We are a family of 4 with two children who have travel worldwide a couple trips per year. And this is the worst trip ever. Period. They did get one star because when I complained half way through the trip, our agent, did make arrangement to correct mistakes he could fix. He responded immediately and the last two days were noticeably better.
1) About the hotel reservations: We made requests and reminded our travel company agent, that we wanted our rooms to be connecting if possible. In the first two hotel we checked in, we had to haggle with the front desk because they placed us in two different wings because they did not get the request for connecting rooms. Our private guide/driver did not help us to check in. She left as soon as she could for her doctor's appointment so she claimed. In one of the hotel, our rooms were placed at the entrance right off the street because those rooms were the only ones close together. For someone traveling with children, it is a really big deal to stay close together. The agent only booked the two rooms under the name of one person and failed to mention to the hotels that we have two minors in the group.
2) About the excursions: In the quote, there were 5 days of private driver/guide and 1 days of small group tour. What we ended up getting was 2 days of private driver/guide, 2 days of small group tour and the one thing we passionately hate, 2 LONG DAYS of BIG BUS group tours. On the tour to Perito Moreno Glacier it was a crowded tour with 44 people. We were driven around town to pick up and drop off people. But the very sad part was that, and the one thing that got us really really angry, was that we were only given 50 minutes at the Perito Moreno. The walkway was over 1 mile long. Someone fit as our family had to speed walk to see the whole thing, pose and snap some photos. I was excited to see the glacier but I was also angry at the same time given so little time to explore it. The tour guide for the tour was the worst part. She spoke for a few minutes in spanish and altogether about 10 words in English: You are here, get to here by 4pm! We did not learnt anything about the glacier at all!
3) Private guide:
And the tour guide at Iguazu is also the worst personal tour guide we have ever had (even though he is always polite and punctual). He did the basic thing: Took us here and there. The personal guides we are used to have (10+ we have had), and come to expect, would offer to take family photos for us, and would remind us to how we should dress ad prepare for the excusions or show us where is a good spot for great photos or for great food. Not our guide at Iguazu. He often would point to where the walkways end so we could walked the last hundred metres by ourselves and waited for us at a comfortable shady spot. It was raining when we spend almost an hour lining up for the train to the Devil's throat. We were waiting in the rain by ourselves while he waited under an overhang. He showed up when we got to the front of the line. I was wondering the whole time what I was paying for??
4) Service after booking:
This is a typical "pyramid scheme" type of tour. Our travel company contracted with an agent in Buenos Aires and then Buenos Aires contracted with another agent in El Calafate or Ushuaia or Iguazu. So special requests were lost after a couple layers. When I followed up, our agent said that he forwarded the requests along but I guessed he didn't care to get a confirmation. And we had to follow up on our own every step of the way. My husband is a vegetarian and one of the excursions they did not have vegetarian for him.
When I received the quote from our travel company, I compared to a self arranged itinerary with the same hotels and similar tours, it was a good 25+% mark up. With that, I thought we would get a more personalized tour at our own pace. The two days we spend on the big bus tour, we had to wake up earlier because the group size and there were lots of waiting around for people being late. I don't see the value of paying the premium for arranging so many group tours that we could have reserved ourselves.
I hope all fellow travelers have better luck than we do. Argentina is beautiful. Iguazu Falls and Perito Moreno are world class like the Grand Canyon or the Great Barrier Reef. There are good agents out there or else, stay at good hotels ad the concierge would likely do a better job!
The accommodations at the Iguazu Fall is beautiful and the service is spectacular. Iguazu falls and Perito Moreno are world class attractions.
