Phil & Nia

UAE, December 2015

What did you like most about Sri Lanka?

Beaches and discovering the history of the country.

What did you like least about Sri Lanka?

Kandy as the city was not to our personal taste. We described it as mini-Jakarta (where we lived for a few years) due to noise and traffic. We also felt there wasn’t an awful lot to see in the city. The time there was made much easier by the lovely hotel (Elephant Stables). More of the things we did not like are highlighted below in the chauffeur guide section.

What is your opinion of your accommodation in Sri Lanka?

On the whole it was okay with one or two particularly good hotels.  We really liked Number One Mirissa and felt [Hotel] Pledge 3 [Negombo] was a perfect relaxation point before venturing off on our travels.  The restaurants next to Pledge were excellent (Tusker and Skandic (?!)).  The Safari at Tissa was exceptionally disappointing.  It was very tired, had poor staff and was unreasonably expensive for the standard of hotel.  [Jetwing] St Andrews was quite nice but looking around Nuwara Eliya I doubt there would have been any better options in the area.  Fort Bliss in Galle was wonderfully located with friendly staff.  We assume it was a relatively cheap hotel based on the rooms but the staff were friendly and we always felt very welcome when returning. 

What is your opinion of your chauffeur guide in Sri Lanka?

Our guide was knowledgeable and intelligent but this is where the positives end unfortunately.  Our chauffeur guide was the one real negative of the trip and is the sole reason we would probably recommend an alternative tour company to our friends.  He, without doubt, came very close to spoiling our entire honeymoon experience.  I could write for a long time about our grievances but I shall try and keep this succinct.  However, if you wish to have further information then please do ask.

Upon arrival we were of the belief that he had ‘our interests at heart’ so when he offered to take us to a ‘Herbal/Spice Garden’ close to his home we jumped at the chance.  Having lived in Asia for a number of years we are well aware of certain scams but we had let our guard down considering we were taken by a reputable guide.  We arrived at ‘LuckyLand’(?!) to be given a tour and were offered a number of herbal products at the end to purchase.  These were expensive but we bought a handful.  We later realised we had been conned and, without going into detail, opened our products to find nothing but vegetable oil and veet.  We also have similar thoughts about a trip to a turtle sanctuary, but this may have been because we were suspicious of our guide for the entire trip.  The guide must have been aware of these types of scam but yet took us these places to, essentially, be ripped off.  Not a good first impression for us and he completed diluted our honeymoon experience from the off.  He also spent a great deal of time complaining about the traffic and the busyness at this time of year, indicating he did not wish to be taking the tour now.  He spent most of the day groaning or complaining when taking us on tours, which didn’t help us to enthuse about what we were doing.  He also arrived 2.5 hours late to collect us one day, sighting the car breaking down, I assume you can check whether this was true. 

We consciously decided to take our paid-for guide out of the equation and just use him as a driver to take us between places.  This worked out best for us as we began to enjoy our trip and the people of Sri Lanka so much more after this. This also allowed him to have a rather easy trip, which we presumed he wanted by the amount of groaning and tutting he did throughout the day.

It is worth noting his did become ill during the trip.  We felt very sorry for him when this happened but he spent each morning giving us a detailing rundown of his previous nights experiences without ever asking how we were, whether we had enjoyed the hotel or even what we wished to do that day.  One day, my wife was in tears because of our first few days experiences with him, which you can imagine how that made me feel when I thought we had planned the honeymoon trip of a lifetime.

It is our opinion that a guide should be an ‘ambassador’ for his/her country.  Instead, he made us feel like he did not like his own country and that this was purely a living for him, with no regard for the paying customers who wished to enjoy a beautiful honeymoon in a stunning country.  In the end, we enjoyed the second half of our trip, but this was because of our desire to, essentially, ignore our driver.

What is your opinion of your flights to and from Sri Lanka?


Any other comments?

We apologise for the negative comments about our driver, it is not in our nature.  However, this is the extent of our frustration with him and his lack of service. Other than this, we had a wonderful time in some very nice hotels and the experiences of the Safari and Whale Watching were truly sensational.  A small comment would be that we thought the car would have been slightly nicer and that it would be have been appreciated is some hotels at least acknowledged and wished us a happy honeymoon.  I’m not sure they or the guide were aware of the occasion.  Our final hotel (booked through an alternative company) did this with balloons and raising a cheer to us on NYE which was a lovely touch. [Tikalanka always informs hotels and guesthouses of special occasions (honeymoons, birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc.) at the time of booking. However, it is up to the individual accommodation to provide complimentary extras and Tikalanka has no influence over what benefits are provided, obviously.]

Tikalanka response

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback, which is disappointing regarding the chauffeur guide. I am sorry to hear that you found the chauffeur guide to be unsatisfactory and an incompatible match for your honeymoon. I can only apologise for the affect this had on the enjoyment of your trip, which seemed to have met most of your expectations otherwise. It is a pity that you didn’t raise this issue with us immediately it became apparent so that we may have ameliorated the situation by changing your chauffeur guide. The chauffeur guide is central to the holiday and not everyone is compatible with each other. As you can see from previous customers’ feedback, your chauffeur guide is respected, appreciated and liked.

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