By Ms Hardwick on 20/06/2017
Attractive baroque towns and some lovely hotels
By Mr Allan on 13/06/2017
This possibly the most enjoyable and rewarding Headwater Holiday of many involving city breaks (Manchester, Catania and Syracuse) and adventure (walks on volcanos and travel (by train, plane, ferry and taxi) Take care to check travel arrangements. Travelling from Edinburgh to Manchester airport we were tempted to stay in City Centre Manchester but opted for the Airport Hotel for an early flight but still managed an early evening visit to Manchester City Art Gallery and a meal out in town.
Mandala Travel act for Headwater in Sicily. They were excellent arranging pickups, transfers and Hotelsâ€¦â€¦â€¦.because of the G7 Syracuse was arranged as â€˜non-standardâ€™ alternative to Taormina. The extra expense proved worthwhile. Syracuse is delightful, compact and interesting. The Royal Maniace Hotel is well located for walks and restaurants. The briefing provided at the start of the holiday was one of the best ever, giving a clear indication of what to expect on walks and providing detailed information on the weather, transfers, and ferry and bus times. These were important to make the most of options available â€“ it is worth checking breakfast times against early starts. For example on Lipari this can allow a visit to the serious museum after the days walk along the coast.
The success of the Stromboli night walk largely due to our excellent guide Manuel (and his very young assistant Ryan!) We found preparation and concentration helped â€“ getting into a rhythm more important than taking pictures on way up. It is a â€˜puffâ€™ â€“ we left the hotel at 4 pm and returned at 1215 am exhausted but elated! That was special. Etna is also bit but of a â€˜puffâ€™ but again it was well lead by our guide Pepe (he features in a you tube video with the BBC team who got caught out by an unexpected eruption). Pepe shared his lunch with usâ€¦â€¦â€¦another hugely enjoyable day out meeting more great people. All the drivers were excellent. We spent most time with Roberto who provided much information and Italian conversation classes for my better half with simultaneous translation for me!
Hotel Mediterraneo in Catania is well located, efficient and functional. When we decided to bring forward the airport pickup time on our last day (anticipating travel disruption because of the G7) the hotel contacted Mandala Travel on our behalf and an earlier pick up was arranged. The island hotels also did their job well and made us welcome. We had some concerns with the Royal Maniace Hotel in Syracuse. They were unable to switch off the air extractor in the bathroom for our stay. The room information stated that breakfast was available from 7 am (we had a 7.30 am pickup) but one member of staff advised breakfast did not start until 7.30 am. (A polite and helpful female member of staff did in fact save the day by ensuring we did get breakfast.) When we raised this with the Hotel management we were told that the room information referred to the Winter breakfast time â€¦â€¦â€¦Strangely all the hot food was on the serving table at 7 am! We still consider this hotel to be worthwhile and hope Headwater can offer this as a great alternative to Taormina!
Can I mention one place to eat try: Scirocco Fish Lab in both Catania and Syracusa both near the fish markets and perfect for a snack.
Mandala Travel kept the level of communication to a perfect level once phoning me on Robertoâ€™s phone while travelling to Etna just to make sure everything was going to plan! On our flight over we met a man who had dedicated his life to providing outdoor activities for Manchester school kidsâ€¦â€¦..now retired (but still climbing) he attached equal importance to the instructors and the staff responsible for the accommodation and food. He believed all were essential to a successful outcomeâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.sound familiar?
By Mrs Ede on 24/05/2017
This holiday is not walking every day. It includes travelling between islands and walking at each destination. It is all very interesting and the highlight is climbing Stromboli which is just amazing. It was an expensive holiday in that you have to buy all lunches, evening meals, drinks and pay for ferries on top of the basic cost.
By Mrs Pursey on 24/05/2017
Stayed in some delightful places, especially Baglio La Luna where the location was magnificent, views, relaxing areas and we were so well looked after. Changes in arrangement occasioned by bad weather were efficiently and effectively carried out. All arrangements for meeting and dropping us off worked well, pleasantly and without fuss.
