Sent by Gail Stanley
Based in Al Safa 1
MALDIVES and LAPLAND specialist!
My name is Tanya, and I look forward to helping you to personally plan and design your next incredible holiday, whether it is a weekend getaway, to a month-long adventure, be it to Asia, Africa, the USA, or any other destination in the world.
I have always thrived on unique adventure experiences and travelling to new destinations, and have travelled to over 70 countries on 6 continents.
I was born and grew up in Australia but have been based in Dubai for over eight years, where I have enjoyed exploring the UAE and Oman, and nearby destinations including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius. Thailand, HK, Singapore, Vietnam and Africa are also some of my favourites.
Before settling in Dubai, my husband and children (now aged 14,12 and 10) spent three blissful years in Sardinia, Italy and toured this spectacular island (and nearby Corsica) extensively, as well as experiencing much of mainland Europe.
I return to Australia regularly where I have worked, lived and explored every inch of my amazing country for over 30 years – I can personally advise you on incredible experiences in every region, ranging from the best luxury sailing trips in the spectacular Whitsunday Islands, scuba diving trips on the Great Barrier Reef or skiing in the Snowy Mountains or the Victorian Alps, to hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania and self drive 4WD trips on stunning world heritage-listed, Fraser Island.
With Travel Counsellors, I am equipped with modern technology and have access to an extensive array of products from our variety of suppliers to cater to your different travel demands. Travel Counsellors is an extremely reputable name in the travel business and has been in operation for over 20 years in the UK and operates in 7 countries including the UAE. I can guarantee a personalised and specialised itinerary to suit your every need.
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
03 July 2017
A few years ago, my family and I had an amazing adventure in Greece. We travelled in October when the tourist season was literally over, but everything was still operating as usual. It was not your usual summer Greek beach holiday, and it was cool in Athens and a little windy on some of the islands, but the weather was perfect for hiking and exploring in Santorini…...and there were no crowds. We flew directly to Athens and spent several days trekking all over the city visiting the historical sites. The Acropolis Museum is a must see and has very long opening hours (8am-8pm) which makes it very convenient to slot into a busy itinerary. We then caught a ferry to Naxos, which was an amazing island. On most days we caught local buses to the inner island and hiked on the well-marked and spectacular trails, usually starting in one village and ending in another. One day we hired a car locally and explored the entire island, which is absolutely stunning. The produce and food are incredible, particularly the seafood and local specialties. The kids loved the Greek temple that was only reachable when it was low tide. From Naxos, we caught another ferry (just a few hours) to Santorini – this is an island that does not disappoint. We stayed in a traditional cave house on the cliffside of Oia, and the views were exactly what you see on a postcard - utterly magnificent! We spent our days hiking on the cliffs to the next towns and exploring the many laneways and small harbours in Oia. There is also the opportunity to take a boat or yacht to the caldera, hot springs and mud baths, as Santorini is actually located on the rim of an active volcano!! Please contact me for further details and assistance in creating the perfect itinerary for you - the possibilities and combinations of islands and modes of transport are endless, and can be tailored to be as relaxing or as adventurous as you prefer. Athens is just a short 4.5 flight away from Dubai.
03 July 2017
In May, my husband and I had a very well deserved child free holiday to the Maldives. It was magnificent from the moment that we stepped on to the sea plane for the transfer to the tiny island of Kandolhu. We chose a very small (only 30 villas) and exclusive island which was not strictly 'adults only', but would not be a resort to bring young children or teenagers. Even in the Maldives, an island so perfectly formed as Kandolhu is rare. The island is lush, with wide sandy beaches surrounding the emerald green and is home to one of the most colourful and lively house reef in the Maldives. We did a daily one hour snorkel right around the island for three days in a row which we loved! Located 70 kilometres south west of Male’ in North Ari Atoll, Kandolhu is an idyllic Maldives hotel which can be reached in 25 minutes by seaplane. Kandolhu is an exquisite Maldives resort which features just 30 villas that perfectly combine natural elements of the Maldives with modern architecture and creature-comforts, in creating an experience so memorable that it will stay with you forever. You have a choice of four à la carte restaurants, a bar, beach dining experiences as well as in-villa dining options available, and every morsel we ate was incredible. There were 30 wines to choose from in our mini bar along with a range of spirits, which were all part of the all inclusive package. The whole atmosphere and every detail - from the restaurants and accommodation to the food and service were incredible and completely flawless - I could not think of a single improvement to be made. Every need was catered for in a very professional but caring manner. I highly recommend Kandolhu to all my (child free) customers ....and will definitely be back! Please contact me for discounted rates (and upgrades when available) for Kandolhu and any other islands in the Maldives. There is such an enormous range of accommodation available to suit honeymooners, couples or families. And the big bonus is that it is only 4 hours from Dubai!!
