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Southern India & the backwaters of Kerala Tour

My husband and I recently returned from India.  We had been on your Southern Indian holiday starting in Chennai and returning from Kochi between Feb 25th and March 9th.  The holiday was enjoyable and made more so by the very hard work, sunny personality and organisational skills of the Indian guide called Dennis.  Dennis coped very well while Matt Purse, the Riviera Guide unfortunately had to be hospitalised.  If the opportunity ever ariss to employ Dennis again, then I am sure he would do another thoroughly good job.

Review by Viv and Don Fleet on 31 March 2016

I would like to acknowledge with your selves just what a fantastic trip we have had recently to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Both of us really enjoyed it, there was good variation and the guides and tour manager were always alert to what was going on, and we had several ad hoc stops to enjoy. The Hindu festival of Shiva’s marriage was one such stop. Any criticism, the days where lunch was organised for us, we (or at least my husband and myself) didn’t really need something so substantial in the middle of the day.

Also I would like to commend our Tamil guide, Dennis, who took over from Matt Purse so ably, when Matt was taken so seriously ill and needed hospital attention. He was able to manage both being tour manager and guide, at times with very little sleep, when he was sorting out Matt’s health problems. I can’t compliment him enough on his skill, not only as a guide, but tour manager and his English was superb. Just how lucky we were as a group to have him on board.

We will certainly use Riviera again, we have used your services in the past, and will continue to do so.

Review by Patricia Howorth on 24 March 2016

We just wanted you to know that we have sent a big thank you to both Matt and Dennis for the way they looked after us on the recent Southern India and Kerala tour.  Matt was clearly in a great deal of discomfort and pain before he eventually went to hospital and is a credit to your company for the way in which he “soldiered on”.  Dennis took over the running of the tour in a seamless manner and from our perspective everything went without a hitch.

This was our first trip with Riviera and we thoroughly enjoyed it - we are now booked for Italy in June and Vietnam in September!

Review by Peter and June McWilliam on 21 March 2016

Have just returned from a fantastic holiday in southern India and Kerala and we could have not been more pleased. This was solely due to the effort put in by Riviera Travel and the arrangements made. We would without doubt use you company again. Of particular mention is the matter of the guides. Matt, the main guide was taken ill, ended up in hospital for surgery and all further arrangements fell upon the local guide - Dennis. In all respects he was excellent, from local knowledge to arranging onward travel - we would commend his to you. Throughout the tour the provided accommodation was most suitable and of a high standard. Thank you.

Review by Trevor Sturgess on 21 March 2016

Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the tour. 
We were very sad to lose Matt so early in the tour but were most anxious for him to get the best care possible.  We have done, I think, seven tours with you & Mat is one of the best, probably the best, tour guide we have had.  I am sure he & you were guiding from the wings but the local guide, Denis, did a superb job in looking after us - we can’t speak highly enough of him. 
Also just wanted to let you know that in our opinion the overnight stay (a newish introduction I gather) at the Pondi beach hotel was very much appreciated - a superb situation on the beach & a welcome break to help recuperate from the long flight.
Please pass on our very best wishes to Matt for a speedy recovery.
With many thanks

Review by Paul & Susan on 21 March 2016

We recently returned from our first tour with Riviera and it will not be our last. The tour was fantastic, well organised, well structured and with fabulous hotels. The initial part of the tour was with Matt and the Indian guide Dennis. Unfortunately Matt was taken ill in Madurai and had to leave the tour. The tour was taken over by Dennis who was excellent continuing to provide endless facts and information about the Southern Indian way of life and culture. He effortlessly guided us through the latter part of the tour. Nothing was too much trouble and he was always approachable and pleasant and certainly went the extra mile to compensate for the loss of Matt. We would highly recommend this tour to anyone interested in visiting and learning more about Southern India.

Review by David Alston and Carolyn Brewster on 18 March 2016

I’ve just returned from another excellent tour, this time to Southern India. Everything was very well organised by our witty tour guide Matt, along with our knowledgeable Indian guide Pradeep. Matt dealt with the needs of the group in a professional and caring way, even by supplying everyone with cough sweets who needed them! This is my 3rd trip with Riviera & I was not disappointed. I’m looking forward to booking another trip before not too long! The Spice Village was an exceptional stay & would have liked an extra night there!