By Mr Goscomb on 24/05/2017
We thoroughly enjoyed the Secrets of Sicily Walking holiday in early May 2017 which certainly reached all our expectations. The hotels we stayed at were all very well chosen and we particularly enjoyed the Marettimo Residence and the Baglio Luna at San Vito lo Capo which was fantastic. All the arrangements went well and the walks we did were lovely and easy to follow using the excellent detailed notes provided. We saw so many lovely wild flowers and birds and the views were wonderful. Overall we would have no hesitation recommending Headwater walking holidays and we are looking forward to choosing another of their walking holidays next year.
By Mr McIlraith on 29/11/2016
This was the very best cycling holiday we have had. Sicily was a fantastic venue with lots to wonder at.
By Mr Chesters on 11/11/2016
Fantastic holiday. Walking and talking with friends in spectacular scenery is a truly great experience. The whole trip was seamlessly organised and and executed by Nicola and his local team.
By Mr Tobbell on 11/11/2016
Very good indeed and very well organised but as we're we're the last week of the season many restaurants and bars were shut particularly on marritimo- I think we should have been told about this. Other than that an excellent holiday.
By Mrs Timbrell on 11/11/2016
Accommodation varied.... food in restaurant in Scopello great. Food at La Luna great.
As was very end of the season nothing was open on Marretimo. There were 2 restaurants which only sold fish so not much choice.
Walks were fantastic. Apartment basic but functional...good breakfasts.
The 2 taxi drivers were first rate, very good English, helpful and informative.
By Mrs Garnett on 02/11/2016
A good week in the north-west corner of Sicily. The holiday cleverly combined walking (and swimming) in the Zingaro nature reserve and on the island of Marettimo with visits to the archaeological site at Segesta and the hill-top town of Erice. Transfers for our group of six were provided by our helpful and informative taxi driver, who made sure that we enjoyed our visit to the area.
By Dr Wheeler on 31/10/2016
Excellent, but a couple of mistakes on instructions this time. At Villa Favorita the food needs to be sorted out. Truly poor. Noticed that the owner does not eat the same food as the guests- this speaks volumes. The staff were pleasant and they were very helpful, but the evening meals were inedible. The pasta with tomatoes - which anyone can cook was ruined by the addition of vast amounts of sugar!@! Tuna turned to rubber, and they only had 4 of us to feed that night. Quite the most dreadful meal in 9 trips with Headwater.
Meal at Torre Dantona was brilliant as was their breakfast.
Must just thank Sonia at the Portapalo suites. What a lovely lady. Best breakfast of the trip, and so warm and friendly. The rooms were extremely clean too.
By Dr Garwood on 31/10/2016
Very enjoyable holiday in a lovely part of Sicily. Perhaps we should have gone in April/May rather than October to see the wild flowers particularly the orchids on Marettimo. Several days were rather hot for the walking! Not such a variety of bird life as expected but there were a very large numberof robins on Mareettimo - not sure why! Good hotels and, in particular, Daniela was very welcoming and looked after us well, with good food, at the Baglio La Luna. Flights via Rome meant leaving at 3am on the way out and 4am on the way back. Good service from the local reps and Niccolo was a very careful and attentive driver who gave us good advice and made sure we had the right instructions and departure gate for the hydrofoil to Marettimo.
By Mr Higginson on 31/10/2016
Great to see a less explored side of Sicily.
By Mrs Ruthen on 25/10/2016
Nothing to worry about, great accommodation in wonderful locations,excellent walks
By Mr Peat on 14/10/2016
Good value for money. Lovely walking. Beautiful island.
By Mrs Stoneham on 13/10/2016
Lovely break, great scenery and quiet routes, good food and wine, well organised.
