I was looking for a first class trip to Australia and New Zealand. I planned to spend $15,000.00 and stay for several weeks. I initially contacted another travel company and they were very busy and could not get back to me in a timely manner. I went looking for another company and found this travel company. Overall, I would not recommend them for someone looking for a first class travel experience.
I do think they are familiar with both Australia and New Zealand and that for someone looking for a budget or economy trip they could probably do a good job. I had several special needs I was looking to meet during my trip: 1) significant railroad travel including the Indian Pacific, the Ghan, the Northern Explorer and the Trans-Alpine, 2) scenic hotels where I could paint. Both of these special needs were difficult for me to communicate to "the travel company. If I had wanted a typical tourist experience, I think they would have been fine.
I ended up spending about 18,000.00 U.S. with this travel company and being significantly dissatisfied with most of the lodging provided. I would sincerely recommend the train journeys for anyone who wants to see a large portion of Australia and New Zealand. I would also recommend travel to Australia and New Zealand. While I enjoyed spending time in both countries, I think that New Zealand is easily the more beautiful country for someone looking to spend time in nature. As a painter, I was extremely inspired by New Zealand.
The train journeys were the best part of my trip. Both the Indian-Pacific and the Ghan are fantastic ways to see Australia, meet new people, enjoy local cuisine and be transported far away from the daily grind. The trains in New Zealand are truly magical. The hotel in Perth was quite nice as was the hotel in Auckland.
I would certainly use a different travel company, and probably spend more time explaining to them my specific interests. I did not want a "cookie cutter" trip - I wanted a trip tailored to my interests. In order to paint, it is ideal to have a scenic view, a table, a chair, and as a watercolorist, a sink. Too many of the hotels I stayed in faced buildings or parking lots and/or lacked tables/chairs. I probably should have explained all that in more detail to the agent I worked with at the travel company. I was consistently underwhelmed by the lodging and several times I had to be moved due to low quality lodging. While the firm did assist me in these moves, it was unpleasant and disruptive. One hotel had large insects and another lacked heat (this was in the winter) so these were not minor incidents.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts on your recent trip, we would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss your experiences with you on the telephone but as you have not responded to our request, I will address the points you have raised in your review.
We are dismayed you feel we did not deliver a luxury trip for you nor meet your needs on the rail travel inclusion. Your itinerary did include the iconic rail journey of both countries - Indian Pacific, Ghan & Tranz Alpine Express and there are no other rail journeys that could have been included.
With regards to the hotels, the hotel in Sydney is considered one of the best views of Sydney from one the city's best 5* hotels; the hotel Perth in a premium room is one of the most luxurious offerings in Perth, The hotel in is Adelaide's only 5* hotel and the hotel in Darwin is the premier hotel located in Central Darwin. At all hotels we booked a view option and shared your requirements to be inspired to paint. In New Zealand, many of the locations you visited do not have 5* hotels and we selected the best available in each location - The properties in Auckland & Queenstown are both excellent options for both cities and in Franz Josef, Wellington & Nelson we included the best available 4-4.5* hotels.
Your review states you moved accommodations several times due to low quality lodging - I would like to clarify there was one single occurrence of a hotel move and that was not due to the property being low quality but inadequately heated for your needs in Nelson. The time you visited New Zealand was the winter season and lower temperatures are to be expected, however it is a minimum requirement any accommodation we book for our clients should be warm and comfortable and we apologize this was not the case in Nelson. As soon as we were alerted to your discomfort we immediately moved you to a different hotel and covered the additional costs.
Given your preference for free time to be able to paint at your request we did not include many of the touring experiences we like to include for our clients in their itineraries.
I am pleased to hear you did enjoy your time in Australia & New Zealand and inspired by the landscapes in New Zealand.
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