Review by Eliz Miller on 9 March 2016

Back from another super trip with Riviera and trying to restore normal time to my brain and dispel the usual horrid cold that is the free gift of long haul flights.
What a terrific time in Southern India, visual delights, excitements, smiles, heat, good company and lovely hotels. It was a fortnight well organised and very well run by our guide Matt Locmelis, a man of tremendous patience & good will. The driver Panni and his help were excellent and drove with skill and knowledge of the route.
The food was tasty and plentiful, but a Colombo cough picked up en-route spread like the plague and was the sound track of all film clips.
The local Indian guide was top class. Visiting temples with the scholarly Pradeep required attention & my brain sometimes drifted away as tales of all the deities were told, never mind the elephant god, I had an elephant ride.
I saw spices growing, tea plantations & the tomb of Vasco Da Gama (my 6th form history teacher would be pleased).
People were almost always delightful and smiling to the visitors, & we were photographed by THEM a few times too for our European strangeness.
We chugged around the waterways of Kerala sipping cold Kingfisher beer & feeling pretty lucky. Left Cochin & 22 hours later back at my front door.
Worth every minute.
Now I’m back to the endless news of Brexit, Trump et al .........it’s great to get away. Thank you Riviera.

Review by Vicky Morley on 8 March 2016

I am writing to say than you to all concerned for this wonderful trip, particularly our guide Matt Locmelis who was superb throughout.  He was organised conscientious and funny, a pleasure to travel with especially as I went on my own knowing no one when I started.  A great group and an unforgettable holiday.

Review by Jane Barton on 8 March 2016

This was our first visit to India, and we have been left with a profound respect and admiration for this wonderful country. Our local tour guide Pradeep’s knowledge of the history, spiritual insight into Hinduism and love of his country was inspirational.
Matt, our tour guide was organised, witty and made us all feel safe and respected. Unfortunately a cough virus made its presence felt for quite a few in the group, but Matt was attententive in distributing a huge jar of cough sweets to those who required them - luckily not us!
The tour itself ( although demanding in terms of early starts) was well planned, balancing insights into culture, history, every day life and nature.
We loved the variety of hotels- one or two were a little lacking in service, but this was made up by local charm. We could have stayed a week at the Spice Village…

Review by Carolyn and Rob Desforges on 28 February 2016

Just to say thank you for a fabulous experience exploring Tamil Nadu and Kerala with Riviera. Our forth trip still great value for money, amazing sites and different each day. The tour manager “Matt” was a real gem he made a real difference to the whole experience.

Review by Bernard Thorpe on 10 February 2016

Our group were the first to experience this new tour and it was much smoother than might have been expected. Tour manager Matt has help set it up and all agreed that it was a complete delight. The division from East to West, from Chennai to Kochi and from the Temples and Historic sites to the Spice Village and Nature Reserves provided a continual refreshing change of experiences.
South India was very different from the North being cleaner, less frenetic and with a more moderate climate.
My congratulations to Matt and the team for a memorable trip.

Review by KEN MALIPHANT on 27 November 2014

We really enjoyed this tour!
Travelling in comfort, expertly driven from Chennai to Kochi, we had the benefit of an absorbing grandstand view through busy streets, rural paddy fields, tea estates and rubber plantations of this fascinating part of the world as we visited significant historic sights with our local guide.
Our accommodation was well selected and of high quality, some of historic note and individual to the area, as in Kerela, and a feature of our evolving Indian journey.
Our guide, Matt Purse, enhanced our overall experience and it was an additional bonus to share this special tour with our fellow Riveria travellers.
The whole holiday was a hightlight - I won’t say anymore, so you can enjoy it for yourselves!

Review by Rowena & Douglas Crawford on 3 December 2014

This was our second touring holiday in India with Riviera and we were again impressed by their excellent standard of organisation and choice of accommodation. Our experienced and affable tour guide, Matt Purse was very attentive and nothing was too much trouble for him.  The itinerary was varied and gave us a real flavour of life in this part of India - exploring busy towns and seafront fishing markets, visiting rural plantations and craft centres, trekking in sub-tropical forests and enjoying the Keralan Backwaters by houseboat.  We thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful wildlife, the varied agriculture, the welcoming people and getting to know our fantastic group of travelling companions.