By Mrs Chapman on 04/10/2016
A guided trip with only 4 people could be difficult if the travellers didn't get on. The ferry/sea transfers were difficult as there were fewer than in the summer timetable which meant we had to waste holiday time waiting around. The main guide wasn't allowed to show us round towns and we could have had another local guide in each town to make the experience more reliable. Stromboli climb was done by the other couple who found the downhill really tough. They took 6.5 hours which was more than advertised. We opted for a boat trip to see the volcanic display This could be advertised a an option in the brochure.
The holiday was enjoyable, weather not always fine and sunny as expected. Etna in September apparently is often unsafe to walk to the top. We got up 3000m. Walk to the top of Vulcano ggod, Genny an excellent Geological guide.
By Mr Orrett on 04/10/2016
Holiday made best of local area, well planned with good quality hotels and restaurants chosen
By Mrs Maddison on 16/08/2016
we were disappointed, Some of the walking was below expectations, there seemed to be a lack of continuity and some of the food left much to be desired. The catalogue entry was a bit ambiguous.
By Mis Galliers on 17/06/2016
Interesting but not our most enjoyable Headwater trip. Hotels were isolated with little buzz in the immediate vicinity. No steer on places of interest/ visits etc what to do ( other than fix your puncture! ) from rep.
Found cycling country rather barren and shame about fly tipping.
New Palace Hotel was good but rather bizarre and probably only a quarter occupancy.
Bristol/Milan/Palermo resulted in arrival @ 11 therefore no evening meal ( just a cold plate).
Return journey leaving at 3am .....no breakfast.
By Dr Roberts on 07/06/2016
We had an amazing trip cycling secrets of Sicily .Great combination of lovely scenery,interesting history ,well organised and good choice of hotels. Cycling is a great way to see a country. The people were friendly and welcoming .Would love to try another trip.
By Mrs Randall on 07/06/2016
Overall very good - excellent walks with very often a choice to extend or reduce length/difficulty. We found most of the walks easier than we expected but maybe that is our own walking experience here in the UK (Dartmoor)
Accommodation good although the beds were cold and seemed damp at our last stop - maybe a problem with being at the beginning of the season while temperatures were still low.
Out taxi driver was excellent, courteous, helpful and always on time.
By Ms Allen on 06/06/2016
Good mix of cycling and days off sightseeing around lovely Baroque towns-some of which feature in Montalbano.
We liked eating out in restaurants where we could eat typically Sicilian food.
Accommodation generally very good.
We went at the end of May which was hot enough during the day,especially when cycling, with much cooler evenings.
By Mr Renshaw on 03/06/2016
Cycling is a wonderful way to see a country and, particularly in Sicily, appreciate the abundance of wild flowers that line the roads we cycled. The accommodation and food were very enjoyable as were the receptions we got in both hotels and restaurants. Cycling is more enjoyable when your fit and we are but the pace of the holiday was good with interspersed non cycling days. We were able to enjoy some historical sites as well en route.
By Ms Lewis on 03/06/2016
A really interesting week in beautiful locations. On the walks we enjoyed the wonderful wildflowers, birds and butterflies and beautiful coastal views. We much appreciated the visits that had been arranged to Segesta and Erice - full of interest. Nicola, our taxi driver, was really excellent - friendly, offering information and always on time and very well organised. The walking was great, well off the beaten track but on reasonable footpaths - all in all, a very good week.
By Mr Hemsley on 03/05/2016
we upgraded most of your rooms as what was on offer was fairly basic. some of the cycle routes were on busy roads and the Italian drivers are not respectful of cyclists. however, the experience was a good one.
By Mrs Dean on 29/04/2016
An excellent holiday if you are interested in spring flowers and migrant birds. The island of Marettimo was the highlight as was the stay in the tranquil and delightful Baglio La Luna. Our Taxi driver was particularly helpful,flexible, informative and friendly, and always came on time. The flight times could have been better - we had a 4 hour wait in Rome. However I think this could not be avoided. Our highlight was 3 new orchids we had not come across before. All the walks took us much longer than the notes indicated as we spent so much time looking at the amazing flora or this lovely island.
