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I booked last May to travel to Dahab in Egypt with Olympic Holidays. Since the bombs in Taba on February 16th the FCO has advised against travel to the area. I called Olympic and requested a refund (Several times). Now three weeks to go. Now tell me I am not entitled to a refund until the week I was scheduled to depart. My life is now on hold. I can't cancel leave at work. I can't book an alternative holiday. I am facing further out of pocket expenses for airport parking and pet sitters for a holiday that won't be happening. This was supposed to be the two week hi-light of my year, it is now a living nightmare. Most of the many people I have spoken to at Olympic were fairly clueless about the political situation. Rather than being held hostage by terrorists, I and my family are being held hostage by Olympic. Perhaps if your holiday goes well, you will come back and review how great they are. If however it goes wrong? Buyer beware. They are not interested.
We were a little unsure of how our first experience of Olympic Holidays was going to turn out because it was so amazingly cheap, and it just sounded too good to be true. Flight only was priced at GBP 105 per person, so one week at the three star Olive Grove Trees Apartments in Kavos for two people for GBP 111 each - a total of GBP 222 for two people including flights, transfers and a week's accommodation - sounded amazingly cheap. Six pounds each for transfers and a week's accommodation, in effect.
One of the great things about booking a last minute holiday with Olympic Holidays is that the overseas transfers are generally included, whereas when you make last minute bookings with most other operators (Thomas Cook, Thomson etc) they will charge you quite a lot extra for the transfers. We looked up on Resorthoppa how much transfers to Kavos would cost if we had booked them ourselves, and for the second week in September it would have been over GBP 16 per person return, so the transfers alone would have cost us about GBP 33, but with Olympic Holidays they were included. Every little helps!
We are quite hard up thanks to our ConDemNation government in England, so we like bargains but are also always on the lookout for the chance that we might be ripped off. My wife is obsessed with sitting next to me on flights, as she is so terrified of flying, so she insisted on ringing Olympic Holidays to ensure that we would be sitting together. It probably didn't help that when our daughter and her friend had booked two tickets to New York earlier this year, Last Minute had given them two seats on two different flights that were going via two different continents, and Last Minute's "customer service" essentially said that it wasn't their problem and to "sort it out with the airlines". One out of ten for Last Minute dot com as far as this family is concerned.
Anyway, the Olympic Holidays customer service team were fantastic and reassured my panicky wife. They didn't try to sell us over-priced travel insurance when we made the booking, and in fact they didn't even ask whether we had travel insurance or not. The price for booking by telephone was exactly the same as it would have been if we had booked online. No charges were added for paying by debit card, no need to jump through any hoops such as having to print off a boarding card at home or be charged a fortune at the airport, which happens with some "budget" airlines.
Some online reviewers were talking about Small Planet, the charter airline that Olympic Holidays were using on this occasion, as if they were flying really old and decrepit planes, so we wondered whether it would be an old Dakota DC3 with bits of wire holding up the wings waiting for us when we arrived at Gatwick, but actually they were flying Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, the same as everybody else. Small Planet Airlines are totally professional but somehow manage to be a lot less pompous than some other airlines, and the flight crews that we encountered were all Brits and had a great sense of humour. We arrived early in Corfu and arrived back early in Gatwick on the return, so very happy with that.
There were a swarm of Olympic Holidays' reps waiting at the arrival terminal at Corfu airport when we arrived shortly after midnight local time. Mondays and Fridays seem to be the standard arrival/departure days for tour operators on this island, and tourism is big business here. We were quickly and efficiently escorted to the correct air-conditioned transfer coach, it wasn't driven by a nutter who thought that he was the new Michael Schumacher, thankfully, and the transfer to Kavos took a little over an hour. When we arrived, shortly before 2am local time, the barman at Olive Grove Trees Apartments agreed to cook us pizzas and they were very enjoyable. We were given an invitation to meet with the Olympic Holidays rep at 2:30pm that day.
The rep was quite bossy but he did get the job done, which is what really matters. He was on site each day except for the transfer days, when he was on airport duty instead. Our transfer back to the airport was handled equally efficiently at the end of our stay, and we didn't have any problems at any point with delays.
We were a little concerned by the fact that Olympic Holidays classified Olive Grove Trees Apartments as "lively", but actually we needn't have worried. Kavos is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde resort, in the sense that after the schools go back in the first week of September it completely changes. Far more older tourists (i.e. over 30) turn up, prices noticeably drop and there are plenty of special offers to be found as stores try to clear out their remaining stock, as the end of the season looms.
We had no problems whatsoever at any point during our stay with the 18-30 age group which Kavos is all about, and funnily enough it was four Londoners aged about 40, one of whom needed to use the F word three times in every sentence and was totally cringe-worthy with his efforts to chat up girls half his age, who reminded us a little of the British reputation abroad for being lager louts. They were very much the exception that proves the rule, we loved the relaxed attitude to life on this Greek island, the fresh food and the cheap drinks.
