I don't go until Thanksgiving, so there's a long time before I'll have much to post. However, given the discussion of working with the company (which did give me pause), I thought it might be helpful to the community for me to post some of my experiences in planning and working with them along the way.
I was excited, - - - planned to bid on the Machu Picchu auction,- - - wanted to get all my ducks in a row before I bid, and did an awful lot of research. LL was wonderful, as they have been on other trips we have bid on and taken. Inkaterra was unhelpful, discourteous, and disdainful!! After more research I learned that they had the reputation of being unhelpful. That finished it for me, - - there is so much planning involved in taking a trip like this, especially if you want to add a day or two to their package. I tried with patience andrespect several times to iron out a plan, - - but I finally got fed up trying to deal with reps who acted too big for their breeches.
I want to stress that my husband and I LOVE Luxury Link, - - we have taken the best trips of our lives through them, - - totally unforgettable, - - and we have been traveling around the globe for 50 years!! We have been treated royally each time with everyone connected with them. BUT - - we will not waste our time on snippy upstarts at Inkaterra, (although the trip does sound mouth watering!)
Hi Montana and all others interested in Inkaterra package I am now sitting in hotel monastererio in cusco waiting to pick my husband up from local clinic,...been there 8 hours i have to say I booked CUSCO on my own though INKATERRA Cusco is right next door and is now part of one of their packages.
PLEASE email mr. jose Koechlin, owner and pres. of iNKATERRA ---
we met him on our trip and he does not know what happens in sales, I AM SURE.
He is a genuine fellow and I will report more when I get home, but the Inkaterra properties were great to us...of course I am a VERY squeeky wheel and everyone knew we were coming.
Jose came to Amazonica for a night while we were there and we spent some time with him.
youMUST DEMAND good service and I TRULY believe LUXURY LINK needs to get involved if they are selling his products.
More later, but we loved the STAFF,the guides and all the people at inkaterra.
For what we received the package was a bargain, but you
Hi Dana. Thank you for the beginning of the report. I am excited to read more. First, is your husband ok??? (is he in the clinic still?) How are you adjusting to the heights? How were your flights in getting there? How is the weather. I know I am early in asking my questions but will be leaving for Anguilla next week so won't be back for a bit. Have a great trip!
Thanks so much for your report. It sounds as if you enjoyed the properties and the appreciated the local staff. I think those of us looking at these auctions would be particularly interested in some of the details about things like connections and transfers, etc. since these are the things that often cause travelers problems when they don't work well. As someone who has bid on and gotten Inkaterra auctions, it's good to know your experiences. I'll be interested in your report on your return. (Also hoping that your husband is fine.)
I have to say that I have experienced the Inkaterra sales office as slower than I would anticipate in a tour operator of this cost and caliber. But I have received service and response ... just on a different timeline. Fortunately my dates are far in the future, so I'm not feeling pressured. But if it were, I would be a very agitated traveler indeed. So you definitely have readers here at home.
Hi all, Just got home 4am so still slow but have to leave for an event so will give you a few details before my real Detailed Report!
I scheduled all the inter-peru flights on Lan and they ran smoothly. I emailed Inkaterra and gave them my times of arrival. FEARING no one would be there to meet us, I repeatedly emailed with the assumption no one was reading them. I have to say at every Inkaterra property there was one there with OUR NAME. hooray! We were pleasantly surprised and thought to ourselves, "why can't sales dept. (or whatever their name for LL auctions would be) do the same? We were told "this is south america" do not expect US service. So, we decided to keep an open mind and have soles on hand for taxis. Inkaterra wasa very pleasant surprise though I do not know if it was because I bothered them so much!
I hope they can overcome their poor customer service. Perhaps if you request "Carmen" on your emails as she was finally the one who answered me when I emailed them.
They did NOT help with the Peru Rail train tickets which I believe they now include. I was fortunate to be staying at another property, Solyluna
in Urubamba who purchased the tickets and picked them up for us. If it had not been for them I do not know how we would have managed the train tickets, though at this time, I believe they can be purchased on line (which was not the case in January)
Altitude: Upon arriving in Peru we went directly to Amazonica Inkaterra which is a beautiful lodge and property; excellent staff. Details later.
