Keeping balanced during difficult times

Keeping balanced during difficult times

KEEPING BALANCED DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

PROTECTING YOUR MIND AND SPIRIT AS WELL AS YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH

Whether you are in self-isolation because you have been travelling abroad, or practicing “social distancing” – we are all feeling anxious, stressed, and somewhat fearful due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, public health experts have outlined what to do to keep ourselves safe and help stop the spread of the virus.

We need to wash our hands often (using soap and water for at least 20 seconds), cough and sneeze into our elbows, and avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth – which has proven to be harder than most of us thought.

We have also been told to avoid non-essential travel and gatherings, and keep a distance of two metres (6 ft) away from other people.

“But along with your physical health, it’s also important to take care of your mind and spirit during these uncertain times,” says Allison Frame, co-founder of Divine Destination Collection.

TAKE TIME TO BREATHE

It turns out the more you stress, the more you decrease the functioning of your immune system. That means you will be more susceptible to all viruses.

Harvard Medical School says that yoga, meditation, and controlled breathing are proven ways to relax during stressful situations like the current COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, if you’ve always wanted to try yoga, maybe now is the time to give it a try. Harvard also says that trying new activities can be a welcome, healthy distraction, and many yoga studios are offering free online classes.

This could also be the time to read that book you’ve never had the time to pick up before. Many public libraries offer online books, and there are many other free online resources, such as Open Culture, as well as free online learning courses.

To help people stimulate their minds while in isolation, several famous cultural institutions are offering free online art and entertainment. For example, New York’s Metropolitan Opera is streaming live performances, and you can even take a 360 degree virtual tour of a US national park without leaving your couch.

CONNECTING WITH EACH OTHER AND OURSELVES

Besides giving us online access to books, art, and information – technology is keeping us connected and making our forced isolation more bearable.

“Technology has helped bring our humanness back,” says Allison. “We are reaching out and checking in on each other. I know I’ve been more in touch with my family and friends than when I could go out and see them.”

Even without technology, people are finding innovative ways to connect while keeping a distance, such as the now famous video of Italians singing together from their individual balconies shows.

And since we can’t go outside, this is a golden opportunity to look inside, and connect with ourselves.

“We have the time to look at how we have been living our lives, and examine what is important to us,” says Allison. “Instead of looking outward for validation and trying to keep up with others, it’s a chance to flex our spiritual muscle and get back to the basics of what makes up a good life.”

TRAVELLING DURING THE CRISIS

While travel is an important part of many people’s lives – especially the people who have gone on adventures with the Divine Destination Collection – it is not safe to travel out of your country right now.

Besides the possibility of contracting COVID-19, many countries have put travel and border restrictions in place. Airlines are cancelling flights and suspending service, and new restrictions are being imposed with little warning. As a result, there is a real chance you could become stranded and unable to come home.

“This is a very fluid, ever changing travel environment,” says Allison. “It may be best to contact your airline or tour operator to find out your options for cancelling or postponing your trip. Many airlines and hotels have revised their change and cancellation policies to make it easier for customers to alter their plans and resume travel when this crisis has passed.”

If there is a bright spot, it could be the fact that some of the world’s most beautiful travel destinations are getting a break from tourists and having the chance to rejuvenate.

It has even been reported that the usually crowed canals of Venice are now clear enough to see fish and dolphins!

“After this crisis passes, and we are able to travel again, I hope we will learn from what has happened, and appreciate the opportunity to visit other countries, cultures, and people – and do a better job of taking care of each other, and our world,” says Allison.

STAY HEALTHY AND HELP OTHERS

These are uncertain times, so it is especially important to get your information about the evolving COVID-19 situation from reliable sources.

You can look to the World Health Organization for accurate information on the global situation and the latest, most effective health precautions. Their website is continually updated to provide protective measures based on new scientific findings as the epidemic evolves. It also includes an informative section on myth-busters, such as the fact that cold weather and snow cannot kill COVID-19, and the latest flu vaccination does not protect you against the virus.