This was our first experience of Olympic Holidays, we though that our holiday offered amazing value for money and we would definitely use them again.
ATOL protected, Offering package holidays at great prices.
Now let me start this review with a little personal history; I have use this holiday company to travel to what are short hall flight destination a number of time in the past. In the last 4 years I have used Olympic to travel to the Greek Island of Corfu 3 times. I use this company and the apartments I stay in are fantastic and I would not ever want to stay in any other accommodation. I shall review this family run accommodation at a later date. Needless to say if they had subscribed to a different holiday provider I would ultimately use them.
Never the less, the first 2 years, I had found Olympic, relatively average, a means to an end to get to a great destination and lovely apartment. The Holiday Reps were knowledgeable, amenable and there when your required them, they offered trips around the Island, excursions etc. The air line in which they contacted was Monarch who would never break any records but were a decent enough air line to get you from A to B.
Last year I did not holiday outside of the UK, so as you can imagine I and the family I travelled with were excited about heading back to our known friendly resort in Sidari, Corfu.
I had been away with work for the majority of this year so the organisation was left to my good lady, which had gone without a hitch.
To the day of travel, everything at Gatwick ran smoothly as you would expect, and then we boarded the plane...
Something had changed, no longer was Monarch our vessel, we were to fly Strategic Air lines.
This Bird was an A320 Airbus aeroplane, where on earth they company found these I do not know, quiet possibly the worst plane I have ever been sat in and I have been lucky enough to have been in many.
I was initially taken aback by the size of it, 6 seats abreast (3 on each side), a relatively small plane in today standings. The interior was extremely poor and did not give me the warm comforting feeling you require when about to be thrust skywards. The cabins and over head lockers were nicotine stained yellow/cream colour, screaming to me that they were dirty and un-clean since people were once able to smoke during air travel. The carpets were well worn, frayed at the edges and the Luminous "safety" strips were cracked and old looking. The fold down tables were shiny with no recess for a drink/cup meaning that anything placed on the table slid off. This may be because my tray was not flat too. That said I was lucky as my partner sat next to me didn't have a tray and had to eat off her lap.
The meal time provided even more calamity, where by in the age of saving money, if you didn't pay for the meal, you didn't get one, an initial trawl through the plane finding out who had paid and who hadn't ensued before the meal was distributed, we had paid for 5 meals and got 4. Most annoyed, as the paperwork didn't correspond. Not a great start to the holiday. That said the in flight service offered a range of 5 sandwiches if we wanted to pay £4 for them, as only 3 of the 5 were available one of us sacrificed the meal on what was the short 2 ½ flight. In-flight drinks are notoriously expensive, here we paid £3.80p for a 330ml can of beer, £1.60p for a mini can of coke which were both warm!
I haven't yet mentioned the noise of the aircraft, extremely. Needles to say a majestic flight we were destined not to have. What made things worse was the fact that one of the toilets was un-serviceable. I over heard someone saying that it was good of them not to delay the flight by fixing it, and just fly with one broken one. My view, the Airline didn't want to pay the taxes imposed if the strict flight time lines aren't stuck too!
Flight over, thank god and were landed in Corfu's airport, a swift retrieval of our luggage identified that my Mountain Equipment 'rubberised' duffel bag was ripped. Fantastic.
The passengers including us were corralled onto the necessary coach, our initial Rep was Jenny. The transfer stops off at various stops as people get off at their hotels, apartments and villas the norm with transfers on this sort of holiday; it took around 2 hours to get to ours which was the second to last stop. Which we were aware of.
We took our bags, along with the other passengers that were also staying at these particular apartments. It was 0445 in the morning.
As we were a large group we waited as the other 3 couples were shown to their rooms. We waited only a mere 10 minutes before a flustered Jenny appeared and went to get on the coach.
We approached her, requesting that she show us to our apartments, 5 people, in 3 separate apartments, blank looks, confusion and fluster followed. She hadn't a clue where we were stayed, conscious of the coach driver wanting to get on she announced "Just find a room, top and tail until the meet and greet with the Rep at 1200 midday and she'll show you where they are, I've got to go cos the coach driver needs to go".
A blink and she was gone. 5 in the morning by this time, a tired frustrated group stood amongst luggage with the sun coming up. After some time we did eventually find 3 rooms, which were allocated to us. Not that tricky to find as it turns out, but this wonderful place that my misses and I love and recommended suddenly didn't seem too great.
After a few hours sleep we were up by the pool waiting for the meet and greet, complained about the previous night drop off to our Rep Beth, who shrugged and wasn't bothered.
