Ériver Hijano
Travel + Leisure
August 10, 2017

The A-List is Travel + Leisure's annual selection of the world's best travel agents and destination specialists, as chosen by the editors. Rely on these industry experts to plan the perfect trip to Europe. For more about our methodology and how to apply, read How We Choose the Travel Agents for T+L’s A-List.

Central and Eastern Europe

Nathalie Nagy

This part-time Budapest resident keeps close tabs on openings and developing points of interest in the region’s popular destinations, such as Prague and Vienna, as well as emerging ones like Romania and Slovenia.

Best for: culture buffs, luxury seekers, foodies/epicurean travelers

Extras: Nagy has planned special occasions such as a private concert on one of Mozart’s pianos at his birthplace in Salzburg, Austria, and an after-hours tour of the Lobmeyr glass workshop in Vienna.

Other expertise: Western Europe

Minimum daily spend: $500

212-409-9562; nathalie.nagy@protravelinc.com; protravelinc.com


Central Europe

Ellison Poe

Poe has spent a lifetime in the travel industry and has lived in Vienna at different stages of her life. As a result, she can call on childhood friends and business contacts to pull strings on behalf of her clients.

Best for: multigenerational families, culture buffs, couples/honeymooners

Extras: When a mother and her young daughter stayed at the destination spa Schloss Elmau, in Germany, Poe surprised them with a bottle of Grüner Veltliner and a Little Red Riding Hood-style loden cape from a favorite shop.

Other expertise: East Africa

Minimum daily spend: $400

800-727-1960; epoe@poetravel.com; poetravel.com

Gwen Kozlowski

Kozlowski, who travels to Central Europe multiple times a year, is as comfortable designing a 30-day trip loaded with private experiences and luxury hotels as she is a simple city stopover in a hip hotel complemented by a handful of restaurant and shop recommendations. She’s especially well-traveled in Austria, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Best for: culture buffs, families

Extras: Kozlowski vets all of her recommendations, including testing self-drive trips (recently in Austria, the Czech Republic, and along Germany’s Romantic Road) before putting her clients behind the wheel.

Other expertise: Germany, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Romania, Russia, Ukraine

Minimum daily spend: $600 per couple

800-633-1008; gwen@exeterinternational.com; exeterinternational.com


France

Murielle Blanchard

Of French descent, Blanchard currently resides in Salt Lake City and considers herself a bridge between French and American cultures. She makes at least three trips to France each year to research new spots and look in on old favorites.

Best for: soft adventure, culture buffs, foodies/epicurean travelers

Extras: Blanchard’s Paris expertise includes shopping, especially one-of-a-kind boutiques (Alix D. Reynis, known for beautiful porcelain and jewelry, is a new favorite), which she always includes on her itineraries.

Other expertise: Italy

Minimum daily spend: $400

801-483-6533; murielle@blackpearlservices.com; blackpearlluxuryservices.com

Paris

Yaron Yarimi

Armed with an encyclopedic, finger-on-the-pulse knowledge of Paris thanks to his extensive research trips, Yarimi takes travelers beyond the expected hotels and museums to under-the-radar flea markets, after-hours clubs, and fledgling restaurants.

Best for: culture buffs, first-time Paris visitors, luxury seekers

Extras: Before his clients take off, Yarimi briefs them on local etiquette and tipping, and finds upcoming events—jazz concerts, outdoor plays, street festivals—that coincide with their visit.

Other expertise: The rest of France, Italy, the Mediterranean

Minimum daily spend: $1,000

212-784-0391; yaron.yarimi@frosch.com; frosch.com


France and Switzerland

Bob Preston

A part-time Paris resident and graduate of France’s prestigious INSEAD business school, Preston possesses a handy address book full of influencers. Mainland France is only a part of Preston’s expertise: look to him for information on French territories around the world, such as St. Bart’s and Martinique, as well.

Best for: multigenerational families, foodies/epicurean travelers, culture buffs

Extras: Preston is known for delivering hands-on experiences (making croissants with a Parisian baker, private shopping at Dior and Hermès) that are typically off-limits to travelers.

Other expertise: Luxury travel

Minimum daily spend: $750

33-6-73-46-46-72; bob@globebleu.com; globebleu.com


Germany

Virginia Giordano

This New Yorker turned Berlin resident (she moved in 1991) is the cofounder of Culture Trip, Germany’s leading luxury travel agency. Her made-from-scratch itineraries benefit from her countrywide network of artists, historians, and specialist guides.

