Signature Collection by Gate 1 vs STORY Land & Sea - Tour Companies Compared
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5 | Excellent
Not yet rated
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Overall — 5
Value — 5.0
Guide — 5.0
Activities — 4.9
Lodging — 5.0
Transportation — 5.0
Meals — 5.0
The knowledge of every guide made the trip soo much more enjoyable.5.0 December 2018
We just returned from a 10 day trip to Italy on Story’s Treasured Cities tour and we had the most amazing trip. We were not part of one of the group tours as they were sold out so we were a bit nervous about getting around not speaking Italian. Story arranged everything soo perfectly for us that it took 100% of the stress out of the trip. Someone was waiting for us at every airport, train station etc to get us to our destination without a hitch. We had private one on one tours daily and the guides were incredible. Andrea in Venice, Susanna Buricchi in Florence and Sonia in Rome went above and beyond. The knowledge of every guide made the trip soo much more enjoyable. You have plenty of free time in each city to explore and the hotels are always right in the heart of the cities, all walkable. If you were even questioning story don’t, It’s worth every penny and we could not be more pleased.Read more
Tour STORY Land & Sea Company Reviews
We just returned from an amazing tour of Italy.5.0 September 2018
Best.Vacation.Ever. We just returned from an amazing tour of Italy. Our Tour Captain handled all of the details behind the scenes, leaving us free to enjoy our culinary and cultural immersion in the best Italy has to offer. Perfect balance of guided tours and free time. Highly recommended!Read more
Tour STORY Land & Sea Company Reviews
We decided to trust Story to deliver one of our bucket list trips. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT!5.0 June 2018
Did NOT Disappoint
We decided to trust Story to deliver one of our bucket list trips. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT! The tour through Venice, Florence, Cortona, and Rome exceeded our expectations. Absolutely everything was FIRST CLASS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. We gave it 5 stars only because there aren’t 6. The published itinerary was delivered in spades with special additions, sometimes twice a day. We never touched luggage, as it was moved for us from location to location. We never had to deal with tickets for transportation or museums. The local, private guides were super. The included dinners and wine were superb. This is a no driving, hassle free tour. We are planning to take another Story Small Group tour.Read more
AND, as a special treat, the owner of the company was our tour captain. We tried several things that may be included in future itineraries. In the course of 9 days nothing flustered him. Everything was taken in stride, dealt with and resolved quickly. Nothing interfered with his fantastic service to his guests. We were not customers in any sense of the word. There was never a hint that Story was trying to watch the budget.
For those of you reading this and trying to decide, there are some things you need to consider. (When you have questions, call. You'll find that the Story help line is very knowledgeable and helpful.)
Small group - There were 15 people on our tour (16 is maximum). The tour caption had the time to get to know all of us. We saw lots of groups that appeared to be 40-50 people! You get to decide which is best for you. The smaller group = higher cost. We thought that it was easily worth it.
Walking - There is a lot of walking on this tour. There is always the option to use a taxi to get from place to place (extra cost). Some of the people on the tour with us had apps to count steps. Most showed more than 10,000 at noon time! MANY of those steps are on stairs and rough/cobble stone streets. Many of the stairs are inside attractions - not between them – so they can’t be avoided. By the end of our nine days, some tour group members were opting out of some planned activities. Opinion: If you can't complete a three mile walk, over uneven terrain, at a three mph pace (that's faster than most people walk), comfortably; get in shape. You’ll never do a constant three mile walk, on the tour – but it’ll feel like it.
Weather - We had fantastic weather! Temperature in the mid/low 70's and two sprinkles in nine days. Mostly sunshine. A great time to go.
Crowds - On the other hand, it wasn't such a great time to go. The crowds of tourists were overwhelming, everywhere except Cortona. I.E.: Our private, skip-the-line guided tour of the Vatican was especially BAD. We waited in line for about an hour and then once inside, we were literally shoulder to shoulder for the remaining two - three hours. It was nearly impossible to enjoy/understand what we were seeing. We spent more time trying to keep in sync with the group than looking at the art. The Sistine Chapel was NOT worth the time it took to get there. This was not something that Story could control. If the Vatican is important to you, go some other time of the year! If you are there during the busy season, opt out. There are thousands of fantastic things to see in Rome that won't be busy.
Security - We had a tour guide point out a small group of gypsy/pick-pockets as we exited the Vatican and steered us around them. That was the only "issue" in nine days - not a big deal. But, we were reminded to be "vigilant" many times - especially around crowds.
Navigation - Venice, Florence and Rome are VERY difficult to get around. There are many streets/alleys that run in apparently random directions. The maps available through hotels/tourist agents are not in adequate detail. Consider a hand-held GPS navigation system MANDITORY. Our phone did not have cell connectivity, so we down loaded the Google map. It worked once. Be very careful that you have a navigation device that works! Download a local map and test, test, test in airplane mode (?) before you go.
Driving – If you are going to Italy and renting a car, during the busy season, Venice allows no cars, problem solved. Driving in Florence and ESPECIALLY Rome is crazy. You've been forewarned.
