What our clients are saying... The following client's testimonials were posted "as
is" with no editing or embellishment. Our discerning clients are our lifeblood and
we learn with each review, each mistake, and each opinion. Listening to our customer
allows us to manage realistic expectations of future clients, South America as a
destination, and assuring the best travel planning in the business.
Honeymoon Brazil! (Angra, Rio, Buzios - 9 days)
Dear Mike & Caroline,
As we browsed websites, books, and magazines looking for honeymoon ideas, we realized
we had two options. We could either go somewhere where we felt comfortable navigating
the language and culture ourselves or we could entrust our trip to a travel company
whose skills would allow us to venture into a culture completely unknown to us.
As newlyweds, we liked the idea of the latter since marriage would be a new beginning
and what better way to start anew than by traveling someplace new? However, we struggled
to find a company that we would trust with such an important vacation. When we first
found VIP Brazil online, we were intrigued. You seemed to offer something truly
unique to the "honeymoon-planning business": customized, authentic, cultural immersion.
So, we submitted a request for information and were shocked to be personally called
by Mike the next day. Between our exceedingly long and detailed email questions
and requests and the numerous phone conversations, Mike and Caroline spent hours
and hours consulting with us and readjusting our itinerary to accommodate 100% of
our requests. We got a phenomenal deal. Their attention to detail was flawless every
step of the way, from booking accommodations and activities that fit our taste to
involving only the best tour guides and restaurants. Their package was worth more
than every penny. We ended up with (seriously, now, we didn't think it was possible
because it sounds so corny, but it was indeed) the perfect honeymoon. Thank you,
thank you, thank you! Our honeymoon to Angra, Rio, and Buzios was so much more than
we could have ever imagined. We will never forget our first trip as a married couple,
our first trip to South America: Honeymoon Brazil!
From the moment Mathias picked us up at the airport, you and your guides couldn't
have been more thoughtful. On the way to Angra, Mathias brought us to a local supermarket
off the highway where we bought bottled water and snacks for the trip. We spent
about $15 and were still eating the snacks and drinking the water on the way home
9 days later - how happy were we when we saw that the cheapest bottle of water at
the hotels were half the size of ours and $3 a pop?! When we arrived at our first
destination, greeted at Pestana Angra with a champagne toast from Mathias, we had
no idea this would be the ROUTINE! Every time we arrived in a new locale, someone
greeted us with champagne!
Angra dos Reis (3.5 days): Pestana Angra is tremendously underrated online. The
views of the bay are stunning morning, noon, and night, and the staff was unquestionably
the kindest and most welcoming we have ever known at a resort. By the second day,
we knew them all and by the end we felt like we had to tell each of them goodbye
because they were so wonderful. Our private sailboat tour and crew was amazing.
They took us to beautiful islands, a floating bar where we had our first Caipirinhas,
and a delicious seaside restaurant for fresh fish and real Italian pizza. The snacks
and drinks on board were everything we needed for our day of island hoping. Going
to Paraty the third day was an absolute must. It is truly a gem: the small, undiscovered
Venice of Brazil. Swimming and island hoping on the schooner trip and roaming the
streets and shops in Paraty, we really felt "away from it all." Dinner with Yara
and Richard at the Academy of Cooking that evening was absolutely incredible. What
better way to walk through the history of Brazil than through food?! Yara is a marvelous
storyteller, and dinner was out of this world. We had so much fun learning to cook
authentic Brazilian fare and talking with them that we completely lost track of
time. Yara called our driver, Sylvia, who had already been waiting a half hour for
us, and she joined us for a cup of tea before heading back to Pestana Angra an hour
later than originally planned. Sylvia was completely relaxed and accommodating,
just like all of our guides! After another amazing breakfast spread the next morning,
we said goodbye to all of the wonderful members of the staff at Pestana Angra and
headed to Rio.
Rio de Janeiro (2 days): Our tour of Rio began long before we arrived. Our driver,
Georges, spent the entire drive answering our questions about the history of Angra
and Rio and spent the last half hour into the city pointing out landmarks, monuments,
stadiums, and the favellas. Our stay at the Caesar Park was marked by opulent lounges
and breathtaking views from the rooftop terrace for breakfast each morning, but
the staff remained as genuinely invested in our experience as our friends in Angra.
The location was phenomenal: two blocks from some of the best shopping and restaurants
in Rio and right on Ipanema beach. After a romantic sunset walk down Ipanema beach,
we met our carioca guide, Marcello: truly a character. After delivering our thoughtful
VIP Brazil wedding gift of champagne, he took us on a driving tour of the city as
we weaved our way to to the nightclubs of Lapa. We're from New Orleans, we love
jazz, and Rio Scenarium is one of the most unique late night spots we've ever visited.
