Wanted: A middle-aged couple would like a food-and-winery themed tour of Australia. They have been to Sydney before so would prefer to visit somewhere different such as South or Western Australia. They’re not sure of distances and the best way to travel – a self-drive tour or escorted tour may suit them. They want a minimum of two weeks and to visit vineyards and sights along the way. They’re flexible about 2020 travel dates, so just need to know the best times for weather and best prices.
Budget: £5,500 but flexible
All three agencies produced interesting and extensive itineraries between Perth and Melbourne, with a range of departure dates. The Trailfinders quote with a motorhome just edged it over the Travel Nation car hire offering, as it caught the imagination of the shopper, who described it as the trip of a lifetime. The Kuoni option was well over budget, even though the shopper said they were flexible.
Saskia Sano, sales team leader
“I have worked for the company since 2008. I lived in Sydney for nearly a year and absolutely love Australia. It remains a very popular destination for us at Trailfinders, and since the Qantas direct flight to Perth there has been a lot more interest in the west coast, including using it as a stopover for the rest of Australia.”
66 western road
Impression: The shop was clean, and staff looked smart and looked professional. The window display was quite sparse and I could not see a brochure display.
Service: I was spoken to immediately and waited less than a minute to be seen. We talked about where I would like to go and what I would like to see. The agent seemed knowledgeable and mentioned excursions, car hire and travel insurance plus insurance for a motorhome.
Quote: I was quoted for a 20-night Trailfinders holiday departing in May from Heathrow with Qantas, via Singapore to Perth. There was a stopover in Singapore on the return journey from Melbourne. Accommodation would be in Perth, Melbourne and a motorhome for 12 nights. Excursions included a Swan Valley food and wine-tasting tour, a dolphin cruise and trip to Penguin Island, Phillip Island, a Melbourne tour and a river cruise. It would cost £4,166 and was the most reasonable price offered.
Overall: The service was excellent and the agent was friendly and engaging, discussing a variety of ideas. I would have preferred two quotes, in order to compare going by motorhome and driving a car, but the holiday sounded like the trip of a lifetime.
New England street
Impression: The agency was within an office building with a noticeboard outside the door. Staff were very smart and professional, and there was a good display of brochures – but no window display as the premises were within a building.
Service: I was greeted with a smile and dealt with within five minutes of arrival. We talked about my requirements and I was offered quotes for travel insurance and car hire. The agent was a specialist in Australia because they had lived there so I felt they were knowledgeable. The agent was engaged, attentive and enthusiastic.
Quote: I was emailed a quote for a 15-night (18 days including flights) tailormade holiday that would depart from Heathrow at the end of January with Qantas. It would start with three nights in Perth and then visit several places heading south for seven days with car hire, visiting wineries and the Margaret River region, then Melbourne. There would also be two nights in Singapore – described by the agent as interesting and easy to navigate, with world-class tourist sights. The total would be £5,125.
Overall: I received good service from a specialist who talked about a range of options, and I liked the package on offer.
21 Dukes lane
Impression: The window and brochure displays were informative and colourful, and there was a coffee machine. The staff looked smart.
Service: I was greeted immediately with a smile and spoke to an agent who had lived in Australia. They were very attentive and knowledgeable. I would need to talk to them more get the price down and change some details about the booking such as the type of rooms we had. The best part of my visit was the free champagne.
Quote: I was offered a 22-night Kuoni holiday in November, 2020, flying from Heathrow with Malaysia Airlines to Perth. There would be a two-night stopover in Kuala Lumpur; accommodation in hotels in Perth and Adelaide. We would explore by motorhome, visiting places such as the Margaret River wine region, Pemberton and Albany. We would then fly to Adelaide and pick up another motorhome to explore the Barossa Valley, Apollo Bay, Melbourne and the Yarra Valley. It would cost £7,434. They suggested deluxe and superior rooms but they didn’t ask about the accommodation I preferred when we talked.
Overall: It was good overall but over budget. I would have wanted more questions asked about my room preferences and a quote for travel insurance.
The top-scoring agent each week bags a £25 Amazon voucher, courtesy of Casa de Campo Resorts & Villas.
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• 13 Har-Tru tennis courts
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• Six exclusive dining venues plus two gourmet food trucks
• Extensive heath and fitness club, and a spa
• Dominican Republic’s only private, white-sand beach
• Personal golf buggy to explore the extensive grounds
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