Best for: culture buffs, luxury seekers, foodies/epicurean travelers

Extras: Giordano makes it her business to get to know Germany’s less-explored regions. In Tegernsee and Murnau am Staffelsee, outside of Munich, she’s discovered craft breweries, family-owned restaurants, scenic boat rides, and beautiful hiking trails.

Minimum daily spend: $200 per group

49-30-305-3890; virginia@culturetrip.de; culturetrip.de


Greece

Mina Agnos

It’s hard to ask a question about Greece that Agnos can’t answer. She’s an expert on perennially popular destinations like the Cyclades, though her true passion is the country’s less-known corners—the islands of Astypalaia and Zakynthos, say, or the olive-grove-dotted Laconia region of the Peloponnese—as well as obscure archaeological sites, to which she can arrange private visits.

Best for: luxury seekers, multigenerational families, couples/honeymooners

Extras: Traveling on Greece’s ferry system can be notoriously difficult for some passengers, as there’s no luggage assistance, so Agnos has assembled a team of porters who are available to travel with her guests on the ships to handle their bags.

Other expertise: Egypt, Italy, Spain

Minimum daily spend: $300

561-300-7436; mina@travelive.com; travelive.com

Petros Zissimos

Zissimos, who’s especially well-versed in travel to the mainland, the Cyclades, and Crete, loves a challenge, whether creating a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon or an extended-family trip with wide-ranging activities for a variety of ages.

Best for: honeymooners, multigenerational families, foodies/epicurean travelers

Extras: Zissimos is known for surprising his clients with a complimentary spa treatment or beach picnic.

Other expertise: Turkey

Minimum daily spend: $300

212-944-8288; pzissimos@hellenicholidays.com; hellenicholidays.com

Greece and Turkey

Christos Stergiou

This Athens-based advisor has a network of stringers throughout Greece and Turkey who keep him up to date on local sights and hotels. His company, TrueTrips, continues to expand with offerings in Spain, France, and Italy.

Best for: families, culture buffs

Extras: Stergiou’s company TrueTrips is known for its door-to-door transportation service: all private-car transfers, ferry tickets, and in-country flights are prearranged and included in the package cost.

Other expertise: Italy, Spain, France

Minimum daily spend: $300

800-817-7098; info@truetrips.com; truetrips.com


Ireland

Jonathan Epstein

Epstein knows that many travelers come to Ireland to retrace their roots, and he likes to double down on that focus by facilitating family bonding activities. When it comes to accommodations, he works with top small inns and luxury hotels across the country.

Best for: families, luxury seekers, couples/honeymooners

Extras: Thanks to Epstein’s connections, foodies will fall in love with Ireland. His hands-on itineraries can include get-togethers with craft gin and whiskey producers, cheesemongers, chocolatiers, and salmon fishermen.

Other expertise: England and Scotland

Minimum daily spend: $400 per couple

404-812-9298; jonathan@celebratedexperiences.com; celebratedexperiences.com

Ireland and Scotland

Siobhan Byrne Learat

If your bucket list includes an overnight in a grand castle, Learat should be your first call. Her Dublin-based team has a private portfolio of more than 150 castles and historic manors in Scotland and Ireland, thanks to carefully cultivated relationships with aristocratic property owners.

Best for: castle stays, history lovers, culture buffs

Extras: Learat can also arrange princely experiences like a tour and tasting at the members-only Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Scotland and a culinary-focused yacht trip along the river Shannon, in western Ireland.

Other expertise: Kenya

Minimum daily spend: None

353-86-232-9932; siobhan@adamsandbutler.com; adamsandbutler.com


Italy

Matteo Della Grazia & Daniela Mencarelli

This Perugia-based husband-and-wife team makes it their mission to create rich cultural journeys grounded in Italian traditions. Unlike most advisors, they’ll organize day trips as well as multiday vacations.

Best for: culture buffs, foodies/epicurean travelers, families

Extras: The duo’s expertise extends to Italy’s many islands, so think of them if you’re interested in traveling to destinations like the Aeolians, Pantelleria, Ischia, and Elba. 


Minimum daily spend: $450

347-441-3907; matteo@discoveryouritaly.com; discoveryouritaly.com

Joyce Falcone

Falcone, who has traveled the Boot from Turin to Bari to Palermo, is especially welcoming of out-of-the-ordinary requests. In addition to her full-service clients, she’s developed a consultation service for travelers with smaller budgets, who can tap her for her wide knowledge base and connections and then make their own reservations.