The band's particular mix of jazz and samba kept everyone dancing. Our table on
the first floor was just feet from the stage, and we enjoyed a delicious meal while
Marcello shared stories and pictures from his many gallivants around Rio with celebrities
from all over the world. After wandering the three antique-lined floors of the club,
we returned to the hotel to rest up for the next day's marathon tour of Rio. We
still aren't sure how Marcello managed to fit everything in. Somehow we visited
Sugar Loaf, 3 completely different churches, Santa Theresa for a hardy lunch of
farofa, the Samba Drome, and Christ the Redeemer all before sundown. Our favorite
activity, however, was the one that Marcello threw in himself after learning of
our passion for art. He brought us to the Escalada de Selaron, an outdoor stone
staircase in Santa Theresa that was slate grey from top to bottom until Selaron,
an Argentinean artist who fell in love with Rio, started to cover it in colorful
tiles. The stairs have truly taken on his persona over the last 17 years; we know
because we met him! He showed us around his creation, pointing out the most recent
and most favorite tiles sent to him from all over the world, and asked us for a
custom tile from New Orleans. We bought one of his paintings and after learning
that we were on our honeymoon, he drew us a customized sketch. Truly a personal
excursion to remember. That evening we took advantage of the Caesar Park's proximity to Restaurant Porcao for authentic Brazilian churrascaria experience - what a fabulous
meal! The next morning a jeep was waiting to take us on a tour of the Tijuca Forest.
We saw 2 different species of monkeys and hiked through some of the rainforest,
stopping often for our guide to explain the different plants and how they migrated
from around the world as different peoples came to South America. For lunch we stopped
at Poly Sucous for the must-have juice of brazil: fresh acai!! With out smoothies
and sandwiches, we sat on Ipanema beach watching everyone play volleyball and enjoy
the sun and the surf. That afternoon, Georges picked us up for more cultural lessons
on Brazil, and we headed to Buzios for the grand finale of our trip.
Buzios (3.5 days): the honeymoon: Casas Brancas was absolutely beautiful. The combination
of luxury, romantic, and casually relaxed was perfect for our honeymoon. We arrived
for a private balcony sunset and spent the evening walking around the quaint "seaside
in the South of France" town, and caught some great music with dinner at the annual
jazz festival. The next morning we decided to just relax. We read and laid out by
the pool overlooking the bay with amazing juices and omelets for breakfast an elegant,
delicious lunch of fresh salads, meats, and cheeses, and polished off the day with
a couple's sunset massage at their amazing spa. We have never been more relaxed
than we were at the end of that day. We sauntered into town for dinner out at a
modern thai-Brazilian fusion restaurant on the bay before returning home officially
pampered. The next day we made our own excursion to the beach of Geriba where we
were definitely the only two Americans (if not the only non-South American tourists)
in the crowd. We laid in the sun, watched everyone playing soccer, volleyball, and
surfing, and had more acai and snacks for lunch. We caught some of our own waves
in the crystal-clear, teal water and hiked down the beach to explore the rocky peninsula
at the end where geographical maps explained how the Euro-African-American pan continent
was divided millions of years ago and explained the origins of the rock formations
we were exploring. We returned back to the city that evening for what had become
our routine evening walk around town and watched spent the evening cheering on Brazil
in the Pan-American Games with all the Brazilians at Chez Michou, a Brazilian style
creperie. The next morning, we spent our last hours in Brazil gazing out over the
calm waters and endearing town from our private pool and had an amazing lunch at
the pousada's five-star restaurant. Then Georges came to take us back to the airport,
but not without stopping first at a local store with low prices on quality Cachaca
to bring home for our first Brazilian party as newlyweds.
We could not have asked for more on our honeymoon. Cultural immersion into a country
neither of us had ever been, inhabited by some of the most wonderful people in the
world amidst the endless natural beauty and culinary diversity that makes any trip
divine: it was simply perfect. We have traveled all over and never found any people
as amazingly warm and welcoming as the Brazilians. Deus es Brasiliero!!
Thank you VIP Brazil!!! Until next time (Argentinean Exploration for our 10th anniversary???),
- Heidi & Ray
Special Honeymoon Journey- Rio, Buzios & Angra
Well where do I begin! We've literally
traveled all around the globe, stayed in all kinds of hotels, apartments and villas,
and for the most part we've never used an agency for anything other than air tickets,
preferring to hammer-out the excruciating details ourselves, and we've become experts
at it, one could say.
