Since returning from the Cover Stars trip, busy mum-of-three Marie Orpe, of Freedom Personal Travel Advisors, has sold the itinerary as a family holiday. Harry Kemble reports.

Q. What was it like flying business class?
A. Flying business class was really cool and nice to experience. I had never flown business class before and I probably never will again, but it makes it much easier to sell to customers. I watched a lot of movies on the flight and enjoyed the flat bed. There was a lot of noise [and excitement] among the people who had not flown business class before. I can’t see how I could personally afford it because I have got three children. I always prefer to spend my money on the resort experiences.

Q. Where did you stay in Los Angeles?
A. We stayed at the Mondrian Hotel, in West Hollywood, which is quite quirky. There were a lot of random mirrors in the room. I got the feeling that it was more for adults than families. The view across the city from the restaurant was amazing. The vibe was great too, with the music and pool next to the bar. I would definitely recommend it to clients.

Q. What’s the atmosphere like in LA?
A. To be honest I had a really negative opinion about LA before I went, but I really quite enjoyed it. I really liked the Beverly Hills bike tour, seeing the Hollywood sign and seeing the Griffith Observatory too. The rest of the places we went to in West Hollywood were great – nice people, nice atmosphere. It is all about choosing where you want to stay and managing expectations. Visiting LA changed my opinion of it. I was pleasantly surprised.

Q. Where was your photoshoot?
A. I was booked in to do it at Creston Ranch with Central Coast Trailrides. We stayed Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, and went down to the ranch before going on a sunset ride. I am outdoorsy, but I had not been on a horse for years. It was really cool actually. I was quite worried about it because I had not done a photoshoot before, but Travel Weekly’s Robin Searle and the photographer put me at ease. I have booked a family of four on the same route since I came back, which just shows how much I enjoyed the whole coastal route. For a family, there is something for everybody: the sand buggying, the wine tours…

Q. How did you find Santa Cruz and what was your favourite part?
A. The cruise on Chardonnay Sail was totally unbelievable. The cruise lasted a couple of hours and we saw sea otters. They were all there, just chilling out. We also visited the famous bridge from the film The Lost Boys.

Q. Any other highlights?
A. The zip-lining at Mount Vernon was another highlight, going in between the redwoods. It was awesome. There were about 10 zip-lines and we went from the top of the valley to the bottom. It was quite cold as we went through the air. If you are outdoorsy you will enjoy it. In Santa Cruz someone from the tourism board took us out on the last night and we did karaoke. That was fun because I mentioned I turned 40 two days later so we went out and had a few drinks.


Marie’s sales tips

Coastal route: Definitely get out of Los Angeles and drive along the coastal route and do all the exciting activities.

Food and drink: There is something for everyone. That is what is good about LA. I’m fussy with food so I just ate steak every night.

Los Angeles weather: The sun was always shining, although it did get quite chilly at night.


Marie on…the adventure activities

For me the trip was all about the experiences and the outdoor activities: the dune buggying, horse riding and zip-lining, which was great. We were the equivalent of a couple of houses off the ground. Fortunately, I am not scared of heights and it was just beautiful.

We were told about the forest as we were zip-lining and the guys who run it said the trees grew together in families. All the activities were great, I cannot pick between them. That made it for me. I had not been away without my kids for years. It was nice to be me for a week, to be told what to do and where to go.