Customer reviews: Holidays in Piedmont
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop and, where necessary, improve our services and ensure our all holidays continue to be the best they can be.
Eveyone who travels with Headwater will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their all holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their all holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
By Mrs O'Hare on 22/09/2017
We have enjoyed at least 10 Headwater holidays since our first rjde in the Loire in 2002, and the Gastronomic Barolo would have to be one of the best witn
We have enjoyed at least 10 Headwater holidays since our first time cycling in the Loire and as we have fravelled all the way from Perth in Australia, we obviously love our Headwater experiences. Gastronomic Barolo Cycling is probably the best in terms of countryside, scenery, accommodation, fantastic cuisine and helpful rep. But i suggest that grading of 2 bike is misleading as countryside is very hilly indeed. Thank goodness that my husband and I who are fit but 70 and 72 chose ebikes! Another couple in their late 60s struggled each day with the steep terrain and had to spend much time pushing their bikes. The weather was perfect for riding but it would have been very difficult if the temperatures were high. Another couple on the ride who are serious cyclists who ride regularly found some sections very difficult. Overall it was a great ride for us as it showed how enjoyable ebikes can be as we still got plenty of exercise to justify eating the amazing 4 course meals; enjoying the famous local wines and enjoying the company of fellow Headwater travellers.
By Ms Clarke on 18/08/2017
we thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and would recommend it to other travellers.
By Mrs Love-fordham on 09/08/2017
The Barolo is an amazing place with beautiful scenery and excellent food. The locals are very friendly and helpful. The hikes are easy and short compared to other 2 boot holidays we have been on. I think this is necessary because the days start out cool and get very hot by late afternoon. Go in the early spring or late fall if you can, but July wasn't too bad either. Three of us traveling together were from the deep South (USA) and had no problem with the weather or hills. Two of us were from the Midwest (USA) and weren't quite ready for the heat and hills, but had a truly fabulous time being together any way.
There is a huge music festival called 'Collisioni' every July. Sadly we booked during this time without knowing it. It affected which hotels we could stay at and our enjoyment of the village of Barolo. 12,000 people descend on the area during this time. Don't book during the festival! One can expect a hiccup in plans from time to time, but by booking through Headwater, you can rest knowing they will do whatever is possible to take care of you! And they did! Thank you Headwater!! Headwater is the best! For this reason, I look forward to booking our 8th Headwater vacation soon.
Our reps, Greg and Laura, were outstanding giving us lifts as requested from our substitutionary hotels (which were quite nice) into the villages where we would have stayed. Not quite the same experience, but they made it a lovely one. In driving us to and fro, they took us to extra sights and offered to stop and let us take pictures as desired. They were awesome!
By Mrs Ergatoudis on 08/08/2017
Wonderful again!! Our fifth holiday with you & again it was perfect. Perfectly organised routes so that we didn't need to see our great reps from start to finish! Beautiful, well considered hotels which all had really positive things to say about Headwater guests!
By Mr Hughes on 29/11/2016
We had a great week touring Piedmont on our pushbikes Most of the days rides were quite challenging with some steep climbs but fortunately the distances we travelled were quite short We were blessed with fantastic weather in September so the secret was to set off promptly after a great breakfast each day to get to your destination before mid-afternoon and the hottest part of the day
The standard of hotels is very good although the air conditioning in a couple of them was not really very effective The hosts & locals were all very friendly whenever we stopped or needed directions The pre-arranged meals were all of a high standard and there are plenty of excellent places for lunch on the routes
The roads were always pretty much traffic free with occasional tractors & trailers passing laden with grapes
The guest exclusive secluded pool at the Albergo Castiglione deserves a special mention & I will remember our picnic lunch by the pool brought down by the hotel owner & two beautiful daughters on a baking hot day for a long time
All the route plans were accurate & realistic with several options on some days The bikes themselves worked well and the support team Dan & Cat were discreet but attentive
Finally the food, every meal was enjoyable ranging from a delightful local trattoria in the village to the award winning castle. No matter how hard you try I suspect you will eat too much of it! All the hosts seemed happy to advise you & would often let you drink it by the glass rather than the whole bottle if you wanted
This was an excellent holiday & I think reflects Headwaters long experience in organising these sort of trips Well Done
By Mr Graham on 29/11/2016
Great hotels, exquisite dinners, well-described walks
By Mrs Liebster on 21/09/2016
While this walk was quite challenging in places, partly because of the high temperatures in early September, it was thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying. It was very well planned and the gastronomic aspects were excellent and exceeded our expectations. This is a much under-rated part of Italy and very well worth exploring. The views, the wine and the food are outstanding.
By Mrs Mercer on 30/08/2016
Amazing food, a warm welcome and wonderful hill top towns and rolling scenery worthy of an Unesco designation.
By Mr Andrews on 23/08/2016
This was our second holiday with Headwater. The first was a group walk about 7 years ago in Tuscany which was outstanding. The hotels, the reps and the food were just as good this time, but the walking was disappointing. The walks were very isolated and much of the time either through boring woodland which all looks the same or vineyards, which also all look the same. I am a teacher and therefore have to holiday during School holidays. Unfortunately we could not find group walks to suit during this period.
