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"My Way" versus escorted

Having taken both the fully escorted RS tour and a "My Way" tour, I notice that the hotels used are very different. The ones in the fully escorted tour were great. The hotels on "My Way" tour were not as good and the standards were very inconsistent--some were fine and others barely so. Are my impressions correct? Has anyone else noticed this vital difference?
Maybe someone from the tour staff can chime in and inform us. For me, as I plan for 2016, it is important to know, specially since I am really looking forward to the new France "My Way" tour.
Thanks,
Gladys.

Posted by
4359 posts

This forum category is monitored by the Tour staff, so someone should be along shortly...but until then - because it could be really helpful information - which fully escorted tour did you take, and which My Way tour did you take? Different locales have different available lodgings.

Posted by
137 posts

I took the fully escorted "London" tour and the "My Way Italy" tour. Thanks!
Thinking of "My Way Italy" in 2016.

Posted by
31219 posts

Gladys,

I didn't notice any appreciable difference between the hotels used on My Way vs fully escorted tours. I suspect there will be some differences based on availability at the time and facilities in one country may be different than another. Facilities in London are probably a bit more posh than many small towns in Italy, so that may be the reason you found a difference.

Posted by
672 posts

Gladys,

The only My Way tour I've taken was the Alpine tour and I thought the hotel rooms we had were definitely sub-par. I was very disappointed with them. The itinerary for the tour is fantastic, however!

Posted by
337 posts

I did the My Way Best of Europe in 14 days tour. IMHO, most of the hotels were the equivalent of the hotels used in the fully guided tours. In one hotel we were there with a fully guided tour that was in the city at the same time we were.

Posted by
167 posts

We took the My Way GAS tour in 2014 and the hotels were very good. In fact the hotel in Lauterbrunnen was the same hotel we stayed in for the fully guided 14 day Best of Europe tour. In 2008 we were on the Paris and South of France tour (no longer offered) and felt some of the hotels were below standard.

Posted by
2258 posts

Gladys, I have taken 4 RS Tours now, including My Way Italy and 3 others in Italy and England. I felt that the My Way hotels were very equivalent to those on the tours, generally surprisingly very nice, generally with very good and abundant breakfasts, always well-located. I must say the hotel and its breakfast for the London Tour (6 nights) was a couple steps above, really very nice. When I inquired about spending an extra night there before the tour, I was quoted a "special rate" of US$300, if paid in advance and not changeable.

Posted by
137 posts

I guess it is "hit and miss' then. I was spoiled by the London hotel and the breakfast (My Hotel Chelsea) and expected the same standards in Italy but did not get them--specially in Rome and Florence. The rest were fine. Thanks,

Posted by
372 posts

I am curious as to why one would make the choice to pay such a high price to do a My Way tour. Most of them seem to cost at least $300 per person per day. On any RS tour you accept the fact that you are paying a premium price for a hotel room (most I have checked are about $100-150 a night if you booked them yourself), but in exchange you are getting daily tours and some lunches or dinners. Breakfast is almost always included at European hotels, so that comes with the cost of the room. I can imagine that if you are traveling in rural areas of Italy or France you could justify the expense because you are trading convenience for cost for what would be tricky transportation. However, if you are based in just one city these My Way tours seem like a really bad deal to me. True, you are getting the "advice" of a RS guide about sightseeing and restaurants, but you can get that from the hotel staff, RS books, Tripadvisor, etc. But if you are paying $300 a day for just a room (that cost the company less then $100) and a seat on a bus that seems very excessive. I am not trying to be difficult, but am genuinely curious about why people are selecting this option. Tour lectures on the bus? The guide setting up groups who have common interests so they can explore together? What is the appeal?
Before you light the kindling under my stakes, let me say that we have taken one RS guided tour and are taking another one this fall so clearly we find merit in the RS model. We know we are paying way more than doing it ourselves, but decided that with the sale price and our former tour discount we could afford it. Most importantly, for this particular itinerary we really wanted to have guided tours and are willing to pay more for that convenience rather than find guides on our own.

