Five Star Tours (Closed)
A big travel agency in Singapore with strong specialization in Malaysian holidays. They do everything from coaches to cruises and tours.
In January 2014, they went into lquidation, closing all 8 outlets and shutting down their website. For more information, you can refer to this report by TOC.
The morning of the first day started off pretty fine except for some delays at the gather-point. To be fair, there were too many things agent had to take care off - taking attendance and bringing our luggages to the coach. She was in-charged of two of the coaches which I think was too much for her to handle.
On my way to Cameroon Highlands, the coach broke down in the middle of the highway. As the replacement coach will need about 2 hours to reach us, we were told to get hitch by another coach at the rest point. As the other coach was already full, only half of our passengers were able to board standing till the door. Just as things seem to be going on fine, it started to rain. We waited for the replacement coach for nearly 7 hours at the rest stop. And by the time we reached Cameroon Highlands, it was way past midnight. Imagine our frustration and helplessness.
On our way back to Singapore, the coach broke down, again. By then, we were all already laughing it off saying that the coach doesn't want us to return. Fortunately, the wait for the replacement coach took only about 30 minutes.
Well, my trip was still good despite some hip-cups here and there. The coaches breaking down one after another throughout my trip had allowed me some insights as I was able to gaze at the surroundings more. I saw "Kampongs" with roosters and chicks running around, perspiration on their head and bodies as people work. I couldn't feel any luckier to be born in Singapore and enjoying so many benefits. Things that I have been taking granted for, such as transportation. At least I do not have to experience bus breaking down on a regular basis whenever I go out.
So to be fair, despite there are still many rooms for improvements on the agency side, I feel that it is still a good trip.
My first trip was around 6 years ago with Five Star Tours, and the very first incident, namely the bus moving off an hour late, was a big let-down for us. Firstly, the bus driver and the tour guide felt that having a smoke was more important than moving off on time (Hello, we pay you money we expect a good standard of service from you). Next, the tour guide was confused about the programme of the day as well as the pit-stops. Due to incorrect directions, we missed our stop at a food court in Malaysia and had to detour, wasting time along the way. Moreover, once we reached Genting Highlands, very little initiative was taken and we felt like prisoners, our every place and destination rigidly fixed without much space to explore on our own.
My second trip, around 3 years ago, was really much more enjoyable. We had more freedom, there were no-screw ups along the way and we found that much of the places in Genting Highlands were actually not covered in the tours. This was a huge disappointment as we missed many key attractions such as the rollercoaster rides, ice-skating, abseiling and other stuff.
Hence, I would advocate not booking a tour agency, especially Five Star Tours, because the tours they actually give is worth One Star.
However, the news about its closure, that was announced today, had taken me aback. Its sudden closure has changed its good impression that I used to have of it.
Because of its closure, many customers, who have paid for their trips and are looking forward to their overseas trip, are worried about not being able to get back the lump sum of money that they have deposited. One of the worrisome customers is none other than my aunt.
With her extended family of 33 members, they have paid a hefty sum of deposit and were already preparing the necessary clothing for their winter trip to Korea. However, all those preparations were wasted and newly bought winter wears are no longer of good use.
I am pretty disgusted by the irresponsibility that the company possesses because it has not only disappointed many of its loyal customers but has also caused approximately 100 workers to be unemployed overnight without any notice in advance.
It has certainly ruined its good image that my grandma always had.
As I did not have time to do research and thought that the agency would arrange a good itinerary since they are an agency in the travel business. But I was dead wrong, when I reached Australia I found the itinerary provided was not practical. Its better off to go there and take your own time to arrange a schedule, or find another agency who knows the timing of events in Australia.
Right after the fair, 5 Stars called up and said all our hotels, except Tangalooma Wild Dolphine Resort, had no vacancies. They said we were upgraded. The Travelodge Southbank they arranged looked more like a 2 star hotel and the food was lousy and the staff were rude.
5 Star arranged for us to have a late checkin and early checkout from a beautiful Tangalooma Resort. So we did not enjoy it much.
We missed breakfast and were given a boxed breakfast at Outrigger Hotel as an early morning flight was arranged from Gold Coast to Melbourne. This is the worst breakfast we had. It came with a small cake, those that you buy 20 for at Giant Supermarket at $3+, a packet drink and a pudding.
