During the planning stages of the trip I was very happy with our travel agent and the attentiveness to the details of the trip. He considered our wine preferences and my vegetarian diet, and we talked about the feasibility of going to different wine regions in France for the short 8 day trip. He also offered special touches in the different regions that we were really excited to take part in. Examples of those experiences were a spa treatment, Michelin star dinners, and a wine blending class. The trip itself was amazing overall, we did run in to multiple issues regarding communication and expectations once we arrived in France. Some of these were communicated directly to the travel company while on the trip because they needed to urgently be addressed, and some are now just being communicated. We did not want to spend our trip communicating these concerns, and hope that the travel company will resolve them once shared.
On our first day tour in Beaune, we had a day tour planned to visit wineries in the Cote de Beaune area. Our guide was surprised that we had already toured the Hospice de Beaune upon arrival the day before. Our final itinerary did not say that would be part of the tour (it was mentioned in other proposals), and instead the final "Roadmap" had it listed as a “must see” sight while in Beaune. My husband and I spent the previous afternoon visiting because we expected the tour to be an “all day wine tasting excursion,” and our guide seemed a little frustrated that we had already been. She was able to adjust on the fly, and we spent the morning visiting Clos Vougeot. For our planned lunch and tasting, we traveled to a small winery where the atmosphere was intimate. Though I had mentioned multiple times at the planning stages that I am a vegetarian, the lunch was a traditional Bouef Bourguignon. I felt embarrassed having to tell our guide as the first dish came out with ham, and I felt terrible as the guide told the host. Since there was no a la carte menu, the host worked to accommodate my needs. While grateful for her flexibility, it was uncomfortable having to ask for the special accommodation that I felt should have been taken care of beforehand.
When we arrived in Bordeaux, there was no communication about how/when to meet our driver. The train station is new and fairly large, so it took multiple phone calls to find our ride.
We loved the Medoc region and after our first full day out at the wineries in Medoc, we had planned an evening at a spa in the Graves region. We were meant to get to the spa for a treatment at 5 pm, but with traffic we did not arrive until 5:30 pm. My husband and I spent 280 euro per person for this experience, and unfortunately the spa had to cut our treatments short and we had little to no time to enjoy the other amenities the spa had to offer - steam rooms, baths, etc. The treatments themselves were great, but it is a lot of money to spend on an hour experience that felt rushed and stressful. Quite the opposite of what we were hoping for.
Pomerol and St. Emilion
In our itinerary we were supposed to go to wineries and lunch in Pomerol and then a blending class. We did visit a Pomerol winery in the morning, but we spent the rest of our day St. Emilion. I am so happy we did, as the lunch was wonderful, but I think this speaks again to the miscommunication and expectations not being met throughout the trip. We did our blending class. We loved this experience, however, we paid 120 euro at the end of it. We had already paid our travel company 118 euro per person for this experience, so it was frustrating to be asked to pay again when we thought we had taken care of the cost up front.
Drunch Experience in Bordeaux
On our last evening in Bordeaux, we had a "Drunch" experience, or culinary tour that started at 6 pm. Our final "Roadmap" said our driver would drop us off at the starting point of the tour, but he was not aware. When I looked at the Roadmap, it stated we would meet our guide at Porte Cailhau. Upon arrival, we did not see our guide. After 10 minutes of waiting, we called the travel company office because we noticed on the website for the tour guide that the starting spot was listed as somewhere else. After they got in touch with the guide, it was clear the other meeting spot was where she had planned, and another miscommunication had occurred. We hurried to try to fit in all of the appointments our guide had planned, but she was visibly stressed and frustrated about time as well.
Overall, these moments did not define the trip, however, they did cause stress and anxiety. I have planned other trips with Zicasso travel agents in the past and am currently planning another for this summer, and never have I had to contact the agents abroad or had so much miscommunication throughout the itinerary with contracted parties. I am happy to spend the money to make the experiences memorable and special, but I feel that the additional costs that I incurred on the trip were not worth it and also not up to the expectations I felt were set during the planning stages.
The dinners we planned and the wine blending class.
I would have re-confirmed more of the details of the trip before leaving, though this is not something I believe a customer should do when paying for the service of a luxury travel agent.
[TRAVEL COMPANY'S COMMENTS]
Thanks for taking the time to write that detailed review even though there are some spiky parts to read.
Along with my colleagues, we have discussed at length your email this morning. I took the time to call the guide in Bordeaux as well yesterday and discuss a couple of points with him and since your trip, I’ve also had the guide in Beaune on the phone.
Your concerns are valid and I’m sorry that some of them took away from the joy of travelling in France. When it comes to the oversight regarding your vegetarianism it was simply an oversight, and I apologize for that. Despite taking at least 100 emails and calls to secure the vegetarian ‘Drunch’, I overlooked that there was a ‘food part’ in the Beaune wine tasting activity and I failed to communicate this to the guide in Beaune. That is my mistake and I’m sorry for that. I am just happy that the supplier managed to find you something.
When it comes to Medoc and the Spa evening I am sorry that you had to have the traffic upset your evening, as you arrived too late to properly optimise the facilities. I spoke to the Bordeaux guide about this and he maintained that in general however you had had a really nice day before then and just simple did not leave the winery beforehand at an early enough time to make the next ‘rendezvous’. I hope that indeed this was the case and your day in sum was pleasant.
Importantly the Bordeaux guide and I had a significant chat about the blending workshop and a look through our long list of email exchanges. In short, there was miscommunication between the two of us about who was to pay for the workshop. The result is that my director of course has approved the reimbursement for this workshop when I told him about it, and I made the reimbursement to your credit card yesterday. Please let me know if the 120€ has not come through. I hope that goes some way to rectifying the mistake, though I know it does not make up for how you must have felt on the spot.
We have talked at length in the office (yesterday and today) regarding your other points and noted all of them from the Hospice de Beaune issue, up to the rendez-vous meeting points in Bordeaux station and before the Drunch, and of course how to avoid all of these issues in the future. These are all noted and I appreciate that you took the time to detail these.
I hope that you can accept the apology and reimbursement from us and try using the Zicasso platform again soon.
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