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These destination specialists are the go-to travel planners for trips to Canada or the United States. 

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 Canada or the U.S. For more about our methodology and how to apply, read How We Choose the Travel Agents for T+L’s A-List.

Hawaii

Marilyn Clark

Clark—who books 140 trips to Hawaii a year—is one of a handful of people who have certification as a Master Specialist for each of Hawaii’s six major islands, given to those with particular expertise in the state’s history and culture. Because of her contacts in the islands, she always has the latest information on shops, restaurants, and experiences.

Best for: culture buffs, luxury seekers, adventurers

Extras: For family trips, Clark keeps travelers of every age in mind. While the mom and dad tee off at Kapalua Golf Club on Maui, for example, the kids might go ziplining in the West Maui Mountains.

Other expertise: Tahiti

Minimum daily spend: $400

844-339-1774; marilyn@lighthousetravel.net; lighthousetravel.net

Stacy Small

Small spends half of the year in Hawaii, jumping between islands to vet resorts and hotels, meet tour guides, and critique new restaurants and take a fresh look at old standbys. She’s especially knowledgeable about Hawaiian wellness travel and keeps a little black book full of private yoga instructors, acupuncturists, and Reiki healers.

Best for: luxury seekers, couples/honeymooners, families

Extras: Small is a master matchmaker of guests and hotel rooms. During site inspections she carefully notes which suites, ohanas, and bungalows are best for which types of clients.

Other expertise: Hotels

Minimum daily spend: $700

561-351-5907; stacy@elitetravelinternational.com; elitetravelinternational.com


Napa Valley and Sonoma

Michelle Murré

While she often works with oenophile clients interested in premier bottles and exclusive tastings, Murré also knows what the region offers beyond wine and food: scenic drives, dramatic cliff-side beaches, and family-friendly parks and hiking trails.

Best for: epicurean travelers, multigenerational families, adventurers

Extras: Tap Murré if you want to visit wineries that aren’t open to the public or partake in wine-making rituals (harvest parties, grape crushes) at top vineyards.

Other expertise: Italy

Minimum daily spend:$500

415-796-3869; michelle@azurinetravel.com; azurinetravel.com


New York City

Lia Batkin

Batkin and her partner, Seth Kaplan, created their travel and lifestyle firm with a younger set of savvy explorers in mind—those who crave insider knowledge and local connections.

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

Extras: For a fashionista client, Batkin arranged a meeting with a top shoe designer so they could co-create a custom pair of shoes. She has arranged for clients to watch New York City’s Fourth of July fireworks from a yacht, with dinner catered by a leading chef.

Other expertise: Birthday trips

Minimum daily spend: $2,000

212-776-1784; lia@itkexp.com; itkexp.com


Pacific Northwest

Sheri Doyle

While Doyle should be your go-to expert for any type of leisure travel in northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, her favorite trips pair food and soft adventure. She has mapped out sea-kayaking excursions through the San Juan Islands (where orcas roam), for example, as well as road trips from one celebrated restaurant to another.

Best for: epicurean travelers, families, luxury seekers

Extras: Doyle is best known for her highly detailed itineraries, with smart current suggestions, such as small-town street festivals worth a detour or pop-up restaurants not to miss.

Other expertise: Canadian Rockies and western Canada

Minimum daily spend: $300

800-935-9730; info@pnwjourneys.com; pnwjourneys.com


The West

Harold C. Jenkins

“In many ways, planning a trip to Montana is more difficult than planning a trip to Moscow,” says Jenkins, who knows the rugged region’s secrets well. He travels through the American West and beyond at least four times a year to scout private fishing spots and road-trip routes, gather intel on ski mountains, and meet with knowledgeable guides who can lead backcountry excursions.

Best for: adventurers, families, luxury seekers

Extras: For a family with a teenage daughter studying U.S. history, Jenkins put together a trip that highlighted Lewis and Clark Expedition sites. He even arranged for a college professor and his graduate students—in period dress—to make a surprise visit to their riverside luxury camp and act out the roles of Lewis, Clark, and others in their exploration party.

Other expertise: Ski vacations

Minimum daily spend: $1,000

847-257-6262; hcjviptravel@sbcglobal.net; travelink.com

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