I would like to express my thanks for a wonderful holiday. It was managed effectively and we felt looked after from door to door. We enjoyed every day and have ticked off many items from my tick-list. We were totally satisfied with our holiday. The itinerary was varied and held our interest including activities we might not have considered normally. Our driver in Rajasthan (Lalan ) was excellent and we always felt safe with him.
Delhi - Hauz Khas Haveli. The location was excellent and the activities were as expected. The guide (Saurhab) tried to make each stop fun.
Agra - Coral Tree homestay. We enjoyed this very much, we were made welcome and it really felt as if we were immersed in Indian life.
Jaipur - Dera Mandawa Haveli A charming heritage hotel. We met the delightful owner here, Thakur Durga Singh who introduced us to his family history which helped us to understand the City Tour.
Devgarh - Devgarh Mahal A real Rajasthani Palace. We met the owner, the Rajah of Devgarh who bought us a drink. The décor is a bit dated but still had olde world charm but this was a rural haven where we recharged our batteries.
Udaipur - Jagat Niwas Palace hotel Our (upgraded) room was magnificent and included two double beds, a massive window seat and its own fountain. Despite the luxury, there were a few issues here. The waiting staff struggled with English and we didn’t feel that they were trained to cope with British tourists and the pool was under repair.
India is such a diverse country and has different standards from our Western culture. Patience, tolerance, courtesy are needed as well as a good sense of humour. Each scarf or trinket or tip will be enabling someone to educate their children or provide a dowry or just buy his wife a new saree for Diwali. We estimated that our train trip from Bharatpur gave employment to about 24 people including ticket inspectors, porters at both ends, drivers, reps, guides, chai-wallah, sweeper, and I feel humbled that they provide all of this with a smile. In the UK we would complain if our waiters brought our toast followed by fruit, followed by egg and then cereal but we just chalked it up to being in India and enjoyed everything in its own context. It was wonderful. Even the traffic chaos had some sort of logic to it and our drivers are to be applauded for their skills in keeping us safe.
Peter and Elaine Dove
Mr and Mrs Dove booked through Sunways Travel Agent and did a tour of Rajasthan followed by a Mumbai extension.
My true appreciation for a magnificently organized trip with the finest collaboration of Companion Holidays you and they gave me a seamless and positive experience in Kerala, and I certainly would consider returning there in the not-too-distant future.
Drivers – all attentive, caring, informative and pleasant.
Malabar House. Delightful personnel and very good location. Food was good and well presented. Room was spacious and nicely decorated.
Cardamom County. Beautiful location. Impeccable grounds. Excellent staff in all departments. Very good food and restaurant service. Room very well appointed and decorated.
Coconut Lagoon. Another beautiful location, but rather a large complex that caters for a number of groups. My cottage was comfortable and located in a nice, quiet spot. Again all staff were delightfully helpful. Wonderful and attentive service + superb food without over-the-top prices. Highly recommendable!
Houseboat. Bliss and royal treatment, but too much food! The crew was incredibly kind and caring. Nothing was too much trouble.
Xandari Pearl. A nice location and magnificently manicured grounds. Delightful staff. Once more nothing was too much trouble in any department.
The entire program was prepared at a leisurely pace and enabled me to accomplish the majority of things I set out to do. By the way, the Folklore museum in Kochi is a real gem and is well worthwhile. Thank you for everything you did to make such a wonderful experience come to fruition for me.
Kudos to everyone!
Susan contacted us through Responsible Travel. She also supplied a video – see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKxSTAasl8Q
We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Kerala. We thoroughly enjoyed all of our accommodation and Bennet (our driver) was friendly and helpful. Thank you for organising the tour and I think the only part that was a bit of a chore was going over to Madurai for one night. This wasn’t your fault but because I wanted to see the temples. It was a long way to travel and the roads on the Kerala side were in poor condition. However, the Temple and Palace were stunning. Our overwhelming memory of the holiday will be of happy smiling people, ladies dressed in colourful saris, spice smells, good food and lovely weather. Oh and motorbikes !!!
This photograph made me smile!
Hi Gary. Now that we have been back home for a week we wanted to drop you a line to say thanks for a fantastic first holiday in Kerala. We have had the best holiday of our lives - such an eye opener. Thank you for excellent guidance through the planning, for the seamless support from the drivers and others and for your advice on hotels. We were carried along and experienced so many wonderful things - thanks for recommending Mr Sheril's cookery lesson in Thekkady and Kalaripayattu and so much else. Joshy was a great companion for the trip. We felt sorry for him bouncing along through the construction works up to Munnar and then up the steep roads to Neelakurunji!
But our highlights were Christmas at Dewalokam and the Yoga sessions there - we'd go back just for that! Fragrant Nature, Cardamom County and Teak House were all lovely too. The kind people at Cardamom couldn't do enough for us, then we had a superb Gala Dinner at Fragrant Nature in Kochi, and Teak House was perfect for chilling before the flight.
We are happy to fill in a feedback form if you need that but I am sure your other clients will agree that your service, that of Companion Holidays and of all your reps in Kerala is outstanding.
