BlueNile Travel and Tourism / Travel services provided and travel guide
This is Meenu, an Indian citizen and resident of the United Arab Emirates. It is with great anguish that I write to you about my recent pleasure trip to Sri Lanka. My husband and I got in touch with the tour operator named Ms. Mandira on the suggestion of a friend who had previously used their services. Mandira runs Blue Nile Travel and Tourism in Sri Lanka and is based in Colombo. Address- Blue Nile Travel and Tourism, M.D Mass Aron, 121/3 Gangarama Road, Werahera, Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka. We paid an advance of USD 288 on 8th November 2015 and the remaining balance of USD 432 right after our arrival in Colombo airport on the morning of 27th November. We had clearly stated that we wanted a non-alcoholic person to drive us around. An English speaking tour was part of the tour offering . To our disappointment, we were provided with a driver cum guide who could hardly speak English. We managed the first day with lot of difficulty and the second day, we had to skip a few places and get embarrassed because of the lack of coordination between Tour Operator/Mandira and the driver Sanjiv Bhandare from Dambulla. The tour operator refused to take responsibility until I screamed at the top of my lungs, because there was no way we could do the remaining days with a driver who spoke only Sinhalese and only yes/no in English. The driver did a pretty good job at driving and it appeared that he was not at all briefed about his role as a 'guide and not just a driver'. We got a replacement on the third day and this time, the driver, Shaafi, refused to follow Mandira's instructions and followed his own itinerary. On our return from Nuwara Eliya, the car reeked of alcohol as the driver was drunk. We somehow reached Colombo on day 5 afternoon and 3 hours before boarding our flight, I informed Mandira that she did a pathetic job by choosing this driver who was an alcoholic and who refused to provide us with the two bottles of water each day that was agreed in the package and refused to return the Rs 600 toll fee that we paid though it was part of the package. I insisted that Mandira deal with this after we get to the airport and atleast the toll fee be refunded. But Mandira instead stopped the driver's payment and the driver refused to take us to the airport till his payment was cleared. With just a couple of minutes left, we reached the airport after we clearly told Mandira that she is responsible if we miss our flights because of all her mismanagement. The tour was a total disaster - the tour operator/Mandira compromised on everything, including our safety by providing a driver who was drunk and extremely rude. I would not recommend her to anybody but would be happy if the police atleast warns her and her drivers that what they have is extremely derogatory and they should shut shop if they are unable to provide services. I am happy to provide more details if required. Towards the end, she would not provide an invoice for the payment we made on arrival at the Colombo Airport nor did we a refund of the toll fee we paid!