Traveling to Sicily can be easily done independently. However, if you want to experience the island adding a personal and luxury touch, a travel planner can help a lot in making the best of your days.
We have interviewed Vita, Luxury Travel Advisor at Sicily Lifestyle, and we have asked her what a Travel Advisor does, what she suggests to travelers that want to experience Sicily in a short visit, and what are the secrets for making a trip to Sicily an unforgettable one.
At Sicily Lifestyle, we are a team of Sicily experts. We specialize in crafting exclusive travel itineraries and ensuring our guests get to experience the very best that Sicily has to offer.
We know that as travelers, our clients have their own ideas as to what makes a ‘luxury’ travel. We work with our clients to understand their needs and to tailor our suggestions accordingly.
Knowing the island inside out, we can work closely with you to ensure your experience of Sicily is truly unforgettable. But what really does a Luxury Travel Advisor? What are her/his duties? How can the support given by a luxury travel planner make the difference?
To these and many other questions, we have asked our expert Sicily travel planner, Vita. She tells us what a luxury travel planner really does, and why if you are traveling to Sicily you might want to consider one.
Over to Vita…
What does it mean being a luxury travel advisor?
Traveling has never been so valuable as in these post-pandemic times. People have been waiting so long to be able to travel again and have been dreaming about new adventures.
Being a luxury travel advisor and planner means now more than ever, to give shape to a dream and actually hand the key to doors. Our deep and first-hand knowledge of the destination makes these authentic experiences possible.
What are the duties of a luxury travel advisor?
A local luxury travel advisor must work on two main factors:
- The knowledge of the destination
- The knowledge of the client
Every client has a different vision for their trip. The planning starts with understanding from the client as much as as possible about their needs and wishes. This is absolutely essential when it comes to designing a tailor-made itinerary.
Behind a perfectly crafted itinerary, there is a huge work ‘on the ground’ in the territory. We want to know we are supplying our clients with the very best experiences.
This means trying firsthand all the tours and experiences our clients will do, visiting hotels, restaurants, selecting and meeting all the suppliers, guides, drivers, and hosts that will make up our client’s trip.
What are the challenges you meet when planning a luxury trip or tours in Sicily?
Working with third-party travel agents between us and the final client, misunderstandings can be easy to happen. So it is extremely important to have clear communications with all parties.
At Sicily Lifestyle, we pride ourselves on our transparency, and thoroughness for a smooth planning process and a satisfied customer.
Other Challenges in Sicily may arise when clients have a short time and yet they want to [understandably!] visit the whole Island.
Some people think that with Sicily being an Island, it is small and that the most popular destinations are all quite close to one another.
Sicily extends for 25711 km2, distances are quite long and roads are not always greatly connected, so in reality, it’s not usually possible to see everything in one trip.
Knowing the length of the trip is essential in order to understand in which areas to focus, rather than splitting the stay in too many hotels, requiring the client to pack and unpack their luggage every night and spend too much time sitting in a car instead of sightseeing and relaxing.
What are the typical “luxury” travelers looking for?
The typical “luxury” travelers in Sicily look for authentic experiences with locals, as well as getting a taste of the culture, and history considering that Sicily hosts seven Unesco World heritage sites. Another key aspect travelers look for in Sicily are amazing nature and food&wine related experiences.
What are the key secrets of a luxury travel advisor?
Creativity, empathy, great knowledge of the destination, and top-notch suppliers are essential to work with a high-end client who is seeking stress-free planning, flexibility before and during the trip, and high-quality service throughout the process.
What are the most requested tours and destinations in Sicily?
Etna, Taormina, the Valley of Temples, and Noto are absolutely a must!
Along with these top sellers, there is Palermo and its noble heritage, its amazing architecture, and the traditional street food made every day in the folkloristic local market.
Lately, we’ve been receiving a lot of requests from clients who want to experience a romantic getaway in the countryside of Noto and Siracusa, where some of the best boutique hotels are located as well as luxury yacht cruises in the Aeolian Islands.
What are the less known places in Sicily that you would, instead, recommend to your clients?
The Island of Pantelleria is still less known compared to the Aeolian Islands, which are not as beaten by tourism as the mainland of Sicily, but yet a popular destination.
Pantelleria is still an unspoiled, virgin land; an ideal place to unwind, relax and discover all it has to offer: nature, great landscapes, and amazing wines and food.
What do you want to know from your potential client in order to craft the perfect itinerary?
We need to know the basic information such as the number of people, if it’s a multi-gen trip, a honeymoon/celebration, length of the journey and an estimated budget.
It is also very important to go deeper in the knowledge of the client, making the right questions in the pre-planning phase in order to craft the most suitable experiences for that specific customer so that expectations are met [and exceeded!].
What are the most memorable tours and experiences you have organized in Sicily? Can you tell us some unique details about them?
The most memorable experience I have organized was for a multi-generational trip with clients who had Sicilian roots.
They asked us to do family heritage research, which lead us to go through tons of documents in the archives of the city hall of a tiny village on the west coast of Sicily.
As it usually happens in Sicily, as soon as the word spread through the village, a lot of people, from the mayor to a cultural/historic association decided to take part in the research and found relatives who were still living in the village.
At that point, we decided to give updates about the research before their trip to Sicily, but we didn’t tell them that on the day of their visit to their ancestor’s village, they would actually meet their relatives for the first time.
You can imagine how emotional this day was for our clients and also for the whole village, who welcomed this American Family as they were part of the community.
What is the most valuable advice you would give to someone that wants to plan a trip to Sicily?
First of all, to live as a local as much as they can and to leave behind the mainstream idea of ‘luxury’ because in Sicily, luxury is not something they will see, but more something they will feel.
It is not something they will find in fancy things and services, but in the people that will make their stay special, from the driver at the airport to the Sicilian Mamma who will welcome them to her home and treat them like family.
If you had 3 days to experience Sicily, what would your personal itinerary include?
With 3 days available I would focus on the East coast of Sicily.
I would land in Catania and would stay at the Belmond Hotel Timeo in Taormina. On my arrival day I would simply enjoy a guided walk of Taormina and its ancient Greek Theater and then relax at the beach and have a traditional dinner in a tiny family restaurant overlooking the sea.
On my second day I would definitely do a hike on Mt. Etna, or take a helicopter tour, and stop in a winery for lunch and to enjoy great food and taste the Etna Doc wines.
On my last day I would definitely head to the south-east area of Sicily, visit Siracusa and have an easy lunch at the local market, then head to Noto to see its baroque palaces and stop at Caffè Sicilia to meet the best and most well-known pastry chef in Sicily and try his granita made with the delicious Avola Almond!
Vita is our beloved Travel Advisor, she takes care of our clients from the beginning till your last day in Sicily with us. If you have been inspired by Vita’s expertise and knowledge, get in touch with us today and we can start to explore your perfect Sicily itinerary!