One complaint is that in all the hotels we stayed at we were allocated the worst rooms in the hotel by any standards. In Villa Beccaris, for example, we were the nearest room to the tradesmen's entrance. At Hotel Le Torri there was no air conditioning so needed windows open all night. We were given a room facing the street and were woken up very early by traffic noise. No balcony either.
By Mrs Shilton on 25/07/2016
It is worth it! Take up all the advice provided by your reps and live a little!
By Dr Young on 20/07/2016
This is a beautiful part of the world. some of the nicest scenery we have cycled through. I think possibly the nicest hotels and food [apart from 2 nights see below] we have enjoyed. BUT it is hard!! There is more climbing on this route than we have experienced before on other 2 bike routes. I think this does need flagged up. The 2 women in their mid 60s found the going very tough on the first day - over 900metres of climbing. BUT our excellent reps jumped to the rescue and produced e- bikes for the 2 elderly ladies! What a transformation - we could enjoy the rides- the views- and our husbands did not have the worry about us! Highly to be recommended on [in our opinion]this 3 bike holiday.On 2 nights we had to travel to a restaurant . this meant we had the same menu 2 nights running -for a non meat eater- the fish was poor. It was not a great ambience. We did speak to the reps about it. the food elsewhere was largely extraordinary and the hotels that only did breakfasts gave excellent breakfasts.
We did not find your new map system helpful. the route notes mentioned names of places that were not on your new maps. Thankfully our reps provided proper maps at our request.
By Ms D'arcy on 13/06/2016
The holiday, although accurately described etc,, the reality exceeded my expectations! Thoroughly enjoyed every moment. The meals, wines, and accommodation were all of a consistently high standard - without pretension or ostentation - a testament to the Italians respect and belief in the quality of their products. The countryside and people were also amazing, acts of kindness from strangers showed me several times what it means 'to go the extra mile'. The cycle routes are well designed, as is the holiday that alternates cycle days with rest days.
By Mrs Greenbank on 07/06/2016
We had tried to book this particular holiday in previous years but the dates didn't work out. It was well worth the wait as it has to be one of our best Headwater holidays - and we've had quite a few. Piedmont is a wonderful place to visit, the walking was as expected - it's a hilly place! The hotels were all good and all had their own special elements. We enjoyed eating in different places each night- and what an excellent standard of food was on offer.
By Mrs Moulton on 06/06/2016
We went for our honeymoon and the holiday was a perfect mixture of challenging cycling with beautiful views, lovely hotels and fantastic food.
By Mr Boyce on 06/06/2016
Great holiday with truly excellent food and accommodation! You really should take the detour to Novello Junction on day 6.
By Mr Christy on 03/06/2016
Splendid trip - delightful area, some very well-selected places to stay and eat and excellent logistics from our two guides, who were great fun to be with. This holiday really delivered what was promised on the website and is a great way to explore the area.
By Mr Richens on 08/10/2015
Great holiday. Everything just worked. Reps were helpful and knowledgable. Hotels and food were amazing. Cycling up the hills was hard work but all worth it when you reached the view at the top.
By Dr Foo on 29/09/2015
It was well organised, the reps were great and we had a great time. The hotels were terrific, very comfortable, a great selection.
By Mrs Green on 25/09/2015
This was a wonderful holiday. We have done a number of cycling holidays in Italy with different tour operators and this was by far and away the best. Such beautiful landscape, food and wine and so un touristy. We didn't meet a single Brit. The hotels were simply fabulous and Headwater organisation faultless. We are a 70 and 65 year old who for various reasons had not managed do as much cycling this summer as we had intended and the cycling was challenging but we managed it. Hills meant wonderful views at every turn and then a downhill glide, and most hills were very manageable in lowest gear, slow steady pedalling and plenty of stops to admire the views. The distances aren't huge so you can afford to take your time, and with 2 nights at every hotel, you can break up the cycling with a rest day. We enjoyed this aspect, especially as the hotels were so lovely, and it was nice not to be re packing the suitcase each morning. We will definitely choose Headwater again, but this holiday has spoilt me and I shall be looking for another gastronomic trip!!!
By Mr Banham on 22/09/2015
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday, albeit the weather was a little disappointing. The accommodation was excellent, and the food outstanding. We did not feel that the walking route instructions were as clear or as accurate as those on our 2 previous holidays with Headwater, but no harm done! Would definitely recommend to like minded friends.
By Mrs Geddes on 18/09/2015
Excellent holiday. The holiday representatives are a credit to the company. We would certainly book another holiday with Headwater!
By Mr Frew on 17/08/2015
Great Holiday. Some amazing Italian meals.
By Mr Clare on 03/08/2015
This was such a memorable holiday that we will always remember. The countryside is stunning and the walks allow you to take in some superb views of the hilltop villages and vines. Each hotel was excellent, with either amazing views at breakfast, or a welcoming pool or superb menus. The evening meals were an experience in themselves. We are not food buffs in any shape or form but I don't think we have ever eaten so well before in our lives. The walks can be challenging at times although in late July we were setting off with the temperature in the mid 20s which reached the mid to high 30s in the afternoon (take plenty of water bottles!). If you like walking, fine wine and superb food this is the holiday for you.
By Mr Wood on 13/07/2015
We like the freedom of walking independently with excellent meals at the end of the day and the convenience of the luggage being transported between hotels.
By Dr May on 30/06/2015
Great food and accommodation. Tough cycling but scenic. Thoroughly enjoyable.
