Jennifer Deacon and Mercedeh Sanati are rare creatures in the travel world: trip planners that have lived the experiences they sell. Through their Toronto company, Quench Trip Design, the pair creates custom travel packages for clients based on their own journeys. After over 30 combined years in the travel industry—and after taking four or five major trips per year—they know the destinations they recommend and are uniquely positioned to satisfy the desires and requirements of their clients. We caught up with them before they left Canada for trips to Tuscany and Morocco to ask them about their favourite spots in Canada, how to create a custom trip and what travel trends are hot right now.
What’s the story behind starting Quench Trip Design?
After living abroad and working with a boutique travel company, Jennifer wanted to start a business that would focus on the richness of experience that didn’t always necessitate a five-star budget. Quench began became a full-time endeavour in 2008 when Mercedeh joined on. We want to create authentic experiences for our travellers based on our own travels, literally introducing them to locals, directing them to our favourite little restaurants, and booking them into hotels, houses and apartments that they may not otherwise find.
What makes Quench different from other travel tour companies?
Every trip is built from scratch not sold as a package. Quench offers a five-star service even if the trip we are designing is on a three-star or four-star budget. Every trip is tailored to the precise needs and budget requirements of the traveller. [Upon departure, we provide] detailed traveller information packages. We are also available to clients when they are away from home, in case adjustments need to be made to their arrangements.
What is one of the most interesting trips you’ve organized in Canada?
A couple from the UK started in the Eastern Townships and made their way across Canada, ending on Vancouver Island. They were able to experience the cultural diversity and natural beauty of Canada. All the while, we made sure that they had restaurant recommendations, live music venue suggestions, and notes about our favourite Canadian experiences.
How much do the trips you organize vary?
One extreme would be a two-night trip to Paris. We helped orchestrate a very unusual marriage proposal. The travellers booked the trip two days before they left. Another extreme is planning a work conference for a group of human rights lawyers going to Kenya, followed by incredible safaris for the conference participants after their work was done.
What travel trends have you observed recently?
More and more we’re getting requests for special occasion trips such as honeymoons, anniversaries and milestone birthdays (which we have dubbed the “zero trips”). In the past year, we have also noticed that people are planning major trips within three months of travel, which is quite last minute.
What was the last trip you took?
Jennifer: Southern Italy, focussing on the coastline off Naples and south to the Cilento coast. Highlights included revisiting old favourites on the island of Capri, discovering villages such as Pisciotta for the first time and other areas that are virtually undiscovered by North American tourists (I travelled for five days before I heard another English-speaking traveller).
Mercedeh: Northern California. Highlights included spending early mornings hiking along mountain trails and indulging in great meals in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
What is one of your favourite travel or getaway experiences in Canada?
Jennifer: Bear watching at the Orford River in BC, savouring the lamb popsicles at Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver, the Dawson City Music Festival and whale-watching off Tadoussac.
Mercedeh: Exploring the stunning natural scenery in the Laurentians, beach walks at Sandbanks Provincial Park, a weekend on Toronto’s Ward Island at Swan’s End Guesthouse (a real home away from home, but with a much better breakfast) and harvest time in Prince Edward County.