03 July 2017
We recently did a 2 week Australian trip and flew in and out of Brisbane (a 14 hour flight from Dubai) - we hired a car and visited some of my favourite national parks and beach areas - Noosa, Lamington National Park and Byron Bay - this is my daughter's account of the trip which she and her younger siblings thoroughly enjoyed!: My 2 week Australian Trip – by Madeleine Crabtree, aged 10 Noosa I love Noosa because there are hundreds of cool shops and luxury resorts. Everyone is friendly and it is a great place for kids. The beach is beautiful and the only north-facing one in Queensland. As it is right next to the national park there is plenty of wildlife and scenery. There are beautiful walks that lead right into the park. Noosa is in a great setting and everything is right next door to you. The surf club is a great place to go for lunch and is right next to the beach where your kids can play while you watch from above. Noosa is a great place for all ages and is a really enjoyable stay. We also did an amazing hop on hop off river boat cruise! O’Reilly's Rainforest Retreat – Lamington National Park I think that O’Reilly's is an educational as well as an environmental stay. The staff are extremely friendly and there is a kids room, a library, a discovery room, a theatre, a café, a gift shop and 3 pools. There are hundreds of walks such as the Booyang walk which leads to Picnic Rock and a waterfall. There are many of wild animals which you could see just outside of your room. I would recommend O’Reilly's for all ages because it is a stimulating environment even for the elderly. Byron Bay Byron Bay is a great destination ranging from kids toy shops to breweries. There is a Saturday market which is highly enjoyable and sells you your lunch and whatever you may need. There are dozens of walks which could just be a simple walk on the beach or a man-made walking path surrounded by nature. I recommend the lighthouse walk which is up to the lighthouse and back. Next to the lighthouse there is an information center and a café. The beaches go for miles and miles in Byron Bay, and people swim and surf all year round! I hope you enjoy your holiday in Byron Bay. Please contact me if you are thinking of visiting any destination Australia as I have travelled every inch of the country and can recommend and plan an unforgettable holiday to suit every interest (from 5 star luxury to adventure, bushwalking and camping holidays) and budget.
21 March 2017
My family and I recently went to Namibia, which is only 9 hours from Dubai with a connection in Johannesberg if you fly with Emirates. In my opinion it is best to visit in summer in February because it is not to hot or cold. We arrived in Windhoek and drove for a while before we arrived at our hotel halfway to Etosha. There was a swimming pool and the dinners are made to suit anyone. I loved my chicken schnitzel! We moved on to Etosha National Park and on the way you might even see warthogs, baboons and turtles. You will also see farms with sheep, cows and goats. But the highlight is when you arrive at the park and can see animals such as: Zebra Kudu Deer Turtles Springbok Lions Leopards Ostrich Giraffes Wildabeest AND ELEPHANTS and RHINOS!!! There is a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet that has something for everyone. There are two storey waterhole front bungalows that are luxurious and that is where we stayed. You will see animals come for their daily drinks at the waterhole – there is almost a roster system as the animal come and go! Next we went to Huab Lodge which has a hot and cold spring plus a regular swimming pool in an amazing setting! The staff are super friendly and the rooms are immaculate enough for royalty! There are three dogs that do not bite called Blackie, Tessa and Bichi. There are very comfortable beds and a big balcony off every cabin. The food is amazing and your every need is taken care of. We even went on a wildlife discovery drive which taught us all about animals in the area. Next we drove to Swakopmund where there are two very good restaurants called the Tug and Ocean Basket. They are both suitable for children and adults and any health needs. We finally went back to Windhoek and stayed in tents. There is a small pool and nearby there is a good restaurant called Jo’s Beerhouse. It was an awesome holiday and I hope you enjoy it to. I would recommend it for ages 5-60. Madeleine Crabtree (aged 10)
22 December 2016
