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Hi Alaina: I wanted to touch bases with you regarding our Ireland trip. First, we all very much enjoyed the trip, Ireland was beautiful with many sites to see and the people were extremely friendly and for the most part, made us comfortable. I have to admit that I did do a lot of driving – over 1,000 kilometers driving around the island and driving on the left side of the road and survived. Pam was a great navigator and helped me a lot while driving the roads and highways. The car was great, perfect for the four of us and our luggage. The weather was good as we had only a couple of rainy days while touring sites but most of the time it seemed to stop while touring and visiting all of the major sites we wanted to see. Thanks for doing a great job on the reservations regarding the hotels and Heatons' Guest House. We experienced only one problem checking in to any of hotels and itinerary and that information is included in the attached separate letter which we sent to the general manager of the Lodge Hotel in Kindle...
There are two hotels that you should be aware of that you might want to investigate and reconsider before using them in future tours. The Lodge at Kinsale though in a beautiful location was up in the hills and out of the way and would have been a dangerous drive at night even though we wanted to go to dinner away from the lodge, we did not feel safe driving thru the dark hill roads back to it. And dinner at the lodge was not up to the standards a hotel like this should have had. I will be attaching a copy of the letter we are sending to the manager of the Lodge Hotel as we had a less than satisfactory experience there.
The second hotel was the Ambassador Hotel in Cork. We thought it was a bit out of the way up in the hills away from the areas and sites that we wanted to see in Cork. We had to walk quite a distance to some of the sites and restaurants in town and walking back we all felt a bit uneasy walking the dark streets at night. The hotel itself was an odd configuration, as we had to take one elevator from the reception area, walk down a long hallway to a different section of the hotel and find a second elevator, walk down another long hallway just to get to the third-floor room. As we discovered the second elevator was not working at night and we had to find the stairs and trudge back to our room late at night. We changed rooms the second day as the room was unsatisfactory.
We very much enjoyed Dublin and wish we would have had an extra day there, the Dingle Peninsula was beautiful and wish that we would have had another day there as well. Galway Bay could have been cut down to one day. One of the many highlights of the trip was Ashford Castle and the afternoon tea. That was an outstanding experience of the trip. And I would recommend that in the future, since it is 45 minutes outside of Galway Bay, that you consider placing clients closer to Ashford Castle as it is such a beautiful sight to see and experience, and one afternoon is just not enough. The Lake Hotel in Killarney was beautiful as you suggested and I am glad that I listened to your advice and stayed there.
All in all, we enjoyed our Ireland trip. Thank you for all of your assistance and expertise. I look forward to working with you again on another trip in the future.
Everything worked smoothly. You are constantly on the go and I think we saw all the major attractions in Ireland. The guides were very knowledgeable and fun to listen too. Well run your!
Some very good, some not
We spent 10 days in Scotland this past May and for the most part, everything went very well. Hotels: Some exceptional, one downright nasty! Here are our thoughts on the hotels:
Edinburgh - Hotel du Vin
Incredible place remodeled insane asylum (no kidding). Room was large, bathroom modern, biggest shower I've ever seen in a hotel (a bit overkill but hey, if you need a shower to fit 6 people then this is your place!). Staff was excellent and helpful. Great location, 5-minute walk to the Royal Mile.
Inverness - Glenmoriston Townhouse
Clean is about the best thing I could say about this. Very un-charming, kind of like staying in a chain hotel/apartments. Staff was ok if a bit distant. Room was good sized but bathroom small. Why so many hotels in Europe have pedestal sinks and absolutely no room put anything down is beyond me. Can't be a cost thing - how much can a shelf cost?
Isle of Skye - Cuillin Hills Hotel
Wonderful place with a great view of the charming harbor of Portree. Great staff, great public areas, and an excellent restaurant. Room was a decent size, bathroom excellent.