By Mr Buckenham on 29/06/2015
I seem to have ticked 'excellent' just about every question; the reason being that we have rated this holiday amongst the best FIVE we have done in the last 18 or so years. The description 'Gastronomic Walk' just does not do the holiday justice....'MICHELIN' should be added!
By Mr Denton on 24/06/2015
A first class package in terms of organisation, accommodation and quality of food. The cycling was a challenge in that the temperatures were in the mid thirties and the route notes could be improved.
By Mr Bryant on 18/06/2015
Great holiday very much as described, good hotel, great food, nice walks.
By Mis Perry on 17/06/2015
A beautiful area unspoilt by development. Fabulous food and wine. Loved it.
By Mrs McRill on 17/06/2015
I have been travelling regularly with Headwater for many years. This holiday certainly came up to expectations and I can recommend it wholeheartedly, it was one of the best. Rachel and Peter (our reps) were extremely helpful, always positive and cheerful, a great bonus; the temperature was higher than we had expected for the first week in June, hovering around 30'C and we were able to shorten our walks thanks to their efforts. The hotels were very spacious and comfortable and the food and wine were excellent, truly a gastronomic feast, apart from one restaurant which didn't match the high standard set by the rest of this holiday. Overall this was a great holiday.
By Mrs Owen-jones on 17/06/2015
Beautiful area for walking and excellent food and wine.
By Mr Hobbs on 17/06/2015
The advertised holiday - gastronomic Barolo walk - sounded rather grand, but appealed as a special birthday present - a walk between nice restaurants in a pleasant part of the world with decent hotels in which to stay over. We were a little unsure about dress code and level of difficulty in the walks before we set off.
Upon being met by our tour guides, Peter and Rachel, we were soon reassured that the holiday would be informal and enjoyable. Our first hotel - Villa d'Amelia - was absolutely fantastic in every way starting with the welcome by the reception staff, the standard of the room and the facilities (including an outdoor heated pool, sauna and steam rooms). The restaurant was on another level - a Michelin 1 star - that delivered great food with special service with an emphasis on the customer as star of the show. This standard set the bar high for the rest of the holiday and our next port of call, after our first walking day, was in Grinzane Cavour staying for 2 nights at an excellent bed and breakfast with outstanding views and eating within the castle at another Michelin standard restaurant (although not yet awarded the coveted star); service here was brilliant - the chef and his wife ran the show with the help of 2 more serving staff and a kitchen brigade. At the end of an exquisite tasting menu with paired wines, the chef introduced himself to each table. His wife was charm itself and chatted and responded to our questions and comments throughout the 2 meals in a very engaging manner.
The rest of the holiday comprised 2 nights in Castiglione Falletto and 2 nights in Monforte d'Alba - both at excellent hotels in brilliant locations - and a final night returned to the Casa d'Ameila. Food could not generally compare with the first three nights, although the restaurant l'Argaj in Castiglione Falletto produced wonderful food in a setting looking out towards Barolo that would be hard to better.
Overall this was a brilliant holiday. The walking was just enough to make one ready for another (!) fine dining experience but not enough to be physically draining. Staying 2 nights in 3 of the locations proved to be a great idea - preventing the need to pack everything up every day and allowing time to appreciate the locality as well as giving an option for a circular walk or resting on the second day.
If you are reasonably fit and active and you like good wine and fine food then this would be a great holiday and my wife and I would thoroughly recommend it. Some of the walking instructions were ambiguous - resulting in a few additional miles being walked - and the terrain would be challenging underfoot in places if wet. We walked at the end of May and the heat on some days was strong; in July or August I can imagine walking being hard work and thirst inducing..
By Mr McLeod on 15/06/2015
Accommodation etc extremely good. Hilltop villages attractive although deserted.
The walking through vineyards does become a little repetitive, but last day walking through woods was more interesting.
By Mr Dunbar on 15/06/2015
Good holiday which did exactly as stated. Good food, good wines and walks mainly through vines. Lovely area and villages.
By Mr Bradburn on 09/06/2015
Fabulous combination of hard exercise, exploration, good food and wine.
By Mr Mellowsfacer on 29/05/2015
We all thoroughly enjoyed this well constructed, luxurious walking holiday. Piedmont is a stunning region with few tourists and the best food and wine we have ever tasted throughout Italy. The hotels, restaurants and walks selected exemplified the high quality of the area and overall was excellent value for money.
Thank you so much to Pete and Rachel - they couldn't do enough to make sure our holiday went smoothly and were so enthusiastic and friendly.
By Mr Dent on 28/11/2014
Excellent hotels with 4 evenings enjoying a la carte Michelin one star dinners. Great food and wine throughout. Map directions adrift on a couple of occasions but overall ok.
By Mr Brock on 17/11/2014
Great holiday, brilliant walks, great food and superb way to increase your knowledge and taste of italian wines. Unfortunately the journey home (and originally before it was changed the outward journey) was a total pain. This left us both with a bad taste in our mouth and spoiled the overall holiday experience. When we were dragging our suitcases around Milan train station wandering where the airport was we were cursing Headwater. At this stage we had already been on the road for over 4 hours, 2 hours from hotel to Turin and 2 hours by train to Milan. When we eventually came across a coach that was going to Milan Malpaso Airport we had to fork out 20 Euros for another 1 hour 10 minute coach journey to the airport. Coach stops first at the terminal we dont want and everyone gets off. We dont speak Italian and have no idea whats going on, Luckily a helpful stranger told us to stay on coach. The irony of course is Headwater give you all these walking directions/cycling directions but leave you to guess your way home.
