Pat and Ken, over the years, you have participated on 4 small group journeys with TIKI including tours of France and Italy and plans well in hand for the inaugural 'Enchanting Italy Uncovered' tour in September this year.
In your opinion, what sets TIKI TOURS and their many suppliers apart from other tour companies? In other words, what is the point of difference compared to other tour operators?
In our opinion it is the attention to detail that TIKI always puts in place that sets them apart from their competitors. It is TIKI`S care for the needs of the group and caring for every one’s individual needs at the same time, which TIKI has perfected to a fine balancing act.
What made you decide to travel with TIKI time and time again?
It is the excellent planning that TIKI puts in place that makes us repeat TIKI Tour Junkies, from the time we leave Australia to the time we return we are so well looked after. I think it is the peace of mind that throughout the tour we will receive the utmost care and individual attention. In a nut shell, 'we have seen the rest now we go with the best'.
What is it that makes Italy such a special destination for you personally?
We love the culture, scenery, friendliness of the people, and the ambiance that Italy has to offer. Not to mention the cuisine, wine and local delicacies which the Italian people are so proud of and we are so happy to sample. Luigi, the Sicilian tour manager, has such a vast knowledge of Italy and Sicily in general. Without his knowledge we would not be able to absorb the local customs, culture and respect for the country we are visiting.
What was the highlight of your September 2017 ‘Classic Italy Coast to Coast trip?
We loved the whole trip, but if we had to pick a highlight it would be several. Cinque Terre by boat encompassing the fantastic views and colourful houses. Trieste also for the views and diversity, Slovenia for the welcome and hospitality given to us by the people. Rapallo, for the views and sheer beauty of the place.
If you could use 3 words, how would you describe the boutique / heritage accommodation packaged for each tour?
Tasteful - charming - ambient
Did any hotel on the 'Classic Italy Coast to Coast' tour stand out for you? Why?
The Hotel in Trieste was fantastic. The resort hotel in Bologna was so helpful to my husband and myself. The Hotel in Rapallo was so beautiful with amazing views
Did you find like-minded company on tour? In general, do the groups bond well?
I would say that the group bonds well, everyone is enthusiastic and participate in daily activities and tours which have been carefully planned for our benefit. During our tours with TIKI we have met and bonded with some extraordinary people with whom we have since kept in touch.
What do you think of the group size you experienced on your last tour?
The group size on our last tour was very good. The smaller group tours which TIKI offers work perfectly for us. There is no way we would even consider a cruise with hundreds of passengers after experiencing the Tours on offer with TIKI.
How would you rate the level of fitness needed to participate on the day to day TIKI TOURS excursions?
To participate on the day to day excursions there is a moderate level of fitness required. There are obviously small leisurely walks from the coach to places of interest and a few stairs when visiting castles. Everyone goes at their own speed and Luigi and the local tour guides are always mindful to point out any hazards which would put people at risk.
For those who have not toured with TIKI before, can you describe ‘a typical day on tour’?
For the daily excursions the start time is normally 8.30 after a leisurely breakfast. There are always plenty of comfort stop along the way, stops for coffee. The TIKI Tour Director points out places of interest on the way and tells us about the history of the town or village we are passing through. When we arrive at the destination the group meet up with the local tour guide. The local tour guides are always very knowledgeable as one would expect. They have the local knowledge and they are always very enthusiastic and proud to share the history of the area with the group. There is normally a break for lunch and free time for everyone to explore the area on their own or to do some local shopping for souvenirs or to sample local delicacies. After lunch there is invariably a little more sightseeing with photo stops at places of interest.
Return to the Hotel would normally be about five o clock or thereafter with ample time to rest, shower and dress for the evening meal. The evening is always a very sociable occasion with the group getting together and talking about the daily activities over dinner. Dinner is always a very special affair as Hotel staff and Chefs are always very proud to prepare and present the very best cuisine their region has to offer and paired with local regional wine.
In your opinion, what are the most important ingredients for a successful fully escorted small group tour?
Planning and attention to detail, treating clients as individuals, location, cuisine, very special and patient tour guides. These factors all add up to the perfect tour.
Did you feel there was enough free time to explore individually between touring in the day and dining at night?
The tours are always very leisurely and we have never experienced a feeling of being rushed from A to B. There is always enough free time to explore, shop and rest on returning to the hotel before dinner.
What do you love about flying THAI Airways including the Bangkok Airport Hotel Stopover enroute to Europe?
THAI Airways are always very good, there always seem to be more leg room in economy than with other airlines. The staff are always very courteous and attentive. We just love the Novotel Airport Hotel Bangkok. The rooms, the pool and the smiling faces of the staff who are always so very willing to help and ensure a great stay.
Where would you like to go next in Europe…. other than Italy?
That’s a hard question as we are besotted with Italy and now we can’t get enough of Italy, Spain and Portugal look great and especially Madeira.
Who would you recommend the TIKI TOURS trips to?
We would recommend TIKI TOURS to anyone who wanted to have a stress-free holiday in Europe. To single persons who would normally be a little apprehensive about travelling alone. On the tours people travelling as a couple always tend to look after the people travelling alone which we find is fantastic. Couples, singles all get along so well. Anyone who wanted a diverse gastronomic and cultural experience in Europe.