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A word to the wise re: Santa Maria Tours

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We've been working with Santa Maria for the better part of the last 8 months planning our December trip and, up until now, I've been very satisfied.

don't want this to sound too doom and gloomy, but just a word of warning to those of you planning trips with them. We had a big mishap with them last weekend and it seems to me, at least, that they are nearing a point where they just cannot handle the amount of tours they are taking on. 

A little history: back in March, we solidified our itinerary for our Yangon-Bagan-Inle tour. All hotels were booked, all cars and guides locked in and all extra tours supposedly confirmed. This was all done so early because we knew Burma was going to be inundated this year so we wanted to get as much locked in and confirmed as early as possible so we didn't have to worry about anything later on.

 There were a few minor hiccups along the way that were nothing to cause alarm (small things such as a hotel room that was confirmed as a double was downgraded to a twin but we were able to amend/change in time with no issue.) But I have to say, I was a bit flabbergasted at what I found out this past weekend.

I emailed them to find out what time our Balloons Over Bagan tour was going to start since we're planning out what days we're going to use Minthu (our guide in Bagan.) I was told, quite surprisingly, that our tour was "not available." Now know that we not only confirmed the tour (and discussed which day we were going to do it) months back, but it's been listed in our itinerary and the cost of that particular tour was included in the down payment we wired to them months ago. 
 When I enquired further about what happened -- that there must be *some* kind of misunderstanding, as we had already confirmed our tour awhile ago -- I was told "'s so confusing. It's not available. Maybe there was a mistake. I don't think I told you it was available. Did I confirm with you? I cannot remember. Let me put you on a wait list." Cue: circus music.

Look, I get they're busy and all and Burma is exploding. But this is a big mistake, IMO. This was something I've been dreaming about for years. And it really sucks to have to lose this part of the trip due to their complete lack of organization. I still relish in the opportunity to experience Burma as a whole -- and know that the experience will still be amazing -- but I am VERY disappointed at the lack of care about the mistake on their part...and their unwillingness to try and amend the situation.

 As soon as this happened, I provided them their own paperwork the other day to prove our deposit to them included the cost of the Balloons Over Bagan tour. They went radio silent until yesterday. They finally got back to me but without any solution or proposal to remedy the situation.

So let this serve as a potential yellow flag to all of you who have booked with them to double and triple-check everything you've planned with them. It's obvious they are in way over their heads right now -- so don't be surprised if you're in for a surprise.

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