Travel Agent's trip report

Oct 16th, 2002, 07:23 PM
  #1  
Melodie
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Travel Agent's trip report

G'day all!

Recently I had a few posted messages in response to other posted messages, and then I posted that I was off to Oz for a "fam trip".

Some education here....a fam trip stands for "familiarization". This is a trip that's designed by a Tourist Board or a wholesaler to educate a travel agent about hotels, tours, flights, etc. No, these trips are not free - we do pay for them. Do agents pay the "full board"? No, we do not. But keep in mind, this is our business, we are paying for it and we could potentially be losing money while we're out of the office educating ourselves.

There has been mention on this board about "kickbacks". Travel agents don't receive kickbacks - we get commission paid to us by the hotel, the airline, the tour operator, the same way a real estate agent receives a commission. A kickback is something that tour operator gets when they take you to the gift shop that's included on part of your trip. They get a percentage of what you buy for taking you there in the first place!

Trip Report:

Into Cairns: Hotels visited:

Palm Royale. This was shocking how bad the resort had gone downhill in 3 years since I last visited it. Lots of cosmetic work to be done. The staff is wonderful, but the hotel needs a refurbishment. (which they're doing)

Colonial Club: MUCH better than when I visited there 3 yrs. ago! I really like this resort...very "homey" feeling.

Tradewinds Esplande: did not like this hotel at all - reminded me of a correctional institute; kind of boxy; cinder block; no warmth or charm at all.

Radisson Treetops: excellent

Rydges Reef: great pool area, lots of families there, liked it.

Club Tropical: a surprise. Nice feel to the resort, kind of cute, not for everyone, would have to qualify client.

Silky Oaks: stayed here before; when they didn't have a spa; can't comment on the spa becuz they were all full! Wonderful resort, and the food's great.

Ferntree: needs a refrub...not impressive.

Coconut Beach: Very disappointing, they are doing a refurb, but I wouldn't put client in there until then.

Daintree: Stunning resort. Impressed with their commitment to nature, eco-tourism and the Aborigine people who work at the resort. Amazing spa.

Sheraton Mirage: it's a Sheraton, what can I say? OK, it IS nice.

Sunlover Cruises: not recommending this to clients.

Sebel Reef/Palm Cove. I book clients here all the time and they're always happy. Now I know why// lovely!

Queenslander Train. Awesome experience!

Kingfisher Resort / Fraser Island. Lovely resort and great experience.

Australia Zoo. Steve Irwin rules! I admit, I totally like this guy, and after getting all the info from the staff, like him even more//and the funniest thing of the trip..the Aussie's asking us "why do Americans like him?"

////
Regards,

Melodie
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 09:47 AM
  #2  
Carol
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Hi Melodie:

Thanks for the report. Did you come across the Matson in Cairns? I have a good rate for my January trip. Also, which GBR cruise would you recommend? Did you go to Kuranda on the scenic train and skyrail? Are they worth it?

Thanks,

Carol
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 12:40 PM
  #3  
lynette
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Melodie,
Is Tradewinds Esplanade the same as Trunity Esplanade? I'm not booking at either, but I'm just curious! Thanks for the updates.

Lynette
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 01:50 PM
  #4  
lynette
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Sorry, I meant Trinity Esplanade!
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 03:09 PM
  #5  
Debbie
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Melodie--
I stayed one night at Colonial Club in a standard room and thought it was pretty shabby. At first, I thought it was just my particular room so I asked to be switched. They did and the 2nd room was equally trashy tho it was cleaner than room #1.

Maybe the higher priced rooms are nicer but overall, for a 'resort', I found CC mighty disappointing. The place wasn't that cheap either. The following night I found a MUCH nicer place to stay--Il Palazzo--and it cost me the same as the Colonial Club.

Debbie

Oh, and the poor staff...Did you notice those hideous uniforms? The shirts look like they're straight from Magnum PI's closet! That place is stuck in the 1980's--Muriel could have had her wedding there...
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 05:57 PM
  #6  
Melodie
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Carol,

I've seen the Matson before, while I didn't visit it this trip, I had clients stay there a few months ago and they were very pleased with it.

