We had a fantastic trip to Australia. We covered a lot of the country in 4 weeks, but not so much that we felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation. Karen from this Australia tour operator and her on-ground support in Sydney were excellent. Everything she arranged and planned for us went off without any glitches. We have already recommended her to friends thinking of traveling to the South Pacific in the next year or so.
Below are some details on the excellent service we received. About two months prior to leaving we requested a change to our hotel (the Four Seasons in Sydney) due to a lack of response from the property to numerous on-line requests we had sent to them. Karen was very understanding and recommended another property which cost a little bit more (she absorbed the extra cost to her account) and made the change for us. One month before we left we had a conference call where Karen walked us through the itinerary one last time to answer any questions that we might have and to provide some useful tips and suggestions. While we were travelling we did have a couple of e-mail exchanges with Karen where she was extremely responsive and helpful. One was a question about the driving directions she had provided for the Great Ocean Road. The original directions provided would have taken us on the in land motorway and miss the scenic coastal road we intended to see. Upon confirming the error her team in Sydney faxed us new driving directions the next day. In the end, we didn't need the updated directions because the signage on the route was excellent and we would have made our own way if we needed to. We requested she add some additional transportation for our second last night in Sydney to take us to a restaurant and back to the hotel, which she happily did and the next day the vouchers confirming the arrangements were e-mailed to the hotel we were staying at and they printed out a copy for us.
All of the accomodations Karen recommended were outstanding in terms of service and quality. Our favourite was Boroka Downs in Halls Gap, the owners Bob and Steph were very helpful, the unit was well appointed and it showed that they took every effort to think of what their guests might need and to provide it....not to mention the views of the Grampians and the local wildlife (Kangaroo's and Emu's right outside the unit) we're beautiful.
In terms of tours, the Lanes & Arcades walking tour Karen recommended and arranged in Melbourne was a highlight for us....so much so, that we have already written a favourable review on TripAdvisor for this tour and the tour company. It was a great orientation to the city centre and we got to visit a number of shops and cafes that we wouldn't have otherwise found ourselves. The best part is that if you take the tour and go back to the shops to buy something they usually give you a discount for having taken the tour.
One thing we never thought of which we'd definitely request in the future is a summary of internet access for each property we're staying at. We brought our laptop and ipad with us so that we could stay connected with family and friends back home and found that some hotels charge (a lot) for internet access and then other properties where we didn't expect to get internet access they had it and it was free.
Stay a bit longer in Port Fairy and Halls Gap. They were both beautiful spots and we would have liked to have a bit more time in each place.
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