Mumbai > Goa, plus hill station + activities - Jan 11 - Jan 26, 2019

Traveler: Paul C. - Local specialist: Jay Kajaria

A few attempts needed to convey that we did not want city/corporate style hotels. The stand out accommodation was Ahilya By the Sea, which we sourced ourselves.

Guides were good (other than Elephanta) - drivers were excellent. Trips were broadly ok but nothing we could not have organised ourselves. However, more thought needs to be put into making a tour special. The itinerary pretty standard, was disjointed and needed rearranging. Whilst we were able to do this, on one occasion it required a guide to travel by road overnight from Mumbai to Nasik (!). Otherwise, we would have been having a wine tasting straight after breakfast (!). Not sure why a local guide would not be available.

Major issue on our last day in that a dolphin tour was substituted with a fishing trip and an afternoon on a beach without any communication. In fact, in was only when we were on the beach (not to our taste at all) that we were told that we were not on a dolphin trip. Whilst I understand the reasons for the John's Tours trip being cancelled, alternative dolphin spotting trips are promoted via Trip Advisor, including one at Coco Beach (where we were staying!). What a waste of a day....

The offer of dinner hardly compensated and to add insult to injury, Kim Kim refused to pay the drinks bill (just INR 1550!). In context, we paid over $9,000 for this trip.

Going over old ground again, shortly after we paid the balance for the trip, our preferred hotel was changed for the first 3 nights in Mumbai. We remonstrated at the time without success but Kim Kim somehow construed that we were happy with the replacement hotel option and decided to change our final night in Mumbai (2 weeks later) to that hotel also. Whilst the replacement hotel was good, it was not our choice (which was Abode - a 'must visit' in a number of guide books).

All this is of course covered in your T&C's but it does not lead me to conclude that Kim Kim is a quality operation and I would not recommend. Quite the reverse in fact.

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Jay Kajaria, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Paul

We thank you for sharing your feedback.

We are so glad to know that you enjoyed the guides in India.

Please find answers to your concerns raised below which were already discussed before:

1. Guide in Nashik - Please note that Nashik is a remote location and is an upcoming destination of India. Hence, top guides need to be sourced from nearby city of Mumbai. This is the case with many smaller cities where the guides are sourced from nearby cities to maintain quality of... read more

Dear Paul

We thank you for sharing your feedback.

We are so glad to know that you enjoyed the guides in India.

Please find answers to your concerns raised below which were already discussed before:

1. Guide in Nashik - Please note that Nashik is a remote location and is an upcoming destination of India. Hence, top guides need to be sourced from nearby city of Mumbai. This is the case with many smaller cities where the guides are sourced from nearby cities to maintain quality of services.

2. Itinerary - Please note that all our itineraries are skeleton itineraries. The sequence of places that you see can be changed by guide or guest based on mutual discussion. We are not an escorted tour company where you go from one place to there as per time. We are a bespoke tour company offering flexibility to guests. But, having said that all the places were covered with ease as per itinerary.

3. Fishing Trip - Please note that our local team informed us that John Boat trip (that was included) to be not a good travel provider recently (you can see the trip advisor reviews) and some of the past reviews of other guests were also not good (concerning safety). Hence this was changed for the guest benefit. But, we agree that this should have been discussed (the change of vendor) with the guest which the guide did not do. We apologised for this and offered a free dinner to guest the next day.

4. Regarding Abode hotel - Please note that during first part of the stay the hotel changed our reservation as they got a group booking and hence we offered alternate accommodation in consultation with guest. The hotel was changed accordingly. While this change was being made, we thought that the guest would be okay with the same hotel towards the end of the trip so we released the booking for last night. But, as the guest was not okay with this we upgraded the hotel to Taj Mahal Palace which is 2.5 times more expensive and home to VVIPs. Hence, we went out of our way to compensate for the inconvenience. In Abode hotel too we got a base category room which the guest did not prefer. The guest preferred Taj Mahal Palace over Abode.

5. Drinks not compensated - Please note that the hard drinks are never included in Dinner in India and the sub-continent (I guess in many parts of Europe). We never committed to offer drinks. We have clearly this mentioned in our terms and conditions. http://www.bespokeindiaholidays.com/terms-and-conditions/

Hope the above is fine. Team Bespoke looks forward to welcoming you again