Holly and Nick,
We are so pleased that we picked The Travel Specialists to help organize our South American trip during January and February of this current year. It is hard to believe that this trip was one year in the planning stage and the final execution was above and beyond expectations. We were especially pleased with the personal level of attention that The Travel Specialists team extended to us before the trip in research and recommendations - both in providing helpful feedback on local in country establishments / sites.
The hotels that I selected for Argentina included: Legado Mitico in Buenos Aires and Hosteria La Estepa in El Calfate. During my initial research Holly provided services that included checking with hotel management to confirm room size, decor and location on the property; this was very helpful.
A local travel company (our ground handler) in B.A. was contracted by The Travel Specialists to accommodate our logistics and conduct guided tours in the city. The logistics portion for airport pickup and delivery (international and domestic air travel) was handled expertly and smoothly; in city transportation in B.A. was also without a fault during scheduled tours and to Rojo Tango Show. With that being said, there was one unfortunate situation that occurred the evening before our confirmed tour to visit the Hippodrome. We received a last minute call in our hotel room, with notification that the guide was sick [the night before the tour] and that our tour would be cancelled. They were insistent that we chose another tour (without any time to review or determine if it met our criteria) within a minute -- all the while that evening's car / guide to the tango show were downstairs waiting to departure. It was unprofessional at best, but when we advised The Travel Specialists the situation was amended and adjusted. As a special note, Jeremias, our guide, was very engaged with us and conversational in nature. He provided an excellent overview and insights to Argentina's history, culture and the city importance through changes in ages.
The hotel Legado Mitico (in B.A) was especially perfect for us, as we wanted a boutique, smaller hotel experience. We stayed in the 'El Idealista' room and loved it. It included a private balcony and we also had the entire floor of the hotel since no other visitors came to the upper floor lounge area. The morning breakfast was prepared with fresh and healthy choices, not too heavy and wonderful speciality coffee drinks upon request. The secret garden in the back where Malevo (el gato) hangs out casually was a lovely place to escape and read a book and contemplate the day. The staff was super accommodating and offered a unique concierge service level that deserves applause. It was great to also have our cruise ship bags stored by the hotel while we continued elsewhere for an in-country tour in Argentina and Chile. We stayed in the same room (as requested through the staff) for both legs of our trip to B.A. which made re-adjusting after hard journey much more pleasant.
The Hosteria La Estepa (in El Calafate) fit our needs in full and met our expectations. El Calafate, in itself, is a pass-through town so the accommodations were just right for us. The intent to choose a hotel (away from the main drag and tourism) of the town was a good decision and a great relief for us. The staff at the hotel was also attentive to our requests and inquiries, and the lunch that we had there was fine enough with a beer. They did have a nice Argentine wine for cocktail hour, and the views of Lago Argentina were gorgeous with the intense blue.
The logistics arranged from The Travel Specialists from the airport to hotel and back again were executed without flaw. We traveled for an additional week to Torres Del Paine and then stayed again at Hosteria La Estepa overnight before returning to B.A.
The logistics and tour guides arranged with the Chilean tour company really was also a great experience. We were met at our port of disembarkment in Valparaiso by the guide and taken to Lastarria Hotel in Santiago. The hotel again was a boutique establishment, and the feedback in advance from The Travel Specialists was exact to our wants and needs, as we prefer smaller size places and the neighborhood was fantastic. An invaluable service was provided to us on our morning of domestic departure to Pucon, when the guide escorted and navigated us through the airline queue that was backed up for hours. He was able to negotiate and expedite our position in line (to the front) and totally avoid missing the flight south.
Our city guide, Rene, toured us in both Valparaiso and Santiago and made both of us feel that we had a special experience in whatever we did, tasted and saw. He was highly informed, sharing and humorous and entertaining -- what a treat. These kind of memories really helped our understanding of the country and its people.
The Lastarria Hotel (Santiago) was exactly suited to our tastes. The staff was very engaged in our level of satisfaction, and interested in making our stay a memorable one. The breakfast was a nice spread which was just at the right level, not too heavy, and wonderful coffees. Their tea service in the afternoons was a real highlight and positioned by their secret backyard pool setting made it a great place to unwind at the end of a day. We also hosted a small gathering in this environment and the staff made a beautiful charcuterie tray along with cheese/ crackers and a wonderful wine selection that everyone enjoyed. We stayed at the hotel on the front and back end of our Chilean trip and would definitely return. The neighborhood is in the best location of the city to stay and enjoy.
Overall, I can highly recommend The Travel Specialists, and I can recommend all the hotels that we stayed at. Their strong professional level of service, attention to detail and customer satisfaction is certainly worth it when taking a trip that needs coordination with a lot of moving parts and pieces in a number of locations.
Our motto is: See Life, Travel More!!