Posted by
2258 posts

Gee, TravelingMom, I think you are basing your comments about RS My Way Tours on erroneous information. First of all, it does not seem that any of the My Way Tours involve just a single city, they all move around to several places, often a mix of major cities and small towns. Also, as I look at them, the costs are between $200 and $250 per day, never approaching or exceeding $300 per day. For the cost of your tour you receive: (1) a nice, well-located hotel room with a good breakfast; (2) transportation between towns in a very nice comfortable bus; while you sometimes, but not always, may need to carry or roll your baggage some distance between bus and hotel, you do not need to lug your baggage around as you would if you were connecting to public transport trains or buses; (3) while you do not have regular RS excellent guide services, you do have regular daily contact with an escort, who is generally a very knowledgeable guide, to offer you any needed guidance related to planning your time, how to get from one place to another, restaurants, shopping, etc; and (4) tour planners do all the work and use their time, not yours, to plan your itinerary, reserve hotels, arrange transportation, etc. I think that for various people and situations the My Way Tours can be very positive and represent good value too. However, they may well NOT be right for other people or situations.

Posted by
337 posts

Lighten up a bit. It's a tour, not the ultimate truth about life handed down from on-high.

FWIW, I have been on guided tours and a My Way tour, and I personally think the guided tours are the better deal if you like the itinerary. Some of the differences are obvious and others are more subtle. My situation with the My Way tour was unique and it provided the value I was looking for. I doubt this will be repeated any time soon.

Value depends on many things, not just cost. Otherwise we would all be crammed into groups of 60+ people, visiting lots of tourist shopping sites, and stuffed into cheap hotels near the airports. :-) Our individual needs, wants and desires go into the mix as well as those of others who may accompany us.

Enjoy YOUR vacation: guided, unguided, do it yourself or just staying home.

Posted by
372 posts

Thanks for the information and the corrections. The My Way tours are indeed multi-city and I can see how convenient having a bus would be instead of arranging your own transport for certain itineraries. This has helped me realize that My Way would not be a good fit for us.
I agree that everyone needs to find the travel type that suits their needs, and every trip we take has a different set of circumstances that direct our choices.

Posted by
3444 posts

Traveling Mom,

You often bring up the point that in your view the RS tours are at an extreme premium price. While I agree they are not inexpensive, I don't see what you are seeing, especially when compared to what other travel companies are charging for similar tours.

As far as what RS pays for each component of the trip, I really don't care as long as what I am paying RS is something I find acceptable. While it is true that they probably pay less than 100 Euro a night for rooms, when I looked into booking similar rooms in the same hotels on my past few trips I found the rooms would have cost me closer to 200 Euro. And I'm sure they get group rates for museum and other admissions, subway passes, and so on. Once again, if I were booking those on my own, I pay full price, and it is what I would have to pay for these if I booked them myself that is all that matters.

Your statements have made me curious, so on my next RS trip (Best of Italy) I will be tracking the exact costs for everything the group does to see what the markup actually is over what an individual would pay. Look for my report mid October. :-)

Posted by
4359 posts

PGladys, I don't know what your Italian hotels were like, but perhaps you got a more traditional Italian breakfast - an espresso and a roll, or something to that effect. Myself, I'm more of the 'stand back and let me at that breakfast buffet' type ;-) The Italian hotels I've stayed at for the last several years have moved towards the direction of the buffet...but it certainly wasn't the case before that!

Most of the Italian hotels I've stayed at have been more of a very-nice-for-a-dorm-room type (but clean and very functional!), or the 'Rome' style with very high ceilings (great for hot days), usually fairly large, with the ubiquitous (and cool) terrazzo floors. Not the most fanciful, but very comfortable. (Of course, there's always The Venetian Bordello style...) There are cushier accommodations, I know, but these seem to be fairly standard types. So compared to what your London hotel was like, it may have felt a bit like a let-down. All conjecture on my part, of course.

And what's with the 2-pieces of pre-packaged Melba toast for breakfast in Italy? Anyone? (crickets...) When I'm hoping for that ginormous German breakfast I left yesterday and instead I get one espresso and 2 pieces of Melba toast...I'm a very sad girl.

I would think the France hotels will be a bit, ummmm, 'fancier'? 'frillier'? 'frou-frouier'? Maybe the Tour Scrapbooks and Tour Reviews will shed some light on the hotels used in the past (assuming this tour has been offered). Also just Google 'My Way France' and see if any other blogs come up; I find LOTS AND LOTS of travel blogs that way. Not everybody can win the Scrapbook contest ;-)

Posted by
640 posts

A couple of thoughts:

I think the correct terminology is that the My Way tours are "escorted" while the standard tours are "guided".

I found no real difference between the hotels on the My Way Alpine Europe tours and fully guided tours that cover some of the game places (GAS comes to mind).