Who needs Calgon, when one only has to sign up for Tauck tour to see the world. The many adventures that Tauck offers are truly some of life’s more pleasurable experiences. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford such a vacation and experience the wonderful skills of this highly seasoned tour company, you are in for a treat. That is what my husband and I discovered when we recently completed our first Tauck tour to China. We had first heard the name Tauck on a recent cruise, which came up in conversation by some friends we made during that sailing. They had taken several Tauck tours and raved about the company. I consider myself fairly travel-savvy but had never heard this name. So, I was highly intrigued to find out more.
Tauck’s website is well-organized and reflects the level of professionalism they bring to each of their tours. Whether you are looking for a small group experience, river cruise or in-depth educational tour, there is something for everyone. Their 86 years of experience has helped them hone their approach to a fine art. It didn’t hurt that they began on the right track and have gone on to perfect their formula to "beyond perfection". Anyone who has taken one of their tours will tell you that it felt seamless and amazingly organized. The traveler is never aware of all the arrangements that go on behind the scenes, both before and during the tour. It is a comforting feeling being in the hands of tried and true professionals.
So, by now, you’re itching to know about the Tauck experience. The traveler is greeted at the arrival airport by one of their local representatives. This was particularly reassuring for us as neither my husband nor I speak Mandarin. She made sure that our bags arrived and walked us to our private car that took us to our first hotel on the itinerary. I would like to add that all Tauck hotels are either five-star or the best available. In the first city on our tour, we stayed at the Regent Beijing, a gorgeous and unquestionably comfortable hotel in the center of the city. Another great touch is that Tauck makes every effort to reserve rooms at hotels that have popular amenities such as a generous-sized swimming pool, spa and fitness center. These services can be more than welcome upon arrival after a long flight or after a long day of touring. This was especially important to me, as I love to swim, and find it most relaxing doing laps to either start my day or wind down after being on my feet. On all Tauck tours, there is always a director that manages all details and keeps a very close headcount on the group at all times. He or she is literally the "go to" person for just about any issue you can imagine. Once the problem is conveyed to them, they take responsibility to follow up to the best of their ability. An example from our trip: one of our participants discovered that someone on an intra-China flight had taken her backpack from the overhead bin by mistake, thinking it was his. His was left on the plane. This was immediately reported to our director, who in turn reported it to the airline as well as the local guide in that arrival city. Every effort was made to make an exchange while we were still there. Though I do not know the ultimate outcome (which of course depended on the other passenger returning her backpack for his), I have no doubt that Tauck went to all possible lengths to insure this could be transacted.
After many years of experience, Tauck has developed a wide network of professionals in the cities they tour. The bus guides in each of the cities we visited were local, highly informative and easy to understand. They select the best restaurants that convey the local cuisine and ease their tourists in/out of highly popular sites without lines, delays or any frustrations. The locals know the Tauck name and respect it for its repeat business and appreciative clients. Another example: in one point on our tour, I was seriously contemplating a rather expensive purchase of Chinese embroidery. On a prior vacation, with another company (cruise line), I had been "burned" by a merchant on one of the cruises recommended shore excursions, and ever since have been skittish and have since used great caution when making such purchases. But, I found some pieces in China from which I simply could not walk away. I went to the Director of our tour and asked him, point blank, "do I have any reason to be nervous about this investment or suspicious of the merchant?" He reassured me with a "absolutely not!". Tauck has a reputation to uphold. Though we may never go to China again, other tourists will, and Tauck cannot afford to have their good name sullied by mishaps that can ruin vacation memories and could otherwise have been prevented. Word of mouth travels FAST and both Tauck and the merchants with whom they do business know this fact well.
Tauck takes pride in each and every venture. At our farewell dinner, on the last evening of our itinerary, we gathered to enjoy each other’s company one last time. Our Director revealed to us that it is one of his personal joys watching the wonderment on our faces and listening to the pleasure in our conversations as we discover new places. My husband has long had a favorite motto, which I still believe rings true: "the first day in a new city is magical". I think that was what our director wanted to enjoy as he shared his love of travel with us. Some participants got up and spoke of how much they enjoyed the tour. I had to ring in with my own observation. At the opening dinner, we were mere strangers - 37 people from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Mexico and England. But as we said our goodbyes, we were no longer strangers. We had formed friendships, exchanged helpful information and lively conversation, and had enjoyed a great adventure together. We left the tour better for it.
No doubt, there are many more examples of Tauck’s exemplary professionalism, but I dare they must be too numerous to mention. I encourage you to view their website and save up for one of their adventures. It is money well spent! Bon Voyage.