I'm half Scottish, half New Zealander, born and raised in Hong Kong and Japan, schooled in England and now living in Spain. I'm a mish-mash of cultural backgrounds and now an adopted Sevillano!
My love for Spain began when my school rugby coach, also head of the Spanish department, asked if I would like to join his class and try learning Spanish! There was no looking back from there! I went on to complete Hispanic studies at Leeds University and was on a flight to Seville the day after my final exam.
I've lived here ever since and I'm married to a lovely “Sevillana” called Lucia! I created Tailormade Andalucia in 2008 and ever since I've since specialized in unique itineraries and experiences taking travellers off the beaten track and getting under the skin of Spain.
I try hard to combine a resident’s knowledge with a foreign traveller’s eye. It's easy to visit grand monuments and travel using Tripadvisor's top tips. But I believe its all about getting away from the hordes, immersing yourself in the real culture and most importantly, meeting local residents, hosts and artisans.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"Honestly, we specialise in tailor-making experiences. It can be anything from Michelin Star restaurants to renewable energy, from hiking with a local biologist to taking part in a flamenco jamming session. The fun is in the creating!!"
How did you get involved in travel?
"Before starting Tailormade Andalucia, I worked for a travel & lifestyle magazine in Andalucia. This job opened my eyes to all of the boutique, charming and hidden experiences that could be enjoyed in Spain. "
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"If we're talking unique, I was once contacted by a wealthy Chinese couple who wanted to go on a "pre" wedding honeymoon. They wanted to take a lot of photos and videos that they could then project during their wedding ceremony. We arranged a very special trip for them and they arrived into Sevilla with evening gowns, wedding dresses, tuxedo's, morning suits and more! For just these 2 people, they had requested a guide (me), a driver, a Chinese interpreter, a photographer/videographer and a make-up artist! We had prepared all sorts of wonderful insiders access and special places for photos. But halfway through the itinerary, they told me that they needed more "wow" factor!! I suggested a sunrise hot-air ballooning experience, photos on a bravo bull farm, a private boat ride through the Straits of Gibraltar, but none of this enthused them. My suggestions got more and more desperate until I mentioned going to "Smurftown" in the mountains. The little village of Juzcar had been used for the film premier of the smurfs and to this day is painted surf blue! The couples eyes lit up and they were delighted with the idea. So we drove over there, with the couple dressed in wedding attire! When we turned up in smurftown and out jumped a Chinese wedding couple and all of our entourage, it was one of the few days that the public were more surprised by a fellow visitor than by the smurfs who were posing for photos in the village!! A very surreal experience! "
Featured trips & expertise
This 13-day itinerary takes you from Seville to Jerez de la Frontera for the ultimate tour through Spain's Andalusia region. Along the route, you'll visit scenic villages like Ronda, set on a spectacular gorge, discover gorgeous Moorish architecture, and enjoy fabulous tapas in true Spanish style.
Discover the culture of Spain's cities on this 9-day trip, starting with a tour through Madrid and an evening of flamenco and tapas in Seville. Then make your way to Granada, passing through the village of Ronda and a winery along the way. You'll explore Granada's famous Alhambra palace and gardens, then fly to Barcelona for a cycling tour of its historic districts, as well as a visit to the sites of Gaudí's.
On this immersive 6-day itinerary, you'll get a local's eye view of Madrid as you explore its culture and cuisine with a series of guided walks and excursions. After visiting the capital's landmarks and sampling its best tapas, set out on a selection of easy day trips into the surrounding countryside of Castilla y León. Visit the historic towns of Segovia and Pedraza as you tour and taste your way through cheese farms, olive groves, and wineries, returning to the bustle of Madrid each evening.
For most travelers, 6 to 9 days is the perfect amount of time for a Spain trip with stops in both Barcelona and Madrid. If you don't mind a fast-paced journey, you can see the highlights of this route in less time—as few as about 5 days. Travelers with more time can enjoy extra sights and activities at each stop, or explore more of the country—some of our favorite itinerary extensions include Seville, Valencia, or Córdoba. See more ideas for Barcelona and Madrid itineraries below.
We interviewed local experts, scrutinized hundreds of actual trips, and considered the feedback of intrepid travelers in order to put together the very best Spain itineraries for first-time travelers. Plan for five days to two weeks with the itineraries below, all crafted by local travel specialists.