We decided to start slowly before attempting MP and Cusco. Three days later we flew into Cusco and drove the gorgeous Sacred Valley with a driver and guide I found on the internet (trip advisor forum-great info) My husband had a severe headache; I had none.
Three days in Sacred Valley; I could have stayed a week. This was at Sol y Luna which I booked on my own. Details will come.
From there we took the lovely train ride to Aqua Caliente where Inkaterra was waiting for us! Hooray again, we were on a roll!
The negative reviews were not noticable to us. The property is gorgeous, the room divine, and yes there is noise from the train, but you get used to it. It is like living in your own tropical garden; we had a beautiful room overlooking the river with a fireplace and it was very romantic and the fireplace used as it did rain even though it was dry season. Further details forthcoming (getting in at 4am this morning, we are beat!)
Inkaterra provides tickets for one full day on Machu Picchu. You meet the guide the day you arrive (for us early afternoon) and decide on the time. Of course we took the 5:30am bus up to MP. Unbelievable. Our guide was very informative and passionate, but a bit rushed as it was Mother's Day and he wanted to catch the noon train to Cusco to visit family. We understood and enjoyed wandering about alone so had no problem as he had told us just about all we need to know about the history, special spots, etc. Others may want more, but we like to meander.
It was spectacular; much more in person than in any picture...and unbelievably not crowded! On Sundays, locals seem to come but they just sit on the grass as a family and look.
It was a great day to be there - sunny-- but not too much to be baked (absolutely no shade). It rained the next two days - POURED - so we were very happy to have that day of sun and wondered what those on the Inca Trail must be thinking??
No altitude problems there.....however the worst was yet to come.
After 2 nights at Ink MP we took the train back to Ollantaytambo and met with a local guide we had met the previous week. Many details on this fabulous day later.
Stayed overnight at INK villas - wow.
Good manager, who helped us get to Cusco as our driver did not show up ( a big festival in town the previous night and we supposed he had too much fun!)
Early am took taxi to Cusco. Now the real fun began - Not.
Checked into Hotel Monasterio (go for it; after the savings with Inkaterra auction you owe it to yourself) They treat you as royalty and the hotel was a former monastary and is so beautiful and serene in a pretty hectic little city . Ran out the door to go through our list (given to us by the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Manager who also arranged our dinner reservations that night at the best rated restaurant in Cusco) Spent several hours perusing Cusco and came back to hotel feeling fine if not a bit tired from the altitude.
I felt a bit weary and ill before going to dinner, but decided I could make it. Got to Cicculina (might have mispelled that) and realized I was not at all well; ordered some soup; when it appeared I knew something was wrong and went back to hotel. Sick all night long and next day.
Blamed it on Altitude, but later was told could have been gastrointerocolitis. Very dehydrated, etc. but no headache. Husband fine.
On 3rd day (We arrived Tues - so this was Thurs) my husband woke up extremely ill, and by noon we had a doctor in the room. He examined him and advised immediate entry to clinic. He was severely dehydrated, gastro problems and more. The doc and clinic were extremely concerned and provided excellent care - intervenous antibiotics, oxygen chamber, etc. He stayed there about l0 hours and the doc said it was a bacterial gastro problem combined with severe altitude sickness. Do not drink water when dehydrated; you lose minerals that your body needs. Drink a Gateraide type drink. This is something we never knew and had water with us 24/7.
Also many deaths occur from dehydration. We only think of that happening to the elderly; and now have a much more realistic view of what can occur to the body in a foreign environment. If my husband had not caved into my demands for a doctor, I cannot imagine what would have happened.
My husband is fine and thank you all so much for the concern. He is still a bit "off" but glad to be home. This is a mid 50's man, very active in sports-- bikes 20 miles or more every couple days, plays tennis, golf, etc. so it can happen to anyone.
We were told this happened quite a bit (actually on our very first night in Sacred Valley we met a women who had to go to the clinic immediately) but it is not openly discussed.
Well , it is a third world country and though we drank and ate only at our lodgings or well known restaurants, who knows what one can pick up. The doc said he was horrified by the number of tourists who walked the streets wearing only sandals or opened shoes (which we did not) ; but just goes to show you there is something out there to be aware. We had travel insurance also, so had no issues with money worries, etc. For $200, it paid off.