For GBR cruises, the most popular is the Quicksilver; but I like Ocean Spirit, just because it's a smaller operation.

I've done Kuranda and the Skyrail several times and it's sort of one of those "must do" things -- I think it's a very good tour and especially enjoy taking the train up and the Skyrail back.

Regards,

Melodie
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 06:05 PM
  #7  
Melodie
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Debbie,

I agree with you about the standard room at the Colonial Club -- I never book clients in those rooms - only the Colonial rooms (or better). Don't know what you consider "cheap", but I don't think the rooms are expensive. Actually, I did see the other resort you mentioned, Il Palazzo...forgot to include that in the report.

As for the uniforms, hey! I loved Magnum P.I.! Maybe it didn't make an impression with me because I'm on the West Coast, so I do alot of Hawaii travel too -- they all wear those brightly colored shirts with parrots or whatever on them, so I guess I'm used to it! I'm sure Muriel would have "grooved" on those shirts!

Regards,

Melodie
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 06:09 PM
  #8  
Melodie
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Lynette,

no, Trinity is MUCH nicer than the one I saw, the Tradewinds.

Regards,

Melodie
 
Oct 17th, 2002, 07:43 PM
  #9  
lynette
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Thanks Melodie,
Just wanted to make sure... the names are similar; somewhat confusing.

Lynette
 
Oct 19th, 2002, 02:38 AM
  #10  
tongsa
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Hey Melodie, The stuff is helpful. AM planning to be there end Dec. and trying to figure out where to stay. Your tips sure does help. My next question is does it make sense to do serviced apts? - family of 3 with a 3 yr old. Thanks.
 
Oct 19th, 2002, 04:26 PM
  #11  
Debbie
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Hi Melodie,
Am glad you were able to see the different accom. choices at Cairns Colonial Club and avoid booking clients in the standard room; if only my travel agent had warned me...I estimate I paid US$100 for that cruddy room. I'd gladly pay that for a NICE room, but what I stayed in was outrageously overpriced for a room with saggy beds, cigarette burned furniture and stained carpeting and a bathroom that was far from pristine. It was not good value and was inconveniently located to boot.

Debbie

 
Oct 23rd, 2002, 08:57 AM
  #12  
Carol
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Hi Melodie:

I'm also considering the Oasis Resort. Do you know anyhting about it? How does it compare to the Matson?

Thanks again,

Carol
 
Oct 23rd, 2002, 07:06 PM
  #13  
Melodie
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Tongsa: re: serviced apartments...with a 3 yr. old. Depends on how long you're staying there...if it's a longer stay, say, a week, I'd say yes. You have your fridge for juice, milk (beer and wine ) and a comfortable atmosphere. You can get the same thing at some resorts but if you're going to plunk yourself down with a toddler, you might want a place that feels more like "home".

Debbie: re: Cairns Colonial Club...I've been booking the Colonial room for clients at $85..but maybe you were going during a holiday?

Carol: You can't go wrong with the Oasis. Lovely resort and a fabu pool (feels like you're at the beach), and it's got a great location if you want to be right downtown.

Melodie
 
Dec 1st, 2003, 03:16 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Hello Melanie,

Melanie,

You mentioned "Colonial Club: MUCH better than when I visited there 3 yrs. ago! I really like this resort...very "homey" feeling."

We are booked for four nights at this hotel but some reports have been worriesome while others have been okay. Is your commendation based on what the average tourist would get.