By Mrs Cattaneo on 13/10/2014
A beautiful place to visit and explore. The accommodation of a very good standard and in lovely locations.
We did find the walks very interesting, challenging at times but about the right length, however we did use an app on a smart phone, which indicated we walked a few K further than the instructions stated. We also felt some of the walks did need to be re-done, especially the walk on day 4 from Diano D'Alba which we found very confusing to get out of and were told by the rep to take a different path at one point, which totally threw us off route, although we did find our way with the help of some locals.Although we understood why there was a walk on Day 7 back to Benevello, it was rather tedious.
Our restaurant selection for the evening meals was on the whole very good, but we did find it difficult to find something we could eat at the Villa D'Amelia, mainly because of our own diet of not eating red meat. The Locanda del Centro in Castiglone Falletto was really not very good.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable holiday.
By Mrs Lodge on 08/10/2014
A most enjoyable holiday.However I think that it should be graded as a 3 bike holiday or 2++ at least. the cycling on the last day was extremely challenging-- we chose to go via Dogliani.
By Mrs Ovenden on 08/10/2014
Headwater take the headache out of arranging your holiday all you have to do is turn up and enjoy.
By Mrs Lee on 08/10/2014
The holiday was fantastic, better than expected. Hotels, food, wine, weather all perfect, with great cycling routes on very quiet roads.
The views were to die for, and the hills a challenge but rewarded with the downward ride on the other side.
Would love to do it all again.
By Mrs Davies on 08/10/2014
This Headwater holiday is definitely a cut above other European holidays that we have enjoyed with you. Villa d'Amelia and Villa Beccaris were exceptional in every way, and throughout we enjoyed excellent local cuisine and wines. We would happily do it all over again!
By Dr Miller on 27/09/2014
I found cycling in Piemonte quite challenging. I did the Undiscovered Provence and also the Umbria cycling trips last year, and I would say I found Piemonte a notch more difficult, at least subjectively (I reviewed my cycling computer data, and Provence was actually much more climbing). It may be because there were very few flat spots, the hills were quite relentless and the warmth and humidity were quite high on several days.
Piemonte had the best food and hotels of the three itineraries I mentioned, while Provence had the better scenery and riding terrain variety (but much poorer hotels and food). Umbria was probably the best compromise of food and hotel quality and terrain variety.
By Mr Stanley on 25/09/2014
good varied hotels, good walks with interesting details on the way. Excellent service when booking the holiday, yes we would certainly go with Headwater again.
By Mrs Davies on 17/09/2014
Excellent area for a holiday
By Mrs Conway on 16/09/2014
What a wonderful holiday! We thoroughly enjoyed it. Regarding the hills - yes, they're steep, but the bikes were perfectly maintained (thanks, Esme!) and the overall distances aren't that long, so I (reasonably fit but not a great cyclist, had probably been out 10 times this year previously and in Hertfordshire so hardly hilly) found them perfectly doable, and certainly easier than I had feared from reading earlier reviews. We did all the tougher options and the amount of cycling was just hard enough to give a sense of achievement/work up an appetite for the next feast! Personally, I enjoyed the challenge of the hills and the wonderful views at the tops! Having said that, if you haven't been on a bike in years/aren't generally active, this might not be the holiday for you.
Hotels were all lovely; restaurants all very good and the majority truly excellent. Spa facilities at Villa d'Amelia were particularly good.
We found plenty to fill the non-cycling days, sometimes on foot and sometimes by bike. Almost always there were local walks (e.g. on noticeboards in the town centre and signposted from there) which we enjoyed.
Overall a hugely enjoyable and memorable holiday!
By Mrs Wall on 11/09/2014
This was an absolutely stunning holiday in every way. The hotels were all of a high standard and each was lovely in its own individual way. The restaurants were a nice treat after the day's walking and working up an appetite! There was stiff competition for our favourite restaurant and Il Castello and Villa D'Amelia had to share the prize for sheer wow factor! That said La Locanda del Centro was our favourite 'non-Michelin' restaurant. The waiter couldn't do enough to make us feel welcome, it had a lovely relaxed atmosphere and the food was really tasty.
The route notes for each of the walks was spot on and went wrong once (our fault, not Headwater's!). We'd recommend the circular walk to La Morra. It's a pretty strenuous walk through the vineyards but the sense of achievement and the stunning views are definitely worth any aching calf muscles!
Lastly, Marsha and Esme (the Headwater Reps) made our holiday what it was. They were always cheerful and full of tips for the places we were due to walk to. They were also on the end of a phone with any queries we had.
