Central Holidays

Dear Gary,

I would like to thank your organization, particularly Jane Masterson, for doing such a tremendous job with regards to our recent Egypt trip. With recent bombings and warden messages, university officials required that the trip itinerary be revised at the last minute. Entire days had to be rearranged on the itinerary and several students (and 1 trip leader) dropped out at the last minute, and I know these changes required a tremendous amount of time and energy, not to mention skill, in order to pull this off.
I\'m pretty sure Jane had to put aside her workload for a few days in order to accommodate our requests, and we are grateful she did all this so willingly. The level of customer service we received was superb, and she should be commended. Thanks for providing our group with such an amazing experience.

Margaret
23 Mar 2009

To whom it may concern,

I have been asked to provide feedback on my experiences with Henry Ayoub as our Egyptologist and I do so enthusiastically without reservations. I travelled to Egypt in January 2009 with a group of 25 students. This was our first time to Egypt and I do not have any prior formal training relating to Egyptian history and culture. Thus, I was reliant on our guide to provide the necessary educational experiences for the students. This is a big risk. I have had experiences with guides that are very knowledgeable, but did not motivate the students to learn from them. In my experience, the most important aspect of education is the relationship that forms between student and teacher. If there is no relationship that develops, the students are not motivated to learn about the materials presented. Henry was such a fantastic teacher and person, that the students were quick to form a lasting bond with him and in return, learned a great deal from him. He showed a level of care and compassion for our students that was truly remarkable, especially given the nature of our relationship and the brief period we spent together. Even now, Henry's name is spoken with great affection among our students. In addition, other professors have been impressed by the level of knowledge our students demonstrate about Egyptian history and culture.

What makes Henry such an outstanding teacher/guide is that he treats all of the students with respect. He does not talk down to them, but treats them as novices and apprentices in the field. At the opposite extreme, he is also firm with them and does not allow the group to take control of the situation. In other words, he has the skills to maintain interest in the group without losing control of the group and the environment.


During my time in Egypt, I considered Henry a colleague. I often thought Henry could easily be confused for one of my colleagues at my home institution. His knowledge, demeanor, and compassion for his students and subject are in-line with what you would expect of any colleague. Our really enjoyed talking to Henry on a variety of topics, not all related to Egypt. I know that the students who were privy to these discussions reported learning a great deal from listening to our conversations.

Finally, let me be blunt in saying that I would not travel back to Egypt without Henry Ayoub as our guide. Although I have no other experiences to compare with, I would be hard pressed to even consider taking another teacher/guide for a tour of Egypt. I was told, in an unsolicited fashion, on several occasions in Egypt that Henry is the best Egyptologist/guide in the business. After our experiences, I have no doubt what so ever in this claim. I was so impressed with how he cared and took care of our group, how he taught the students, and how he related to me, my students, and my colleagues, that I would change itineraries for a trip in order to have Henry as our guide!

John Lefebvre
03 Mar 2009

  Hi,

 

I am planning to fax the paper review form, but I wanted to send this to mention a few people individually.

 

In the New Jersey office I wanted to mention Maria Garcia. She is so gracious and patient in answering all my questions.

 

I had a wonderful time on my trip. The organization of STI was impeccable. The transfer personnel were always punctual and very friendly. I never had to wait for anyone, not even when my initial flight into Cairo arrived over a hour early!

 

My tour coordinator and transfer person in Cairo, Ahmed Salah, was especially good at his job. He was always smiling when he greeted me at the airport or picked me up the my hotel. He seemed to know everyone and was able to wisk me through the airport in no time at all. He made me feel extremely comfortable in a foreign country, which sometimes can be difficult when traveling solo. He laughed easily and was easy to be around. Anything I needed, he made it happen. Just like that!

 

I was also pleasantly surprised when I had a private car and a private guide in Cairo. When I asked my guide why I was not with a small group, he said "private is much better". I sincerely agreed and was not about to argue with him!

 

My tour guide in Cairo, Ahmed Dahab, was a really great guide. He was able to make Egypt come alive for me. What he taught me about Egypt and it's people, made the remaining days of my trip so much more enjoyable. He was very knowledgeable and was able to relay that knowledge effectively. He was also very friendly and offered to take my picture at all the sites. I very much appreciated that!

 

My guide, Moustafa Bahr, on the Lake Nasser cruise was also very good. I'm not sure if he works for STI or the ship itself. If he does not work for STI, maybe he should. We had a very difficult person in our group of six and he handled the situation very professionally. He is really good, and a very nice person.

 

Can you please forward this to the appropriate person or people at Sakkara Travel in Egypt. Thank you so much.

Sherilyn Uher
15 Feb 2009

Dear Elhamy,

Thank you very much for arranging this amazing trip for us. It was extremely well organized and we had a wonderful time -- all 17 of us. The trip was exhilarating, exciting, educational and a whole lot of fun.

My hugest thanks goes to you for getting us Ayman Bassily as our guide in the CairoNile Cruise part of the trip. Ayman made the trip 10 times more amazing. He is very well organized, dealt with all our last minute changes very easily with absolutely no hassles (day 1 and day 2 got swtiched around when my husband missed his connection in London, we changed our mind on the Sound and Light show at the intersection), took us to local restaurants when we complained that we did not want hard rock cafe, told us what is just a tourist trap and not worth doing, never pressured us to buy when he took us to the papyrusalabasterjewelry shops.

