Well, to celebrate one year of togetherness, I decided to gift my spouse a trip to Kerala.
Irine holidays was a recommendation from a loved one so I went ahead and contacted them.
I gave them the reference as well as the context of the trip and asked for their services to make it memorable.
I got a package from K and after some tweaking, finalized the same.
5N 6D = 3N Munnar, 1N Thekkady & 1N Alleppy
I also specifically requested for a specific driver to accompany as as our driver/guide as I have got the most glowing reviews for him. But we got a different driver. They dint even inform us about this change.
1. The requested driver was not assigned as our driver despite multiple requests. Our driver though was a jolly nice chap, was not aware about the complete itinerary & hotels/resorts we had bookings at. This led to loosing some time in searching on Day 1. Also, he never made many suggestions on sightseeings /plan of the day.He was ok with whatever we decided. We were hoping to get some local insight (He hailed from Ernakulam near Kochi) and suggestions but remained disappointed throughout the trip.
2. No calls from the agency to check on us, brief us on the day ahead etc.
3. On reaching Kerala, I realized that the package listed sightseeing spots randomly. It was not feasible to cover all, even 3-4 of them due to distances. Also, lot of spots which we visited seemed similar – scenic points – while we were hoping for a thrilling experience with varied hues.
4. Also, the driver was not aware abt the itenerary. We had to search on our own for spots and ask him to take us.
5. Day 3 was complete disaster. K had mentioned Kolukummalai tea estate as the only item that day. But we got to know on day 2 that its not feasible to go there an return on the same day. K was not available on call so I called R. Amusingly, he gave another reason of the road being under repair. I bought the same and was appeased when he promised to plan some interesting spots on Day 3. (Which was not very great, mind you) The tour planner should have considered these ground level factors while planning our package.
6. This brings us to day 4 in Thekkady. We got assigned a hotel in Tamil Nadu.
Lumerian is a hotel by the highway. The only adjectives I can use for it are extremely dusty, neglected, pathetic food and service (the worst food of our trip).
On complaining to the agency, they made the hotel guy call us a, apologize and arranged for a bigger room. But our problem was the distance and hotel, not room size!Shoddy planning on K’s side to assign a hotel away from the location we are visiting, in another state! It took 40 full minutes for our driver to get permit to cross into TN. Also, driving duration was 30-40 min one way - 1.5 hrs wasted jst to cover this extra distance.
To add fuel to fire, food was pathetic. By this time I was furious and red faced in front of my husband, who was quietly teasing me for my Special surprise trip.
5. I registered my displeasure with the hotel, R, K & S – the 3 PoC from Irine. Do note none of these called me. I made calls and could reach through only to R. All S & K did were defend themselves over watsap !! So much for customer service & professional conduct.
5. This brings me to day 5 in Alleppy, where we reached later than check in time, at 12.30 pm at Finishing point only to learn our house boat cannot be traced. No points for guessing the reason for delay – we drove back from TN to Kerala.
After multiple calls to boat owner and Renny(who suddenly was very busy to take our calls and even call back with update) and waiting a full hr in sweltering heat, our driver arranged for another house boat by his personal connections.
At this point I was wondering why I even bothered to book through this agency!
This was a shared boat with 10 rooms as opposed to a single boat promised with special honeymoon arrangements for us.
Luckily for us, the boat was big, clean , new, with delicious food and decent staff. (Southern Panorama cruises)
They saved our most looked forward day