I first went to Jordan 22 years ago, so it was wonderful to go back to this amazing country with my husband and three small children! In just 4-5 days (and less than a 4 hour flight from Dubai) you can experience the best that Jordan has to offer, including two UNESCO listed sites, Petra and Wadi Rum. Petra is one of those places that has to be seen in real life to actually realise how incredibly amazing it is...the geography is absolutely stunning and it can be enjoyed by everyone as there are various options to walk, ride horses, donkeys, camels, or to sit back and relax in a carriage. Our children loved it, as even though they were 'forced' to walk the usual 10+ kilometres, this time, they got to ride donkeys home! An easy 1.5 hour drive from Petra is spectacular Wadi Rum. The tourist information centre lists a variety of jeep tours or camel trips and caters from children to the elderly. We chose a 5 hour jeep ride which included 5-6 stops, and would have loved to have added camping overnight...but thought that it was too cold in December. I would definitely recommend it at warmer times of the year! We explored incredible wadis, navigated canyons, slid down red sand dunes, found fresh water springs, walked through canyons...and the kids were enthralled for the entire day. The beauty of the place is difficult to describe...another must see to be believed location! Finally, on our last day, we stayed on the Dead Sea, and swam (or floated) in it! I was treated to a mud wrap, scrubbed off with the gritty beach sand, and even though it was mid-winter, the water temperature was mild. To experience this amazing country, please contact me. I can also arrange for a free visa (usually AED 200) for certain itineraries!!
14 October 2016
One of our 2016 breaks was spent in the UK for 10 days, a perfect combination of a few busy days in central London, followed by a relaxing week in the countryside. It was a fantastic antidote to the endless months of stifling heat that we endure in Dubai - fresh sea air and lots of outdoor exercise and greenery! Firstly, I would highly recommend the cozy cottage we booked in the heart of Lymington, right in the centre of a market town, but situated on the edge of the spectacular New Forest. After a midday arrival in London, we spent the afternoon exploring Kensington Gardens, then headed off to the theatre to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Even after an exhausting day, all three children were mesmerized throughout the 2.5 hour world class performance. The sets were breathtaking and the music and acting were superb. We spent a full day tramping up and down the Thames and seeing all the sights that London has on offer... Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and lots of beautiful parks. Next we headed off in our hire car, 1.5hrs south, via Winchester with its impressive cathedral, to check in to our cottage in Lymington. From a very central base (within walking distance of shops, restaurants, the sea wall, and old cobbled pedestrian areas), we hiked in the New Forest with the wild ponies, spent a day catching the ferry to The Isle Of Wight, ate lovely ploughman's platters and sampled local ciders and beers at the many pubs in the area. A definite highlight was an all day visit to Beaulieu and the National Motor Museum which had something for everyone - an amazing old car collection (including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!), an interesting display on the World War II secret agents training regimes, beautiful old palaces and monorails, rides and playgrounds for the kids. Another full day was spent shopping in the high street of Bournemouth and walking along the lovely beach piers and esplanades... though it was a bit chilly for a swim!! To find out more or to book an idyllic cottage or theatre tickets please contact me.
31 August 2016
My family (3 children, aged 9,7,5 and husband) and I have just arrived back from 4 perfect days in Vienna. The temperatures in July and August are gorgeous – mid 20s, sunny and blue…. the extremely needed antidote to the stifling Dubai summer. I would advise buying a transport card at the airport (tourist information centre) which covers all trams, trains and buses, as Vienna has a lot to offer, and whilst a lot of the attractions are walkable, some of the palaces and museums are further afield. We spent one day hiking in the low hills (the Vienna Woods) between the city and the Danube and were rewarded with spectacular views from the Kahlenberg (https://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/green-vienna/Kahlenberg ) and a late lunch in a local winery. We also spent an incredible morning watching the famous Lipizzaners train at The Spanish Riding School, and had a lovely stroll through the city, followed by an evening of Mozart at the State Opera House. The labyrinth at Scoenbrunn (the winter palace) was a hit for the kids, and fun for us too. The gardens are spectacular and you could spend a whole day just exploring this area. (https://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/sights/imperial/maze-schoenbrunn). Vienna is a very easy city to navigate, and you can walk as much or as little as you wish as the transport connections are excellent. I would definitely recommend Vienna for a 3-4 day break for a couple or family break as flight times are only 6 hours – it could also be tied into a longer tour through nearby Bratislava, Prague or Budapest.