Recent trip reviews for Sam
Sam and his crew did a bang up job on our las... · Spain - Jul 6 - Jul 19, 2021
Sam and his crew did a bang up job on our last minute trip. All the accommodations and arrangements were top notch. They even helped us get fast PCR test appointments on the weekend for our onward travel. A great time for our family!
Magical Sisters Trip to Northern Spain · Spain - Jun 18 - Jun 30, 2021
Words can't express our gratitude and sheer joy we experienced using KimKim, but most important part was having Sam Lister aka our guardian angel tailormade our 14 Days of Northern Spain into reality!
Sam put together a trip of lifetime discovering Northern Spain from Santiago de Compostela, Cangas de Onis, Bilbao, LaGuardia and San Sebastian. Every aspect of our trip was planned to perfection to experience each region to the max.
My sister and I had private transport throughout our trip,... read more
Barcelona/costa brava · Spain - Jul 3 - Jul 10, 2021
It was my first trip out of the US and my bf’s first time to Spain. Sam did an amazing job with all our bookings! He was excellent in picking the best hotels& activities within our budget. He didn’t try to oversell. Our hotels had great views of the cathedrals in the gothic district/Bacelona and sea views in costa brava. The activities arranged really made our experience memorable. Sam was available throughout our trip for any questions. I was impressed with the service during booking and... read more
The trip was great! Well planned in every res... · Portugal - Dec 25 - Jan 4, 2020
The trip was great! Well planned in every respect. It made sense to stay in only 3 places and not move around every day. All 3 hotels were great - we especially loved Casa Balthazar, everything about it. We enjoyed all three cities. The excursions to the port distillery could have been done in an hour at most, they didn't have much to show or explain, it was mostly tasting the 3 different ports. The trip to the fishing village was nice but not much to see - lunch was good, but it didn't... read more
Northern Coast of Spain · Spain - Oct 16 - Nov 1, 2019
Except for the weather our trip was a wonderful experience and Sam and Rocio had no control over that. The local guides Susanna, Earnesto and Eva were so willing to share their knowledge with us and the time we spent with them enhanced our trip greatly. Thanks also for recommending hotels which were we excellently located. Thanks especially for recommending that we stay in Getaria rather than San Sebastián. We never would have thought it except as stop to visit the Balenciaga Museum. ... read more
Trip to Spain · Spain - Sep 16 - Oct 4, 2019
Sam, Rocio and the Tailormade Andalucia team provided an excellent service. They guided us very sensibly in terms of our 3 week itinerary - at the right pace and with a great mix of experiences, including local guides now and then. Our accommodation was of a very high standard... and when things weren't quite perfect they intervened to make sure things were. They were absolutely committed to making sure we had a great trip and nothing was too much trouble. So thanks again Sam and Rocio! We loved Spain and we will be back!
Kyle's 40th Birthday Trip to Spain · Spain - Sep 19 - Oct 2, 2019
Our family trip to Spain was very memorable. Sam and his team were top notch and provided us with everything that we needed from hotels to transportation to specialized guides for all the things that we were interested in seeing and experiencing. They put such a personal touch on every step of the way. Each day they had us dialed in for exclusive experiences; and the tickets were Pre-paid so that we were able to go right into some of the worlds greatest attractions like last sagrada Familia... read more
A relaxing trip to Spain with senior parents · Spain - Sep 12 - Sep 26, 2019
I've been to Spain several times and love this country so much. This time, I was taking my 74-year-old parents with me to Spain. It was their first time and I wanted them to have an amazing experience and fall in love with Spain as much as I did. Instead of planing the trip on my own, I decided to use KimKim to help me plan the trip to make sure my parents would have a smooth experience. KimKim connected me with Sam's team and it could not have been better. The entire trip was super smooth... read more
Spain 2019 · Spain - Jun 14 - Jun 22, 2019
Sam was fantastic. His communication was superb, he listened to our requests well and provided excellent experiences coordinated by reliable, on-time, friendly, competent and helpful drivers and guides. He made us reservations at restaurants with unbelievable vistas - we couldn't believe our views in Granada and in Ronda - once-in-a-lifetime dining! Our guide in Seville was our favorite - Delia was kind, helpful, friendly, engaging and professional. The bike ride she took us on was... read more