This travel agency seemed very efficient while we were in the planning stages. But I don't think they were capable to delivering what we wanted in the vacation. I told them that we wanted a luxury vacation, which should have been obvious by the hotels we selected in our locations. We stayed in 5 total cities between Switzerland and Italy.
I used a travel agent in large part to arrange the transportation between all the cities. They arranged airport/train station pick ups and several car transportation trips. Instead of arranging for high end transportation and guided drives, as I requested, they simply told the hotels in Switzerland to provide the transportation. As a result we were schlepped in an old minivan that could barely hold our luggage, and had drivers with no ability to speak English. The other transportation company they used in Switzerland and northern Italy gave us this: We had to wait all 3 times for drivers to arrive, we had a van with nonworking AC one time, we had a driver for the long drive from Switzerland to Italy who had never even been to Switzerland before and could tell us nothing about what we were seeing, and in Milan our driver never showed up and we took a cab to the train station. Then, on our last day heading to the airport in Florence, the driver showed up in a sedan when we had 3 people and 5 pieces of luggage. He said they told him 2 people. all in all I would say our transportation was a complete mess.
We also had them arrange a few tours. I would say they were all mid-level quality. When I spoke to the hotel concierges about the tour companies, they had not heard of them. They were not as professional as I was hoping.
We made most of the suggestions for the hotels, and 3 of the 4 were good. The one that our agency suggested was our only problem. It was not a full service hotel, but a set of suites. There was no real lobby, no bar, and one person on staff at any given time. When we went to leave with 5 big suitcases, there was one young lady available to help us with our luggage. When we wanted to watch the World Cup and our TV's weren't working, there was no one to figure it out, etc. They all were very nice, but it just wasn't the hotel situation we wanted. AND, it was extremely noisy, being essentially on the Plaza de Repubblica. Singing and yelling at 4 AM was the norm.
All in all, I felt our agency was only capable to doing a very mid level trip, not the luxury type trip we were looking for.
Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como.
Choose different transportation companies, a different hotel in Florence, and tour guides that were more professional.
Travel Company's Comments
Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review of your experience, your opinion is extremely important to us, and we do always use feedback to improve our service in the future. I would like to take ample time to address each of your points individually below:Actually 2 out of the 8 transfers were booked through the hotel concierge. One was a 3 minute journey from the train station in Interlaken to the hotel which was booked by the 5 star hotel Victoria Jungfrau, and the other, a 10 minute transfer to the train station booked by the 4 star Art Deco Hotel Montana. Could you advise which one was the older vehicle so I can address this issue with the hotel? It honestly would have been much easier for us to book all of your transfers through one company, our representative company in Switzerland (who picked you up in Zurich upon your arrival for a 40 minute transfer), but it would have cost five times the amount for these short transfers. We did not feel that this justified the expense to you for such a short drive. Also, we do trust our luxury hotels to provide a very good service, you seem to have really enjoyed these hotels - and you also do seem to hold hotel concierges in high esteem. There are actually many benefits to booking transfers with the hotel, such as you being able to coordinate with them should you wish to leave early/late etc. The transfer across the border was booked with our Italian representatives as the cost was vastly less than booking with the Swiss company, again we were trying to save you from spending unnecessarily. You were picked up on time by a 2013 Mercedes Viano Deluxe and the driver transported you directly to your hotel in Italy. Around 3/4 of the way through the trip there was a technical malfunction and the air-conditioning reduced power. There was nothing anyone could really do to anticipate this event, as you could see it was a brand new luxury vehicle. The driver, being Italian, was not familiar enough to give advice about Switzerland, or about tax receipts at the Swiss border, but he was a driver, rather than a guide. If you had requested a guide we could have certainly added this service for you.
I spoke to your driver who picked you up in Lake Como, and was able to check his GPS - he actually arrived at 9.40am, 20 minutes early - however there was nowhere to stop at the hotel entrance, so he was circling around - hence your 10 minutes' late departure.
In Milan, your voucher did specify pick up at 9.45am and this is what we had confirmed with the company. Unfortunately they did make an internal error and still had you listed at 10.00am (we had changed the pick-up time from 10.00am to 9.45am to give you longer at the train station prior to departure). Your train did not depart until 10.34am and it is only a 10 minute journey so you would have still made the train in plenty of time. But of course, taking a taxi was a good option instead and we are happy to refund you for the taxi journey, and we apologize for the inconvenience and oversight on our representative's part.
In Florence, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I was unfortunately not informed that there would be 3 people departing for the airport, there were only 2 upon arrival - I was aware that your daughter was 'living' in Florence for a semester, and I was given the flight details for only you and your husband to arrange the departure transfer.
The Hotel Palazzo Vecchietti in Florence is amongst the most exclusive hotels in Florence and we have received only glowing reviews from our high-end clients over the past 4 years that we have been recommending the hotel. In fact, it is our most requested hotel for our clients to re-visit. If you check Tripadvisor you will see that 98% of people recommend it. There is a very exclusive feel, that of staying at a glamorous friend’s house in the heart of Florence, nestled between designer shops with just a discrete silver plaque on the door. It does also have less facilities than some of the larger, more grand hotels - but huge, beautifully appointed suites, I though this would work well with your daughter joining you both for a few nights. Your suite had a view of the Via degli Strozzi and did have soundproofed windows, however we could have moved you to a different suite with a courtyard view had we known you were uncomfortable.
Regarding tours, we handpick our guides based on their enthusiasm, professionalism and knowledge. We know them all by name, and you did have two of our favorites - Franco in Tuscany and Sara in Milan. We always receive rave reviews from our clients for these specific guides, and again, people come back year after year to the same guides. We work with all sorts of clients, from those on tighter budgets to many who have no budget limitations at all, but we always offer the same wonderful guides. If I were working on a mid-level itinerary I might include mid-range hotels, but I would not offer mid-level tours - the experiences are what really make the trip! I am just not quite sure what you felt to be lacking. Could you be more specific? I would appreciate the chance to improve on our service. Your other tours were a private sailing charter on Lake Como, and a cooking class with award-winning Chef Luigi. You were also booked on the new Italo train in Club Class, and the GoldenPass train in First Class. Again, I would be interested to know which elements you felt did not live up to expectations in order for us to make any necessary adjustments to our tour offerings.
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