Richard Talbot and Carran Waterfield
We had a wonderful holiday and would like to thank you for your ideas, planning and coordination.
Francis Residence in Fort Kochi - location is very good for exploring the city and Francis gave us a very tasty and varied breakfast every morning.
Nelpura Homestay - hosts charming, friendly and welcoming and the food fantastic. The bikes they provide free of charge were a great opportunity to explore the surrounding areas - would definitely recommend.
Houseboat - so calm and relaxing!! You have no chance to do anything other than chill!! I don't know if we were just exceptionally lucky but the food was out of this world.
Olive Brook - lovely rooms and great views of the tea plantations - the staff were very friendly.
Hornbill - again charming, friendly staff and a very peaceful stay. The kayak tour on the river provided free of charge was a highlight.
Dewalokam - this was by a long stretch the best. The family could not have been friendlier or more attentive, the whole place is beautiful, the rooms fantastic, the tours - all free of charge - of the organic farm, through the forest, to the nearby village, the cooking demonstration, early morning yoga session were a great way to have a daily activity. The communal meals were wonderful, both the food and the opportunity to meet other travellers (some of whom were there for the sixth time!) This place is great! We would have loved to stay longer.
Our drivers Anil and Jess took very good care of us and we felt very safe in their hands.
I hope this is of value and many thanks again for all the work you put into our holiday.
Lindsey booked through Responsible Travel - her feedback to them gave us 5 stars - thanks Lindsey.
Dewalokam is an exceptional homestay. Many interesting activities. Sinta and Jose very hands on. Food very good. Amaryllis is one of the very best homestays. Lovely setting, excellent food, outstanding hosts.
Rajakkad Estate - Lovely setting and beautiful traditional house. Excellent rooms and public spaces. Food was excellent with outstanding chef. Minimal activities unless you are a serious walker and have appropriate footwear. Cardamom House - Wonderful setting with lovely views of the lake and hills behind.
Mark and Wendy Bostock
Mark and Wendy have been travelling regularly with us for many years. See their video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou6iUUIpu9c
I appreciated the driver’s helpfulness, without excessive conversation, etc. Dewalokam was outstanding, and had the best yoga. I was very happy with Gary, a wonderful help in designing the tour.
Bronwyn was a solo traveller and stayed at Francis Residence, Dewalokam, Windermere Estate, Spice Village, Purity, Houseboat and Teak House. She scored all aspects of all the accommodation as excellent or good. Kerala Connections and our agent also got top scores.
See Bronwyn’s video testimonial - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vdERhNSbik
Everything went brilliantly. Fantastic drivers (especially Bennet Joy). Guides were amazing. Palais de Mahe was great and Dewalokam was AMAZING. The Ayurvedic treatments at these two places were completely brilliant.
It was the best holiday I have had in years. The service was excellent and each stay have really special memories. I think Kerala Connections have a really good system of drivers. Thanks for organising the holiday.
This family of four booked through a travel agent and this is the feedback sent to the agent.
We had a lovely trip. Really enjoyed it. Could have stayed longer. You and Kerala Connections are very highly regarded. Every place was so different. Our driver – Jess – was exceptional. Shenbaga Visalam was like a retreat and gave us the best food of the trip. Rajakkad is gorgeous. We absolutely loved Windermere River House and would like to go back there and stay for longer. We felt very well looked after and would not travel to India with anyone else.
Lady de Sumarez
We want you to know that the entire trip was a great success! Every pickup, every connection came off without a hitch. Our driver for the journey, Vijay, was fantastic - and the staff at Silent Leopard were all very professional and efficient. Warmest regards, and thanks for putting together such a wonderful trip for us!
Tom and Jill Braybrook
Mr and Mrs Braybrook (from Canada) spent 20 nights in North India visiting Delhi, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Goa and a number of smaller places. The tour had an emphasis on textiles and Mr and Mrs Braybrook participated in various weaving and fabric printing workshops.
See the customer testimonial video on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQJVxXcQ8L8&t=10s
Gary helped to plan the perfect holiday for us. He listened to our requirements and made a variety of suggestions. He even changed our itinerary when we were a little nervous about the flooding in Kerala. We had an amazing time. The accommodation was varied and of a high quality. The itinerary included temples, mountain retreat peace, friendly families and wild animals. Thank you. We would highly recommend Kerala Connections.
Diane’s amended tour included Mamallapuram, Pondicherry, Tanjore, Madurai, Rajakkad, Aakriti at Coonoor, Nagarhole NP (where they saw a tiger) and Mysore. Every aspect of the holiday and all the accommodation scores 4s or 5s.
Diane booked through Responsible Travel. Her feedback to them included - we had a brilliant holiday - and she gave us 5 stars (top score). To see her full review go to that site.
Excellent holiday. Scores of 5 for every aspect of the holiday (enjoyment, satisfaction with tour operator, booking procedures, documents, visa service etc) and scores of 5 or 4 for all aspects of the hotels and homestays.
Mr and Mrs Dove
Mr and Mrs Dove (booked through Sunways Travel Agency) did tour of North India and stayed in Hauz Khas Haveli in Delhi, Coral Tree Homestay in Agra, Kipling Lodge at Ranthambhore, Dera Mandawa at Jaipur, Devgah Mahal, Jagat Niwas Palace at Udaipur and The Abode in Mumbai.