Thanks for a brilliant holiday, Sarah & Mark Wall
By Ms Sobczyk on 28/08/2014
Not sure - with 6 of us booking together (ie a lot of custom for Headwater) it would have been much more helpful if someone in head office had thought through our travelling requirements more carefully. The girl who took the booking always said that we could fly on Friday or Sunday, but did not explain the implications of choosing the Friday in terms of extra travel problems to and from Munich, nor at the outset of the cost implications. The extra costs crept in as the booking progressed - as full time workers it was easier to just carry on with the booking than say hang on, why weren't all these extra costs explained before we started this process (room supplements, transfers, extra prices for flight because a busy weekend (did the UK sales rep explore whether the Sunday departure would have been cheaper for us, for instance - I think not). We also thought that Headwater should have had another rep out there in Piedmont - Martha and Esme could not help us out on non cycling days as they were on airport runs .... but with a holiday of this quality, there should be someone available at all times.. I would also add that I have been on a number of other holidays with cycling companies - more down market - but the experience and knowledge of the rep and mechanic has far outweighed the knowledge and experience of Esme and Martha; they did nothing wrong, but did not add the type of spark to the holiday a good rep can.
The daily notes explaining the route would have benefitted enormously from a proper map - with other companies we have been given laminated copies of the map giving all the local details - your sketches together with the provided maps were not easy to interpret. We suspected they needed a bit of an update - gradient outlines for example would help - we knew it would not be easy but the hills did seem to dominate!
We probably will go with Headwater again on account of the quality of the hotels, but will ask a lot more questions next time about exactly what is involved and what help will be available.
We did have a good time, but a lot of niggles that ought to have been sorted. I have never complained before about a holiday .....
By Mrs Walker on 13/08/2014
Headwater thinks of everything - right down to offering us a lovely cold bottle of water when we emerged from a long, hot journey to our pick up point. You select fabulous hotels in brilliant locations, which takes all the hard work out of planning a holiday. Taxis turn up when they're supposed to, hotels and restaurants are expecting us. You are wonderfully efficient. This was our sixth booking with you and we'll be back for more next year. Bravo, Headwater.
By Mrs Wilson on 11/08/2014
We had a wonderful holiday with Headwater. The hotels and food were excellent. The scenery is stunning because the area is hilly. (You definitely need to have done some recent cycling and be reasonably fit.) A great holiday for food and wine enthusiasts. We were planning our next Headwater trip on the flight back!
By Mr Billing on 31/07/2014
This was a wonderful holiday, full of small surprises and little luxuries. Each hotel was charmingly different. The food was spectacular, the people lovely, and the scenery green, beautiful and quiet. Thank you very much
By Mrs Scheer on 14/07/2014
We had a fabulous cycling trip in this beautiful part of Italy. The accommodations were lovely and the dinners ranged from very good to excellent. The cycling was challenging at times, but not unmanageable. As usual, the Headwater bikes were great and the local reps were very helpful. The people in this region are very friendly and there were lots of opportunities to do wine and grappa tastings. This was our 4th Headwater trip and we are already planning the next one.
By Mr Prior on 13/07/2014
Excellent comfortable friendly hotels with unforgettable views .
By Mis Nicholls on 10/07/2014
The holiday surpassed expectations in terms of location, food and hotels. All in all, excellent value for money!
By Dr Lyttelton on 05/07/2014
The holiday was a lovely mixture of fabulous scenery, challenging cycling and good food and wine. Your website does have some comments about the grading of the cycling, we did all the longest routes and although there were some steep hills the overall length of the routes was quite short so we agreed with the grading.
By Mr Payne on 17/06/2014
Excellent route through the countryside beautiful but the cycling can be very challenging at times particularly if it is very hot.
By Mr Holway on 16/06/2014
Cycling quite tough; should be rated Two-Bike +. Landscape lovely but little variation. Rest days can be hard to fill. Accommodation good, breakfasts mostly wonderful.
By Mrs O'Connor on 26/05/2014
We both really enjoyed our Piedmont Holiday. All of the hotels we stayed at were very good, all quite different in character from one another which we liked. The Piedmont countryside is beautiful and the local people were so friendly. The walks were quite challenging, lots of hills, the steepest usually as you try to reach your hotel at the end of the day, but a great feeling when you do arrive.
The distances quoted on the route notes were much shorter than those that registered on my pedometer, I think perhaps these should be reviewed.
The local Headwater reps. Marsha and Esme were fantastic, very helpful, friendly and punctual.
The meals in the evening were usually taken in local restaurants, our favourites Osteria dei Catari and Locanda del Centro, the more rustic of the bunch. Only negative for us was The Ristarante il Castello, beautiful building, shame about the atmosphere, formality taken to the limit, neither diners nor staff seemed to be having a good time. We were due to dine there twice, but decided to give the second visit a miss.
Apart from that a brilliant holiday. Pat O'Connor
By Mr Robertson on 17/10/2013
Piedmont is a very attractive area and not at all 'touristy'. It is, however, much hillier than we expected from brochure description, and though the climbs were interesting at times, the rewards were the views from the top and the descents!
The accommodation was excellent in every respect, the hotel and restaurant staff almost invariably very welcoming and helpful and the food and wines were generally very good. Special mention to the Osteria Dai Cateri in Monforte d'Alba for the best dinner of the holiday but most of the others were extremely good. Moda again in Monforte d'Alba was only average and Verde Rama in Castiglione Tinella was a bit disappointing; they gave us a restricted '?Headwater' menu and several of the dishes served were poor. I think all the other restaurants gave us a choice from their a la carte menus.