When it came to the actual temples and places we visited, Ayman was absolutely riveting with the way he taught and guided us through the various monuments. His depth of knowledge is astounding. He is able to communicate very clearly, without being judgemental and always presents all sides. He quickly figures out who is interested in the art, and who is interested in the stories and directs everyone according to their interests. The trips and bus rides were filled with all of us asking him many many questions about the past and the present. He never took umbrage at any question and answered them all without ever hurrying, and always with all points of view.

He helped us beyond what was in the itinerary. He took us shopping in Edfu and Cairo. He came a 2nd time to the Egyptian Museum, so that the 2 people who missed it the first time could see it with a guide (and the 2nd trip he explained different thinks in the museum), he arranged a car for us to go to the Whirling Dervish and Dashur, he called on New Year's day to make sure the car came to pick us up, and he always showed us the best places to eat, even giving us recommendations in Sharm El Sheik. Finally, he does all this with an amazing sense of humor which is the icing on the cake. We all suffered from Ayman withdrawal in Sharm and when we got back from the trip. He is just an amazing tour guide with an infectious enthusiasm for his subject (which he is the master of) and an extremely understanding and outgoing personality. We thank you again for making it possible for all of us to be guided by Ayman. It was an honor.

Wael was also very personable, courteous, highly efficient and professional. He helped and guided us so ably through immigration on the way in and was amazing with the way he got us checked in for our flights on the way out. The place was utter confusion and we would never have made it out without Wael's help.

Overall, Sakkara did a wonderful job of handling all our needs. We appreciated the up grade to the Mojito, the large bus for us 17 people, the ease with which Sakkara and you agreed to us cancelling St. Catherine and transferring it to Ras Mohammed, helping us with all ariport transfers. Sakkara was really very professional and kept it all running extremely smoothly. We also appreciated that they sent us a separate guide (Michael) for Ras Mohammad and so on the boat we had 2 guides -- the boats guide and Michael. Michael helped us through the rentals and then took good care of the couple of people in our group who were snorkelling for the first time and eased their fears and took good care of them.

The only person that we felt could have done a better job was Reda, who was our main guide in Sharm. We assume he is new at this job. He needs to put himself in the tourist's shoes and understand that sometimes changes do need to be made. He gets frustrated if any changes are made. His English needs a bit more improvement as it sometimes comes across as rude (but we understand that he does not mean to be) and sometimes we truly cannot understand what he is saying. He seems extremely hurried and has a hard time juggling everything. He means well and is trying hard. He finally did execute what we needed at Sharm, just not with the ease and personality of the other Sakkara folks we met.

And finally, thanks to you folks at STI for being flexible with the bookings and handling the ever growing group (from 8 people to 12 to 17). Thanks for changing flights to Sharm just a couple of days before we left and for handling the St. Catherine to Ras Mohammed switch very easily.

We loved our trip and hope to go back to Egypt in another 5 or 6 years. We will definitely recommend you to all our friends.

Radhika Arun
12 Jan 2009

Bonjour El Hamy,

Simplement un petit mot pour ter remercier de nous avoir si bien recu en ?gypte mon epouse et moi. Nous sommes revenus enchante de notre voyage. J'ai adore tout ce que j'ai vu et crois-moi, je suis dorenavant tres bien outille pour encore mieux vendre l'?gypte aux agents de voyage quebecois. J'espere d'ailleurs qu'on pourra mettre sur pied tres rapidement pour avril ou mai prochain un famtrip comprenant la visite des pyramides, la croisiere, de meme qu'un petit sejour a Sharm El Shiek et Hurgada avec quelques rondes de golf. Il serait tres bien de generer des ventes-groupe pour les golfeurs et meme d'organiser un pro-am en collaboration avec quelques professionnels de golf du Quebec pour l'automne 2009. Le parcours de Luxor doit malheureusement etre mis de cote, mais les parcours de Sharm El Shiek et Mirage sont superbes et adequat pour recevoir des golfeurs. Le resort Jolie Ville est un des plus beaux que j'ai eu l'occasion de voir jusqu'ici alors que le JW Marriott n'a rien a envier aux plus beaux hotels du monde. Vraiment fantastique....

Je tiens a te signaler le professionalisme de tous les representants STI rencontres au cours du voyage. Wael, Moody (il est formidable) et Philippe se sont relayes pour nous encadrer avec beaucoup de chaleur. Nos deux guides, Ahmed (crosiere) et Heba (pyramides) ont ete a la hauteur, particulierement le jeune Ahmed qui a su capte notre attention par des propos justifies, amusants, sympatiques et surtout bien ponderes tout au long des differentes visites. Il est vraiment un atout majeur au sein de votre organisation. Merci egalement a tout le personnel sur le Mojito. Ce fut tres agreable de les cotoyer. Accueil et encadrement impeccable.

Merci de transmettre mes felicitations et remerciements a toutes les personnes concernees.

Serge
12 Dec 2008

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