We had a very lovely trip and overall had a great time. This is a smaller size company, and they know their business. They did a really exceptional job with tours in Belfast and with Ashford Castle arrangements. I would have rated them higher, but we had some difficulties during the planning stages getting things booked. It turned out that this was due to a computer conversion and the owner was most upset that it took longer to complete than planned. I was very impressed by how he followed up with me and took full accountability--he did not waffle or try to make excuses. He did his best to make things right. I am sure any future computer conversions will be done well before peak season begins. We had also requested king size beds and did not get them for 2 of our stays, but this was mostly a result of accommodating golfing in some out of the way spots and for convenience for our airport departure. Overall, I do think this company has the potential to be a 5 star firm and with the learning experiences from this trip, they likely will be in the future.
1. Ashford Castle and Old Course St. Andrews. The Castle is a unique and beautiful (albeit expensive) experience--and well worth the price. Do the Hawk Walk at the Falconry School--we both loved it. There is also horseback riding, zip lining and many activities. You do have to hope for good enough weather to enjoy them all, but it is usually possible to get a window of opportunity. If you can get a sunny day like we had to golf at the hallowed grounds of St. Andrews--it just doesn't get any better than that. We also loved the town of St. Andrews and Kingsbarns golf course where every hole has a water view and is just so lovely.
2. Belfast and the Game of Thrones tour. We have been watching GOT since the beginning and found the tour they arranged to be quite special. We had an extra who shared a lot of inside perspectives, knew all the locations to see and shared scenes on his iPad from GOT when we were at that location. Food was very good--had one of the best lamb dishes we ever ate anywhere in Belfast. (Equally good lamb dish in Dublin). We had a very good tour of Belfast which provided good insights into "the Troubles" (the IRA) and the impact that had on all.
3. Old Head Golf Course. Despite some changeable weather, we thought this course was one of the most beautiful anywhere (and we have played some fabulous ones ranging from Pebble Beach to Cape Kidnappers to Kapalua.)
4. Edinburgh. We loved this city and wished we had more time there. It is filled with history, beautiful old buildings, many great restaurants and bars. Lots to do from hiking a sloping cliff for a city-wide view, to theater and galleries.
We might not have gone to the West coast of Scotland for golf at Turnberry and Royal Troon--not because they weren't great golf courses or a lovely hotel, but because the weather tends to be worse on the west coast and there were still so many things to see and do in both St. Andrews and Edinburgh that we might have enjoyed as much or more. Also, from a sight-seeing point of view, we missed a lot of the Scottish Highlands which might have made for a more well-rounded view of Scotland. By the way, Turnberry is a fabulously beautiful course and hotel. However, the spa is soon to be remodeled and is not up to standard until it is.
Also, the itinerary was a bit ambitious. We needed more breathing space now and then as golfing and sight seeing in rain, wind and cold takes more of a toll if you aren't so young! We skipped things like Stirling and Glasgow because we ran out of steam. We also missed some lovely parts of Ireland as my husband insisted om seeing the Blarney Castle, despite everyone telling him it was tourist nonsense. We went on a Sunday not knowing some parts are closed, but probably enjoyed it more as there were no lines--and we were happy we went.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
We apologize for the communication delays in advance of your trip. We are delighted you had great experiences throughout the tour with the guides we assigned and unique properties we were able to introduce you to. It is always great to read how our personal contacts uncover rare experiences such as your tour with one of the Game of Thrones actors.
It's important to us to make and maintain a great impression from the moment of first contact. When there are a series of changes with a 23 day and 42 page itinerary, it takes considerable time to adjust. In March we introduced a new reservations system and during this transition we did experience some delays in issuing tour proposals and wrapping up some confirmations. Going forward our reservations system will provide more efficient means of adjusting and confirming client trips.
This year, 2017, has been a stellar year for tourism in Britain and Ireland. We are a family run privately owned business. This means you get to work with the people who care the most about their business and we are proud to have a pretty flawless track record since 2004. Growing our team with the goal of remaining a small business which allocates sufficient time to each client is a high priority for us. With the exceptional demand for our services this year, we are adapting to improve communication. At times when we have guests on the ground during high season (May to September) we are unable to respond to emails as efficiently as the off season. As your trip was several months out and the 23 day itinerary coordinated any changes to the itinerary had a tumbling effect on adjusting up to 50 transactions. As a small company, we are flexible with changes and permitted these without hesitation, but please know we are often waiting on a reservations team at a hotel or golf course which can sometimes take 3-4 business days to acknowledge a formal change.
We thank you again for your review and are so glad that you had a great time.
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