By Travel + Leisure
August 10, 2017
Sean Fennessy

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 Oceania. For more about our methodology and how to apply, read How We Choose the Travel Advisors for T+L’s A-List.

Australia and New Zealand

Cassandra Bookholder

Bookholder returns to her native Australia a few times a year to search for new ways to experience old favorites, like adrenaline-fueled tours of Sydney featuring seaplanes, motorcycles, and jet boats. Recently, she has created itineraries that give her clients an insider’s view of a destination, like a visit to Waiheke Island, Auckland’s answer to the Hamptons.

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

Extras: Bookholder is thrilled when clients opt for a focused visit to one destination rather than country-hopping. In addition to allowing for a deeper experience, it also means she can build in plenty of open leisure time.

Other expertise: New Zealand

Minimum daily spend: none

602-889-5902; cassandrab@camelbacktravel.com; camelbacktravel.com

Suzy Mercien-Ferol

Mercien-Ferol, who lives in Brisbane, can arrange private-jet transfers and plan trips with stays at lodges that are destinations in themselves. Her favorites include coastal getaways like Saffire Freycinet, in Tasmania, and mountain cabins like Minaret Station, in Wanaka, New Zealand.

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

Extras: Call Mercien-Ferol if you want an ultra-exclusive experience like a heli-hike on a New Zealand glacier that incorporates martinis and caviar.

Other expertise: Tahiti, Fiji

Minimum daily spend: $700

800-536-5328; suzy.mercien@touringtreasures.com; touringtreasures.com

French Polynesia

 

Christina Turrini

Turrini travels annually to Tahiti and knows the right people to make any dream-vacation request a reality, whether it be a videographer to film a marriage proposal, a local fisherman to share his secret angling spots, or even a top Tahitian tattoo artist.

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

Extras: When two of Turrini’s clients returned to Tahiti to re-create their honeymoon, she surprised them with a breakfast delivered in a raft outfitted with traditional wedding chairs.

Other expertise: Italy

Minimum daily spend: $350

415-532-8664; christina.turrini@frosch.com; frosch.com

South Pacific

Susanne Hamer

Vacations to the South Pacific can feel packaged, unless you get someone creative like Hamer involved. On annual trips, she charts out the best beach and overwater bungalows for views and privacy, and scouts out new shops, romantic restaurants, and experiences.

Best for: couples/honeymooners, luxury seekers, families

Extras: On private boat tours around Bora-Bora, Hamer likes to add a professional photographer to the crew to document the experience. She also sends couples off with champagne—served in a coconut.

Other expertise: Maldives and the Seychelles

Minimum daily spend: none

310-689-5411; susanne.h@travelstore.com; travelstore.com

New Zealand

Jean-Michel Jefferson

It’s hard to have a conversation with Jefferson and resist the urge to jump on the next flight to New Zealand. No request is off-limits for the South Island–based travel advisor, who counts professional photographers, fly-fishing guides, chefs, and farmers among the friends he can tap on behalf of his clients.

Best for: families, foodies/epicurean travelers, adventurers

Extras: For clients interested in Maori culture, Jefferson sets them up with a Maori chef and outdoorsman who leads an excursion in the Kaimanawa Range for a day of hunting, gathering, cooking, and hiking.

Minimum daily spend: $1,000

64-3-447-3558; jean-michel@ahipara.com; ahipara.com

Alexandra Stewart

Stewart’s in-depth knowledge allows her to create informative, personal itineraries and suggest alternatives to overcrowded destinations. Her company, Antipodean Luxury Travel,  has access to stunning wilderness areas. For a recent father-son trip, she arranged private fly-fishing excursions on a sheep farm on New Zealand’s North Island.

Best for: adventurers, wildlife-lovers, sports fans

Extras: Stewart can arrange heart-pumping activities like swimming with dolphins and whales off Western Australia’s Coral Coast, and heli-skiing and hiking on New Zealand’s glaciers.

Other expertise: Family travel, Australia, and the South Pacific

Minimum daily spend: $500

64-2998-33806; alexandra@antipodeanluxurytravel.com; antipodeanluxurytravel.com

Donna Thomas

Reading her detailed itineraries, it’s clear that Thomas has explored almost every corner of New Zealand’s North and South Islands. She sends bird-watching enthusiasts to secluded beaches to see the endangered yellow-eyed penguin and arranges for avid trekkers to take guided hikes to a waterfall on a secluded beach in Paparoa National Park.

Best for: luxury seekers, couples/honeymooners, families

Extras: Thomas’s itineraries are packed with insider tips such as scenic road-trip detours and cruises to less-visited Tauranga, which is blossoming with new activities and charming accommodations.

Other expertise: Australia

Minimum daily spend: $500

215-741-5155; nztravel@aol.com; newzealandtravel.org

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