I would try using the hotel concierge more because at high end hotels many of them are very competent and their tours are not any more expensive. In our case, it would have been somewhat cheaper.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
Hello Jenny, We were so disappointed to read your review, and the one star rating you gave us. We take these types of concerns very seriously, and when you first brought up these points, in the middle of your trip, we made sure to not only rectify these issues for the rest of your time in Argentina, but we also gave you every kind of hotel and tour upgrade within our power. As you can imagine, we were very surprised to receive this review, especially after you gave us positive feedback halfway through your trip. Considering this was the last we heard from you in Argentina, we felt very blindsided by this review, and must point out inaccuracies on many points you raised. About your comments on hotel reservations:We were so sorry to hear that the connecting room request for you was not honored by the hotel. Unfortunately, as is often the case in Latin America, rooms are not actually assigned until the day before check-in. We request and remind them of our requests for rooms and bedding frequently, but unfortunately, it is just something that does not always work out and we are occasionally not able to confirm. Especially with it being Easter or Semana Santa week when you were traveling, which is one of the busiest weeks in Argentina of the whole year, the hotel was unable to accommodate our request. For this we were truly sorry, and therefore upgraded you free of charge at the next hotel. Unfortunately, your review refuses to acknowledge the great lengths we went to rectify this situation. When this sort of mishap is brought to our attention, it has and always will be our immediate objective fix the matter through any means possible. About your comments on your excursions:You do not accurately present the facts of what was on your confirmed itinerary. We confirmed with you 3 private excursions and 3 shared or seat in bus excursions, per your proposal, confirmation and final documents (3 separate documents sent to you over the course of 3 months) and these are the services that were provided to you and your family. We do not understand why you would falsely state this information as being otherwise. The fact is, Perito Moreno is like other national world class attractions (such as Grand Canyon or Yellowstone here in USA) and is managed mainly by one organization and it is always sold as a seat in bus tour and managed by their guides. We have never had a client complain about this remarkable experience, and you say yourself it is a world class attraction. I think one of the prevailing issues here is that you and your family were visiting over one of the single busiest periods and therefore lines were longer and the tours themselves were at full capacity. About your comments on their private guide:In the past, we have gotten really great reviews from our guides in Iguasu and we were very surprised to have received this sort of feedback. We got the Iguasu guide on the phone after we received this horrible account from you. The guide spent 2 full days with you and did everything in his power to make you comfortable and happy, including several requested changes to the structure of your itinerary, the whole time speaking with you on many aspects of Argentine culture, history, and geography. He claimed that you even gave him a parting gift, so he had no idea you were so displeased with his efforts. The only times he was “waiting under a comfortable shady spot”, as you say, was not to help himself but rather to check on the time of the train and try to negotiate a spot further up in the queue. He kept going back and forth to get updates in an attempt to speed things up for you. Again, the long delays were due to the Semana Santa holiday. Travelers must expect that when they travel over peak periods, there will be additional waiting and queues for these very popular experiences. About your comments on their service after booking and vegetarian meals:Dietary requests are extremely important to us so this comment was surprising to say the least (I am a vegetarian myself). We reviewed the meals that were given to you, as we diligently requested everything that was asked for. You had 4 meals provided over the course of you tours and all 4 were vegetarian and consisted of vegetable pie, a vegetarian risotto, a vegetarian meal at Estancia Cristina, and a vegetarian lunch box for the Perito Moreno mini-trekking. What we were also informed of was that your husband refused the vegetarian meal at Perito Moreno and instead opted for the ham sandwich from which he removed the ham. About your comments on value:This is the area of this review that hurts us the most. We put countless hours of work into arranging trips for our clients before we ever even know a client will want to use our services or pay us. We save our clients hundreds of hours of stress and work toiling over reviews, maps, guides, and varying internet opinions. Yes, we are a US-based operator that works with other tour organizers in Argentina, but this in no way makes us a “pyramid scheme” any more than it makes a general contractor who hires an electrician. Similarly, your referral to us via Zicasso adds nothing to your trip cost. We invest heavily in learning, vetting and exploring travel options in each country we offer. Currently we have a staff member on a 3 week trip to Argentina as part of an annual review of our offerings there. We do not mark-up our tours at all. We keep our lights on and pay our staff by negotiating discounted rates so clients pay less or the same as to what they would book on their own but with the added value of a personal travel consultant who has been to the destination and experienced the hotels, tours, guides and logistics themselves and will spend hours and hours revising and reworking your trip to be perfectly tailored to your interests and desires. I think anyone in the travel industry would tell you they are not in it for the money. We do this because we love what we do, have immense respect for the areas we work in, their people, cultures and the experiences they choose to share with us, as well as our kind and intelligent guides and partners who have been working with us, in the case of Argentina, for more than 20 years. Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We hope that our perspective can shed some light on the matter.
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