Hotels - As it says, the hotels are in the center of the city/attractions. For example: the hotel in Rome was 200 feet from the Pantheon! This means that some of the buildings are more than 1,500 years old. You'll get used to seeing corners that you'd think should be 90 degrees, but aren't. Be prepared to spend time learning how things work and how to find your room - it'll be different from hotel to hotel and what you are used to! WiFi worked good in each hotel, except Rome. (See review of Grand Hotel de Minirva on TripAdvisor)
|Tours||1 Trip||12 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 0||$ 552|
|Operator Type||Group Tour Operator||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Global Operator||Global Operator|
|Headquarters||Fort Washington, Pennsylvania||Centennial, Colorado|
A unique collection of luxury trips designed by Gate 1 travel.
What Makes Gate 1 Signature Collection Stand Out?
These are luxury minded trips with a local focus. Guides are all local experts, from and living in the destination you’re visiting. Each itinerary features exclusive experiences. Groups are small and each day is full of activity but well balanced.
They focus on offering only a select group of trips in this special collection - allowing them the freedom to create truly spectacular itineraries - which include more inclusions in the price than their other collections.
The tagline is “More Luxury for Less”. These tours may not be in same luxury travel class if you’re used to Abercrombie & Kent, however where comfort and extravagance meets fun and busy travel days of sightseeing and tours, you’ll find Gate 1 Signature Collection.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Gate 1 Signature Collection?
Those travelers who are willing to spend a little bit more for a 4-5 star experience, will probably find a sweet spot with Gate 1 Signature tours. These trips tend to be attended by older travelers, in the 50+ range.
Don’t expect too much strenuous activity. You can expect easy paced walks, guided tours and lectures, and stops to explore interesting cultural sites and historical attractions.
While some of these cultural experiences, included in their “Signature Experiences”, are truly unique, be wary that many of these inclusions are fairly standard offerings - such as a hot air balloon ride over the African savannah. So the luxury experience of exclusivity you may be expecting is to be taken with a grain of salt. These tours offer wonderful experiences - but the destinations or activities are not always particularly uncommon or rare.
They currently don’t offer an overly extensive list of countries, but tours do go all over the world. This includes Central Europe, Spain, and the UK, Israel, Jordan and Morocco, Peru, Southeast Asia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Gate 1 Signature Collection Travel Style
Signature Collection tours with Gate 1 aim for comfort, ease, and unique cultural experiences. Like their other brands, Gate 1’s Signature Collection is about making sure your sightseeing is maximized, and the price is right for the experience.
Most sightseeing, meals, wifi, tips, and their “Signature Experiences” are included in the itinerary price - unlike Gate 1’s main brand which offers less inclusions. This type of itinerary more helpful to budget travelers wishing to pick and choose which activities they would like to pay for. Gate 1 Signature Tours, however, are best suited to those who want more inclusions and less hassle to have to decide on how to spend their travel time.
Why Choose a Tour with Gate 1 Signature Collection?
If you’re an older traveler looking for a boutique, comfortable, and well paced tour, the Signature tours may suit you very well. Travelers love the customer service, attention to detail, and depth of knowledge the guides bring to each day on the tour. There is also a good balance of free time and optional additional sightseeing opportunities.
All tours feature included “Signature Experiences” which are the main highlights that make the Signature Collection tours stand out from the other Gate 1 brands. These are unique excursions, usually with a strong cultural focus - such as an evening of Irish music in Galway, or a traditional dinner in the deserts of Morocco. They also often include lectures that explore a destinations history or a specific facet of the culture.
Story Land & Sea is a travel company centered around small group tours both off and on land. It was founded by Mark Story in 1988 and after much success, expanded to a full operation in 2003. It remains family-owned in Centennial, Colorado and prides itself on its family values, which they reflect in their services.
What Makes Them Stand Out?
Story Land & Sea distinguishes itself by its main focus on small group tours. With no more than 16 people on each tour, Story Land & Sea establishes an individualized and memorable experience. The company also utilizes the multiplicity of activities in each location, providing a wide-range of things to do in each itinerary. This also encompasses their pricing options which vary from luxury to affordable.
Who Travels With Them?
As mentioned above, Story Land & Sea provides a well-rounded pricing range. Prices start at about $1,200 and can reach to about $5,000 depending on the desired tour. Individuals who choose Story Land & Sea average between 35-55 years of age. Story Land & Sea also provides discounts for groups of 8 members or more.
Where Do They Operate?
Story Land & Sea operates in Western Europe, Africa, Mexico, Australia and the Pacific. They also have tours to the Galapagos Islands. The company does offer specifically focused tours of Italy as well.
Why Travel With Them?
Those who want to feel culturally immersed in their surrounding should travel with Story Land & Sea. The fact that each tour group does not extend past the count of 16 means that each individual is able to get a more personalized experience. The “tour captains” have a pristine expertise of the subject matter while also not being intrusive on the experience. Story Land & Sea prides itself on putting the guest first and exceeding their expectations.