* Prices may differ from that shown
To start with, I think I should make it clear that although I now work in the travel industry, I did not when I used this tour operator to plan and book my honeymoon and I've never been employed by them... This review is purely based on my experiences of booking and taking that trip.
- The honeymoon
Just under 4 years ago, my then fiance and I were planning our wedding and an important part of that was the honeymoon. We both love our holidays and so we both wanted to plan a "trip of a lifetime" that we would remember forever. So we arranged to take a month off work and started to think about what to do. The one thing that we were sure about was that we wanted to go to Australia, so we started off looking for holiday companies that could help us plan an itinerary.
We didn't want to go to a travel agent, preferring to book it ourselves, so we spoke to Kuoni initially but found that although they were pleasant on the phone, they didn't really help inspire us with an itinerary.
- How we found Tropical Sky
We were recommended to speak to Tropical Sky by some friends. I'd never actually heard of them, but they had been on a Tropical Sky holiday to Vietnam the previous year and had nothing but good words to say about them.
So, we looked at their website to try and find out a little bit more about them. Their website, tropicalsky.co.uk is nicely set out and the design is very clean and modern. Despite never hearing about them before I was reassured by the ABTA and ATOL symbols at the bottom of each page, highlighting that any holiday booked with them would be protected. I then read the "About Us" page and read about the history of the company. This told me that they were founded by the same people who initially set up the "Tropical Places" tour operator that was later sold to the Thomson Group. I liked the fact that they were very clear about their ATOL bonding and show details of their staff members on the page.
- The Planning
I called Tropical Sky and was put through to a member of staff called Andy. I mentioned that we had 4 weeks booked off for a honeymoon and that we wanted to go to Australia, but were quite open about what else we did as part of the trip. He suggested that we do a "round the world" trip! I initially baulked at this suggestion as sadly we did have a budget and I was a little bit worried that this would be a little ambitious to achieve with the money available.
However, Andy managed to recommend an itinerary for the following places, all of which came in under our budget of around £6k (I can't remember exactly what we spent as it was a while ago!)
- Hong Kong
- Cairns & Port Douglas
- San Francisco
He recommended a couple of hotels in each place that he thought were good in terms of location and value for money and he then gave us time to do our own research to help us choose between them. If he hadn't been to a particular destination then he spoke to colleagues who had, to ask them their opinions. As you can imagine this took some time to sort out, but we always dealt with Andy either through the phone or via email.
I particularly liked the continuity in terms of dealing with one person, and also the fact that I felt he was proactively trying to offer us the most suitable options in terms of both the itinerary and accommodation options available to us. He also arranged airport transfers upon arrival in each destination, although we chose to make our own way back to the airport in each location. I really liked the fact that they were really flexible with what they could book for us.
The level of service we received was the main reason that we chose to book with Tropical Sky.
- The honeymoon itself
We departed from London the day after the wedding and arrived in Hong Kong completely exhausted. Unfortunately the hotel in Hong Kong didn't seem to realise it was our honeymoon as they tried to put us in a smoking, twin room. This was soon rectified though when I explained the situation and I think the fact that I was nearly in tears through exhaustion helped! This, however, was the only hiccup of the whole trip.
When we arrived in Cairns they made a point of congratulating us on our marriage, and had upgraded us to a one bedroom apartment rather than a studio. In Hawaii we received champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in our room, so I am confident that Tropical Sky made it clear to the hotels that we were on honeymoon and I think that the Hong Kong experience was just unfortunate.
Although there was no rep for the company, we were provided with contact details of their agents in every destination, and this was clearly marked on our travel documents along with details of our airline references and accommodation vouchers. We also received these well in advance of travel via email. I liked this as it meant that if we lost our printed copies we would be able to access the information while we were away.
We had an absolutely fantastic honeymoon and were so pleased with the help offered by Tropical Sky. I don't think that we would have come up with such a good itinerary ourselves (I never would have thought I could go to Australia and Hawaii all in one trip!). Every hotel that we stayed at was of a good standard and everything met my expectations.
- What I would improve
The only negative thing I can say is that the telephone number is non-geographic, which means that it can be quite expensive to call. This wasn't actually too much of a problem for us as we were happy to communicate with them via email after our initial discussions, but if you prefer to use the phone then this might be more of an issue. This also does seem to be the case for every travel company that I've dealt with though.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Tropical Sky to my family and friends. In fact, my parents have since booked a couple of holidays with them as well and have also had good experiences. The fact that I now work in the travel industry does mean that I'm less likely to use them in the future, but that's because there are various industry offers that are unbeatable by any tour operator so I am much more likely to book these.