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Author: rhimmel

Joined: 6/17/2013
Posts: 1
Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 2011

December 11, 2013
This trip is all that travelers to magical Tuscany, Sorrento & Rome could hope for.  We toured in October ensuring mild weather and diminished crowds. The cities, villages, historic places, shrines, museums and trip organization were superb. Unfortunately, the hotels in Chianciano (Tuscany) and the Rome Extension were below the standard expected from GCT and were unacceptable!
The Ambasciatori (in Chianciano) sported an ambivalent staff, baths that flooded when showering (making very slippery, unsafe floors), soiled and dark public areas and a daily breakfast fiasco that forced a hurried and anxious atmosphere. We requested (but the hotel refused) opening the breakfast room earlier. Consequently, we had only one hour to breakfast before proceeding to the bus (a 10 minute walk) to meet our schedule. The problem does not seem obvious, but there were THREE GCT tour groups in the hotel, all departing at the same hour (logistics planning??); plus, the hotel’s location prevented busses from picking up or discharging passengers at the hotel. Considering that GCT had practically filled every room with tourists mostly over 55, it should follow that a bit of GCT management oversight would have eliminated these frustrations – OR since Chianciano has 200 hotels, different lodgings should have been chosen,
         Rome presented a different set of problems: The Albani Hotel, located so far outside central Rome as to be off the maps available at the hotel’s front desk, was nice enough for lodging; however, terribly inefficient for touring. It’s location resulted in a huge transportation issue for many. Outbound in the morning was easy – with our guide on a coach or walking to a bus stop – but the daily return to the hotel on our own was challenging (even for travelers accustomed to using public transit in foreign cities). 
With the Metro stop a ½ mile (30 minutes' walk) from the hotel and bus transport a 10-minute walk from the hotel, we were faced with sleuthing our way “home” each evening. Metro and busses run until midnight, but finding the correct route, actually boarding the correct bus (or train) and then hiking back to the hotel after a full day walking in Rome was an exhausting undertaking which easily consumed greater than one hour. Because bus routes and stops are not well marked or understood on any available maps, our (fabulous) Rome tour guide confessed he was unable to find any reasonably accurate maps for his groups. This fact alone demands GCT not lodge it’s groups so far outside center city that the hotel cannot be found on a close-in-radius map. In addition, hotel should be within a 5-minute walk to the Metro or bus.
         A fabulous city to tour, Rome offers unending fascination but the “creature comfort” factors on this trip need revision and focused attention from GCT. Due to these details we would not recommend this trip to fellow travelers.
 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 486
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

December 11, 2013
 
 As negative as this post was, I had to see if the opinions were universal. All of the  reviews posted for this trip in the past several months were either 4 of 5 stars.
The following excerpt was from the most recent review.
"Hotel accommodations: Adequate, very clean, beds firm but comfortable.  
Grand Hotel Ambasciatori in Chianciano - Very friendly staff, dining room food was quite good. However, the rooms are dated and need some freshening. I was traveling as a single and had a single room.  I note that some complained about the single room, but it really was fine for me.  It had a single bed but considering that there is no single supplement when traveling with Grand Circle, I think this is fine and should be expected.  I was very comfortable.  Chianciano is a very convenient location for the places we visited. Post office, restaurants and other services are in close proximity.  Good choice.  Thanks GCT.
Cesare Augusto in Sorrento - Good location - convenient to everything.  The rooms were fine, but noisy if you left the door open to the balcony (which we all needed to do because the heat wouldn't shut off - had same issue at the Ambasciatori).  Breakfast was the only meal we ate at the hotel and it was fine. 
Albani in Rome - very contemporary.  Room was comfortable. Location was good. "
I guess there is room for different different opinions on everything.

Author: arnold

Joined: 10/20/2010
Posts: 15
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2004

December 12, 2013

 Re the Ambasciatori hotel:  Although our trip to Tuscany was a few years ago,  I recall no negative experiences regarding the hotel accomodations.

 HOWEVER,  while the previous poster thought the hotel was conveniently located  for the places which are visited,  I'm certain that could only mean with the bus tours.  Yes,  there is a nearby post office in Chianciano and some restaurants,  but the rest of the town is mostly devoid of interesting places to visit on one's own when not taking the optionals.

That said,  I highly recommend exploring the nearby towns via the convenient local bus, especially charming Montepulciano.   A tourism center within walking distance of the hotel can help you with schedules and tickets.  It was one of our favorite experiences on this tour.  

