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Travelzoo Plays Cupid

The Deal Experts at Travelzoo wear many hats: an inspector hat when looking into deals; our Indiana Jones fedora when on an adventure; and something big and floppy when we’re on the beach. But last year, we unsuspectingly picked up another accessory: Cupid's bow and arrow.

A few months ago, my coworkers in the UK got an email from one of their Top 20 subscribers letting them she had met someone special on a trip she’d booked through us -- and that they're getting married!

Fiona Rees, a Travelzoo subscriber living in, as she describes it, “a typical English village,” met her fiancé on her first Travelzoo trip, to Portugal. They are now planning a May wedding.

Fiona was gracious enough to take time out from wedding planning to tell us all about their meeting, subsequent travels from Egypt to Cuba to Sri Lanka and future trips, including the honeymoon!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Travelzoo!

What was the first deal you’ve booked through Travelzoo?

The first Travelzoo deal I booked was to Portugal, it cost £99 (approximately $130) for three days, including the flights and accommodation.

It was a cold and wet Wednesday evening, and life was pretty dull, my ex was giving me a hard time, and both me and my neighbor were totally fed up of men. My neighbor just happened to call round as I was looking through the Travelzoo deals and when we saw the trip we just said "Let’s do it, let’s just go!" So we booked there and then. It was only after we had booked it that we thought about booking time off work and who was going to look after our children!

We had three weeks to get things sorted out and we couldn't wait to go, ticking the days down. The time finally arrived and we were on our way, giddy as school girls.

What did you see and do while you were there?

We had no idea what the hotel was going to be like when we got there, it was clean and tidy and had everything there that we needed. The pool area was brilliant, and we chatted to other guests to get an idea of where to go and what to expect of the night life.

The bars and clubs in an area called The Strip were great with lots of life, and had a real party feel which was just what we needed. (Only we did feel slightly too old!) I was 37 and my friend 41 and responsible mums!

Can you tell us about meeting your fiancé?

On our last night we were slightly lost and a guy called out to us to ask if they could help. A group of men started to chat to us and after chatting to this group of men for most of the evening both my neighbor and I were having a massive giggle but little did I know, I had met my future husband! We swapped numbers, and to be honest I never thought I would see him again. He was lovely and contacted me the next day to make sure we had got home OK, and then asked me out on a date. After turning him down twice, he didn't give in and asked me on a date again. We went to London for the weekend and had the best time of my life; the rest, they say, is history.

Where have you two traveled together?

We have been extremely lucky to have done a lot of traveling during the time we have been together, first we went to Iceland where I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights and go into the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon was fantastic and just like the photos, but unfortunately the weather was wrong and we were unable to see the Lights. (But gives me a reason to go back!)

Kev had his 50th birthday and had arranged for 23 people to go to Bruges on the Eurostar. The city is amazing with lots of history and plenty of things to see and do including a bar small bar with over 100 types of beer! (We staggered back to the hotel that evening!)

Then we went as a family to Turkey, and had the most amazing time there the people are all so friendly the food was wonderful and we all went paragliding! (For me, never again, but the boys loved it!!)

Then was the holiday I had wanted to go on for about 20 years. We went to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has so much to offer for a holiday, the people are wonderful and the food is great too as long as you don't mind curry for evening meal, lunch and even breakfast. However there is so much to see and do. We were lucky to go on an elephant safari and saw around 50 elephants close up with the cutest baby elephants trumpeting. Sapphires are also mined there, and they have lots of different colors as well as the most beautiful traditional blues.

Our next trip was a last minute deal through Travelzoo to Cuba where we got over £300 per person off (approximately $400) the normal price. We spent three days in Havana in the most historic hotel in the city, and it was a perfect base to see the rest of the city. We hired an open-top 1958 Berwick and went round all the historic sites, and the tour guide was very knowledgeable and we had a great time. We then went for seven days to a beach hotel where we did nothing other than sunbathe.

We spent Christmas/New Year in Egypt, which was my first Christmas in a hot country, I was a little nervous about being there due to the unrest, I felt safe the whole time we were there. We managed to go on a day trip in a boat where we could go snorkeling in the Red Sea, and it was so warm it was like getting into a bath.  

What honeymoon trip did you book?

We have now booked our honeymoon via Travelzoo to go to Kuala Lumpur for three nights and then onto Borneo for nine nights. I can't wait to see the orangutans, and the rest of the wildlife there and completely chill out after the hectic time of planning a wedding.

We’d love to hear some wedding plans; what can you tell us?

We are getting married in our village church and then having our reception in a placed called Woolley Hall in Wakefield.

Because Kev hasn't been married before it will be a big wedding with 100 guests during the day. Our color theme is red, black and cream. It will be a traditional English wedding with all the trimmings, such as long speeches, fruit wedding cake, bridesmaids, Champagne and lots of dancing. I am trying to organize for 60 red balloons for a photo where the guest can let go at the same time.

What’s on your bucket list of trips you want to take?

Our bucket list of places to go are, Kenya for a safari, Las Vegas, and I would love to go to Florida, Seychelles and also to Canada. We like going to places that have something other than just a beach, that has a bit of history or wildlife or interest of some sort.

(Interview has been edited and condensed.)

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Deal Expert, Chicago
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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Hilary Solan