Anne Conroy review 22 Mar 2012
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Our stay at Dewalokam Farm Retreat was the most pleasant part of the trip, no effort was spared to make us feel welcome and enjoy every aspect of this beautiful retreat.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Check out your stays very carefully, the boat we were on was very dirty and beds, shower tiles etc were broken there were also enormous cockroaches! The operator seems to get the least attractive rooms everywhere.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
No benefit to any poor people only the owners of the homestays except for Dewalokam whom employed 17 locals. The river where the boats parked at their depot was full of rubbish so big impact on the environment-for the worse.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Disappointing as the houseboat should have been the highlight but ended up the worst. Another homestay was so unwelcoming and dingy that we left and stayed else where at our expense.
Read the operator's response here:
We are sorry that Mrs Conroy did not enjoy her vacation in Kerala. The homestay tour is one of our most popular and this is the first time that a customer has found it disappointing.
Mrs Conroy travelled with her daughter and wanted two rooms but the cost was over budget so she booked twin bedded rooms. However, we understand that on arrival at each homestay they asked to see other rooms and if there were unoccupied rooms demanded to be able to take a second room at a reduced rate. As their vacation progressed we were getting desperate messages from our agent and the homestay owners who were at a loss to know how to please these customers.
One of the homestay owners said ‘even the best service would never make them happy’. The owner of another was out of the county at the time of their visit and told me his hostess was regularly on the telephone in tears saying she did not know what to do to please them. Another homestay owner said ‘your last guest made a lot of trouble… shouting at us… this is the first time we are getting this type of guest’.
The homestay that they left because it was ‘so unwelcoming and dingy’ was full and so did not have a second room to offer them. We were very surprised to see this homestay described as such because other customers have described it as: ‘really special and to be recommended’; ‘enjoyed the warm hospitality and close involvement with the hosts’; ‘host and his wife are delightful’; ‘I can certainly recommend it to anyone’.
I’m sorry they felt that the houseboat was dirty and tiles were broken in the shower. I have taken this up with the houseboat operator. They deny that the boat was dirty and explain that during the busy high season it is extremely difficult to replace tiles that get broken during a cruise. They also reported that these customers tore the mattress cover during their ‘inspection’. Cockroaches are flying insects and although unpleasant are common throughout India. Insects can often be a pest in the backwater area – but this is the first time we have been told of a cockroach on a houseboat.
I would like to assure future customers that we do not get ‘the least attractive rooms’ – in fact our close working relationship with our suppliers means that our customers usually get the best rooms. Homestays, by their nature have only a few rooms and these may differ. Homestay tours are usually about the experience rather than the quality of the room. I would also like to point out that it is not only Dewalokam that employs local people – all the homestays and houseboats are staffed by local people. Rubbish is a problem throughout India – but there are strict regulations that the houseboat operators must adhere to in order to keep their licence and this includes how they dispose of their waste.
I’m saddened that Mrs Conroy and her daughter were disappointed by their vacation and think perhaps a homestay tour in India was not right for them. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the accommodation owners for the distress this booking caused.