Service rating :
Ant Horrobin was extremely helpful throughout the booking process to help us determine which tour we wanted. Beyond the booking I find it difficult to rate Encounters specifically. This tour was provided by a company they contract out to (Fez Travel) which I didn't really know until a few days before the start.Product :
Provided a bunch of feedback to Fez Travel at the end of the tour but will give the cole's notes:
- Was confused when we got into town because the tour was not called "Turkey Encounters" as we purchased but instead "Flying Carpet Tour" run by Fez Travel not Encounters Travel.
- Tour guides were not the ones advertized on the Encounters website but one of Fez' guides.
-Guide was very personable and helpful so far as helping is with what we needed. His English was good enough to this extent however when it came to relaying historical backgrounds of the sites we were visiting his English was only "adequate". He tended to tell us everything he knew (or could communicate) up front and then send us to roam the grounds on our own. I was a little bit envious of some of the tours who had native English speaking guides who were going into more details; especially where dealing with ruins like Ephesus, Aphrodisias, etc.
- On the flip side the local guide got us places I am not sure we would have otherwise visited (i.e, cave family's house).
- Some of the visits to the craft industry shops were awkward. The fashion show / leather stop was out of place (i.e., nobody was interested, the fashion show was a bit contrived, and the sales tactics were a bit agressive given nobody showed any interest in leather).
- All of the hotels were excellent with the exception of one. The Best Western Khan in Antalya does not belong in a higher priced "comfort" tour. It is old and run down. It was the only hotel in which we were given separate beds as a married couple. It also seemed odd that the Istanbul (TRYP by Wyndham) gave us a large room with a nice view on our initial visit (starting the trip) and then a very small room with no window at all on the night before we left (almost as if they were trying to impress us on the way in but it didnt matter so much on the way out after the Fez feedback had already been provided). As a sidenote, the whole selection of Antalya as a two day stop seems poor. There was very little to do in this town and it seemed like more of a stopover required as a result of the time required to get to the next stop in Capadoccia.
- The optional visit to the Turkish bath needs to be better vetted by the tour company and Encounters. The place we were taken to seemed a bit unsanitary and run down. I think we went here because the tour guide knew the family. This should not be a reason for selection of a location. *** - They did not properly separate them men from the women and one of the girls ended up being bathed by one of the male attendants... we were told later that the man was noticably aroused by this exchange which was reported to the tour guide. The tour guide apparently returned and the attendant was summarilly dismissed. I did not let it impact my rating of the tour as the latter bit didnt impact me personally or my wife (other than the cleanliness part) but the fact that that choices in these places is left up to the nepotism/cronyism of specific tour guide is HIGHLY questionable. I would never do something like this again unless it was at a new, clean, and highly rated establishment that I pre-vetted. Sadly I was not given the option to check the location in advance.
- Our bus broke down a couple of times over the course of the tour. Once due to flat tire and once because I believe the clutch or gearbox needed servicing. These resulted in delays and unexpected stops in our itinerary.
- We skipped Ankara as the guide asked us to vote on whether we wanted to get into Istanbul early. We voted for this since we had an early flight the next day. They seemed a litle rushed to get rid of us that day though.
I have brought up a lot of constructive items here but I want to be clear that we did really enjoy the trip and the guide worked very hard to make the tour a good one for the rest of us.Read More...