To learn more about what the COVID-19 virus is, how it works, and how important it is to do the right things so you don’t get the virus and pass it on to others – take a look at this video featuring Dr. Peter Lin, a family physician from Toronto.

“Get your information from trusted sources, keep washing your hands, don’t touch your face, avoid gatherings – and remember to look out for each other,” says Allison.

“Reach out to friends and family, check in, and have a truly fun and meaningful conversation with them. If you know a senior, or someone with a medical condition that prevents them from being able to go out for groceries, buy a few extra items and leave it at their door. By showing kindness and consideration, and helping each other out, not only will we get through this, but we will have the ability and opportunity to change the trajectory of where our world is going, and change the way we live in it going forward.”

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Escape the cold and snow with a trip to Mexico’s beautiful Mayan Riviera

Escape the cold and snow with a trip to Mexico’s beautiful Mayan Riviera

ESCAPE THE COLD AND SNOW WITH A TRIP TO MEXICO’S BEAUTIFUL MAYAN RIVIERA

The Divine Destination Collection has just the remedy to beat the winter blues – a meticulously curated trip to the Yucatan Peninsula that will warm both your body and soul!

With a minimum of 15 friends and family, you can book a six-day private group trip that mixes lounging on pristine, white sandy beaches with jungle excursions, historical outings, and the best of Mexican cuisine – while enjoying the comfort and luxury The Divine Destination Collection is known for.

To make this adventure even more special – you’ll have the unique opportunity to visit a Mayan community to experience ancient traditions and spiritual ceremonies. A highly sophisticated civilization that thrived in both Mexico and Central America from 1800 B.C. to 900 A.D., the Maya are credited with developing astronomy, calendars, and hieroglyphic writing. They are also known for building elaborate pyramids, temples and palaces – all without metal tools.

MEXICO: MAYAN MYSTERY REVEALED

The journey begins with a Welcome Beach BBQ and mescal tasting at the spectacular Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa, your home for the first three days.

This luxury resort is located on the jungle-lush coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and is close to some of Mexico’s most famous historical sites, such as the El Castillo Pyramid at Chichén Itzá, as well as the local food and folk art markets and vibrant nightlife of Playa del Carmen.

The hotel spa is famous for its healing Mayan rituals and was built to align with the stars to create a positive energy flow. Many of the exclusive spa treatments use local ingredients, such as chocolate, honey, and Mayan herbs.

EXPLORING SECRET UNDERWATER CAVES

While at the Belmond Maroma, you’ll have the chance to take part in some spelunking, and explore the mysterious underwater caves of Rio Secreto, the Secret River, a natural underground river that was only discovered in 2007.

You’ll also feast on outstanding Mexican cuisine throughout your stay, including a private garden courtyard meal at the Aldea Corazon Restaurant. Even though the restaurant is in the heart of the bustling resort town of Playa Del Carmen, the tree-filled courtyard will make you feel like you are dining out in the jungle.

BUT THAT’S NOT THE ONLY JUNGLE EXPERIENCE IN STORE FOR YOU!

You’ll venture into the actual jungle with a visit to a local Mayan village to take part in an authentic Mayan ceremonial evening. 

A local Shaman will show your group how to purify and renew the mind, body, and spirit in a Temazcal, or sweat lodge, and you can also take a cleansing swim in a cenote, a natural sinkhole or pit created by a collapsed cave ceiling and full of clear, fresh water. Since cenotes were the only source of water in the jungle, the Mayan people considered them sacred.

This special evening finishes off with a delicious traditional Mayan meal prepared by the local villagers.

NEXT STOP – THE BANYAN TREE MAYAKOBA

Next stop on the itinerary is the incredible Banyan Tree Mayakoba, an AAA Five Diamond luxury beach resort also on the coast of the Mayan Riviera. Thanks to a carefully maintained ecosystem that includes freshwater lagoons and mangroves, natural dunes, and intricate coral reefs, the resort is full of native fish and bird species.