I hope this will not disuade anyone from going on this trip -- I am only reporting what happened.
We loved Peru: the people, the scenery, the history and unbelievable ruins; but were not very lucky in the end. However, we would not try to disuade anyone from going. Just be aware.
We also reallyREALLY enjoyedour Inkaterra experience ; and just wish someone could get through to their sales managementhow toassistthe LL auction bidders; as those we met on the trip who purchased directly through Inkaterra had nothing butpositive comments about their dealings with Inkaterra.
What is going on, I do not understand. I tried to explain it all to Joe Koechlin but perhaps it just did not connect.
That is why I suggest emailing him directly if you do have a negative experience. He is the top man and needs to be aware.
As far as transport on your own throughout Cusco, Sacred Valley, etc. it is very easy and very inexpensive. There are guides available at every ruin so you do not need to book ahead. These guides are educated andare documented to be Guides. We found one we really liked and used him over and over. Will give names later in a detail report, but must stop before I fall out of my chair!
Read up on altitude (or maybe in Inkaterra's case, ATTITUDE) and take cipro with you.
Dana. Excellent. You touched on all my issues! Thank you! It sound like the combo of Inkaterra and Orient Express hotels and your own research paid off. I am so sorry to hear of the sickness!! I am concerned about that issue even though my husband and I are in good shape.
Machu Pichu sounds like a dream come true and a great experience. Your posting was wonderful and appreciated.
Yes, great trip summary, Dana! My husband and I also took the same trip which we purchased through the auction 1 year ago thanksgiving. We had an awesome time as well! Loved the rainforest and Reserva Amazonica. In fact, we are talking about booking another trip to go there specifically. Sacred Valley is gorgous and of course Machu Picchu is a highlight.
Anyway, I had many of the same issues as you did with the sales people at Inkatarra. It was very challenging as they were absolutely inept at their job. I swear it took 30-40 emails and phone calls to finally get an itinerary that was accurate.
I ended up booking everything on my own that I could. All the inter-country flights (Inkaterra was adding extra cost on to these and I did not want to count on them being capable of doing this accurately). All of my own extra night hotels, cab driver that picked us up at the airport and everywhere around Lima. Inkatarra wanted to book us in the most expensive hotels they could find. It was ridiculous. And to add insult to injury, they charged us $ 250.00 to do this. I asked LL to intervene and asked them what was the minimum that Inkatarra had to do on my behalf. That is when I got busy booking as much as I could myself. The inter-country flights; a piece of cake all over the internet. Now I have frequent flier kilometer miles on LAN airlines. (though I can't read most of their emails...ha)
So enough complaining. Every single Inkaterra person while on the trip thatwe encountered was fabulous and very good at their jobs. I too am amazed that their sales people you are 'forced' go through to book the trip, are so bad and everyone else in their employ so good.
I would definitely recommend Inkatarra, but would add that you have to have alot of patience and willing to book the 'extra's yourself if dealing with the sales people. Well worth it for Peru!!
Thank you, everyone, for this postings about your experiences with Inkaterra. As someone who has taken two of their auctions (but not traveling until November), it is reassuring to hear that your experiences on the properties and with the local staff have been excellent. I have also read as much on other travel blogs. Since I am currently going through the process of working with the sales office, your reassurances help me persevere. :-)
I have found that most of my e-mails get answered after a two week delay. I have received things like confirmation numbers for rooms. When I write out what I think they should provide and ask if that is correct, I get a confirmation 'that is correct.' However I haven't received anything with the detailed directions and confirmation that most of us are used to from most hotel properties. Since I have plenty of time, and have booked flights, etc. I'm not worried -- but it has been surprising...like nothing I've dealt with before (even in travels in Mongolia, etc.).
I have one question, though, for any of you who have been to the properties. I am inferring that once you are there, the process of selecting and participating in the excursions offered by the property works well and is good. Is that the case?
I just returned from the Luxury Link/Inkatera package which consisited of 2 nights in Sacred Valley, 2 nights in Machu Picchu, and 2 nights in Cusco.