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 951
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

December 12, 2013

About 10 years ago when I took that trip, we stayed in Montecatini Terme not Cianciano.  It was a lovely little spa town, and the hotel had something to do with Verdi.  He lived there or made lengthy stays.  The train/bus station was close by, so it was easy to get to places on our own. 

There was a pre-trip extension in Venice, and we also took the post-trip in Rome.  But our hotel (can't remember the name) was conveniently located for public transportation.  We, with several others, took the train to Ostia.  It was on the way back, that I was almost robbed.  I felt something at my waist and looked down to see a thin brown hand trying to get something out of the waist pack.  A quick twist, and then she took off without it.  If she'd succeeded, she would have got away with a pack of kleenex and nothing else.

Author: bev.clark@verizo...

Joined: 3/3/2014
Posts: 2

April 19, 2014

having just returned from tuscany and amalfi coast, i must agree with the first blog -- the ambasciatore posed its share of problems.  apparently little has been done to address the bathroom flooding as it was still going on.  the hotel was so remote that there was nothing to do in the evening - everything was closed.  also, march is pre tourist season which meant that the majority of shops were not due to open till the end of april!  the staff was generally pleasant, especially beatrice who served both as a waitress and a bar tender - very personable.  the tough part for some in our group was the walk down a very steep hill to get to the bus or, especially after a hard day's walking, UP the hill to get back to the hotel.  it seems to me people would have been happier with a hotel in a place that had more going on.

Author: walshcs

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 81
Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, the Canadian Maritimes incl. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, Montreal (Quebec), Guatemala, and many USA cities incl. NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, the Oregon coast, Maine coast, parts of Florida. I took a 10 day tour to Costa Rica where I was especially thrilled to experience the tropical plants, birds, volcanos, and met the friendly Ticos. I did Ireland in Depth with GCT Oct. 2011 and it was an inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful experience to finally visit the land of my Irish ancestors. Completed the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast with the pre-trip to Venice April 21, 2012 and it was a travel dream fulfilled. I booked Guatemala with Tikal, Antigua and Atitlan for January 2013 and had a wonderful adventure discovering modern day Maya culture and learning about ancient Maya city states with my visit to Tikal. Very excited that OAT has brought back the trip to Japan and I leave on that tour Nov. 4, 2013 with the pre-trip to Tokyo. Now I finally have the resources to pursue my "bucket list" of foreign travel and the freedom to chart my own life's course. Ask questions that will satisfy your requirements/interests in a travel buddy. Looking forward to meeting you here and maybe in the world. Warm regards, Cate I'll post a photo when I remember to bring one from home. (Only have internet at work for now.)

Traveler Since: 2011

April 23, 2014

I agree with the posters (rhimmel, et al) who commented on the problems with the Tuscany and Rome Hotels. I took this trip two years (?) ago in the spring. Besides the flooding in the bathroom when we showered, an additional discomfort our group had with the Tuscany hotel was that it was above/next door to a nightclub which played very loud music incl. practice in the afternoon. When the staff was cleaning and resetting the dining room in the evening we could hear the loud scraping of chairs on the marble floors. The food was acceptable...the town closed up early so there was nothing to do in the evening after dinner. And...the hotel sprayed our carpets and balcony carpets with insecticide one day. Not only did it smell terrible...two of us got red rashes on our feet and legs and it caused an asthma attack for two of us.

The Albani in Rome is NOT in a convenient location and most of our group did not like the ultra modern decor in primary colors...didn't saw Rome to us.

The only hotel I enjoyed and reviewed positively in my review of the trip was the one in Sorrento...so the company would do well to reconsider its accomodation choices for an otherwise outstanding and beautiful tour.

Many times many tour members have commented that we wish GCT & OAT would pick centrally located, easy walking distance hotels near attractions so we could make good use of our free time. Yes...I do realize that it would increase the cost of the trips...the remote locations and older properties represent a cost savings. Who would be willing to pay a higher price if they knew that they could comfortably walk to the Old Town, or the museum, or the metro station, etc..?? Me!! What about you?

Just sayin,

Cate

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 951
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

April 24, 2014

It seems to me that GCT used to pick centrally located hotels.  Or, at least, close to economically-priced public transportation.  The only time I can remember taking a taxi was on the Best of Eastern Europe in 2001, when we took one back to our hotel (Novotel?) in Crakow in the pouring rain.  Quite often, we walked.

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