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Old October 4, 2012, 01:09 PM   #1
exrvi
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Location: vonore, TN
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[ 2012 ] Collette Travel

We joined the DC and have used it for a cruise and reserving units. It has worked for us. Next August we have booked three nights at Custom House followed by a 7 night New England/Canada cruise using DC.

One thing we want to explore is the guided tours with Collette, but haven't seen any reports on Tug lately from people who have gone on a Collette tour. Has anyone here been on a tour or heard from others who have? How was it?

Thanks,

Jeff in Tennessee
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Old October 4, 2012, 02:14 PM   #2
rthib
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Resorts: Marriott: Shadow Ridge, Canyon Villas
General feedback from others (non Marriott) is that they are middle to bottom of the pack as tour operators.
Complaints of inexperienced guides, bad choices for locations and more time spend at tourist traps/souvenir stands than at tour sites.

Would be interested if experience with Marriott was better.
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Old October 4, 2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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I have done several tours with Collette and all were terriffic except one. The one rep did not give us either her room # or cell phone # in the hotel and I had an allergic reaction for which I needed medication and had to depend on my fellow traverers.

I would not hesitate to use them again because that only happened 1 time.
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Old October 4, 2012, 04:01 PM   #4
jeff76543
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From one Jeff to another:

Last September my wife and I took the 18 day Collette China and Tibet tour with Marriott Vacation Club Points. The tour was with Collette Explorations, which is Collette's small group division (I think that we had 16 people in the group); it may not reflect the experience in the other Collette division, which seems to offer shorter tours with larger groups.

Our tour was excellent and our tour manager was extraordinary. He was extremely knowledgeable and gave us insights into China that went well beyond anything that I expected -- and I had high expectations. He accompanied us for the entire 18 days, serving as our guide in Beijing, and adding his expertise everywhere else. I might add that I am a vegetarian and the tour manager made arrangements everywhere that we ate as a group so that I could enjoy balanced and interesting meals.

The group was a nice mix of mature people, many of whom had travelled extensively and with many other tour companies. The general agreement was that the quality of the tour (guide, accommodations, food, attractions) was very high -- certainly not "middle or bottom of the pack" -- and many said that they had not been on a better tour with any company. I would also add that there was no attempt to take us to tourist traps or souvenir stands and, if anything, our tour manager issued occasional warnings about such locations.

I would highly recommend the tour that we took and, personally, am considering using Marriott Vacation Club Points to take another Collette Explorations tour -- to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu.
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Old October 5, 2012, 09:57 PM   #5
pacheco18
 
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Resorts: Marriott Ko Olina, Marriott Shadow Ridge (2 Plat Weeks)
Read the scathing reviews of Collette all over the internet.

They are not a first class operation and they are not specialists in anything.

I actually wrote to Marriott and asked them to consider some better alternatives. I personally would never book a Collette tour.
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Old October 9, 2012, 12:44 PM   #6
jeff76543
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Originally Posted by pacheco18 View Post
Read the scathing reviews of Collette all over the internet.

They are not a first class operation and they are not specialists in anything.

I actually wrote to Marriott and asked them to consider some better alternatives. I personally would never book a Collette tour.
Have you personally had negative experiences from any of their tours? If so, which tour and was it a regular Collette Tour or a Collette Explorations Tour (which operate differently from the regular tours)?
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Old October 9, 2012, 12:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jeff76543 View Post
Have you personally had negative experiences from any of their tours? If so, which tour and was it a regular Collette Tour or a Collette Explorations Tour (which operate differently from the regular tours)?
NO -- after the reading all the scathing reviews I will not take the chance.

I am not talking about isolated bad reviews. I am talking about consistently bad reviews on tons of websites. When I learned Collette was the Marriott provider, I did my due diligence. They are not a company I would use for any trip.

I recognize that some people may have a good experience with Collette, but all in all, I am not wiling to book with a company that gets so many awful reviews when I have many alternatives. I do not need to use the DPs for such travel so I won't -- unless they add another option with a different company.
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Old August 23, 2013, 05:24 PM   #8
rorudupa
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I have just returned from my first tour with Collette; the Plains Of Africa Tour which I would rate as excellent.

Collette arranged alternative flights as the fire at the airport in Nairobi was the day before we left and many flights were cancelled. Three other couples had similar issues and all were quite satisfied with Colette's alternative arrangements.

My experience was similar to jeff76543; high quality accommodations, knowledgeable tour manager and driver who catered to our various individual needs and requests. We were a group of 18 in 3 safari vans. Al our stops were at souvenir or curio shops but it was explained that was where the bathrooms that were kept up to what we tourists would expect and we were under no obligation to buy anything. A couple of visits to bathrooms at gas station stops more than proved that was the case!

There were 2 other Marriott owners on our tour who have been extremely happy with Collette; for one couple this was their 4th tour and the 3rd for another.

I am curious about the "consistently bad reviews on tons of websites." I did some research also and although there are bad reviews, I did not find any more than one would expect; it is usually the issues that people will post about and not the good experiences.

I am looking forward to booking another tour with Collette.
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Old August 24, 2013, 12:16 PM   #9
n777lt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff76543 View Post
From one Jeff to another:

Last September my wife and I took the 18 day Collette China and Tibet tour with Marriott Vacation Club Points. The tour was with Collette Explorations, which is Collette's small group division (I think that we had 16 people in the group); it may not reflect the experience in the other Collette division, which seems to offer shorter tours with larger groups.

