I am a fairly seasoned traveler, but this trip was memorable for the range in territories of Argentina that were covered. The quality of tours and guides in the Patagonia and Iguazu was excellent. The guides were very friendly and knowledgeable.
However, much was left to be desired in the choice of several hotels that we stayed at during our trip. The first stop in our trip was in Buenos Aires, and the hotel was dirty, dark, and full of rust in the bathroom with water prominently leaking through glass doors of the bathtubs where the entire bathroom floor was eventually flooded with water. The hotel management, when told of this issue, asked us to place towels in the areas of the leaks in the tub! Hard to do when we are not given any extra towels! The cleanliness of the hotel was also an issue and there was dust everywhere in the room. We had requested at least 3 star hotels for our stay and this first hotel was highly disappointing. The location of the hotel was also inconvenient as it was away from the center of the city. When I told this to the travel agent, I was told that prices are high for hotels in the city, but we had increased our budget by a thousand dollars from the original budget to accommodate for costs, and would have expected some warning or communication about the higher cost of hotels in the city necessary to meet my standard for hotels. We would have gladly paid more for a cleaner hotel had we known this would have been the quality provided. I first had the wrong impression that this was the standard of care and living in Argentina across the country but found out that this is not the case when talking with other travelers and seeing more of the country.
The tour of Buenos Aires, which is clearly a huge city, was also disappointing. We stayed in BA for 3 days and only received a 2 hour tour on foot, with no other activities planned other than a trip to a tango show. If we had judged the city from just that tour, we would have judged BA to be a very small and parochial city. Fortunately, we took taxis to various districts to explore and shop on our own, and saw that it is clearly a multifaceted and large metropolis. We tried to make up the time in BA on our final day in Argentina with help from the agency, but overall, we felt that our first 3 days in BA were wasted with few activities planned in too narrow a district. Perhaps the agency was trying to minimize costs.
There was a strange aspect of the shopping recommendations from the travel agency. The shopping paper they provided was clearly plagiarized from a prominent American fashion journalist, Lynn Yaeger's shopping advice/travel experience written in an article about Buenos Aires covering many districts in that city. Another traveler mentioned online on Yelp that this agency had plagiarized word for word another agency's itinerary, and this seems to be yet another manifestation of this agency's questionable integrity as a company.
We had a lovely time in the Patagonia, where the landscape and fauna were wonderful, and hotels, if not luxury, were clean and pleasant. However, when we arrived in Iguazu for the final part of our trip, the hotel we were taken to was deep in the jungle, the last stop after all other travelers on the shuttle from the airport were taken to large hotels on the main street of the district. Ours was instead a small lodge, deep in the jungle, and the room was drenched in the odor of mold and moisture and humidity that we could hardly breathe. Even after we washed our clothes when we returned to the U.S. the smell of mold remained strong in our belongings and we have had to air everything out. My companion could not sleep in the night in the hotel room because the moldy odor was so strong and was extremely tired the next day of travel. We were given an upstairs room the next day where ventilation was improved when we complained but our trip experience was already marred by the first day experience. We were told by the travel agency that even newer luxury hotels have the problem of humidity in Iguazu, (understandably in the jungle) but the degree or severity of mold we experienced was in a league of its own. Nicer hotels and rooms in upper floors with better ventilation must have less of this problem, and indeed, when we talked with other travelers in Iguazu in our group, nobody else complained of this problem.
Overall, the agency did a good job planning out our travels in the Patagonia and the quality of tour guides was excellent. I enjoyed touring their beautiful country and landscapes. However, we felt that for the large amount of money we paid to the agency, they tried to minimize costs excessively and placed us in several frankly terrible hotels that marred our experience. I looked up hotels in Expedia and most of the hotels we stayed at were in the $115-130 range at this time of year if I were to book independently. I expect the agency to have even more discounted rates! I don't understand where our money went! Even in the U.S. you can stay at 3-4 star hotels for $200-250 in this age and I paid enough to not be placed in the tier of hotels we experienced. In Buenos Aires and Argentina, even in the city or tourist attractions, where one dollar = 15 Argentinian pesos, you should be able to meet that standard at a fraction of the cost. Hotels are integral for a comfortable traveling experience and I was traveling with my 62 year old mother, and we are not 20 something-old hostel-traveling back-packers. The most ironic thing is that, for this trip, where food was not covered other than breakfast, the agency recommended dining at restaurants that were top-tier (equivalent of 3 Michelin star restaurants), since this would come out of our own pockets, which would cost at least $200 for two people for dinner. This was extremely misleading, as it leads us to expect our hotels to be in the same quality or tier, but in actuality, they booked us in places that cost $115-130 per night. I, and I think most people, generally spend much less money on dining than in the quality of my shelter. This agency did not seem to pick up on this discrepancy. Where did our money go?
Another agency contacted us through Zicasso initially when we were planning our trip and they contacted us by phone. This company only used email and called us via phone only after we were ready to bill our credit card. The demeanor of this agency was professional and polished, but from our personal experience, we found their underlying integrity and choices and usage of our money to be questionable.
TRAVEL COMPANY'S COMMENTS
Dear Hannah, I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to thank you for the feedback you provided regarding your experience in Argentina. I was glad to learn you feel the trip was memorable for the range of areas covered within Argentina and that the quality of the tours and guides in Patagonia and Iguazú was excellent. However, I understand you were not happy with the hotel choices in Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls as you had mentioned during a phone conversation while you were still in Argentina. Unfortunately, we did not have time to find an alternative to the hotel in BA at that moment, although as I mentioned by email we did file a formal complaint to the hotel but most importantly as you might have noticed, we did not charge your credit card for the additional tours in El Chalten as a compensation for the hotel issues in the city and a proof of good faith. In addition, when you mentioned the odor problems with the hotel in Iguazu Falls, we immediately provided a complimentary upgrade to the property’s top room and offered the car at disposal in Buenos Aires for your connection transfer in an effort to make up for the hotels’ shortcomings. We also tried to make you and your mother as comfortable as possible during your time in the country with your request on additional tours, seating on group vehicles and prompt responses by email and phone. That said, I understand that a good hotel is one of the cornerstones of enjoying your experience in a foreign country and I regret that we were not able to meet your expectations. We take pride in our personalized service and client satisfaction and it is really disappointing to hear you do not feel that your trip met those high service standards. Lastly, I would like to point out that we take your feedback very seriously and appreciate very much you taking the time to provide your comments. Your feedback will most definitely help us improve our clients’ experience and amend our protocols for choosing hotels and activities. I hope you visit this beautiful part of the world again in the future. Best Regards
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