlochy Castle and riding on the Jacobite Steam Train. He also couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking scenery in the Highlands and in Edinburgh.

“I would say the trip exceeded my expectations largely because of the scenery throughout the trip, and the combination of different modes of transportation used to get us around. Add to that the quality of the TDDC guides and the information that they provided us all along the way.

“Although we have some personal time to do as we please, we are generally moving from one experience to another. And I enjoy that. The only challenge is that we are doing so much in such a relatively short time I need to refer to our itinerary to remember all the things we have done!”

John has travelled with Divine Destination Collection to South Africa and Muskoka in the past, and enjoyed traveling with his daughter Vanessa on this trip.

“That was the real highlight for me.”

To find out about taking a group trip to Scotland, check out the Divine Destination Collection website or contact us at info@divinedestinationcollection.com if you have any questions.

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Sue S.

Exceeded all of my expectations! Your attention to detail is unsurpassable. Thank you so much for putting so much effort into making our vacation unforgettable! Loved every second. Sue S.

Leanne H.

Scotland was a wonderful combination of rugged beauty, fascinating history & luxury. I couldn’t get enough of the views…pure, glorious vistas! Once again TDDC just takes care of all the details allowing us to just be in the adventure. A wonderful feeling of knowing it’s all figured out! Leanne H.

Donna M.

A surreal once-in-a-lifetime divine experience. Well paced with thoughtful surprises around every corner. Donna M.

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