This is our third Headwater holiday and the bikes provided were the worst. The bikes were fairly basic and slightly heavy hybrids compared with what the Chain Gang gave us last year but they were poorly maintained and my bike was unsafe. My wife's bike's handlebars weren't straight and she couldn't get into the lowest gear (not handy in hilly terrain!). My bike's gears were also not set up corrrectly but I was able to sort that myself, but the bike felt unsteady on corners. Eventually it started creaking loudly going up hills and my wife observed the rear wheel wobble especially on corners. I've a little experience in bike maintenance and the problem seemed to be due to slack spokes that needed tensioned. Marc brought out, the following morning, a replacement wheel taken from another bike and this seemed ok during a quick test in the hotel's garage but after a few yards with panniers on, ball bearings started falling out of the rear wheel bearing. Unfortunately the reps had gone and as they'd forgotten their mobile, it was some time before I got a replacement bike. This was a Giant and much better than my original Headwater bike, thankfully. If both our bikes had been of this quality, we would have definitely considered another Headwater holiday and recommended you to our friends and family.
During the booking process, Headwater arranged the train tickets from Nice to Cuneo and informed me on the phone and in the original invoice, the train departure times and that we would change trains at Breil Sur Roya. When the final invoice arrived, train depature time and station to switch trains at (now Ventimiglia), had been changed. Fortunately I noticed the alterations but I think Headwater should have drawn our attention, specifically, to this, as we might have missed it.
By Mrs Reeves on 07/10/2013
Excellent in every way and the food was amazing!
By Mrs Gentle on 04/10/2013
We were unprepared for the heat or the severity of the hills
By Mr Stern on 22/09/2013
The comments on food above refer to breakfast only. Restaurant comments:
Villa d'Amelia: First meal a little disappointing regarding service and food. Second much better in both respects. Just about worth a Michelin star.
Il Castello: A little formal but excellent food. Worth a Michelin star.
Le Torri: Really friendly, interesting well cooked food, a nice contrast to Il Castello. Two excellent evenings. Pity the owners are moving to La Morra.
Osteria dei Catari: Nice people. Starters good but the 4 of us had 3 different main courses and all were poor.
Osteria La Salita: Friendly service and an excellent dinner, better cooked and more interesting than dei Catari.
By Mrs Brown on 22/09/2013
We (and others) felt that the 1st day of walking was merely pleasant - not up to the billing - but from our arrival at Casa Pavesi the holiday took off and justified the comment we had had that it was the jewel in your crown. It was, however, marred somewhat by the poor wording of the script walking guide, which caused all 4 couples to go wrong (independently of each other) at least once. Fortunately the map enabled recovery of the route.
By Mr Mellish on 19/09/2013
We used Headwater last year for the Alsace walking holiday. We were so impressed we booked for the Barolo Gastronomic walking holiday. We were not disappointed. All aspects of the holiday were well planned and we felt very well supported by Headwater's local representatives. Have already recommended Headwater to friends and we will definitely use them again.
By Mrs Hoptroff on 14/09/2013
This holiday was excellent. Marc and Marcia were very friendly and extremely helpful.
Marcia ran through the instructions for each of the walks with us and pointed out areas where we needed to be extra careful so that we did not get lost.
Marc always arrived exactly on time to pick us up in a morning to take us to the start of the day's walk.
I have a number of food allergies and Marcia had contacted each of the restaurants where we ate our evening meals to advise them of my requirements. They were all fully aware before we arrived and the waiters were extremely helpful in ensuring that meals were suitable for me. The hotels, restaurants and food, and infact everything about this holiday was excellent and ran incredibly smoothly.
By Mr Ballantyne on 13/09/2013
Lovely holiday but too hot in last week of August for walking. we aimed to be finished by late lunchtime to avoid the heat of the day.Which was not the aim.
Would avoid the Nice transit as it is too long a wait in Nice for a train and the transit up country is tedious.
By Mrs Melhuish on 12/09/2013
We enjoyed our holiday in Piedmonte a great deal. Accommodation and food etc were excellent. Backup was good too. However, we felt that the cycling difficulty rating as stated (moderate/leisurely) was a little on the optimistic side Having cycled the 'Secrets of San Gemiagno' route last year (moderate), we thought 'Gastronomic Barolo' was significantly more difficult, despite selecting the 'easier' options when there was a choice of route.
Future travellers heading for this holiday via Nice (Easyjet) should note that you will have a 5 hour wait in Nice following the 6 a.m.departure from Gatwick The Castle Hill to the east of the city is pleasant place to spend a few peaceful hours, but had we known that we could have dumped our cases at the station this would have improved the experience.
By Mrs Ferguson on 09/09/2013
A fantastic holiday. Great cycling routes and all the accommodation was of a high standard, beautiful scenery and fabulous food!
By Mrs Hunt on 02/09/2013
Just what we wanted!
By Mrs Brown on 02/09/2013
We challenged ourselves- walking every day even in August in Italy... Mostly, the hotels were a great reward for our efforts. We think we would do it again.. Maybe try the cycling.
By Mrs Campbell on 01/09/2013
We had a fantastic holiday! The food was fabulous and the hotels were perfect. Villa Beccaris is particularly stunning. It is a beautiful part of Italy which is very lush - even in August. The reason for this is that it sometimes rains, so take some waterproofs for you and your valuables. We had 2 rainy days - the showers were short but heavy. The panniers supplied seemed watertight but some extra protection did not go amiss.