Could you expand a little on your comments. Thanks.

michi is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 04:50 PM
  #15  
 
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Hi Melodie - thought you might like to know the recent Q'ld Tourism Award winners for 2003 for Tropical north Q'ld:
Significant Tourist Attraction: Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary (near Port Douglas); Ecotourism: Hartley's Crocodile Adventures (between Cairns and PD); Heritage and Cultural Tourism: Paronella Park (south of Cairns): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism: Poruma Island Resort; Significant Tour & Transport Operator: Wilderness Challenge; Tourism Restaurant: Spice Market, Novotel Palm Cove.
Finalists were: Major Tourist Attraction: Skyrail (again!); Significant Tourist Attraction: Reef Hotel Casino, Cairns; Major Tour & Transport Operator: Captain Cook Cruises - Reef Endeavour; Adventure Tourism: Pro Dive - Cairns; Standard Accommodation: Cairns Colonial Club (in spite of the shirts!); Deluxe Accommodation: The Horizon at Mission Beach (fantastic view); Luxury Accommodation: Sofitel Reef Casino Cairns; New Tourism Development: Sebel Reef House and Spa -Palm Cove.




pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 05:08 PM
  #16  
 
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Michi,

Yes, my recommendation is on "what the average tourist would get", with the caveat that I only book clients in the Colonial rooms, as I think they are a good value for the money, nicely furnished and comfortable. See Debbie's comments about the "standard" room she had.

Pat, thank you for your info on the Queensland awards; I actually receive all that information, but you were quicker than the Tourism Board! I haven't done a site inspection on Paronella so I'll have to add that to my list for next time.

Regards,

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 05:41 PM
  #17  
 
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Thanks Melodie - am interested that you prefer Ocean Spirit (Michaelmas Cay) to Quicksilver, so do I. Although Quicksilver is remarkably efficient in handling it's large number of passengers I too prefer a smaller group - Ocean Spirit's crew is just so good and coming back from the reef under sail is so much nicer.

Lynette: Trinity on Esplanade and Tradewinds on Esplanade are not only completely different establishments- they're on different esplanades (which is a bit confusing). Trinity Beach is about 17km north of Cairns and Trinity on that Esp (Vasey Esplanade) is a 5 star up-market B&B/small resort - Tradewinds on Cairns Esplanade has been there for ages and is, as Melodie says, a largish concrete block box. Either nearby Matson or Oasis are preferable, particularly Oasis.
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 05:09 PM
  #18  
 
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Pat,

obviously, we have superior taste!

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  
Dec 9th, 2003, 03:12 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 27
Hi there, just watching this thread with interest, especially regarding the reef trip recommendations.

Most travel agents have only heard of Quicksilver, which does travel to the outer reef.

When I worked at Radisson in Port Douglas, I used to get so many complaints from guests that had it booked for them by their agents, not realising that the boat takes 450 people.

Ocean Spirit is a nice day BUT it does not go to an outer reef, it just goes to a coral cay.
For the best experience of the reef in Port Douglas, try Wavelength for snorkelling- 30 people and 3 sites and NO divers, try Calypso for Diving or Poseidon.
If people arent going to get in the water then by all means put them on Quicksilver.
These smaller operators who do not have a multimilliondollar advertising budget, offer a great product.

The profits they make do not go overseas, they stay in the local community.

Ocean Spirit is owned by a Malaysian company.

Quicksilver is now owned by a Japanese company. They were recently awarded a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to harvest live coral from other sites and transplant it under the pontoon as most of the coral there is dead. Of course if it is the only reef trip you have done you would not know as you dont have a basis for comparison.
There is wide variety in choice in all sorts of tours, there will always be a product that best suits the individuals needs.
Port_princess is offline  
Apr 1st, 2004, 08:19 AM
  #20  
 
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Melodie,
I am not sure if you're still following this board (guessing not this much after you first posted), but I thought I'd try just in case. I just booked at room at the Coconut Beach Resort for June and then read your dismal review. It would have been a bit of a "splurge" for us as it is, so if it isn't great - I think I'll skip it. You mention Daintree - which one? I think there are at least two resort which start with Daintree. I am interested in finding a good place to spend 2-3 nights. Any recs would be much appreciated. I've also read about Cape Tribulation Sanctuary - any idea about this one? Thanks!!!
olivedz is offline  
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