But there was only one continent that we've never been to and that's South America,
and we've always wanted to visit Brazil especially, and since we were starting blind,
and after constant research and web searches, we stumbled across your web site.
We were skeptical at first, not knowing what to expect, but the fact that we were
going back-and-forth with you guys on the details of our trip kinda made us feel
And off we were. Arriving in Buenos Aires- in a country we've never been to- we
didn't know what to expect, but as soon as the two gentlemen greeted us, we knew
things will turn out fine; they were very friendly and hospitable, to say the least,
and our hotel room was simply magnificent!. We had a great time indeed.
And then off to Brazil. Supposedly a "very dangerous" place, our apprehension was
great, even while driving to Buzios. Every run-down Pousada we passed we thought
was ours, but with a sigh of relief we kept on moving. Then we arrived, and WOW!
What a wonderful little place! They greeted us so warmly, knowing who we were immediately,
and escorting us to the best room in the Pousada! It was late and dark, but I cannot
describe to you the sheer exhilaration we felt when we woke up to that stunning
view! I cannot decide what was better in Buzios, was it the daytime or night time,
but certainly both were well worth our 14 hour flight and 3 hour drive, we would
definitely go there again.
Rio (Leblon specifically) was such a surprising experience. We had such a great
time and everyone could not have been friendlier, the food, music, night life, the
young crowd and hip areas, all were things never to be forgotten.
Angra dos Reis was arguably one of the most naturally beautiful places we have ever
been to, and we've been to them all, believe me. It was simply stunning! The mountains,
the isolated beaches, the people and staff, all were amazing, nothing like we expected.
I cannot begin to describe how happy we were, we still cannot stop talking about
it with our friends and family, and we're telling them all to contact VIP Brazil
if they plan on going, you guys were on top of everything every minute, literally.
And your quotes were on target and well below our specified budget, but by far the
greatest thing was that you were always calling the drivers/guides to make sure
we were where we're supposed to be, and that is something extremely rare nowadays.
I forgot the names of all the driver/guides, but the lady in Argentina was absolutely
super, and so was the driver (he actually went out of his way to point out Arabic
sites and he translated Argentine dishes into Arabic!), and also Marcello, oh what
a character he is! He gave us so many laughs (not all intentional!), what a funny
guy, he was always punctual and extremely helpful, we had such a great time with
him. You guys are honestly the best, I wish you would expand and serve globally,
you are so good at it! (then again, big isn't necessarily good!).
We were so satisfied with experiencing your company that we assumed doing it again
with others would be somewhat similar at least, but noo way: we went to Greece a
couple of weeks ago using a friends "travel agent", our car never received us, and
we got scammed by a cab, driving for 2 hours, our connecting plane was on the wrong
day, prompting us to take a 3 hour boat ride, and our hotel basically kicked us
out 12 hours before our departure time, leaving us wandering the streets of Mykonos
in the blistering sun for half a day! Just to show you.
All we can say is Thank You So Much for one of the best trips we've ever taken,
we will surely be knocking back on your door in year or two, you can bet on that,
your the best, all of you.
Sorry for the lengthy email but it's from the heart. Regards to Sarah and the rest
of the staff, you've all been amazing. Best Regards!
- Faisal A.& Eba'a A.
Family Cultural Excursion - Rio, Paraty, Iguassu Falls & Sao Paulo
I agree with
Jerry's comments and would add that a major highlight was attending a candomble
ceremony in Salvador. It had been highly recommended by Jesse's high school music
teacher, and it was an outstanding window into Afro-Brazilian culture. We appreciate
the efforts that you and Luis made to enable us to attend.
The tours and activities in all locations were worthwhile. Some, such as the boat
trip and rain forest tour in Paraty, were aided by spectacular weather. Iguassu
Falls were amazing, even with low water - we could really see the structure of the
falls, which is probably not so visible with higher flow. What we did miss was time
to wander and shop and listen to more music, particularly in Paraty, Salvador, and
The most important thing, however, is that all three of us enjoyed the trip immensely.
It was a memorable experience that we will recall fondly for many years. I don't
know if Jerry has shared our travel blog with you - it has some of the pictures and
impressions that we recorded during the trip.
I also want you to know that we are very appreciative of your availability and exceptional
service throughout the trip. The selection of destinations and activities truly
helped us sample some of the many flavors of Brazil. Your assistance and willingness
to develop alternatives during our trip helped us maximize the opportunities in
our travel and to accommodate our changing needs. Thank you very much. Regards,
- Shirley F. & Jerry E.
Buzios and Rio excursion
Just wanted to drop you guys a line to let you know what
an outstanding job you did in planning and preparing us for our Brazilian vacation.
