for the Aussies: is Holiday Special Packages legit?

Jan 24th, 2006, 02:43 PM
  #1  
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for the Aussies: is Holiday Special Packages legit?

I stumbled across an Australian tour company called HSP-Holiday Special Packages. They put together 5 day stays with hotel, sightseeing, meals for one very cheap price. For example, 5 nights in Cairns at Palm Reef Resort, 5 sightseeing tours, all breakfasts, 4 dinner vouchers and airport transportation for $745AUD pp in November. Can this be real? Is there an Austalian Better Business Bureau to check them out? Usually when something sounds too good to be true it is, perhaps a scam. But I can't check it out from the US.
susiesan is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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Australian Securities & Investment Commission: http://www.asic.gov.au/asic/asic.nsf

Does sound awfully cheap, doesn't it?
"If it seems too good to be true ....."

May well be just a really good deal, but I'd be checking it out, too.
Bokhara is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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Interesting. Actually, Susie, it's the Palm Royale Resort - there's no Palm Reef. Out of curiosity I tried to check the regular rates at the resort's website but every date I came up with for months ahead came up with "no rooms available".

However, www.wotif.com has their rack rate at $165, with per-room discount deals from $99 to $149, a possible range of $500 to $750 per week ($250 to $375 pp twin share). Let's be generous and assume that the hotel's wholesale price to HSP is $99; that leaves them about $1,000 to cover your excursions, meals and profit margin.

While I know nothing about the economics of the travel and tourism business, it all looks do-able, but the standard is another question, and that's what I'd be wary of. The hotel is rated at 4 stars, but a rack rate of $165 isn't luxury territory. I'd say you'd get about what you paid for.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 05:43 PM
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Palm Royale may have a 4 star rating, but its not in a 4 star area. Its at Manunda which is a rather unfortunate inner suburb of Cairns a few kms from the heart of things. However, the grounds are nicely landscaped, the resort itself is reasonably new as I can remember it being built about 12 years ago. Although part of if faces a busy suburban link road the now-mature tropical vegetation screens the resort from the road. Even at $99 a night, that only leaves $246 for dinners and FIVE tours - would be really interested to know what tours they are providing.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 08:38 PM
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Pat, I was working on the basis that the $99 is a per-room charge and the $745 is per person, i.e. $1490 for a couple. Deduct 5 x $99 ($495) from $1490 and you have $995. Even so I agree that it's not a lot. Maybe the dinners are senior citizens' roast-of-the-day specials at the local RSL club, with a glass of Chateau Cardboard vino thrown in? (Sorry, Susie, that's a bit of an in-joke.)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 25th, 2006, 05:40 AM
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Of course, Neil, was just looking at cost for single, room rate would be same as double I guess.

Out of curiosity had a look at website, can't tell which tour operators they use except for reef - its only a Green Island trip which anyone can buy from $59. Airport transfers if using taxi would be no more than $14 each way but they probably use their own shuttle which also runs guests into town from the resort.

For what its worth Palm Royale has very mixed reviews on tripadvisor - from "Could not have asked for more" from Melbourne to "the most disgusting hotel I have ever set foot in" from New York. Someone's wife from Townsville was horrified to find a plum seed in her apple muffin!
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 26th, 2006, 02:42 PM
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Pat+Neil: Looks like I'll be doing more research. The tours they use all come from Gray Line Tours-I'll check them out. I'm going to see if I can duplicate their room rate+tours for the same amount. The location sounds bad, but if we're out on tours everyday it doesn't matter that much. The $745AUD is pp, but it's even better with the exchage rate for me from the US. If I can find a hotel for 5 nights for $100 a night that does leave a lot for tours + meals.
susiesan is offline  
Jan 26th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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Hi Susie,

I've actually stayed at the Palm Royale - twice! the first time was when it was brand new, and the last time was a few years ago and I was STUNNED to see how it had gone downhill (I was there with other travel agents, who were of the same mind).

Pat's absolutely correct (as usual) There is a ring road where you take your life in your hands going to the "mini" mall across the street (Woolworth's / bottle shop).

Susie....your Little Voice was speaking to you and telling you to beware - and you had the good sense to listen to it. When things sound too good to be true they usually are!

About the STARS designation -- clients seem to put alot of faith into something being X amount of stars. But they don't realize that a 4-star hotel in Europe is not what we'd think of as 4-star in the U.S.

Plus, you have to ask yourself "who makes up this determination and how often do they go back and CHECK on the property?"

A good example is a place I stayed at on Kangaroo Island -- it was 4 stars -- and looked like a Motel 6. When I inquired about the basis of the stars, they got 2 stars for having a pool (that would be an ABOVE ground pool ; 1.5 stars for having fluffy bathrobes, etc.

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 04:53 PM
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I have a brochure from Qantas vacations and they show this hotel as 4 stars, and offer it as one of their 3 night packages with tours. I'm surprised Qantas sells it if it is that bad/rundown. I read the reviews on tripadvisor-yikes! Run for oyur life! Based on the location I think I'll skip this offer and do my own 5 night package with the advice of you all on these boards. What part of Cairns is best to stay in if you don't have a car so as to walk to restaurants and be centrally located for all of the day tours?
susiesan is offline  
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