Fort Williams - Alexandra Hotel
Horrid place. Dirty, worn out, incredibly small rooms, tiny bathroom. This place was so bad that we left after one night and drove to Stirling paying for a new hotel at our own expense (no refund from the Alexandra). Ft William is a dingy, run downtown and the only reason to go there is the outdoor activity and the steam train. Honestly, with a bit of an internet search, I found several places around the area that would have been a better place to stay. The Alexandra is rated 3 stars but I would call it more a 2. Maybe just a step above a youth hostel.
Outside Edinburgh - Melville Castle
Our last night was in a delightful place with loads of history (estate has ties to Mary, Queen of Scots and the current building was built in the Victorian era). Spent a fun hour with one of the owners, Bill Hays who told us the history and a few ghost stories (which delighted my wife). Room was big (suite) and the bathroom was modern. Great restaurant, downstairs in the basement (think a well-lit dungeon - cozy).
Our activities were, for the most part, great although I would stay away from "The Scottish Experience" in Edinburgh. It's a hokey dinner show place with poor food and cheesy entertainment. Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and many other things to see in Edinburgh are great. If you have any interesting in medicine don't miss the Surgeons Museum.
A highlight for me was Culloden Battlefield with its excellent visitor center near Inverness. We spent over 3 hours here.
The Highlands overall are stunningly beautiful especially in May when the hills were very green. The history is everywhere and there is so much to explore!
Awesome Irish Experience!
My husband and I traveled to Ireland from Minneapolis, MN. We booked our own flights, but all of our accommodations and tours were booked with Authentic Vacations. Everything was seamless besides one hotel reservation, which they fixed within moments of me calling! They also did not include a tour voucher for the Cliffs of Moher which I thought was strange since that is one of the main things to see in Ireland, but we could swing it being that everything else had already been included!
I would highly recommend Authentic Vacations to my family and friends!
This was our 40th anniversary present to ourselves and our 3rd time in Ireland with Authentic Ireland. Lonna worked with us to ensure that everything went as planned and our vacation was perfect. There were no surprises or details that did not go as Lonna planned. We are working on a list of places that we want to travel to next year and look forward to working with Lonna ( a consummate professional) and Authentic Ireland.
We just returned from a 9 day trip to Ireland. It was most enjoyable. The accommodations were fabulous although a few of them though I would have liked to have been closer to the city center to limit the amount of driving when possible, One of the advantages to driving though is that we were able to cover a lot of territory and see a good bit, The people we met were very friendly. All in all the trip was a success. Thank you Jocoya for working with us to plan our trip.
Ireland golf trip
It was absolutely fantastic, Authentic Vacations. And Jocoya did a wonderful job. The golf at LaHinch, Doonbeg and Kinsale was out of this world. A memory for a life time.
Scotland and Ireland at First Blush
We've always wanted to visit Scotland and Ireland, having visited London a few times in recent years; so with an entry to the 2019 London Marathon in hand, we decided to finally go for it. Working with Jocoya on our planned first visit to both countries was comfortable and expedient. She was able to put together a package based on our requirement: more countryside involving self-driving, with a mix of four-star and B&B accommodations. The weather was lovely and we enjoyed long and short walks into town and along the countryside. Most memorable visits include the Macallan six pillars whisky tour in Scotland and the Aran Islands tour in Ireland. Galway, Ireland was a relaxing break that allowed us to just kick back and enjoy the west coast. What made the trip all the more pleasant was the genuine warmth of the people in both countries. We had numerous encounters with the locals and everyone was authentic and engaged in their greetings and/or conversation. There will most defintiely be another trip to these wonderful places in the future. Cheers!
Alaina from Authentic Vacations worked to put our Ireland vacation together and did an outstanding job. She maintained constant contact with me over the months as we planned out our vacation and was able to get us a better deal when we decided to change our dates before we purchased our vacation. She did an outstanding job setting us up with great hotels, a rental car, and some tickets to several castles. and events. We loved our vacation but wish we had a few more days to spend in Ireland. We want to go back and will certainly be using Authentic Vacations when we plan our next trip.
Very nice, but...