Grading a cycling holiday is difficult as it is subjective and depends and on what you are used to. We are in our mid-fifties, reasonably fit and do most of our cycling in Scotland or occasionally Yorkshire so are used to hills. We can happily cycle 50 - 60 miles/day. All of the towns in this region are on the tops of hills but you are often given the option of shorter/easier routes longer/more challenging ones. We always took the 'challenging' option as they are usually very scenic and didn't find them too difficult. However, so if you have not cycled for a while you will enjoy it more if you try to improve your fitness before you go. The bikes are good, with lots of gears and the distance between the hotels is not excessive so you can take your time and enjoy the scenery which is stunning. It is not really leisurely, however, and a novice might find it tough going at times.
The bikes also come with comfy gel saddles but we can recommend wearing proper cycle shorts. The extra padding helps and the seams in normal shorts can cause uncomfortable friction. The water bottles supplied by Headwater only contain 750 ml and there is no way of securing them to the bike so you have to keep them in the panniers.Bottles cages are not supplied for safety reasons but we took Camelback rucksacks which are very useful. They hold 1500 ml and the tubing means water is always readily available to drink on the move rather than having to stop half way up a hill. There are lots of public drinking fountains to top up so you don't need to worry about buying water in shops.
If you are thinking about an August holiday, be aware that this is peak holiday time in Italy so some shops and restaurants will be closed. As a result, we ate at the same restaurant on 2 consecutive nights but that was no hardship.
By Mr Smyth on 15/08/2013
A marvellous combination of exercise, high class food, excellent accomodation in an unspoilt part of the world.
By Mr Fairweather on 14/08/2013
The walking was tougher than I expected because of the above average temperatures (often around 95 F). The area is very picturesque and the route is well planned to give a feeling of doing the round of all the major Barolo producing villages, with good views from each of the hill towns. I was glad, however, that the last day's walk was a complete change from walking through vineyards. The standard of accommodation and food was excellent throughout the week, and represented superb value for money. I would have welcomed air conditioning in Hotel Le Torri rather than a cooling fan, but at other times of year it would have been fine. The cooking in all the restaurants was very good, particularly in Il Castelli at Grinzane Cavour and at Villa D'Amelia where we gladly paid the supplement for their superb full tasting menu on our final evening. I would have welcomed a change of restaurant on the second evening in Monforte D'Alba, not because there was anything wrong with the food but because the menu (the same each evening) was rather limited - especially the secundi. The local people were all very welcoming, and it is a trip that I would happily do again, but preferably in the autumn.
By Mr Grant on 18/07/2013
Outstanding cuisine, wines and service in all places. a very quiet region with friendly locals. Beautiful landscapes and a great way to eat lots and then burn the calories off in the walk. one of the very best holidays I have ever had.
By Mrs Everson-davis on 10/07/2013
This is a really excellent choice for any guests wanting a truly gastronomic experience amongst wonderful countryside. We enjoyed the walking very much, although at first we wondered whether it might be challenging enough with alternate rest days. However, Headwater provided good suggestions on how to spend the available time and we were pleased that we had the time to explore more widely. Our days were all the more enjoyable for being able to look forward to some of the best cuisine which Italy has to offer anywhere. Headwater's has done well to enable guests to experience a range of Piedmont's restaurant cooking, from the world class to the more rustic, but all served to an extremely high standard.
We were impressed too with the attentive support given by our local reps, Marc and Marsha, for whom nothing was too much trouble.
As we self drove to Italy, we stayed in two Headwater arranged hotels en route, Hotel Normandie in Auxerre, and Hotel Alpina in Les Gets, both of which represented very good value for money.
By Mr Ogden on 04/07/2013
All good. Particular thanks and compliments to Mark and Marsha who are lovely people and excellent reps.Also admired their efforts to speak Italian and to integrate with local people.
By Mrs Maffre on 05/06/2013
This is our third Headwater holiday, and each one gets better. The Piedmont is a beautiful area, the hotels and restaurants are first class, and the staff friendly and efficient. It is a very hilly area, hence the wonderful views (and also the long steep climbs on the bikes). The cycling directions were good overall, but a bit confusing in parts. Our reps were extremely friendly and helpful, and as I sprained my ankle on the 3rd day they had to move me on with the baggage! Nothing was too much trouble for them. I have already recommended this holiday to our friends!
No-one should expect to lose weight on this cycling holiday - the food and wine is superb!
By Dr Foley on 04/06/2013
A little-known corner of Italy with some of the most captivating scenery, best food and wine and least touristy small cities the country has to offer. The holiday is definitely a grade 2 when it comes to the cycling as every village is perched on top of a hill but the food and wine are more than compensation for the effort of getting there. May seem expensive at first sight but the standard of accommodation and food are second to none. We've been on many Headwater holidays and this was one of the best.
By Dr Johns on 07/01/2013
We've been on a headwater holiday once before (to Switzerland) and it was amazing - in fact it was the best holiday we'd ever had! However we were very disappointed this time. Although the scenery, accommodation and food were lovely the cycling was not enjoyable, it was punishing! Since this is the most important element of a cycling holiday it completely ruined our stay.
The difficulty rating was totally wrong. We're a couple in our 30's (not unfit) but not regular cyclists- the description suggested this would suit us fine and included descriptions of 'softly rolling hills'. This was certainly NOT our experience. The hills were steep and long and never ending.I'm aware that since we returned the difficulty rating has changed. Furthermore, the various stop-offs on the way (cafes etc) to refill water were closed due to the time of year (which we were not forewarned about) - considering the heat this made the cycling even more intolerable.
