Grindelwald by night (photo: Trevor Payne/Alamy)

Stress-Free Dream Vacation Planning

By Sandra Sperounes

Harry Potter fans know Grindelwald as an evil wizard from J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed book series.

For Jadin Sharko, Grindelwald is a village in the Swiss Alps. He recently visited the ski and snowboard haven during a 12-day trip with his mom, AMA member Tammy Sharko. “Grindelwald was breathtaking,” he says. “The powder, the blue skies, the hang gliders flying over the mountains.”

As a snowboard instructor at Edmonton’s Rabbit Hill, Jadin decided to visit the Alps to celebrate his Grade 12 graduation. But he didn’t know how to plan his adventure. Should he sign up for a group tour? Which resorts should he check out? What could he do during off-slope days?

No group tours were available when the Sharkos wanted to go, so AMA Travel agent Jennifer Grauman jumped in. With her vast knowledge of the area (she used to live in Austria) Grauman put together the trip of a lifetime.

The family’s fully customized vacation included first-class airfare, rail tickets and stops in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, based on their shared interests and Jadin’s snowboarding prowess. “You’ve got some hills that are better for experts, some that are better for skiers, and some that are better for snowboarders,” Grauman says.

Carving up Colorado: ski resorts worthy of a trip south

“I sent Jadin and Tammy proposals for ski areas and activities, so they could make adjustments,” she adds. “Originally, we had them flying into Munich, Germany, then boarding the train right away to Innsbruck, Austria. But they decided to spend a couple of days in Munich since there’s so much to do there.”

As part of that prelude, Grauman arranged for the Sharkos to head outside the city for a private tour of Dachau concentration camp, which Jadin had learned about at school. In Innsbruck, he snowboarded while Tammy did some sightseeing. Together, they visited Swarovski Crystal Worlds, a seven-hectare garden and light show in a nearby town, and took a day trip to Bolzano, Italy, before arriving at what turned out to be their favourite spot: Grindelwald.

Not only did Grauman help the Sharkos select their destinations and activities, she took every little detail of their trip into consideration. She helped them with bus schedules to ski hills, provided restaurant menus (along with reservation advice) and laundromat locations.

Grand advice for booking a multigenerational vacation

“They’re very necessary if you’re skiing for a week and staying in hotels that don’t offer laundry service,” Grauman says. “So I found out where the laundromats were relative to their hotels and mapped out directions. AMA Travel agents think of everything. It takes hours of research to put together a customized vacation.”

That meant Jadin could spend more time finessing his snowboard moves instead of planning the vacation. And once the Sharkos arrived in Europe, they could enjoy their time rather than stress over where to eat, what to do with their laundry or when to catch a train to their next destination. “There’s no way we could’ve planned this on our own,” Tammy says.

Jadin sums it up: “I give the trip a 10 out of 10.”

Talk to an AMA Travel agent to start planning your customized vacation of a lifetime! Call 1-866-667-4777 or visit us online.