Best for: luxury seekers, foodies/epicurean travelers, multigenerational families

Extras: Falcone has a knack for finding little-known hideaways like tiny Tellaro, a fishing village on the Gulf of La Spezia in Liguria, and the Country House Villadorata, a modern country estate with three elegant residences—perfect for large families visiting Sicily.

Minimum daily spend: $1,000 per couple

888-674-3311; info@italianconcierge.com; italianconcierge.com

Emily FitzRoy

FitzRoy creates Italian itineraries that take travelers well below the surface. She loves sending clients to parts of the country that average travelers never venture into, and the ability of her London firm, Bellini Travel, to create luxury experiences is unmatched.

Best for: multigenerational families, foodies/epicurean travelers, culture buffs

Extras: FitzRoy funds an annual course for each of her 10 employees (who call themselves the “Bellini Belles”) in something—or somewhere—they love in Italy. This translates into deeper, more context-driven experiences for clients.

Minimum daily spend: $800 per group

44-20-7602-7602; londonoffice@bellinitravel.com; bellinitravel.com

Andrea Grisdale

“Anyone can book a Ferrari, helicopter ride, or yacht,” the Lake Como–based Grisdale says. Thanks to a knack for innovation and a keen sense of what’s next, she goes one step further, finding novel ways to personalize and enrich travel experiences. Grisdale also developed her own app so that clients could conveniently access their itineraries on the go.

Best for: couples/honeymooners, foodies/epicurean travelers, families

Extras: Grisdale’s insider excursions have included everything from a behind-the-scenes look at the historic Palio di Siena horse race to a kayaking tour of the islands off the Amalfi Coast.

Minimum daily spend: $1,000 per couple

39-03-195-2059; andrea@icbellagio.com; icbellagio.com

Uri Harash

Harash, who has lived in Rome for the past 16 years, enjoys brainstorming creative ways to introduce travelers to his adopted home (he’s originally from Israel and speaks five languages, including Italian). He’s befriended artists and artisans, fashion designers, cashmere producers, and master chocolatiers, all of whom he can call on for insider access.

Best for: multigenerational families, culture buffs, luxury seekers

Extras: Harash knows that traveling is not just about the moment but also the memories you take with you, so he loves arranging city tours of Venice, Rome, and Florence with a private photographer.

Minimum daily spend: None

39-34-50-40-6396; uri@perfettotraveler.com; perfettotraveler.com

Gary Portuesi

Look to Portuesi, who co-owns the De Gustibus Cooking School in New York, for upscale food and wine experiences throughout Italy’s 20 diverse regions. He’s especially well-versed in travel to Sicily, where he spends at least eight weeks of the year.

Best for: foodies/epicurean travelers, culture buffs, luxury seekers

Extras: If you’re interested in staying in an Italian castle or villa, Portuesi has extensive connections with noble families who have renovated their historic homes to accommodate guests.

Minimum daily spend: None

917-868-4712; garyp@authenticitaly.com; authenticitaly.com


Russia and Eastern Europe

Greg Tepper

Russia is more popular with travelers than ever before, Tepper believes, thanks to the country’s overall value and up-and-coming restaurant scene. He’s planned everything from quick business trips to culture-focused honeymoons, but if you want a VIP experience, Tepper is your man.

Best for: luxury seekers, culture buffs, foodies/epicurean travelers

Extras: Tepper has Russia connections in spades. In Moscow, he can secure a private tour of the Kremlin’s collection of imperial Fabergé eggs at the Armory Museum, while in St. Petersburg he often arranges admission to the Hermitage before the general public is allowed in.

Other expertise: Central Europe, Croatia

Minimum daily spend: $600 per couple

813-251-5355; greg@exeterinternational.com; exeterinternational.com


Scotland

Claire Schoeder

Thanks to Schoeder’s studies—she majored in British history—quarterly trips, and network of friends and professional contacts, she’s equipped to plan trips ranging from low-key driving trips through Scotland’s historic villages to high-dollar, high-octane adventures on the moors.

Best for: couples/honeymooners, luxury seekers, culture buffs

Extras: A fan of luxury train travel, Schoeder will plan high tea for client passengers as well as private tours during station stops.