After learning about Mayan traditions, culture, and archaeology at a special breakfast presentation, our expert guest speakers will take your group on a private tour of Tulum, an UNESCO World Heritage site known for its ancient Mayan ruins. 

Lunch is at the celebrated Oscar & Lalo Restaurant, which has a beautiful tropical jungle garden, fresh seafood, and authentic Mexican and Yucatecan cuisine. You’ll also be treated to a personal Mayan horoscope reading before hopping aboard a boat to cruise the waterways while enjoying cocktails and canapés.  

MAKE IT MAYAN!

Besides lots of free time to explore the beautiful Banyan Tree Mayakoba grounds and beach, you’ll get the chance to learn how to make some of the resort’s delicious Mexican treats at a fun, pop up “Make It Mayan” Cocktail Party. Tucked into a private tropical nook, you’ll find out how to make their divine guacamole, zesty pico de gallo salsa, and fabulous margaritas.

The Mayan Mystery journey culminates in grand style with an exclusive dinner in your very own 10,000-year-old cave surrounded by living stalactites and stalagmites. How’s that for a memorable finish to a fantastic trip!

Mexico: Mayan Mystery Revealed is a great way to bring a group of people together to celebrate a milestone anniversary, a special birthday or a customized retreat. If you are travelling alone or in a smaller group, The Divine Destination Collection plans to offer this trip again in the future.

In the meantime, if history fascinates you, learn about The Divine Destination Collection’s upcoming trip to the Sacred South of France, the Mystery of Mary Magdalene. There are still a few spots left, so click here to learn more.

To find out more about group trips to Mexico, check out The Divine Destination Collection’s Mexico trip page and contact us at info@divinedestinationcollection.com or by phone 647-918-0113 if you have any questions.

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The incredible food and wine of the South of France – What to look forward to this June

The incredible food and wine of the South of France – What to look forward to this June

THE INCREDIBLE FOOD AND WINE OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS JUNE

This June The Divine Destination Collection will be uncovering the 2,000 year-old legend of Mary Magdalene’s journey in the South of France – but an equally exciting part of the adventure will be exploring the world-renowned wine and cuisine of the region.

The food from the South of France is truly like no other thanks to a moderate climate of almost constant sunshine, hot, dry summers, and mild winters. As a result, fresh fruit and vegetables are available year-round, and the region’s close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea ensures there is always a bounty of amazing seafood to be had. (Click on the name of the various dishes for fabulous recipes to try)

While ratatouille, a hearty vegetable stew, is probably the region’s most famous dish, there are many other culinary treats awaiting you when visiting the South of France.

Cassoulet is a slow-cooked dish of duck, sausage, and beans, which takes time to prepare properly. It gets its name from the deep, round earthenware pot it is traditionally cooked in – called the cassole. It is especially popular in the town of Carcassonne, the first stop on The Divine Destination Collection trip.

Marseilles, another stop on the trip, is famous for bouillabaisse, a fish stew made from the amazing variety of fish that is caught locally, such as red rascasse, sea robin, and European conger. But what gives this dish its distinctive local flavour is the seasoning, a combination of Herbes de Provence, garlic, onions, and tomatoes.

WHAT EXACTLY IS HERBES DE PROVENCE?

This tasty bundle of herbs is used in many regional dishes. Although not always the same mixture, it is usually made up of basil, fennel, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. You’ll be able to buy a bundle when we visit one of the local markets in Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, and Lourmarin, where a sprig of lavender is often included to add a touch of colour.

While visiting the markets you’ll also have the chance to pick up some navettes. These are boat-shaped cookies that commemorate Mary Magdalene’s voyage to France from the Holy Land. Traditionally orange-flavoured, some local bakeries also make the cookies in other flavours, such as chocolate and lavender.

DON’T FORGET THE WINE!

If you think rosés are often a bit too sweet, you’ll love the dry rosés of the region, and their beautiful pale, orangey-pink colour. The South of France is believed to be the largest producer of rosé wines in the world. The wines are made from a variety of local grapes, and are the perfect accompaniment to many regional dishes, especially bouillabaisse.

