At Indagare, we believe that every trip should be unforgettable and each vacation is designed specifically for the traveler. Here, we dive into a behind-the-scenes look at the planning process for Indagare members, Jason Olbres, his wife Nichole Marks and their friends, Nina and Stuart Reid, who took a fall trip to Bangkok and Bhutan. We talk to Travel Specialist Kelly Brennan, who orchestrated the memorable journey, as well as Jason, Nichole and Nina, who reflect on their favorite Indagare-planned experiences.
Now is the time to book a trip to Thailand and Bhutan. Our specialists can match you with the hotels and lodges that are right for you, plan great meals and activities, introduce you to our favorite guides and arrange special access. Contact Indagare to get started.
Travel Specialist Kelly Brennan tells us about the travel request and explains the planning process:
“Jason and his wife Nichole wanted to visit Bhutan and add on time in another Asian destination to the beginning or end of the trip. Jason was looking for an experience that offered incredible landscapes, active pursuits and cultural interactions. As soon as we began planning the itinerary, their friends Nina and Stuart Reid decided to join the trip, too.”
Related: Bhutan’s Natural Splendor
“We arranged a 12-night trip that began in Bangkok at The Siam, one of our favorite hotels in the city. In Bangkok, we incorporated visits to the local markets, a bike tour of the riverside neighborhoods and a Thai cooking class. Next, they traveled to Bhutan, where they stayed at four of the country’s best luxury lodges, including COMO Uma Paro and COMO Uma Punakha. This part of the trip was filled with trekking excursions to Buddhist temples, scenic drives with incredible views, white-water rafting and interactions with Bhutanese people.
Related: Bhutan: Six to Know
“Indagare has a great relationship with COMO hotels, and we were able to ensure that the group’s vision for the trip was fulfilled. We requested Indagare’s favorite guide and driver in Bhutan, who delivered a fabulous experience.”
Related: A Week in Bhutan
From Jason Olbres:
“Thank you for helping us create such an amazing journey. You did a great job helping us plan and arrange the best experience in Thailand and Bhutan. For future travelers to these destinations, I would definitely recommend Emirates business class, which had great service, food, a lounge and complimentary limo service. It made our first day in Bangkok so much easier.
“The Siam Bangkok is a very well-run resort. The staff is great and butler service comes with each room. The accommodations also have complimentary smart phones that are loaded with apps, maps, a boat schedule and free calling. We also took a yoga class with a great instructor who made the workout enlightening and fun. The spa is also wonderful. In Bangkok, we loved our bike ride, and our guide was very good at assessing the abilities of the whole group. Another highlight was the cooking school. We learned a lot and are excited to source some specialty ingredients at home and re-create those dishes!
“Bhutan exceeded our expectations. The COMO resorts set against the surreal landscapes were absolutely stunning. Our guide and driver were so focused on making the trip special and unique, and they went above and beyond to cater to what we wanted, while still assessing what we could handle. They adjusted the itinerary, changed hikes to suit our fitness level and encouraged us when needed. Highlights included visits to a school that teaches handicrafts and seeing the Memorial Chorten stupa.
“Our drive to Punahka over the Douchula Pass was breathtaking. Punakha was such a cool valley, and the COMO Uma Punakha was one of the best hotels I have ever visited. The manager made us feel at home; Mohan, our butler, was always one step ahead of us; and the views from the lodge and the room were breathtaking. The chef created new menus daily, and the cuisine was superb, especially the soups.
“The Gangtey Lodge was another stunning lodge with breathtaking views. We were lucky to see the black-necked cranes, which are protected in Bhutan, and we went on some great hikes here. We observed monks chanting in the morning and visited a local’s home, which was an intimate way to experience Bhutanese culture.
“The drive from Gangtey Lodge to Uma Paro was long and arduous, but I enjoyed every moment because the sites and scenery were overwhelmingly beautiful. The COMO Uma Paro was a bigger hotel compared to the other lodges, but it was also very quiet and private with great views. Our room was absolutely amazing, and the staff was excellent.
“Everything about our time in Bhutan felt right. It is hard to describe in words—and the pictures don’t do it justice—how very special Bhutan is. I was always in a good mood and had time to reflect on my own values and compare Bhutan to our society in the West. I was sad to leave our friends and guides at the end. Who would have thought we would connect so strongly with people we had known for a week! Thank you Kelly and the Indagare team for making this a very special trip.” ~ Jason Olbres, Indagare member since 2012
From Nichole Marks:
“Thank you for all your help! We had an amazing trip. Bhutan was absolutely magical! I couldn’t give our guide and driver enough praise. They did an outstanding job and exceeded all of my expectations. All of our hotels were perfect, and the service was an A+. The COMO Uma Punakha was my favorite property. Other than all the amazing people we met and hiking we did, I would say our highlights were the evening walks, talks with locals, our farmhouse tour and our morning visit to the monastery for the monks’ chant.
“In retrospect, the only change I might have made was to spend more time in Bhutan or to coordinate the trip with a festival. It is a truly special place, and I hope to go back someday! We also had a lovely time in Bangkok. The Siam was great, and our cooking class was super fun. The bike ride was not for the faint of heart, but it was definitely a highlight of our short stay. We had a wonderful trip and appreciate your help coordinating it!” ~ Nichole Marks, Indagare member since 2012
From Nina Reid:
“We had the best time ever! Bhutan was amazing. Our guide and driver were so interesting and well informed. They personalized everything for us and could not have been nicer or more professional. We all became fast friends. Punakha was our favorite place to visit, and the COMO Uma Punakha was just lovely. We also had a great time in Bangkok and loved our visit to the cooking school and our stay at The Siam. Our bike ride was fun, too. Thank you so much for all of your help!” ~ Nina Reid, Indagare member since 2017