In Melbourne, the hotel was 2 Star instead of 4 or 5 Star as promised.
5 Star arranged our itinerary to start at 7:05 for most of the days and the breakfast at the hotel starts at 7:00am. We had 5 mins for breakfast!!! The staff at the hotel were inflexible and did not allow us to enter before 7:00am. This includes the others who stood in line waiting for it to open.
In conclusion, please do not book your free N easy to Gold Coast or Melbourne with 5 Stars as it is one of the worst experiences I've had after so many travels.
To be honest, it's been n years since I've went to Genting, or anywhere on a long-distance coach for that matter. The full experience would be good and I would have rated them higher if only....
The redemption of bus tickets and details were good. Due to hectic work schedule, I only managed to drop by the Century Square branch 4 days before my planned travel date. I arrived 5 mins prior to their closing and they were already clearing their accounts (yes, due to hectic work again). I half-expected them to either tell me that they were fully booked since it was quite last minute, tell me to come back again since they are closed or show me a frustrated and impatient attitude while serving me. To my surprise, no, that all didn't occur. In fact, the staff were professional and attentive. Smile were rare but at least they didn't appear impatient with me for holding them up from knocking off.
The bus journey to Genting was great. It was the first time I've experienced sitting in those 2 levels coach (as mentioned, didn't take coach for years). It was spacious with ample leg space. There were a good collection of movies being played on demand and a gaming entertainment system (which doesn't work on my seat btw). However, the movies were good enough for me for I managed to catch Captain America - The first avenger on the journey, a good movie which I missed during the screening the cinemas.
Sad but true, I didn't had the chance to sit in a similar bus on the journey back. It was a normal coach with single-level seatings. Being fair to them, the seats were still spacious with ample leg space but there were no entertainment system, not even movies. Lucky me, I had my Ipad and caught a couple of episodes of anime, making my journey back to Singapore a little more bearable.
It would have been perfect, well, almost, if the journey back was also in the new double deckered bus though.
When I arrived at their office, I was yelled at for coming in during their lunch break. That's definitely a sign, but I pressed on nonetheless. I started asking for the different tour packages to Taiwan, but got rudely asked to keep quiet while the service officer spoke to my parents; a definite strike two. The final blow came when she started berating my dad (who's a little short of hearing) when he asked her to repeat a certain detail.
Very bad service.
This is because the service is pretty down under. The call centre officers are so impatient and would shout over the phone if they do not understand what the customers are calling for. I can hear the irritation of their voice when I call to enquire about certain deals.
The staff at the Beach Road branch are equally rude. They treat the customers as though we owe them a living. I would only patronize Five Stars if I'm desperate or the travel deals are way too good to be true.
My 11-hour journey was made pleasant by an extremely comfortable seat which felt more like an reclining armchair. Ample leg rests meant that I had a comfortable sleep most of the way in cool air-conditioning. The seats were fluffy and soft, and so comfortable for long-haul trips.
There were also headrest-mounted televisions with loads of the latest movies all pre-loaded in them, in addition to Sega gaming consoles installed in them as well.
Secondly, the itinerary was not properly followed. First, they promise to bring us to a fruit farm with alot fresh frutis to taste out, Yes, they do, but these fruits are sold at a costly price. Secondly, the facilities in the resort is a disappointment. The aircon in the room is leaking and worse, they do not have towels in their bathrooms.
To be frank, I will not recommend this tour agency to others as its service and quality is really a disappointment to me.
I've always been a restless sleeper. Luckily, the seats were comfortable enough. The ride was smooth so if you're worried you'll get car sick, fret not.
The tour guide(again, I didn't catch her name) was very thoughtful and friendly. It was a very enlightening experience. Even though we've been to Malaysia countless of times, we had no idea regarding the country's culture, history etc... It's a shame really.
The trip did not went smoothly as what we had expected. During departure time, we lost our way and couldn't find the coach. While the rest of the passengers were clearly annoyed, which I can understand, the bus driver was really kind about it. Too bad I did not catch his name as well. I should probably start taking notes or something...