REVIEW: Luxury Gold in Ireland
Here is our review after experiencing a 12-day small-group tour of Ireland with Luxury Gold.
Carol and I are just home after spending nearly two weeks in Ireland on a small-group, 5-star land tour with our friends from Luxury Gold.
The Best Way to Experience Ireland
While ocean, river, and expedition cruising is very popular because you’re only unpacking once, many destinations in the world don’t lend themselves to a cruise.
When it comes to Ireland, most cruise lines will visit Dublin and Belfast, leaving vast parts of Ireland’s beauty and charm untouched.
For this reason, we decided that our trip to Ireland would be on land. And, as we do not enjoy traveling with large packs of people, we also agreed that we would travel in a small group and with a luxury small group tour company that offered guests luxury accommodations.
It’s been over 10 years since Carol and I have experienced a small-group luxury tour. We greatly enjoyed our Luxury Gold experience in Ireland. Let me share a few of the reasons why:
Why Luxury Gold?
- The Coach – When considering a luxury land tour, one of the crucial decisions is just how you will be traveling across the land. Many small-group land tour companies will pack people into a Sprinter van. With Luxury Gold, we traveled in a full-sized luxury coach. Further, Luxury Gold’s coaches are modified to accommodate a maximum of 40 people, whereas most coaches will carry something north of 50 people. This modification allowed us all significantly greater leg room and comfort onboard. Further, the suspensions on these luxury coaches are far superior to those on the smaller Sprinter-type vans, so the ride is very comfortable. Luxury Gold’s small group tours also have a maximum of 24 guests, which allowed us all room to spread out in the coach, offering us even more comfort. As you can see in the photograph, Carol has plenty of space around her, and I was sitting in the opposite seat. We found Luxury Gold’s coaches to be comfortable in every way.
- The Guide – As you spend a fair amount of time traveling from place to place on a land journey, you must consider the person guiding you on your way. First of all, our guide was our traveling concierge. She managed every trip detail along the way and recommended restaurants and sights for our free time. But more importantly, she was a licensed travel guide. The amount of information she passed along to us on our way was pretty remarkable. Further, she was native to Ireland. If you’re going to learn about a country, the only way to learn is through the eyes of a local. For example, having a guide imported from the United States will significantly change the experience. When our guide, Erica Dalton-Joyce, talked about some of the troubling times in Ireland’s history, you could feel the emotion as she shared these stories from her native perspective. And from the opposite perspective, her Irish pride was also palpable as she shared all that is good about her home country. Oh, I also immensely enjoyed Erica’s Irish brogue. It just wouldn’t be the same to learn about Ireland’s “wee people” without the color of her native tongue.
- The Itinerary – Once we had an understanding of how we will move about the country, where we would go came front and center. We didn’t want to spend long periods of time riding on the coach. Further, we wanted to see as much as we can within a reasonable amount of time away from home. And, we didn’t want the itinerary to be so jam-packed that we would be exhausted at the end of each day. As you might guess, the proper balance of all of this can be a little daunting. We were very pleased with the Itinerary that Luxury Gold put together. Our 12-day itinerary gave us 3-nights in Northern Ireland with 9 more nights to explore the Republic of Ireland. Our longest drive was from Belfast to Dublin (2 1/2 hours), and Luxury Gold was careful to include planned washroom stops at least every two hours.
- The Hotels – Hotels and resorts are an important piece of any land journey. A lumpy mattress, or a room the size of a closet can cast a shadow of gloom on your experience. To complicate this for luxury travelers, there may not be 5-star hotels in every destination along the way. Here again, I thought Luxury Gold did a wonderful job. Where 5-star hotels weren’t available, we enjoyed fabulous 4-star properties. And we even enjoyed two nights in Ashford Castle which would meet the needs of even the most discriminate 5-star traveler.
- The Food – It is a well-known fact that culinary experiences are a big part of any traveler’s hope and expectations. Breakfast is complimentary every morning on a Luxury Gold Tour. I really enjoyed the traditional Irish breakfast each morning which gave me the opportunity to sample and enjoy the Irish blood pudding and white pudding. But for those less adventurous in their morning cuisine, there were always plenty of options. We enjoyed a special lunch at Tracey’s Farmhouse where we all learned how to make Irish Soda Bread, and we also enjoyed a fabulous dining experience with an Irish chef who has applied for his Michelin star. And when we weren’t on a scheduled dining experience, our traveling concierge always had recommendations at hand for us to sample the local fare.
- The Pace – We found the pace of the tour to be a good blend of sightseeing and relaxation. Certainly, our time in the coach traveling from place to place was relaxing and comfortable, but we also enjoyed the fact that three of our mornings included a “relaxed start” to grab a little extra sleep. And our earliest start time on the whole journey was 8:30. Some tour companies will have you up and out early in the morning. There was none of that here.
Summing it all up
I was a little apprehensive about doing a small-group land journey. The first bit of reluctance revolved around the frequent packing and unpacking required to move from one place to the other. However, each of the hotels loaded our luggage in the coach each morning, so we weren’t lugging heavy luggage each day. And we learned to pack differently so that we could live out of our suitcase packing cubes. We quickly developed a system of what needed to come out of the suitcase at each location (typically bathroom necessities), and our specially designed suitcase cubes kept our dirty laundry separate from the clean.
My biggest relaxing deep breath came when I saw and experienced how comfortable the coaches were with Luxury Gold. We had plenty of room, and reclining seats, and we all greatly enjoyed the Irish countryside as we traveled around the country.
So, the question becomes: would I go on another Luxury Gold small-group land tour? Yes. Yes. And, Yes.
In fact, there are a number of destinations that I would love to enjoy in Luxury Gold style. Japan quickly comes to mind. And so does Scotland. And while we have already experienced Italy a number of times, we think Italy with Luxury Gold would also be the cat’s meow. I’m also thinking that New Zealand would be an excellent destination to visit by land.
So, while we have become one of the nation’s leading cruise booking travel advisors, because of our Luxury Gold experience, I am now far more open to exploring a destination by land.
Thank you Luxury Gold for opening my eyes to land journeys done right.
Luxury Gold is one of our trusted luxury small group tour companies.
We have strong relationships with senior execs, can offer you prices equal to do-it-yourself, and of course, we’ll take care of the details.
For more information or to book a fun Luxury Gold tour, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here), and we’ll reach out to you.
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