The South of France is also the home of Blanquette de Limoux, which historians believe is the world’s first sparkling wine. In fact, ancient records show that the Benedictine monks at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were making it in 1531, long before the first Champagne was produced.

OTHER GASTRONOMIC SURPRISES AWAIT YOU

In addition to sampling delicious specialties from the South of France – and lots of great wine – The Divine Destination Collection has many other one-of-a-kind gastronomic delights in store for you.

This includes stopping to feast on fresh Bouzigues oysters in Sète, a picturesque town on the Mediterranean coast. We’ll even visit an oyster farm to get a first-hand look at the unique technique for harvesting these delicious, slightly nutty-tasting shellfish.

Another highlight is a visit to one of the famous Châteaueuf du Pape vineyards for a wine tasting and light lunch. Located near the town of Avignon, the first Châteaueuf du Pape vineyards were actually planted by the popes who built a château there in the 14th century for their summer residence.

To contrast the splendor of the papal château, we’ll take a detour to a monastic retreat in Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume  for a traditional home-cooked meal, complete with wine made by the monks. Located near a naturally eroded grotto in Saint Baume where Mary Magdalene is said to have lived, it will provide a glimpse into the lives of the Dominican friars who continue to preserve this place of devotion.

MORE AMAZING DINING EXPERIENCES

A number of exclusive dining experiences, along with meals at award-winning restaurants, are also on the itinerary.

One surprising gourmet twist is the “Hint of Italy” dinner at La Bourdasso, a family-run Italian restaurant near Carcassonne, where they make their own buffalo mozzarella and grow the wheat for their delicious homemade pasta.

A few days later, in Aix-en-Provence, we’ll be treated to “Dinner with the Stars” – Michelin stars, that is – where we’ll get the chance to indulge in a gourmet extravaganza at some of the top-rated restaurants in the world.

While in Aix-en-Provence, we’ll be staying at Hôtel Le Pigonnet, an enchanting 18th century mansion, and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The stay will be made even more special with an exclusive “La Vie En Rose” evening in the hotel’s beautiful garden. Delightful, regional specialties and local rosés will be served al fresco while the songs of Edith Piaf fill the air.  

We’ll bid au revoir to Provence with a final, incredible French feast in the chapel of Domaine de Saint Bacchi, a gorgeous private villa built on the grounds of a Roman temple dedicated to Bacchus, the god of wine. The chapel dating back to the 9th century attracted pilgrims who believed the nearby water springs had miraculous healing powers.

IS YOUR MOUTH WATERING YET?

There are still a few spots left for the trip to Scared South of France, the Mystery of Mary Magdalene. Click here to learn more.

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Happy New Year! Looking Forward to 2020 with Divine Destination Collection

Happy New Year! Looking Forward to 2020 with Divine Destination Collection

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020 WITH DIVINE DESTINATION COLLECTION

Deb Niven and Allison Frame are planning another adventure-filled year for The Divine Destination Collection – and 2020 is starting off with a bang with a special promotion for the upcoming trip to the South of France on June 2nd to 9th.

If you are excited about uncovering the 2,000 year-old legend of Mary Magdalene while immersing yourself in the beauty of the French countryside – this is your chance to save on the price of this incredible adventure.

SPECIAL PROMOTION!

Put a $500 CDN per person deposit down between December 26th & January 15th to secure your spot AND we will take $500 per person off your final balance!*

Deposit will be reflected in cart upon booking

*To take advantage of this promotion, final payment must be made by either cheque or money order

You won’t want to miss this magical journey to the Sacred South of France, where you’ll travel from the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, to the lavender and sunflower filled fields of Aix-en-Provence. You’ll visit vineyards, charming French villages, and fascinating historical sites where Mary Magdalene, one of the most iconic and historic female figures of all time, is believed to have lived as a teacher and healer after travelling to France after the crucifixion of Christ.

Along the way, you’ll stay in elegant five-star hotels like the Hotel Le Pigonnet, and sample the finest regional cuisine – while experiencing the comfort and luxury that The Divine Destination Collection is famous for.