21 August 2016
I recently did an amazing four week long European train trip in mid-summer. I travelled with my three small children and my father. We flew to Zurich, travelled by train to Lake Como (on the Bernina Express, reputedly one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world) then on to Lake Maggiore, Bergamo, and Verona, finally ending our trip in the spectacular mountainous region of the Dolomites. Zurich is a gorgeous and wonderfully scenic city, but still relatively quiet and local in the summer. We spent one day wandering through the old town areas, swimming at the local river/lakeside baths (that turn into bars at night!) and travelling on the various forms of water transport…from river ferries to all day paddle steamer trips on beautiful Lake Zurich. Our next highlight was catching The Bernina Express from Zurich, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy – through some of the most incredibly beautiful Swiss alps and lakes via St Moritz. Although it was a 6-7 hour trip, it was so amazingly scenic, that even the kids did not get bored. At Lake Como, we stayed in central Varenna (a small, beautiful but quaint village) right on the lake. There were several flat, well marked walking trails to nearby towns and natural attractions (L’Orrido di Bellano, a deep gorge was one of the highlights), suitable for the whole family. One day we visited the castle overlooking the town, and on another we spent the day on the lake ferry – getting on and off and exploring Menaggio and Bellagio, which were equally as gorgeous as Varenna. All the restaurants and bars are family friendly and serve high quality but inexpensive food. We then travelled by train on to Stresa, Lake Maggiore, where we did some more of the same types of activities (hiking, lake trips to the islands and nearby towns) but we then stayed one of the small islands for two nights – Isola Pescatori! The restaurants specialise in seafood and fish, so we had two amazing meals on this tiny (20 minutes to walk the entire island), but gorgeous island. Another train trip, took us to Bergamo, where I highly recommend staying in Bergamo Alta, the historic walled old town, perched on top of a hill with 360 degrees of magnificent views. There are some lovely parks surrounding the cobbled, narrow streets and in the summer temporary family-friendly beer gardens and bars are set up, serving drinks and food from local restaurants. There are churches, museums, towers and two funiculars that link parts of Bergamo, which the kids enjoyed. Our next stop was to stunning Verona, which has something to appeal to everyone – incredibly beautiful scenery, bridges, piazzas, old castles and duomos, children’s parks, and a tourist train. We visited the infamous Juliet balcony and saw a Shakespearean play (in Italian) in the old town one evening. I would have loved to see some opera at the infamous Arena, a Roman Coliseum-like structure, but we will be back! On the last leg of the trip, we travelled north to Bolzano, the major base from which to explore the Dolomites from – it is also home to Otzi, the famous 5000 year old iceman, who was discovered close to here. From Bolzano, we caught a cable car another 1000+ metres up to Soprabolzano, where we based ourselves for a week. There were many outdoor activities to undertake – hundreds of hiking trails through the forests, mountains and meadows for all abilities, narrow gauge trains to tiny towns, more cable cars to remote peaks, horse riding and llama farms. One day, we attended a local festival, which had a Munich beer festival style - the whole area has more of an Austrian/German atmosphere, rather than Italian. All the menus and signs are in both German and Italian, with only some of the major hotel’s menus and the tourist information, being translated into English. We then caught a direct train back to Bologna (3.5 hours) and flew back to Dubai. This was a trip that would appeal to adventurous families and couples who want to experience some of the not-so-touristy side of Italy, with a focus on outdoor activities. June or July is a perfect time to travel, as it is not quite peak season (accommodation prices are reasonable), but the weather is perfect.
