Spectacularly bad travel experiences, we’ve all had them. But in most cases, a negative experience can be reversed by a caring host or experienced staff. Why ignore the first ominous signs of discontent? Here’s a few examples:
Stayed at a boutique luxury lodge in Australia a few years back. After a hectic day out we returned to have a shower and…no water. When questioned the manager told us that the holding tank had run out of water. This happened a couple of hours prior to our return to the lodge but the manager kept quiet, hoping that the problem would be fixed before anybody noticed. No explanation was given until we actually phoned reception. The hours went by and still no water. Finally after our third phone call, we were at least promised updates and the water did eventually return. Here was a golden opportunity for the Manager to restore goodwill and compensate his guests with a bottle of wine or a complementary breakfast. No gesture was made. What a missed opportunity!
Visited a very unusual property in the South Island in New Zealand . We were 20 mins early (perhaps we should have rung to let the host know we’d be early). The first thing he said when opening the door was “don’t you just hate it when people arrive early”. As travel agents, we thought that if he was prepared to be so rude to us, we could only imagine what he would say to OUR customers.
As a host/owner, it is frustrating when people arrive ahead of check-in time but sometimes this happens for reasns beyond the travellers control. You deal with it by explaining that although their room is not quite ready, the muffins and coffee are. Nothing says “welcome” more than the offer of food and a hot beverage.
We’d been travelling the Great Ocean Road in Australia and by the time we arrived at Melbourne we were frazzled. We’d pre-booked 4 nights at an inner city apartment and were looking forward to the experience. The owner met us at the apartment with a huge bag of towels and was anxious to get away. “I haven’t managed to get any milk in”, she said, “I’ve just been too busy, but there’s a supermarket a couple of blocks away”. Considering that we were paying NZ$300 a night for this apartment, I was astonished at her lack of attention to basic hospitality. And negotiating the aisles of a supermarket, was the last thing on our minds. We were also expected to dispose of our rubbish at the end of our stay which involved walking down the corridor, unlocking a chute and separating the plastics from the glass. Wasn’t cleaning part of the service?. Her parting shot as she left was “I’ll leave you to unpack the towels”. I checked out the bathroom. The toilet was furry. It gleamed only after vigorous scrubbing with a toilet brush that had seen better days. The bath plug was missing and even after a call to the owner, she never followed up with a replacement for our 3-day stay or to enquire if we had found it. After heading out in the pouring rain to get our milk and desperate for a caffeine fix, we discovered that the inside of coffee percolator was furry with milk mould. The domino effect gained momentum after discovering not one, but six filthy disintegrating dishcloths underneath the sink. No checking, no care, no follow-up.
This is an example of how a bad situation was reversed. Checked into a nice motel, only to discover there was a horrendous vibration coming from the heat pump units that some builder had thoughtfully placed on the roof. The manager of the hotel immediately took charge by acknowledging the problem, insisting that we change rooms to the opposite side of the complex. He arranged to have someone carry all our lugguage and had refreshments delivered to our room. We had a great night’s sleep and enjoyed our stay.
Ok, there are some people that you can never please but most reasonable travellers will give tourist providers the opportunity to reverse a negative situation. they’re mostly a forgiving lot.
Toilet paper and cash! These are just some of the items on your must-have list if you’re cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail. Not all businesses in this area have an ATM machine and not all off-trail toilets have toilet paper.
The beautiful scenery of the Central Otago area is often missed by international travellers and I highly recommend that repeat travellers cycle at least some of the trail, or explore by car. It’s off the beaten track, full of history and in April/May, the Autumn colours are breathtaking!
The trail starts at Clyde, a historical town where cars always seem to look a little out of place:
At Clyde you’ll find the lovely and very famous Oliver’s Lodge. Oliver’s has seen many changes since 1869 when it opened as a general store. It’s considered a luxury accommodation with differently priced rooms to suit the budget.
Ttime to head off to Alexandra, 8kms away. Here you’ll find vineyards and the oldest in Central Otago, Black Ridge. Alexandra is the local hub of the area and famous for it’s tangy, mouthwatering apricots.
Onwards to Galloway (7km), Chatto Creek (10km), Omakau (12km), take a 2km side trip to historic Ophir. Return to Omakau. Further along the way you’ll come across Oturehua where in the nearby Ida Valley, is the historic Hayes Engineering works and Homestead. The original Mr Hayes designed the tools and his very fit wife did the marketing – which in those days consisted of loading sample tools onto her trusty old bike and cycling around the area to show the farmers.
Wedderburn and Ranfurly are next and if you have the time, take a side trip to Naseby, New Zealand’s only international year-round curling rink. Give it a go! Also at Ranfurly, you’ll find a museum entirely devoted to art deco.
I’ve merely skimmed the surface here folks. By the time you get to the end of the trail at Middlemarch, you’ll have your own tales of goldmines, tunnels, gorges, viaducts and of course the friendly folks you’ve met on the way.