SPECIAL EVENT!

A special South of France event will be held in March to further whet your appetite for the adventure ahead, meet fellow travellers and enjoy a glass of wine or two. Drop off your final payment at the event (cheque or money order only) or pop it in the mail to us.

FRANCE IS NOT THE ONLY DESTINATION THAT AWAITS IN 2020

With the snow and cold of the winter season, our thoughts naturally turn to warmer climates where there is a lovely stretch of pure white beach just wanting for us to lay down our towels. Plans are under way to look at a four-day cruise in December 2020 to the British Virgin Islands or perhaps a magnificent tropical paradise like Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia, or Costa Rica.

Keep checking the Divine Destination Collection communications & website for updates to find out which exotic destination is confirmed. A trip to the Caribbean could be just what you need to warm up next December!

IS THERE A DESTINATION YOU ARE DREAMING OF IN 2020?

The Divine Destination Collection offers a variety of private group trips to locales such as Bali, South Africa, and Peru. Thanks to Deb and Allison’s extensive travel experience and their network of trusted colleagues around the world, each trip is carefully curated to include the finest accommodations, great food, and memorable experiences that you wouldn’t be able to find by travelling on your own. Best of all – they take care of all the arrangements!

A group trip is a great idea for a college reunion, milestone anniversary, or any other important celebration. It’s a wonderful way to get friends together who love to travel.  

There is also a special reward for you if you organize a private group trip of 10 or more people – you’ll receive a complimentary trip, airfare excluded!

If you would like to hold a cocktail party or other event to introduce a trip to your group, please let us know. We can supply you with brochures and a video presentation, and if it is feasible, Deb and Allison can also attend to give a customized presentation and answer questions.

BECOME AN INFLUENCER AND BE REWARDED WITH A GREAT DISCOUNT ON YOUR NEXT TRIP!

Since we offer a highly specialized, exclusive travel adventure, word of mouth is the best way to get the word out about what we offer. If you love travelling, why not become a Divine Destination Collection Influencer by letting your friends, family, and colleagues know about The Divine Destination Collection, and receive a reward for every person you refer to us who books a trip.

As an Influencer, we’ll keep you informed about all our latest adventures through our monthly newsletter. Share this information with others who you know will appreciate these one-of-a-kind trips and direct them to this special page to learn more about us.

Make sure they add your name as the referral, and if they decide to sign up for an upcoming adventure, you will receive 5% of the value of the per person trip cost (before airfare and HST taxes), paid in full to you personally upon completion of their trip. Your reward can be paid out in cash or banked for use on future Divine Destination Collection trips.

If you are travelling with us in June to the South of France, why not invite some special people to join you, and receive a reward!

WANT TO BE INVOLVED EVEN MORE?

The Divine-by-Design Travel Advisory Board is a group of like-minded travellers who help Allison and Deb decide where the next adventure is going to take place.

Deb and Allison present about eight options to the board, ensuring each selection fits in with The Divine Destination Collection signature style – five-star luxury along with once-in-a-lifetime spiritual elements. With the Travel Advisory Board’s help, an amazing destination is selected – and Allison and Deb start putting the itinerary together for an unforgettable trip.

Travel Advisory Board members receive many benefits for sharing their thoughts, such as first dibs on booking the trip before it is announced to the public, and a 10% discount for themselves and a travel companion. Why don’t you send in your application form now!

MAKE SURE YOU ADD A DIVINE DESTINATION COLLECTION TRIP TO YOUR PLANS FOR 2020

Our goal is to surpass your expectations for luxury and comfort, while giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the magic and wonder that comes from exploring the spirituality of different cultures, landscapes, and ways of life.

If you have any questions about the June 2020 trip to the Sacred South of France, or about booking a private group trip, or becoming an Influencer or a Divine-by-Design Travel Advisory Board Member, please email Allison at Allison@divinedestinationcollection.com.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter or keep visiting our website to learn more about our upcoming adventure in December 2020 and beyond!

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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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