By Mr Witts on 27/04/2016
We are both fit and keen cyclists and enjoyed covering quite a large area in one trip.
The weather in late April was superb, most days 25 degrees with some windy rides which could prove to be tough going. It was a very varied trip with cultural interest in most of the destinations along with coastal scenic views mixed with agricultural landscapes. The wild flowers were in bloom but Sicilians have a habit of dumping roadside litter, which was a bit ugly at times. Montalbano was filming on location at Punta Secca, which was a stunning seaside location.
A lot of the absolute seaside bars and restaurants were seasonally closed in late April, so would advise to take picnics and pre purchase drinks before you set off.
By Mr Jones on 26/04/2016
Great holiday if you like volcanos
By Mrs Smith on 25/04/2016
If you go to Sicily with Headwater
You will find they have done all they oughter
You can swim, you can walk
You can eat or just talk
Your holiday will be just what you boughter.
By Mrs Shore on 31/10/2015
A really good trip.With a good blend of self directed walks and guided up Stromboli and Etna.
By Mrs Griffiths-pear on 21/10/2015
A good holiday with great scenery and enjoyable walks. A notable absence of birds in the Zingaro Nature Reserve (October) but the vegetation was still very green, despite the heat .
By Mr Sanderson on 16/10/2015
Most enjoyable holiday which was well organised. Hotels were just right for our requirements. Our minibus driver Nicola was superb - always on time and nothing was too much trouble.
Temperatures up to 39 degrees were a bit of a shock in mid September which meant some of the walks were very testing when there was a lack of shade.
By Mr Clark on 08/10/2015
We greatly enjoyed our holiday and got to experience a wonderful part of Sicily, including the beautiful Marettimo Island. The only problem we encountered was that for the first 4 days there was a strong Sirocco wind which meant that the Zingaro reserve was closed, so that we couldn't do the suggested walk on our first day. It would have been nice to have had an alternative offered to us either by your local agent or the hotel. We were also worried what would happen if the ferry back from Marettimo was cancelled (we weren't given any info on this, yet it seems to be a common occurrence) - but in the event this wasn't needed.
By Mr Fisher on 21/09/2015
You enabled us to visit a part of Sicily we could not have done on our own. The area was beautiful, the walks good and we enjoyed the company of fellow travellers. Thank you
By Mr Shaw on 24/06/2015
This was our first visit to Sicily and we thought the Secrets of Sicily programme gave a fantastic introduction to the relatively unknown northwest of the island. We very much appreciated the inclusion of visits to Segesta and Erice en route to our second and third destinations.The great highlight was the walk, on the final full day, around Monte Cofano.
By Mis Riley on 22/06/2015
We decided not to do the guided walk up Stromboli as we didn't feel we were fit enough to cope with the steepness, the ground conditions and the dark and it wouldn't be fair on the guide or other tourists. I felt this could be an excursion which could be optional as we couldn't really decide until we got there and saw the conditions. We did book an evening boat trip round the island instead, but this got cancelled because of the weather conditions. None of this spoiled our holiday - we just spent a day relaxing instead. The guide walk up Etna was fantastic and we felt quite proud that accomplished it without mishap and that we were probably the oldest couple in the group. Our guide, Salvo, was brilliant - please mention him in any correspondence.
The transportation from place to place was excellent as were the hotels. We didn't actually stay in Hotel Rocce Azzure but in their sister hotel nearby which was beautiful. Thank you Headwater for another wonderful holiday.
By Mis Monteith on 17/06/2015
Very enjoyable introduction to North West Sicily and the Egadi islands. Each location was full of character and accommodation was attractive and comfortable. Particularly enjoyed accommodation near San Vito where owner Daniela is a charming and very welcoming host and gave us a great introduction to Sicilian food. Beautiful views on the walks, especially in Zingaro nature reserve and on Marettimo. High temperature and very strong wind made walk around Monte Cofano a bit of an endurance walk at the end. However, lemon granitas in cafÃ© at the pick up point and paddle in sea helped recovery.