Gary Tree of Kerala Connections answered all our questions prior to our booking, the document booklet was invaluable. We experienced no problems at all on our holiday, the flights were good, our driver (Sunil) was excellent and I would highly recommend him. All of the accommodation was more than what we expected and the houseboat experience was amazing, the crew and especially the chef was outstanding. There was enough time going to our chosen destinations, spending time relaxing and going to places Sunil suggested. I would recommend Kerala Connections to anyone planning a trip to India and it was certainly competitively priced.
Mr & Mrs Small
Stayed at Francis Residence, Cochin; Nelpura Homestay in the backwaters; a houseboat; Periyar Villa; Royal Mist at Munnar; Dewalokam. All these homestays (and the houseboat) were given scores of 5 and 4.
All the arrangements made through Kerala Connections worked very well, without a hitch. We would not hesitate to recommend you to our friends and, if we venture to that part of the world again ourselves, I'm sure we will be in touch.
Lakes and Lagoons houseboat - good and definitely worth doing for two nights. Lots to see on the riverbanks - take binoculars and a camera. Food - extremely good.
Coconut Lagoon - Excellent place all round - accommodation, service and food. Enhanced by the fact we had a Private Pool Villa.
Spice Tree - Food and service excellent. Views are spectacular and make the stay there an experience not to be missed.
Dewalokam - So glad you recommended this. Guests made very welcome and food excellent.
Mr and Mrs Cree
Thank you for arranging what turned out to be a holiday for exceeding our expectations. Our aim was to sample local food and try and achieve some meaningful interaction with locals and this aim was wholly achieved. The hosts at the homestays and their staff looked after us and fed us to the point we had to say 'stop'. The open welcome at all the homestays gave us the opportunity to understand a little bit how society works in Kerala. Even the 'strike' which shut down public transport etc was part of the experience. One of the best organised and most relaxing holiday we've had. So, thank you once again.
John & Trish Holden - did a homestay tour staying at: Francis Residence, Royal Mist, Periyar Villa, Vanilla County, Nelpura and Teak House as well as a houseboat. They booked through Responsible Travel so more detailed feedback available on that site.
See John and Trish's Video Customer Testimonial on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTVzA0EsYxc
I thought I would update you with how the holiday went.
Firstly, we had a fantastic time and really enjoyed it. Anil our driver met us on time. He was courteous and efficient. Malabar House was lovely. The make-up/dancing was really interesting. Spice Village was very, very good. Beautiful, huge cottage. It was the one stayed in by Paul McCartney! The cookery lesson was fantastic as was the Spice Farm visit. The houseboat was very good. Very clean and truly great food.
All in all it was a great holiday and thank you for all the help you gave us to organise it.
Our final hotel' Vismaya' was the best of all, an excellent boutique hotel with exceptional service from Vinod Joseph and his team. Thanks again for arranging such a memorable trip for us.
John travelled with his wife and friends - see their testimonial on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI0c_zygBds
Thank you for helping us to arrange our first holiday to India. We had a wonderful, magical experience not just from a cultural and travel point of view but with the unanticipated pleasure of finding all the Kerala people we met to be just so kind. They really could not do enough for us at a time when as a country they have suffered so much. We took the view that now is the time they need their tourists to visit more than any other and hope that others will feel the same.
Kerala Connections is clearly highly valued as your name was often mentioned. Indeed, we were upgraded to a Mansion House at Coconut Lagoon as our rooms were not ready because they so valued their Kerala Connections customers.
Our only regret was that we were unable to have our older daughter and son-in-law with us to share the experience. Who knows maybe one day in the future?
Thank you so much for the many happy memories we will forever keep from our wonderful holiday.
Jane, Ross and Holly Eager
See their testimonial on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmmqif3amls&t=1s
Overall, all the arrangements worked out perfectly. There was always someone to meet us at each destination, and we were always efficiently (and safely) transferred to wherever we needed to be.
In Guwahati we were met and transferred to the boat (MV Mahabaahu). Although we enjoyed the cruise, we felt 5 days would have been sufficient. The boat was very good with a terrific staff who couldn't do enough for us.
Claridges in Delhi was beautiful and we had a wonderfully comfortable room by the swimming pool, and we were sorry only to have one night there.
Shimla was delightful. We loved the Oberoi and were impressed with the décor. The staff were wonderful, and the restaurant was very good. The express train from Delhi to Kalka was fine, however, we regret going on the narrow-gauge railway up to Shimla. We were dismayed to see how small the seats were and how close together. Our journey took 5.75 hours in great discomfort, and we were greatly relieved to arrive!
We were wildly excited to re-visit the Lake Palace Hotel at Udaipur which has lost none of its charm since our first visit. We were very pampered and very much enjoyed luxuriating.
Thank you for all your very professional input in arranging this wonderful holiday; there was nothing we did not like, and all the hotels you chose on our behalf were spot-on. We have recommended you to some other people, so wait and see!
Jill and Stuart Hughes