The general consensus was that it was the best vacation of all time. What an amazing
country filled with amazing people. The 7 days in Buzios were unbelievable. The
service at Casa Brancas was the best I ever had and I travel quite frequently. Listening
to your suggestions really paid off for us as well. Staying in the Centro area was
the best option. We met people from Argentina, Chile, Brazil of course and even
Australia. Rio was well thought out too. Ipanema/Leblon is a great area w/ many
choices. Rio has a great nightlife.
Again, great job organizing everything. Our transfer from Rio to Buzios and then
back was an enjoyable ride. Ricardo was very informative friendly and really made
us feel at ease. He's very good at what he does. My only problem is now I'm hooked
on Brazil. How can I go back to the Caribbean when I've experienced Brazil. My crew
feels the same way. Next year Floripa, Buzios and Rio in 15 days! Obrigado,
- John G
Brazil was great but Salvador was our favorite
Salvador was a favorite in every
way. Roberto was the perfect guide - I was very sad to leave him. He's fun, knowledgeable
and extremely helpful. We desperately wanted one of those take-away World Cup schedules
so we could keep track of scores and games and he found one for us - a small example
of his dedication. Cachoiera was a fantastic day - we have amazing pictures. Ditto
the Folclorico, city tour, etc. The cooking class was a great evening - Marc Le
Dantec took us right into his kitchen and did demos and hands on stuff then made
us a fabulous dinner with equally fabulous wines. It was all very private and intimate
and we were delighted. The convent hotel was everyone's favorite - really unique
Fernando de Noronha was another great adventure. We've been to islands like it before
- Bonaire comes to mind - and we love the culture and the tempo. and with that laid
back quality of Salvador.
Incredible as it seems not a single lost bag or late flight. Pretty amazing considering
the number of airplanes and bags. We watched soccer all throughout Brazil - it was
a project of sorts and the whole country was working on it with us. Futbol talk
was a great icebreaker everywhere we traveled - as I'm sure you know it's the universal
language when you're in South America!
From the start you have been responsive, professional and flexible. We have memories
(and hundreds and pictures) that will last a lifetime and I thank you! Obrigado,
- Jeanne A.
Our honeymoon in Brazil was absolutely perfect! Jeanette and
I would like to thank both you and Lisa for all your hard work in putting together
such an amazing package for us. All the hotels were exceptional in terms of customer
service, cleanliness, comfort, and location.
As for the tour guides, they were all great but one stood out the most. Marcelo
Estevez, the tour guide in Rio was very enthusiastic, energetic and very knowledgeable
about the city. Jeanette and I really enjoyed our tour with Marcelo and would highly
recommend him to anyone.
The pace of our trip was perfect...we had just enough time to relax and just enough
tours. The balance was great. The cities we touched were so unique therefore we
really feel as though we got to taste a variety of cities in the country.
If you are putting something together for someone in the Toronto area please do
not hesitate to use us as a reference. Regards,
Honeymooning in Brazil!
Sarah and I wanted to thank you so much for all your efforts
in making our honeymoon truly amazing!! We had a wonderful time in Brazil and it
would not have been the same without all your knowledge and expertise. There's always
fear of the unknown when traveling to a new country, but that fear subsided the
minute we stepped off the plane in Rio, for there was our guide, Ricardo waiting
there for us. He took care of everything that we needed and answered our many questions.
The Marina Palace Hotel, Pousada Casa Brancas and the Nannai were some of the best
accommodations that any newlyweds could ask for. We highly recommend the honeymoon
package. Sarah loved Nannai. She is already asking me when we can go back!!!
Attached are some pictures of us at all of the glorious locations for you to see.
Again, we truly thank you. This trip would not have been possible without you. Your
- Tripp and Sarah B.
Whew are we ever tired! What an amazing trip though! It was certainly
worth the crazy travel schedule (my fault -I know due to the late booking).
Caroline, I wish all travel agents could be like you. Your service to us was remarkable!
You even knew (within an hour) that we had delayed one of the local drivers to pick
us up and called us in Brazil to check if everything was OK! You are amazing.
Everywhere that you sent us was great! The tour guides were amazing, and Boca do
Ceu was incredible (as was Rudolpho). We wanted to stay at another place and you
gently guided us to "Rudolpho on the hill"
We threw a couple of curves at you when we wanted to change the itinerary in the
middle of the trip to hunt the sunny weather. You handled them with real concern.
C-O-N-C-E-R-N Yes! It is a strength that the travel business has managed to put
aside in our modern era. I would recommend you to anyone who walks by me on the
sidewalk! That's it for now,