By Mr Masterman on 11/06/2015
This was a varied and fairly novel trip which took us up three volcanoes and introduced us to the delightful Aeolian islands. The only things that marred it were the delay at Milazzo (referred to above), the food at Hotel Giardino sul Mare - which reminded me of boarding school meals in the 1950s and simply wasn't good enough - and the fact that the Hotel del Corso in Taormina, whilst run by a delightful and helpful family, is in the Main Street and very noisy at night meaning we were frequently woken by late night revellers. We suggest you offer an upgrade at the Excelsior Hotel, which is in a superb position and not that much more expensive. And has a pool!
We also wish to point out that there is no need to be picked up at 8 am for the Etna trip as we then had to wait for one and a half hours at the Rifugio as the guided climb didn't leave until 10.30 - and,we were told, always has done. Your local reps did not appear to have any experience of our itinerary or of the Etna tour and were not really able to answer our questions satisfactorily.
By Mr Burton on 08/06/2015
Be aware of possible High wind disruption on Island
By Mr Wignall on 28/05/2015
Excellent and varied selection of Hotels , majority of routes on very quiet roads, lovely rolling scenery( very Tuscan ) Blessed with sunny warm weather .. The first cycling day for those who haven't cycled much prior to the holiday it could be a little challenging, however it is well worth it if only for the food welcome given by Antonio at the Agro Turismo at Bruca, what a treasure he is. Thereafter the cycling just gets easier each day. The location at Nubia is unique, with a stroll across the salt pans for the evening meal. If you don't do anything else at Nubia, take the cableway to Erice , best site of the holiday .
By Mrs Lay on 21/04/2015
The weather was unusually cold and very windy, and there was no heating in the Marettimo Residence, but a heater was supplied at Baglio la Luna. Even so, we sat in bed in the evenings in our fleeces to keep warm, playing scrabble.
After the final walk,which took less time than expected, no facilities were open in the village of Cornino (not even the public conveniences). When he arrived, our lovely taxi driver Nicola drove us straight to San Vito Lo Capo so we could find a coffee and a desperately-needed loo. Full marks to Nicola for help and service throughout the trip; he even carried our bags up to the 2nd floor B&B in Trapani. (The amazing emergency B&B was like being on a set in an episode of Inspector Montalbano - a surprise addition to the holiday.)
The walks were enjoyable, but some of the paths on Marettimo and at Monte Cofano had been eroded by water over the winter and consisted mainly of loose fallen rocks of random sizes. Sticks are very much needed, especially for descents.
There are many dogs wandering around in this area of Sicily; we were not attacked at all, and one followed us all day on our walk to the Semaforo. We could only reward him with a drink of water, poured into a plastic carrier bag, in a hole in the ground at the picnic site. However, the dogs leave poo everywhere, so you need to watch your step!
Dear Mrs Lay,
Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday questionnaire and for your constructive feedback. Please be assured that all of the feedback we receive, whether complimentary or critical, is valuable in helping us to continue to improve and develop our holidays for the future and is always well received.
Firstly, I was sorry to see the weather was unseasonable cooler than you had expected, although, despite the colder temperatures, we were happy to see this did not deter you from making the most of your holiday overall.
We were also pleased to see you found the walks enjoyable, and would like to thank you for your feedback regarding the winter erosion on a couple of the paths, this feedback has been passed on to our local agent, they are in the process of checking all of the routes, so will make this area a priority. We have also passed on your complimentary feedback regarding Nicola, our agent will ensure this is passed on, I am sure Nicola will be delighted to hear you appreciated his efforts.
Thank you also for your feedback regarding the local dogs. Whilst we appreciate, they did not cause you any bother, it would be useful to ascertain which area this occurred in, so we can report it to the local comune. (I will telephone you directly for this information).
In closing, we would like to thank you for choosing Headwater and look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future.
