May 27, 2010

Remember the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano?

Gayle and Matthew

…Well, so do Gayle Botti and her grandson, en route to Egypt. Thanks to luck, good humor, and our included trip cancellation insurance this story has a happy ending! Gayle is a travel agent at Let’s Travel in Santa Monica CA. Her specialty is ‘unusual trips’ – and this was no exception. Her letter follows in its entirety:

“First I would like to thank you and everyone at Thomson Family Adventures for the most wonderful travel experience I could ask for. It was truly incredible and so worry free.

I recently took my 11 year old grandson to Egypt for 10days on Egypt – Valley of the Nile. I told my 3 grandchildren that when they turned 10 years old I would take them on a trip anywhere in the world they want to go. Matthew being the oldest has always wanted to go to Egypt so that is why we went there.

We did get delayed in Frankfurt, Germany because of the volcano eruption in Iceland for four days. Everyone at Thomson was on top of it and said I would be able to pick up the tour whenever we arrived. Fortunately I had us arriving in Cairo a day before we would meet the group and also stay a day after the tour ended. Beth, at Thomson kept in touch with my daughter, Matthew’s mother, in Rochester, New York with the latest happenings. Mohammed in Cairo also called my daughter to reassure her we would be taken care of.

By the time we finally left Frankfurt the group of 8 – 4 adults and 4 children, ages 9, 11 and 14 were already in Sharm el Sheikh. Well Matthew was in his element because now there were 4 boys, three of whom were 11 years old and one girl. Shortly after our plane from Frankfurt arrived in Cairo we were met my Mohammed and taken to dinner. He told us that we were confirmed on a 10:30 p.m. flight to Sharm el Sheikh but he was trying to get us on the earlier flight at 8:30 p.m. As it turned out we made the earlier flight and Mohammed never left our side until he saw to it that we were on the plane. What service is unheard of!

Matthew did miss the snorkeling in the Red Sea. He was disappointed at first but once he met the other children in our group he quickly got over it especially when he saw the Red Sea wasn’t really red! From then on we joined in the scheduled tour.

Now for a word on why Thomson is the very best in my estimation. Not only was our guide, Randa, top notch but the mentor, Temer, was fantastic. He kept the kids entertained and happy the entire time including eating with them at all meals and letting the adults eat together. Every day Thomson had some little gift for the kids to open. How they looked forward to that! Every time I asked a question about our air schedule on the return flights I was told not to worry just enjoy the trip! When they say don’t worry they will take care of everything, they mean it and you really have no reason to worry. That is so important to me. I seem to worry about everything! Another wonderful part of the trip was for the dinners we were able to order from the menu. A fabulous touch! Hotels were wonderful – all 5 star and great locations, the vans were always very clean and the drivers very professional. Snacks, water and soft drinks were provided everyday. No need to pack any munchies for the kids. There was plenty for everyone. We were even given coins to use the public restrooms. Honestly, they left no stone unturned!!!!!

I was told by Thomson to save all my receipts from Frankfurt and whatever out of pocket expenses I incurred would be reimbursed by their insurance company. What a nice feeling that was. On our last day in Cairo, which should have been on our own, Thomson said we could make up the full day of sightseeing that we missed at the beginning of our trip including meeting Matthew’s Pen Pal at the Pyramids. We had our own van, driver and guide for the entire day. Mohammed reconfirmed our return reservations for us and for the flights home all went well.

Now on a personal note, Matthew’s brother, Robert will turn 10 in November. After hearing Matthew and me talk about the trip and of TFA he asked me when it is his turn will I chose Thomson or look around for another tour. I don’t think I have to tell you what my answer was! It looks like I’ll be contacting Thomson for a trip to Tanzania in the not to distant future!

I didn’t just take Matthew on a trip, I created a memory for him that will last forever. I am very fortunate to have accomplished what I had hoped to do and I can thank Thomson for making this come true!

Thanks again for a truly wonderful experience. Look forward to working with you again.

All the best,