Our very first day in Dublin was disappointing. We traveled with friends. All of our paperwork from Authentic said our first "experience" at the Guinness Storehouse was at 9:00am. So we got up early, called for a large cab, paid 17 Euros to get there from our hotel, only to find out that our specialized tour time was at 2:00pm! Now it cost another 17 Euros to get back to the hotel. This happened again at another one of our arranged "experiences", so we then started calling the places to be sure what time our visit was supposed to be. No one had told us in advance that we had to do this. You figure if the time says 9:00, it should be 9:00. Also, our Guest House room in Derry was a three floor walkup, and was so small we could barely get by one another. A full size bed just didn't cut it even though it was only for one night. Also, there was an abandoned building right outside our window, and the place was filled with noisy, disgusting pigeons! So nice to be awakened at daybreak by the cooing of 20 or more pigeons. Anyway, the rest of the places we stayed were very nice, so we were thankful for that. And, in the end we all had a wonderful trip.
When I first booked our adventure in Ireland, I was a little nervous about working with an agent. However, after a few weeks all apprehension dissolved. Our agent, Jocoya, was professional, courteous and went out of her way to help accommodate our wishes and special requests. She helped make our trip to Ireland one we won't soon forget! I am so glad I found Authentic Vacations and look forward to working with Jocoya in the future.
the trip was fantastic, hotel accommodations were outstanding southwestern Ireland marvelous, Doonbeg Golf unbelievable. One important note, when renting a car purchase the Insurance, roads are narrow.
We had a wonderful trip! No complaints! The itinerary was wonderful, as was the contact to our planner Jocoya Fox-Jones! Cheers!
The hotels and sightseeing were perfect! We did have a driver in Ireland and in Scotland and we were able to enjoy the experience fully! No worries whatsoever!
Authentic Vacations helped me put together an absolute dream honeymoon in Ireland. They had fast response to all emails and really did a great job at gathering what we envisioned and putting it together! We had an incredible time and the trip went smooth and stress free! I would recommend using them to anyone who plans on traveling. I definitely will use them again if I travel outside of the country!
Trip was wonderful. The hotels were first rate and the suggested itineraries were right on.
Only issue was Hertz car rental did not have a small compact car with GPS ready when I showed up. They said it would take several hours but I had a tee time at St Andrews and could not wait. I had to upgrade to Mercedes SUV at considerable cost in order to make tee time.
I would highly recommend Authentic Ireland Vacations to anyone. The planning was made incredibly easy and the hotels/BB that they chose were amazing. Also a few of the tours that they booked I would not have known about without them and I thoroughly enjoyed those as well. Once we arrived in Ireland our reservations were super easy and there was never any issues. Overall this made our trip one of the best we’ve been on yet!
The planning, hotel booking and suggested site seeing itinerary were so well organized and perfect. I would suggest informing first time travelers to Ireland who are driving for the first time, that there can be quite a bit of mountain side driving with very narrow, winding roads. That wasn't something that was addressed beforehand with Authentic Ireland, caused a little bit of distress while in Ireland. I would also mention that communication while booking the trip with my agent wasn't the greatest. There were many business days that would go by without hearing any responses to email questions, which when looking to book a trip, a 1 business day turnaround is typically expected. Though once i discussed items with my agent, she was very professional and well informed. Just improve on communication timing, if out of the office an out of office message would assist in letting passanger know they should contact someone else within the office.
Enchanting family quality time!
I live in Costa Rica. A colleague from the local tourism industry recommended Authentic Vacations... I contacted AV with a little bit of hesitation. But the moment Jocoya Fox-Jones established communication, things started flowing! The planning went smoothly; she made sure to ask the right questions about our needs and desires. The itinerary sounded perfect... and turned out to be perfect in the end! My 7 year-old loved the castles and the hotels, my wife and I enjoyed the gastro experiences and we all found several opportunities for a great family bonding time. The beauty of Scotland and Ireland plus the right planning made it all a 5-star experience! Thanks Jocoya, thanks Authentic Vacations!
Wonderful experience will travel with Authentic again. Anastasia was great to deal with and she is my go to woman for the next vacation.