Like others who have written on this post, I had some issues with contacting and getting timely responses from the Inkaterra booking agents. My contact person was Gabriella and upon speaking with her and exchanging emails, I found that she was very organized and came through on everything we spoke about.I did have to arrange my intercountry flights ( easy..go to LAN.com) and also part of my transportation from Machu Picchu to Cusco ( again...no problem, arranged a taxi through the hotel).
Upon arrival in Cusco, we were immediatly transferred to our private villa in Sacred Valley. Gorgeous and charming! We had a wonderful maid (Elizabeth) who cooked breakfast and dinner for us andcleaned our rooms everyday.We had agreat tour the next day to the Ollantayambo ruins and the market at Pisco.
After two relaxing evenings in Urubamba, we took the Vistadome train to Macchu Picchu which was part of the package. An awesome experience! Upon arrival at Inkaterra's MP hotel, we were given our program for the next morning's visit to MP. Agua Caliente is the small town where the hotel is located and buses take travelers up to MP ( takes 30 minutes). The hotel is very tropical, food and service delicious and the rooms comfortable.One highlight was the private sauna session (included in package) which is in a eucalyptus lined hut lit by candles. We felt totally transported!
The next morning we took the earliest bus up to MP to watch the sun rise over the mountains. Incredible. Highly recommend you go early as two hours later it was starting to get uncomfortably warm and crowded!
Checkout was at 11:00 AM, and we had 4:00 PM train tickets back to Sacred Valley and on to Cusco. We changed our tickets at the train station and left at 12:30 instead so we could get to Cusco earlier and spend time exploring. (Changing tickets was easy, it cost an extra 2 dollars per ticket)
Upon arrival at Inkaterra newest property located in Cusco, we were surprised to find that it was still under construction. The hotel is a small boutique hotel located in aplaza across from the Hotel Monasterio. As we pulled up,we saw that the entrance had about 8 workmen and other construction workers scattered throughout the hotel. We were pretty shocked to find the hotel in that state, but we were mostly concerned about the noisebut was assured by theguest services agent who said that despite the contruction, they wereaccomodating guests and that construction had not been a problem as it stopped at 6:00 PM and began at 7:00 AM.
Not happy about the dust and noise and the numerous construction workers all around, my feelings changed as we were led to a suite overlooking the plaza with the most incredible bathroom I have ever experienced in a hotel! We were told this was not the room we booked in our package but their very best suite and we could stay only for one night and be moved to a new room the next morning. We could deal with that after seeing such a plush room (even had heated floors!)
At night, the hotel completely changed. Lighting in the stairwells was insufficient and their was no one on duty except for a night guard. A call could not be patched through to my room, so I had to run down to the freezing basement of the building to speak on their office phone. This was a hazardous move, as it was a completely unfinished area of the hotel and I had to step over construction debrisin order to make it down there.Next morning, the construction sounds started bright and early but the hotel made up for it by delivering a fantastic breakfast to the room!
The next day, we were moved to another, smaller room located on the ground level. The room wasequally as lovely.
La Casona Inkaterra Cuscowill be an incredible boutique hotel when it is completed. The service was excellent, the property historic and beautifully appointed, thoughtful and dramatic lighting throughout, and ansuperb location. We were dissappointed that we had to stay in a construction site for our two nights in Cusco,particularly because we were not told of it before arriving and also because the work was not restricted to one area of the hotel. Instead it was EVERYWHERE and it felt uncomfortable with all the noise and workmen around.It was near impossible to enjoy the room during the day. Also, they did not have the adequate staffing during the evenings, as we would go out and upon returning, the place was in lock down. We had to bang on the front door one evening in order for the night guard to open the door for us. ( This probably woke everyone else staying at the hotel , as the acoustics are terrible in the rooms!) I think the staff did try and make up for the inconvenience, because they gave us gifts of Inkaterra T-shirts before we left and tried to be very helpful with resrvations and handling our mail, baggabe, and transfers.
Reflecting on everything, thetrip was amazing! Inkaterra really does a great job and despite the discomforts we felt at the Cusco property, we were very pleased with theLuxury linkpackage.
Hope that helps a little for all who are thinking about booking this trip!