Our trip to India was a once in a lifetime type of trip. Our 12-day journey started in Delhi then continued with a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra, tiger safaris in Ranthambore, Holi celebrations in Jaipur, a personal stop in Pune and site seeing in Mumbai. We enjoyed learning about the history and seeing different parts of the country as well as gained an appreciation for the people and culture of India.
Overall, our experience with the travel company was positive. They listened to our desires and planned a custom trip accordingly as well as took care of all arrangements once in India. Their staff was professional and friendly and responsive to our questions. The trip was not without some issues though. Initially we did not enjoy the pushback we encountered in finalizing our plans for Holi. We also experienced problems with our hotels with respect to accommodations, connectivity and location. Lastly, we were EXTREMELY DISPLEASED with the “extra shopping excursions” that were NOT listed on our itinerary. These were essentially tourist traps where we were taken to a vendor and were put in a pressure-to-buy situation. I’m not sure if these were organized by this travel company or the guides independently, but they were not welcomed by us especially as they were not discussed with us in advance and appeared only to be an opportunity to take advantage of tourists.
During our nearly two-week trip, we saw and experienced so many things. Some of the most memorable being celebrating Holi, our visit to Talabagon Castle and camel cart ride through the local village, visit to Ranthambore Fort, and the elephant safari at Dera Amer. Through each of these experiences, we really enjoyed interacting with local people and doing things we’ve never done before.
While we enjoyed our trip overall, there were some hiccups and aspects we did not appreciate. They are as follows:
Travel company's comments:
Thank you, Priya. We are glad you liked the planning and execution of your trip by our company apart from a few hiccups which I have explained below. As a boutique tour operator, we put in a lot effort in designing and conducting your trip. Every part of journey is looked into with a magnifying glass and arrangements are made accordingly. Quality, attention to detail, feasibility of an experience or an activity and updates from hotels are non negotiable steps in the making of a journey. We live this process every single day and for every single traveller. The arrangements for your trip went through the same sieve.
Holi Celebration/Free Time
Holi celebrations in India are rather boisterous so, we trust to go with tried and tested options - in this case the Shahpura Haveli. The celebration here is for the visitors only and is authentic in every possible sense, with proper arrangements for safety and security. However, when you expressed desire to attend the Rajasthan Tourism visitor celebration at the hotel, we obliged and made arrangements for the same. We informed you that these events tend to fluctuate in terms of dates. The details are not known until a month before the event, or even lesser therefore it was impossible for us to propose differently at the planning stage.The prime reason we encouraged you to attend the smaller gathering, was because of our concern for your safety.
In regard to hotel accommodations, we made the selection after a thorough screening to ensure that our travellers get the best. This continues to be our regular checklist item. You mentioned that the hotels had connectivity issues. Let me explain, when you didnt like a particular hotel, we talked to the hotel staff and they upgraded you to a room with a better view. Our team was prompt in action.
We chose the mentioned heritage hotel based on a positive feedback that we had received from all the past travellers. The hotel is run by royal family who understands hospitality at its best, they owe a support to the community and thus employ several locals making it an exquisite, authentic experience. I am surprised to know you felt otherwise. Authentic heritage hotels are located away from the city and our travellers prefer the same after a full day's sightseeing. Had we known earlier we could have suggested a modern hotel in the city centre.
The time in the evening is generally free to relax and plan the activities, but given the circumstances, the hotel staff are equally concerned about safety of travellers at night. They therefore caution people and sometimes encourage them to eat meals in the hotel. It is never binding though and travellers are free to decide and plan their evenings.
“Extra” Shopping Excursions
The shopping sprees were not a part of the intended itinerary. As a policy, our company never encourages its travellers to shop unless they themselves request the same. The guides are freelancers and they work with many travel agencies on a project to project to basis. So,even after briefing and warning, they are a notorious and an unpredictable lot that tend to veer in other direction for profit. To avoid this we make it point that we speak to our travellers everyday to understand if they are being taken to shops or forced to attend touristy demonstrations. You never indicated any such happening till the very end and we were blindsided. That said, we have taken necessary action all the guides and have lacklisted them for all the future projects.
Airport in Jaipur
Our plan was to ensure an easy transfer for you. But after carefully looking into the matter, I understand that somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication and our representative reported later than expected due to some traffic congestion. To err is human but this could have been taped. Our sincere apologies.
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