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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: 442
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: 884
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.

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