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My annual tradition of oversharing continues, and I have so much to be thankful for in 2021. I am typing this while enjoying a Celebrated Hotel in The Cotswolds prior to driving into London today. I can’t wait to spend time with our UK-based team!

Ever since the start of this catastrophic time, I have strived to remain positive. My outlook is fueled by gratitude, and it is hard to believe that in one day last week we received as many new itinerary requests as we did in the entire month of November last year.

Despite the many obstacles and painful moments of 2021, I am pleased to share my annual “Thankful” list with you:

  • I am thankful that the hardest job of my life was when I was 17. I wanted to work in Europe for the summer, and Mom & Dad obliged. Thinking I was surely going to end up in London, instead I was shipped off to a remote country house hotel. The work was brutal: long hours (from breakfast to after dinner drinks); unsupportive staff (a chef threw a plate at my head…he missed), and unimaginable tasks (weeding about 100 yards of nettles…without gloves). Time has morphed these painful stories into hilarious tales that helped shape my character. The toughness of that job prepared me for the obstacles that I faced since February 2020.
  • I am thankful for Laura who supported me so much this year. The hit from each of us working in the travel industry was made up for by the fact that we could understand each other’s pain. We have been there for each other – more than ever.
  • I am thankful for patience. We are not delivering proposals as fast as we did in 2019, but that is not because we are short-staffed. We actually have more people than we did in 2019, but the volume of requests has scaled dramatically. Thank you so much for understanding and supporting our team. They are working so hard to make you happy.
  • I am thankful that I was able to enjoy places without their typical crowds. We can share this experience by reminding people that these special moments can still be replicated! How? Visiting off-season.
  • I am thankful for our most senior team members who inspired me with their tenacity this year. Thank you Olive, Ashleigh, Caitlin, Lorri, Anna, Margaret, Nicole, and Sue. I am also thankful to have Jennifer back from maternity leave!
  • I am thankful for adventures with Isla, including this father/daughter trip to Tuscaloosa!
  • I am thankful that our Founder, my 84-year old Dad, went to Ireland solo this August to thank our partners for their hard work during the pandemic. Little did we know what kind of welcome he would receive! This magical moment at Ashford Castle actually made me teary.
  • I am thankful for hiking! From Telluride to Canyonlands, and even along my local Chattahoochee River, this has been a great year for enjoying the outdoors.
  • I am thankful for remote work. Yes, I am sad that our office vibe will never be the same, but I love that so many people have been able to relocate and stay a part of our team. We have also been able to hire more talent outside of Atlanta, and I was even able to work for a few weeks from Colorado.
  • I am thankful for my Brother-in-Arms, Ty Horn. His smile, positivity, and incredible effort made life in our Covid foxhole a lot more tolerable.
  • I am thankful for The Rolling Stones. I took my 13-year old David to see them earlier this month. Age is just a number…just ask Mick! Oh, and Isla’s favorite song is “She’s a Rainbow!”
  • I am thankful for Neelam. She started as a temp so many years ago and climbed the ranks to become CFO. She is a big reason behind our strength and growth during the pandemic. She and Olive have been like sisters to me.
  • I am thankful for members of our team that are building careers and have become stronger team players during this crisis. Thank you Mary Beth, Lisa, Madie, Lexie, Norma, and Avril.
  • I am thankful that Italy, Ireland, and the UK re-opened this summer and delivered great experiences. This led to a boom in bookings which means we are able to donate even more funds to Celebrated Impact, where we donate $1 for every room night we book. The size of this year’s contribution will be far less than 2019 but a lot more than 2020! I look forward to sharing the results in our Holiday email.
  • I am thankful for everyone who worked together to create Covid vaccines, from the scientists to those pioneers who volunteer “test pilots”. Total heroes.
  • I am thankful that David’s Bar Mitzvah party featured a live band that did karaoke. While David’s Haftorah was inspiring, his “Don’t Stop Believing” was also on point!
  • I am thankful that Audrey and James are healthy and doing so well after he surprised everyone by arriving two months early! He’s a strong one. We miss you, Audrey!
  • I am thankful for the 15 positive new team members who have joined our company. Bring on 2022!
  • I am thankful for the World Champion Atlanta Braves! They came together and shocked the world.

I am thankful for our Celebrated Guides, Drivers, and Experience Makers. They hunkered down during lock down, invested, improved, and have been blowing clients away ever since.

Thank you for being a part of our community. I am truly thankful for you and so hopeful for the future. Happy Thanksgiving!

-Jonathan Epstein