20 August 2016
Just a 10 hour flight from Dubai, Perth is a fantastic city to both live in and to travel to for a few days or for a longer holiday – it has a small but vibrant city, kilometres of beautiful, uncrowded beaches, an incredible winery and brewery region, and some amazing destinations just a few hours drive away. Kings’s Park is one of my favourite parks in Australia – it is perched up high over the Swan River, with amazing views, and lots of walking (including a fantastic tree top one) and bike trails. You can easily spend a day here, just lying peacefully on a picnic blanket, taking in the views. Fremantle is a bustling fishing harbour that is famous for its fresh fish and chips and numerous seafood restaurants. Don’t miss the famous Little Creatures Brewery. There are some interesting marine museums, arty cinemas, and great food and clothing markets. Everything is within walking distance, with good connections via train or ferry to Perth city. My favourite beach is Cottelsoe, just a short train ride from Fremantle, but this is just one of the many beautiful beaches that Perth has on offer. Other popular beaches are Scarborough and City Beach. Swan Valley, is the nearest wine region and is a great day trip to explore the many wineries, boutique breweries, and gourmet restaurants that exist in a beautifully, scenic setting. A few hours drive away, is another wine region, Margaret River. It is more spread out but equally beautiful, with a huge selection of world class wineries and breweries. The accommodation choices range from country to beach settings and you should not miss visiting the Cape lighthouses (or walking the long distance track between the two). And finally, my favourite of all iconic Perth destinations – Rottnest Island! This island is heaven for just one day of bike riding, or a relaxing week. There are no cars on the island, so the first stop is to the bike hire shop (or you can take your own). You can either ride the entire island, or just stop off at one of the many secluded bays and beaches on the island. Be sure to take a packed picnic lunch and beach towels, and to end your day at the main pub with an enormous beer garden. There are lots of accommodation options, but this place is enormously popular with the locals, so either book a very long time in advance, go outside of peak season, or just go for the day! Perth (and the surrounding region) is ideal for active, nature and outdoor-loving couples or families. The best time to visit is in spring or autumn as mid-summer can get quite hot.
23 September 2016
For beauty, adventure, unforgettable memories and somewhere the whole family will love, South Africa is definitely the place to go! And with the exchange rate as it is now stands, it is amazingly affordable too. We recently had a family adventure in Cape Town and toured the famous Garden Route, ending up in Addo Elephant National Park, which was a highlight. Cape Town is less than a nine hour flight, and absolutely beautiful. It would be easy to spend a week there and still not tick off everything it has to offer. You need a car to get around as everything is quite spread out and there are plenty of amazing 'must do' day trips. We spent a day driving down to the Cape of Good Hope and doing some short hikes, followed by a visit to a beautiful beach with a fairy penguin colony. On another day we went up Table Mountain in a revolving cable car. We also spent some time in Constantia and Stellenbosch, and ate and drank at some incredible family friendly wineries. Kirstenbosch, the botanical garden, full of rare and exotic plants and flowers, also deserves at least half a day. The Waterfront in central Cape Town, with its bustling restaurants and bars can also take up a full day. Once we tore ourselves away from Cape Town, we did a fantastically scenic and gorgeous week long trip to Addo Elephant National Park, with stops at Hermanus (on the coast and renowned for its whale watching), Knysna and Plettenberg Bay (which cannot be missed), and finally ended up at Addo. Addo Elephant Park is a government run national park, and amazing value for money. We stayed in a simple but lovely chalet and spent three days doing self-drive game drives, and spotted everything from meerkats to lions, amongst hundreds of elephants (this park has the highest density of elephants in the world). We spent the final day at some amazing beach sand dunes (also part of Addo National Park) and then flew back to Dubai from Port Elizabeth (via Johannesburg). I highly recommend this holiday to families - we are going back again next year (I have organised a family reunion with relatives coming from Dubai, Sydney and London!) We will also tack on a nine day trip to Namibia! I can’t wait!
Katoomba, Australia 07/06/2017
New York 04/05/2017
Jervis Bay, Australia 18/03/2017
Canberra, Australia 08/09/2016
Goolwa, Adelaide 30/08/2016