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Timeframe for Completing Trip Planning with Santa Maria TA

Timeframe for Completing Trip Planning with Santa Maria TA

Apr 14th, 2013, 08:44 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,205
Timeframe for Completing Trip Planning with Santa Maria TA

I'm curious as to how much time it took people to wrap up their trip planning to Burma using Santa Maria TA. I started working with Karene in the beginning of March. By in large responses have been timely. Pretty much finished the itin within 3 weeks. Then I made a couple date changes which I know requires going back to hotels and confirming availability. Now I have been waiting for a couple weeks to finish which includes an updated itn showing my changes and prices. Karene has said they are updating rates and will get back to me and thanks me for my patience. How long should this take? I have about a month before I take off for a long trip and would like to have everything wrapped up with SM before leaving. Certainly hope this is possible. Appreciate hearing others experiences in terms of how long the process took with SM. Thanks
yestravel is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 08:57 AM
  #2  
 
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Much of the delay has to do with the hotels. Hotels are slow these days to set prices. Even back in 2011, it took time, mostly because of local inefficiencies in communication. Right now with vastly increased numbers of visitors, travel agencies are swamped.

Let Karene know you will be traveling, and give her a date (maybe a week before you leave) when you would like to have all of the arrangements settled. No guarantee she can do it by then, but she should be able to get a new itinerary to you, even if one or more hotels haven't set rates.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 12:38 PM
  #3  
 
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I started planning my Jan. 2012 trip in August and did not send my deposit to SM until early Dec. We were waiting for updated hotel rates to finalize the trip and its cost, and one of the hotels did not post rates until Dec. 1 for the coming year. I suspect that as Kathie said, the hotels are responsible for much of the delay.
shelleyk is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 01:03 PM
  #4  
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Thanks to both of you.
@shelley - is that when you wired the deposit? If it goes into the fall and they dont need any money before then that is fine -- just didn't want to try and deal with sending money during the summer when we will be traveling. I will give her advance notice when we near our departure.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 08:55 AM
  #5  
 
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I found Santa Maria to be very professional and to be quick in their replies, so I agree with others that any delay might be because they're waiting for hotels to get back to them.

Ms. Wah Wah was my point of contact and I'm told she's the "boss", so maybe you could reach out to her if need be.

We sent our deposit as soon as we had everything confirmed, and paid the balance in local currency to our guide at lunchtime the first day in-country. They all seemed pretty laid back about it. I really thought Santa Maria did a nice job. While in Yangon, Tom was our favorite guide.
bigjohnstud is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 12:35 PM
  #6  
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Thanks for the feedback. I agree that overall they have been very responsive. Based on their emails I have figured delays were based on waiting for hotel responses.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 04:41 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Kathie and friends:

Your help!

By reading all your posts I was inspired to book a trip to Burma in Jan/2014. Can't wait. However, I tried using Santa Maria to book holtels etc, as suggested, but I got NO response after several attempts. Can someone provide a valid email to contact them. Perhaps I am contacting them incorrectly
Thank you all. Love reading all this info

best
Steven
TedStell is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 04:49 PM
  #8  
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[email protected] is the email I have been using,.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 04:52 PM
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Very kind. I shall try now.

Cheers!
TedStell is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 04:55 PM
  #10  
 
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Be aware that email is not reliable in Burma. Also be aware that your email program may mark mail from Burma as spam - so do check your spam folder. Santa Maria also recommended I get a gmail address, as they have the most luck sending to gmail addresses.

I have several email addresses for Santa Maria, but the one I have used most recently is:
[email protected]

Good luck!
Kathie is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 05:04 PM
  #11  
 
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I did not send my deposit until Dec for my Jan. trip. They did not want it sent until everything was finalized.
shelleyk is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 05:08 PM
  #12  
 
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You're all very kind.
One more thing, I need to stay in the OLD part of Began. Min Thu, my guide (excited!!) wants to pick me up only form the old town. Which hotel should I stay at?

Good quality with Breafest incl.. Maybe $70 to $80 per night?
TY
Steven
TedStell is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 05:47 PM
  #13  
 
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Ask Min Thu for a recommendation, he knows all of the hotels.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 05:48 PM
  #14  
 
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Thank you, Kathie. Your writing on these post is amazing and REALLY useful!

Cheers
TedStell is offline  
Apr 17th, 2013, 06:46 PM
  #15  
 
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Check Thande Hotel Bagan

http://www.baganthandehotel.net/
chris45ny is offline  
Apr 18th, 2013, 05:48 AM
  #16  
 
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Chris, did you stay at the Thande? What did you think of it?
Kathie is offline  
Apr 18th, 2013, 06:39 AM
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Kathie: Unfortunately, no, not yet. I'm planning a trip for early 2014. Heavy duty research these past few months. Husband and I will spend at least 28 days in Myanmar. We will be 6 nights in Bagan. I posted a question on TA as I was torn between the Thande and the Hotel at Tharabar Gate. My husband wanted to stay at a place with a pool and location is important to me. Both of these places fit the bill. I ended up deciding on the Thande strictly due to lower price plus it does get good reviews. I didn't mean to mislead anyone-only suggesting to check out the Thande as it seems to fit the bill for the poster TedStell. I'd be interested in Minthu"s take on hotels in Old Bagan. I have made note of this popular horse cart driver #54 along with some names of guides which I got from TA.

I haven't posted much on Fodor's but once everything is in place I will be asking for advice about our itinerary. The Cambodia and Myanmar part is fully researched and planned. Now I'm finalizing Thailand. We will be traveling 3 months to these 3 countries.
chris45ny is offline  
Apr 18th, 2013, 08:11 AM
  #18  
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Someone on fodors stayed there and mentioned it in her TR. I believe she loved it as I noted it as I planned our stay.

@Chris-when will u be in Burma? we'll be there late Jan and into Feb.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 18th, 2013, 08:22 AM
  #19  
 
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When I went to Myanmar I was considering the Thande Hotel as it was suggested to us by SM. Based on my research, I decided to go to the Tharbar Gate Hotel instead, but when I was in Myanmar I went to the Thande Hotel, just to see if I made the right decision. I concluded I did make the correct decision for us. Tharbar Gate is newer, is closer to restaurants, is in a more central location and is a more upscale property without being over the top. What Thande has going for it is a nice view of the river, but that is it IMHO. There was about $30/night difference between the two hotels. I think no matter where you stay in Bagan, you will have a wonderful experience, but I wanted to give my perspective on the 2 hotels.
shelleyk is offline  
Apr 18th, 2013, 08:30 AM
  #20  
 
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Thanks for your comments. I think the Thande is worth considering, it is a lower price and the river view is lovely. My impression, like Shelley's is that the rooms are not as nice and the location a bit out of the way for restaurants. Do give us a review when you return.

Your comment that your will spend "at least 28 days in Myanmar" makes me think you are not aware that the visa is for 28 days and there are no extensions available. There are reports of people who have overstayed their visas, but it is not something I would want to do in Burma!

Let us know if we can help more with your planning.
Kathie is offline  

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