Our tour was excellent and our tour manager was extraordinary. He was extremely knowledgeable and gave us insights into China that went well beyond anything that I expected -- and I had high expectations. He accompanied us for the entire 18 days, serving as our guide in Beijing, and adding his expertise everywhere else. I might add that I am a vegetarian and the tour manager made arrangements everywhere that we ate as a group so that I could enjoy balanced and interesting meals.
We also had a better experience with Collette than many report, but I think we had the same guide as jeff76543 - We were in France (Paris, Normandy, Provence, Nice and Monaco), and the guide talked very enthusiastically about having given their China tours for years.

I'd rate Collette middle of the road, probably standard for the price point. We had 50 people, mostly teachers, one other family MVCI-related. The guide was very personable, enthusiastic and experienced, EXCELLENT at handling food/personal/arrangement/group dynamics issues, and reasonably knowledgeable about the major targets of the tour. He was NOT university-level sophisticated about art or religious sites. (Thanks to a 3G Kindle at hand on the bus/train, and a Guide Bleu, I was able to fill in a lot.) Overall, we had a fabulous trip, but we did our own research (for sites and for restaurants), used our free time well, and even left the group for several hours on occasion (with guide's assent) when we wanted to see something other than what he was showing the group. (I definitely couldn't do that in China!)

However, I don't plan to use Collette again, at least not for a standard 50-person group. I suspect it is standard for the price level, a level that some owners would purchase on their own, but it would be nice if DC would also partner with a higher-level operator, for those willing to spend the extra points.
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Old August 25, 2013, 03:45 AM   #10
jeff76543
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Our tour manager was Chinese. His Western name was Zion. I tend to doubt whether he was giving the tour in France, but if he was, let me know, as this would mark a surprising change in his career plans and I would want to try to contact him.

Regarding the large Collette tours, I have the impression that they are very different from the smaller, Collette Explorations tours -- like the Plains of Africa tour described by rorudupa and the extended China and Tibet tour that my wife and I took (and which currently is not being offered). The quality and intimacy of the Collette Explorations tours, which are limited in the number of participants, longer and usually more in depth in terms of their content, seems to be much higher than the regular Collette tours. When we were on our tour in China, a regular Collette China tour (with about 50 participants) stayed at the same hotel as we stayed on the last day of our tour. Talking with individuals on the large Collette tour, I quickly became convinced that their experience was of a totally different quality than our experience -- and that the more superficial nature of their tour would not have been appropriate for us.
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Old August 25, 2013, 01:22 PM   #11
n777lt
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Originally Posted by jeff76543 View Post
Our tour manager was Chinese. His Western name was Zion. I tend to doubt whether he was giving the tour in France, but if he was, let me know, as this would mark a surprising change in his career plans and I would want to try to contact him.
No, our guide was not Chinese - maybe our guide was the one leading the larger Collette group you saw! From your remarks, I'll keep an open mind about Collette's small-group tours...
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Old January 14, 2014, 06:37 PM   #12
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Length of tour

I wonder if Collette will ever offer shorter tours to Owners? We generally like to freelance on our own. I would like to have a vacation where I could still do my own thing......so given the 7 day format of a timeshare week.......where we derive the best value..........ideally I would combine a week with a 4 or 5 day tour in the same or a neighboring country. Shorter tours would also mean less Destination Points to consume. The only tour that I have seen that is shorter is a sailing trip in Thailand where you have the option of either a half week or a full week. I haven't seen anything else less than 7 nights. It is tough for us to be away for 2 full weeks and I wouldn't want the entirety of our vacation to be in a guided tour. I have taken a look at the add on upgrades and the pricing on those seems very competitive. These segments are not guided tours.
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:58 AM   #13
ACP
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We did a 10 day Beijing Tour using Dest Points and this was via Collette, we had a mixed experience. We went out a few days beforehand to get an idea of the culture, surrounding etc and stayed at Marriott Great Wall. When we joined the tour, this was at a different branded hotel which was very poor quality and well below Marriott Standard. We had an exceptional tour guide and driver and just the best of times, however we were taken on a daily basis in one way or another to a factory shop where we spend 90 minutes plus each time. But we saw some amazing sites and consider it pretty good value, especially as we had some points to use.

When we returned (to the UK) we spoke with Collette and were pleased to get a call from one of their senior managers from USA, very apologetic and we gave them a few suggestions on how they could improve - most of the other people on the tour were not on a Marriott trip and thought that the hotel and facilities were fine, but I would say that as long as you don't mind a slightly lower standard then no worries, although at the end of the day you are on the tour most of the time so don't spend that much time in the hotel anyway - Hope this help
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Old January 16, 2014, 09:35 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by pacheco18 View Post
Read the scathing reviews of Collette all over the internet.

They are not a first class operation and they are not specialists in anything.

I actually wrote to Marriott and asked them to consider some better alternatives. I personally would never book a Collette tour.
Strictly from a "process" standpoint, it seems inappropriate for someone with no first hand experience to post such a negative commentary. Certainly you have a right to choose not to tour with them and posting something like... "Check internet reviews," would seem helpful but to trash them as harshly as you have without direct knowledge doesn't feel right.
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Old January 16, 2014, 09:42 AM   #15
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You're commenting on a post from 15 months ago. Accurate? Maybe. Timely? Not so much.
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