It was by pure chance that we met Claire Fuller, owner of the Sticky Rice Cooking School Villas. We’d noticed the interesting logo on her car and introductions were made. Claire invited us to visit Sticky Rice Cooking School and have a look at her newly opened luxury villas. Seriously folks if you want to get away from the big city bustle of Adelaide and you’re looking for something a bit unique, then take a 25min drive to the pictuesque Adelaide Hills at Stirling. Once you arrive, just look for the Buddha (not that other guy):
If you opt to take the asian cooking classes at the school, you’ll be learning from guest chefs all around Australia. On the day of our visit, we met the lovely Chef Yukiko Anschutz from the award winning Shiki restaurant at the Hyatt Regency hotel – her Japanese and Thai classes are legendary!
The cooking classes are optional and you can to stay in the villas and be totally independent. All 3 villas have that wow factor, influenced by Asian architecture and comfort with beautiful designer furnishing and standalone stone baths.
….and Jag kitchens:
Each villa is individually styled to reflect the luxurious options often found in Bali, Thailand and Japan and each provides it’s own private walled outdoor courtyard and individual gardens.
Seriously, it’s a real oasis from the city……wish we’d known about this sooner.
This has to be one of the most styly and elegant breakfasts we’ve ever had! The award-wining Rigoni’s Bistro is centrally located at 28 Leigh Street with european interiors and service to match. Definitely NOT a gobble-and-go place. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, gentle music and complementary newspapers. The breakfasts are just a bit different where presentation is an essential component. Definitely recommend Rigoni’s to serious travellers:
At least 80% of tourists are looking for a day tour they can pack into an already busy itinerary – although these tours merely skim the surface, they do give travellers time to relax and view magnificent scenery while someone else does the driving. The Murray River Day Tour is NOT a small group tour but you’ll see a lot from the comfort of a modern and comfortable coach.
We were collected by coach from our hotel at 8.45am sharp and whisked away to the bus station where all the various tour buses are waiting. It just so happened that the pick-up bus was actually the same one doing the Murray River Tour. So we stayed on board. We had a fabulous driver/guide. Tony was informative, relaxed and very funny in that dry Australian way. With a coach full of people, you’ll always get one who talks through the driver’s commentary. Tony handled it well. He stopped his commentary and said “oh, sorry, am I interrupting again”? It was a strategy that worked. Just before this photo was taken, Barry did a monkey pose, but refused a repeat performance:
The “Proud Mary” is a boutique cruising vessel which also operates 2-5 day cruises where guests stay in their own cabin. It has 3 decks and an intimate lounge and dining area with its own bar. The lunch buffet was more than adequate and constantly replenished. And we had a chance to socialise with other diners and share experiences.
The Proud Mary provides scenic views of orange coloured cliffs and various wildlife including a fabulous display of Pelicans swooping very close around the vessel. Believe me, these birds are built like freight planes!
After about 75 mins we disembarked from the Proud Mary to board our coach and travel to the historic river town of Mannum. For those interested in hiring their own state-of-the-art river houseboats, these can be viewed and hired in Mannum – an affordable option for families sharing expenses.
Meanwhile, back at the coach, there was the usual 10 min wait for the stragglers and then we were off again, driving through the beautiful Adelaide Hills, via Tungkillo and Mt Torrens. (We’re returning under our own steam tomorrow for an independent explore).
The only disappointing part of this tour was the stop at a Toy factory at Gumeracha. Given there were no children on the tour, we felt this choice of venue was inappropriate, except to doting grannies. Perhaps a better option would have been e.g. a winery or chocolate factory where you could actually see the process of production. The giant toy horse was pretty impressive though.
All in all, this was a good option for timestrapped tourists and we enjoyed it.
Maybe it was a one-off situation, but after landing at Adelaide Airport to start our 9-nine day trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, there were no taxis to be seen – only queues of weary travellers 5 rows deep. Eventually the taxis did arrive but it was a hellishly slow process. Stress brings out the queue-jumpers and there were plenty of em! Next time we’ll pre-book a taxi!
The Adelaide CBD has a slight grimy edge to it, however I did find an inner city oasis within it’s superb botanical gardens – great place to pack a picnic and head down with the kids, especially after a long and fraught international flight and it’s only a short walk from most inner accommodations:
Handy for travellers to know that the The Adelaide Zoo is pretty much nextdoor to the Botanic gardens
We enjoyed the Adelaide Central market. The atmosphere was incredible – such a buzzy place and really nice people – both sellers and buyers. The variety of food was colourful, aromatic, authentic and VERY affordable. The City to Bay Tram stops right in Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga. We used the Free Adelaide Connector Bus Our driver was very quick to spot Michael waving his map around and stopped especially for us.
By the time this photo was taken, Michael had eaten a whole Italian Pizza and a massive piece of this magnificent Lemon cheesecake…
….yet couldn’t quite rid himself of the feeling that he had missed out on something. Must be a ‘man’ thing.
We’ve decided to have breakfast at Rigoni’s Bistro tomorrow…heard it’s the best brekkie in town. We’ll see…