During this meet and greet, the rep offered the normal excursions etc previously mentioned, with a price hike that seemed un-necessary. In protest of the price and previous evening shenanigans we didn't book any through the company and chose to go to book in Sidari itself, which as it turns out is much, much cheaper. Olympic, state that the reason theirs is more expensive is due to the insurance they provide, is we all had our own holiday insurance, this didn't wash!
Over all, this was not the greatest travelling experience, and the read may seem like we had a poor holiday experience. I am pleased to say that the initial first day blues did not taint the rest of our trip. Our apartment, the staff, the family, the beach the trips the island were fantastic, I recommend a trip to Corfu and I shall review later. It's a wonderful place just a shame that the apartments have subscribed to the Olympic brand.
Would I use Olympic again.....Not through choice but necessity, we love the Apartments in which we have stayed many times before and unfortunately using Olympic is the easiest and cheapest way to do so. I have used Olympic before, and I hope that this trip is an isolated event. In my raw state I think I would say never again, but time will heal all wounds I'm sure, I will keep an eye on future reviews and gauge with my wallet next year!
If you have booked with this company, I hope this doesn't taint your view to much, be prepared I guess would be my words of advice.
We booked our holiday to Kefalonia at the Buena Vista Studios in Lourdas for August 2010 online and found the process flawless and seamless. Olympic have by far the easiest to use website of the big tour operators, and we especially like the option to pay off the balance of your holiday in smaller chunks on the website when you could. They were friendly, informative and efficient. Once in resort, the transfer and welcome was good with the literature provided being informative and detailed. When we arrived at our accommodation, we were disappointed to find that our high floor request had been ignored and we had been placed in basement rooms. Additionally, as a family of 4 in 2 person studios, we had asked to have adjacent rooms and Olympic had promised on the phone that they always place families in adjacent rooms; despite this promise we were placed either side of the property owner's room/office meaning that the rooms weren't indeed adjacent. Our welcome meeting was exceptionally good, our rep Ross was informative, incredibly knowledgeable about the island and conducted the meeting in a completely non-pushy style, which was refreshing. Despite his great welcome meeting, he seemed preoccupied and almost unapproachable when on visits to our accommodation, when he was often late or turned up early and stayed for less than half the time he should've done. He wasn't chatty, and didn't seem to converse with those staying there unless they approached him. Despite these slight negatives, we were really impressed with Olympic; the website was easy to use making booking simple, the after-sales service we received was good, the flights with Monarch on an Olympic-exclusive flight were two of the best we've ever taken, the welcome and transfers were warm and efficient, the welcome meeting was non-pushy and gave superb detail about the island, the accommodation exactly matched its description and was of a good standard and the car hire booked through them was great value for money. We wouldn't hesitate to use them again, and would certainly recommend them.
Olympic holidays are cattle-class tourism at its most cynical. They seemed to be the cheapest, which is why we went with them, however once they've got your booking they're only interested in extracting more cash from you in any way possible, and they won't respond unless there's something in it for them.
We've all come across the 'welcome meeting' where they ply you with a cheap 'courtesy' drink and flog you overpriced excursions, (a sales technique that exploits people's natural tendency to reciprocate). The only one we considered was car hire - "I can only hold this offer open until the end of this meeting - 100 euros (plus unspecified surcharges) for 3 days - far cheaper than anyone else on the island but you can only get this offer if you commit before the end of this meeting, as I have to reserve to get this amazing price". He pressured people by telling them it is their only opportunity (called the scarcity sales technique), before they've had a chance to find that car hire is available throughout the island for under 30 per day, all included, with no notice. When our 'rep' realised we weren't biting he didn't speak to us again on the holiday.
This is all old news to anyone whose been on a package tour. But imagine our dismay when our hotel (Summerland in Rhodes) forced 86 euro fines on us, payable within 2 hours, on pain of confiscation of our belongings from our room! Having read air con was 10 euros a day and no fans were available, knowing my elderly mother suffered hot flushes and had a history of heart problems, we brought a small fan to cope with the (30 degree) heat overnight. We couldn't have known about this until the cleaners had gone through our stuff and spotted fine-able items. We had to pay 86 euros because only men's shavers and ladies' hairdryers are free - any other electricity use must be paid for, per item, at several thousand times cost price, (and this was a self-catering apartment, not even a hotel room). If we'd used the fan 24 hours a day it would have used 40 cents worth of electricity, not 86 euros.
When we called our rep to let her know that the hotel had confiscated our fan and was demanding 86 euros for its return, after a few hours she called back to say, "we at Olympic don't want you being uncomfortable on your holiday, but please be clear that this is not our problem". So I emailed HQ, they replied to say that the brochure says air con is available at a price and fans aren't. I've emailed several times saying that isn't the issue, but they have ignored every email since the first, and I'm not sure they read that.
My advice - budget 100 euros for surprise fines, hide electrical equipment, dismantle and hide the fan during the day, arrange excursions independently.