Other expertise: England

Minimum daily spend: $1,000 per couple

800-533-6336, ext. 4011; claire@centurytvl.com; centurytvl.com


Spain and Portugal

Virginia Irurita

Irurita spends four months of the year traveling around the Iberian Peninsula, including one week a month in Portugal. Her crew of guides—artists and designers, historians and architects—are refreshingly nontraditional, and her Madrid-based team is available 24/7 to assist with travel questions and mishaps in real time.

Best for: foodies/epicurean travelers, luxury seekers, couples/honeymooners

Extras: Irurita, who owns a vineyard and is well connected in the wine world, can secure visits to private wineries owned by friends.

Minimum daily spend: $700 per couple

34-91-448-7275; virginia@madeforspainandportugal.com; madeforspainandportugal.com

Ally Lewing

Lewing is known for paying attention to the details—her clients’ transportation options of choice, bedding preferences, and how strict their budget is. Her connections throughout the Iberian Peninsula mean she can arrange cocktails with a Barcelonan couple in a Modernist apartment or secure visits with Seville’s cofradias (brotherhoods) at churches as they prepare for Holy Week processions.

Best for: families, foodies/epicurean travelers, luxury seekers

Extras: Is Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls on your bucket list? Watch it from a private apartment along the route, then join your host for drinks with a group of locals celebrating the occasion.

Minimum daily spend: None

212-206-8400, ext. 103; ally@htprivatetravel.com; htprivatetravel.com


Turkey

Engin Kadaster

After working as an archaeologist and tour guide in Turkey, Kadaster moved to California and founded Turkey At Its Best. She goes back to the country quarterly to explore emerging destinations, vet new hotels, and handpick top-notch guides.

Best for: culture buffs, luxury seekers, foodies/epicurean travelers

Extras: Tap Kadaster if you’re interested in visiting archaeological digs. Her connections mean insider access to excavations like Göbekli Tepe, located in southern Turkey near the Syrian border.

Minimum daily spend: None

949-717-6784; tours@turkeyatitsbest.net; turkeyatitsbest.net


United Kingdom

Ellen LeCompte

Travelers are in good hands with LeCompte, who has the connections to set up experiences like afternoon tea with aristocrats and private tours of the subterranean archives at the Churchill War Rooms in London.

Best for: luxury seekers

Extras: Horticulturists will love working with LeCompte: she’s mapped out the country’s best gardens and events (like the Hampton Court and Chatsworth flower shows) beyond the perennially popular Chelsea Flower Show. And for PBS Victoria fans, LeCompte can put together an off-hours tour of Queen Victoria’s childhood rooms at Kensington Palace.

Minimum daily spend: $1,200

804-520-0608; ellen@lecomptetravel.com; lecomptetravel.com

United Kingdom and Ireland

Nicola Butler

The tagline of Butler’s firm, NoteWorthy, is Exquisite British Experiences, and it offers unparalleled access to places and people throughout the U.K., especially in London. Her address book is full of English tastemakers—from a florist to the stars in Chelsea to a makeup artist at a West End theater—who will happily meet with her clients.

Best for: families, luxury seekers, culture buffs

Extras: A classic example of Butler’s connections is being able to see Stonehenge without the crowds: a local farmer drives her clients in his Land Rover through the cattle gate and right up to the stones.

Minimum daily spend: $1,000

44-20-3051-5165; nicola@noteworthy.co.uk; noteworthy.co.uk


Western Europe

Anne Morgan Scully

She’s the president of top firm McCabe World Travel, but you can still count on Scully to get very hands-on in the planning process. Along with land travel through popular countries like France, Spain, and the U.K., she’s an excellent resource for European river cruises.

Best for: multigenerational families, foodies/epicurean travelers, luxury seekers

Extras: Thanks to perfectly paired guides, personalized tours, and thoughtful gestures such as finding a bottle of bubbly waiting in your hotel room, you’re left with little doubt that each trip was designed especially for you.

Other expertise: Safaris

Minimum daily spend: None

703-762-5055; anne@mccabeworld.com; mccabeworld.com

Jim Strong

Accessibility, attention to detail—especially when it comes to hotels—and an impeccable sense of true luxury are what drive Strong Travel Services, a family business co-owned by Jim’s mother, Nancy.

Best for: culture buffs

Extras: As Strong sees an uptick in requests for local hosts and guides to travel alongside clients, he’s made it his mission to vet and secure some of the best.

Other expertise: North America

Minimum daily spend: None

214-361-0027; jim@strongtravel.com; strongtravel.com

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