All in all very disappointing. We paid £5000 and were expecting another dream holiday. Instead we needed a week to recover once we got home.
By Mr McCloud on 03/11/2012
As you can tell from my ratings, my wife and I were extremely pleased with Headwater on all counts. We found the staff to be extremely responsive, particularly when there was a problem, such as with our late arrival in Cuneo due to the late flight and Italian trains. Also, we were unhappy with one of the restaurants, Moda, in Monforte, and again, the staff were very helpful in arranging an excellent alternative.
Our local representative Nuno was wonderful - always on time, well informed, and very attentive.
We were especially pleased - and a bit surprised, and the quality of the accommodations and food. The meals were just outstanding - thank goodness for the walks so we could keep our weight from ballooning.
My wife and I are already looking forward to another walking tour and will definitely contact Headwater when we're ready to proceed. Many thanks for your great service.
By Mrs Mendham on 30/10/2012
We thoroughly enjoyed our cycling holiday. We cycled every day and visited most of the towns and villages in the handbook. The food was excellent everywhere and everyone was helpful and friendly. The accommodation was mainly good but some of the hotels were noisy - either from traffic, church bells that rang every 30 minutes 24 hours a day, or poor soundproofing between rooms.
We were particularly surprised at the amount of snacks that were served at nearly every bar where we had a beer. There was no need to buy lunch when we were given larges amounts of ham, cheese and bread whenever we stopped!
By Mrs Mayhew on 01/10/2012
This is our 16th holiday with Headwater and we have to say it works well. Minor problems are sorted out quickly and the overall holiday experience leaves you wanting more.
Borola gastronomic was one of the best, wonderful views, good food and hotels. the local wines were really good and the wine tasting experiences excellent with no pressure to buy.
By Mrs Cochrane on 24/09/2012
In general all our expectations were met or exceeded but there are details (see below) that require attention
By Mr Barrow on 07/08/2012
The hotels and restaurants could not be faulted for the warmth of their welcomes and their service - everyone was happy to go the extra mile to make sure we were totally comfortable. The region itself was very beautiful and afforded stunning views on every side. However there were less things of interest to visit if you are keen on art, history, etc. On the other hand, this is the place to go if you are a wine buff or seek to increase your knowledge - you will learn much!
By Mrs Aspden on 30/06/2012
Great opportunity to discover the Italian countryside and food (and wine). Great rep in Nuno, very obliging and hardworking. Fantastic choice for honeymoon
By Mrs Bull on 23/06/2012
Another heavenly, Headwater holiday! I would do it all again tomorrow if I could!
By Ms Sheppard on 23/06/2012
I loved it, it exceeded expectations, thanks.
By Mr Quine on 16/06/2012
A throroughly well-organised and enjoyable holiday with one notable exception.
Thanks for your comments. What a shame that the quality of the food was undermined by the service on this occasion. I have spoken to the manager at Da Felicin and I have his assurances that this was an unfortunate 'one-off' and that a repetition of this poor service won't happen again. Obviously, with the assistance of our local rep, Nuno, I'll be keeping an eye out that they are true to their word!
By Mis Woodall on 16/06/2012
Great food and hotels. Lived up to if not exceeded the brochure and our expectation
By Mrs King on 16/06/2012
It was a great holiday and lived up to our expectations. The countryside was beautiful with good hotels and food, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
By Mr Dunn on 25/05/2012
Our first cycling vacation and we will definatley use Headwater as our primary agent on the next trip.
By Mrs Quick on 00/00/0000
Le Langhe in Piedmont - one of Italy's best kept secrets - a mecca for food and wine lovers, with breathtaking scenery.
By Mrs Hill on 00/00/0000
Overall we really enjoyed the holiday and will be looking to book again. We chose the holiday for the gastro experience and really enjoyed the mix of restaurants from Michelin starred to more local / rustic. However we felt that the guide notes could have provided a brief summary of the restaurants to assist with expectations as some were really upmarket requiring smarter dress and had expensive wine, while others were more local where casual dress was acceptable and had reasonable wine prices. We also found some of the gradients challenging and thought that this holiday should have been graded 2 x bicycles+. Finally, we learnt by experience that shops shut on different days and afternoons. Unfortunately, we found ourselves without water on occasions despite reading the notes. For example, on route to Monteforte we did not stock up on water as the guide notes said that there were bars and shops. Unfortunately on arrival on Wednesday all shops were all shut meaning that we had to buy water from a bar at inflated prices. A line in each town description to show shop closing day would have assisted greatly. Hopefully, these points will be taken as constructive to help others as we really did have a great time.
By Mr Brandao on 00/00/0000
This is the second holiday package organized by Headwater and both experiences have been simply great. We love you guys! Thank you so very much!
We've noticed Headwater doesn't have a package for Greece, please do so! Let us know about it.
By Ms Marshall on 00/00/0000
Please provide guests with bus stop information in Alba - we walked down to Gallo from Grinzane and easily took a bus there, but weren't sure where to stand, which bus stop, on the way back.... So missed the bus when it did come. Also the air-con on the top floor in Villa Pavesi needs attention! A beautiful room under the eaves, but boiling hot!