We got off the beaten track and spoke to the lovely locals. The local independent tourism industry is really suffering as these package companies grab all the money for themselves, putting many local restaurants and tourism companies out of business with their all-inclusives and over-priced, manipulatively sold excursions, unless they deal with Olympic, and from the feelings between my hotel manager and our Olympic 'rep' I'm sure Olympic are as exploitative of their local partners as they are of their customers.
I would definately recommend buying holidays with Olympic holidays. Me and my boyfriend went away to Paleokastritsa in Corfu last summer and it was absolutely amazing and Olympic reps were superb. We got a late deal which meant that it was very cheap, the travel agent could not believe how cheap it was and had to check that it was the correct price, so initially we were very happy having gone with Olympic and it just got better. When we arrived the Olympic reps were very helpful, showing us to our coaches and every coach had a rep aboard to answer any questions and to make sure we all got off at the right places. I have had a couple of holidays with other travel companies where there hasn't even been any rep on the coach.
Our welcome meeting the next morning was very informative. Our rep told us of all the good activities and excursions and there was so much to do. She was very helpful in recommending restaurants and local places to visit. There was always a very helpful rep on each excursion to guide us around if we wanted. The reps were always available when they said they would be so if there were any problems they could have been dealt with.
The best holiday I have ever been on, helped by the fantastic Olympic reps.
I have just come back from my first trip to Cyprus, staying in Paphos, with Olympic Holidays.
I have rambled on about the hotel on another review, and the airline on yet another, so I wont mention them again here.
I'm pretty certain we have travelled to Greece with Olympic before, but I may be wrong. However, I would be happy to do so again (airline aside).
This review will focus only on the reps and the tours we took with Olympic.
First off, the welcome meeting. This was a little disappointing. He (Ian) was friendly and approachable, but didn't offer us much insight to the tours on offer at all. The paraphernalia given to us did give us some info tho, so we picked our outings via that.
That brings me to the tours themselves. What a disappointing list. The vast majority where for cruises and trips to the water park. Just three jumped out as being not of that ilk. Two jeep safaris and a coach tour. They are the ones we did.
My bloke did ask said rep if there was a guided tour that covers the Tomb of Kings and the Mosaic Villas (found in Kato Paphos) but was told that they were too nearby to cover.
Anyway, we signed up and paid for both jeep safari's and the coach trip to Limassol.
The first Jeep trip was for the Troodos Mountains. I have to say this is the best way to see the island - and the 'real' Cyprus. We were taken to some lovely spots to see things you wouldn't otherwise see, like a Venetian Bridge, a beautiful waterfall, normal everyday villages full of character. And the Kykkos Monastery, which is still a working monastery.
Although the monks have a strict dress code, they supply you with purple robes so that you can enjoy the wonder of the interior - amazing paintings of various religious scenes, pictures of Jesus and God, finished with real gold. The effect of walking around is simply breathtaking, and very humbling.
Lunch is included in the tour, and it was simple Cypriot food at its best. Bread, Tatziki, Greek Salad, cous cous, vegetables, pork cooked in red wine, roast potatoes (greek style, not crispy like English ones) and of course, wine! (Water was also available)
The pick up time was a little early for me, eight thirty am on a holiday shouldn't exist, but due to the heat, it was necessary. With a couple of 'facilities' stops, we were back at the hotel about five thirty. We even saw the 'other side' of the island - the Turkish side. But only from a distance. A full day in all senses of the phrase.
The second jeep trip was for the Akamas Peninsula. So where the first trip was inland and mountainous, the second was coastal. Aphrodites baths, Lara Cove (sometimes known as Turtle Beach, the last nesting site for the turtles on the island), the Akamas Gorge and a dip in the sea are all included on this trip.
Again, lunch is thrown in, as is plenty of off roading. While that is fun, watch your head if you're lucky enough to be in the back of the jeep!
Both guides on these jeeps were great. Any question was answered as fully as possible, even when it was a little insensitive about the Turkish Occupation of the north side of the island!
The Coach trip was to Limassol, and stopped to show us Aphrodites rock, Kourin village, it drove us by the British bases (both Army and Air Force), and took us to a winery! That was a huge hit, as you can imagine.
The two n half hours of free time in Limassol is perfect for lunch and a spot of window shopping. There is a castle that you can go round, but we decided the entrance fee and the signs stating you can't take pictures cancelled out any desire we had to stroll around it.
The pick up for this trip was a little more palatable 9am, and we were returned just after 4pm.
Each of the jeep trips were about 68 euros each, but as I said that included lunch with wine. The Coach trip was about 39 euros each.
We enjoyed the trips we took, but I think the variety on offer could be greatly improved.
All in all, I think Olympic are a pretty good tour operator, but as with everything, you get out what you put in