Review by Ian and Diane Bryan on 3 December 2014

This was a fantastic tour of Southern India, one of the best trips we have experienced. Our tour manager, Matt Purse, was informative, amusing and totally professional, always going the extra mile to ensure things ran smoothly. Our coach driver was outstanding and we always felt safe in his hands. The tour provided a fascinating insight into Southern India, so different from the more frenetic north, and the itinerary, often away from the main tourist routes, was packed with interesting and varied things – temples, palaces, local markets, dancing, martial arts, spice, rubber and tea plantations, working the Chinese fishing nets at Kochi, a houseboat cruise along the backwaters, and so much more. Although we travelled 2000 km in all, no single journey was too long and there were well planned stops. The hotels were excellent and the food consistently delicious; the Spice Village and Coconut Lagoon were havens of peace and very special indeed. There was ample leisure time to recover one’s strength by the pool. And just to round it off, a wonderful group of fellow travellers. Well done and thank you, Riviera!

Review by Penny and Alastair MacKichan on 10 December 2014

Just returned from a wonderful trip of Southern India and Kerela.  Our tour Manager Matt Locmelis was very organised, amusing and nothing was too much trouble for him.  He made the whole trip run so smoothly, listened to what the travellers loved to see and added a few extra stops to see things that were not on the itinerary.  Our guide in India, Radhika had a wealth of knowledge.  And we felt very safe in the hands of our driver Santosh and his young assistant Satish.  We also had a lovely group of like minded fellow travellers.
We had to step back to reality, when we had to collect our own bags at Heathrow.
This trip is a gentle introduction to India for anyone considering travelling to India for the first time.
Thank you to all the team for a memorable trip.

Review by Nilam and Mel Shah on 26 February 2015

The most amazing trip.  It really was Incredible India and my Granddaughter and I enjoyed every minute of it. Hotels were top class but The Coconut Lagoon was our favourite. Thank to Matt and Radigar our guides on our journey, and to santosh and satish the driver and assistant.  Would truly love to return and i agree with with everything that has been written before.  My fourth trip with Riviera and they never disappoint.Great fellow travellers on this trip.  Anne Greatwood

Review by anne greatwood and hannah young on 4 March 2015

Well Riviera, this tour was a mixed blessing ! The tour was our first visit to India and you have left us with an urgent desire to return to this intriguing, wonderful country.
From first booking and initial call to your office, our experience of Riviera Travel has been one of professionalism .The tour was a delight, with superb hotels, set in beautiful surroundings offering excellent food and facilities.The journey, managed by Matt and Stalin who kept us entertained and informed with tact and humour included many additional sights and experiences besides the set programme. Our coach driver and his right hand man were ever prompt and cheerful. Reading other reviews about this tour, it’s difficult to offer any new positive remarks. Suffice it to say, this was a wonderful introduction to India and we will certainly recommend Riviera to anyone seeking an escorted tour.

Review by Chris Roberts & Monica Maloney on 4 March 2015

This was a first class tour in every respect. The basic itinerary was well planned and delivered on what was promised in the brief but our tour guides went the extra mile to provide us with unscheduled diversions which made it even better. The hotels we stayed in were all of a superb standard although the buffet meal at Le Pondy Resort, while adequate, did not match the standard achieved by the food at other hotels. The Spice Village Hotel was for us the most enjoyable of all because the staff and food were outstanding –particularly at the 50 Mile Restaurant. Our local guide Radhika was a mine of information and always did her best to ensure we were fully informed but she really excelled in smaller groups when she could be more spontaneous. Above all we would have to single out Matt Locmelis, our Riviera guide, who was superb. He combined efficiency and hard work so that the tour ran impeccably; but his wit and repartee made it a tour we shall always remember. This is our third tour with Riviera. The others have been good but this was just outstanding.

Review by Michael Brocklehurst and Margaret Price on 12 March 2015

A memorable holiday in every respect, made even better by the untiring efforts of our tour manager Julie who ensured that we had a smooth and worry free tour. The hotels were all of a very good standard and each had a charm of its own and in every case, hotel staff were overall the best we have experienced. Dining was for us a delightful experience of Indian cuisine.
This was our first visit to India and the tour itself exceeded our expectation and provided a perfect insight into the culture, everyday life, the environment and nature of southern India.

Review by Keith and Pauline Whitehead on 15 March 2015

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