Headwater Customer Service team
By Mrs Jarvis on 20/04/2015
Despite initial concerns with hydrofoil sailing we had an excellent holiday. The highlights of which were the Stromboli evening walk and the Mount Etna walk too. On both of these walks our guides were knowledgeable and friendly. I am not keen on heights but the Stromboli walk is fine and very safe so please don't be put off by the warning in the brochure as I nearly was! I would also recommend doing the first Stromboli walk on the day you arrive as there is a bit of climbing and you may not want to do both on the same day if it is very hot, unless you are super fit of course! The Esso petrol station on Lipari no longer exists in the main harbour, it has been replaced by a tarmac triangle on which sits a pretty orange and white boat, the bus stop is opposite this. When we were in Taormina one of the paths up to Castelmola was also closed because the cliff face was being netted to make it safe, we had to retrace our steps and go via the road, not sure how long this will be the case though as there was a lot of netting in place already on our visit. it was however well worth the detour for the amazing views.
By Mrs Tindall on 21/10/2014
Aeolian islands and their volcanoes are sensational and therefore we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. The hotels were fine but did not justify the high price paid for the holiday especially as we were self guided (apart from the Etna trip) and had to pay and make our own arrangements for transport to the islands. The weak link was the Sicilian Agents who never kept in touch especially as we found out that nobody had walked up Stromboli since August and we had to ring for info on this on the morning of our walk! We wasted time here and could have been given alternative suggestions.
We will travel to the islands again but independently, staying on Lipari and travelling between the islands on a daily basis. it definitely would have been cheaper.
By Mrs Sodring on 20/10/2014
This holiday involves not only walking but a lot of travelling (not fully described in the brochure) by boat and minibus. The necessary boat journeys require extra cash as fares are not included in the cost of the holiday. Also food, though of high quality, is expensive in Stromboli and Taoramina. Studying books on the history, geology, flora and fauna of eastern Sicily and the Aeolian Isles made this trip particularly interesting.
By Ms Tomkins on 13/10/2014
The islands of Sicily walk was a very varied holiday, the highlight being the visits to the volcano at Vulcano, Stromboli and Etna.
By Mis Saunders on 09/10/2014
We have been on many Headwater walking holidays - both guided and independent walking, but felt Islands of Sicily (nicknamed by us ' Volcanoes of Sicily') was a different experience, and by and large a good one. Hotels are all of a good standard and are in good locations. Breakfasts are fine - not exceptional, but fine. Dinners in the hotel in Lipari are good and there are lots of restaurants for when you dine out. The walks are interesting, the views great and the volcano walking a real experience. Be warned though the trips to see Stromboli and Etna are weather/ volcanic activity dependant. We were not able to do to the night walk on Stromboli. However you can do the day walk independently in the late afternoon and get to see the lava flow (from a safe distance of course) at night. The path down is easy - but don't forget your head torch! We did do Etna, which was a real experience. The slightly frustrating element of the holiday is the amount of time and effort we spent on getting the Hydrofoil tickets and checking timetables - the times in the notes and the advertised time at the ticket office are not always the time the boat with actually leave and it wasn't always clear when the ticket office would be open to check/ buy tickets. Having said that, if you are OK will that little bit of uncertainty/ adventure you'll have a great time!
By Dr Mason on 08/10/2014
The holiday was very enjoyable, the location was great, but the walks were challenging in the heat, even in September. The local food was delicious.
By Mr MacE on 07/10/2014
A chance to see parts of countries that fixed destinations can not compete with.
By Mrs Clark on 01/10/2014
Headwater holidays are ones where you can count on the arrangements made and simply enjoy the holiday you have chosen to take.
By Mr Kitchen on 26/09/2014
Thoroughly enjoyable - just as we expected - save only for the above average temperatures (35C +). I'm sure it would be a lot more comfortable in the Spring!
By Mrs Baylies on 25/09/2014
A great holiday but the hills ARE hills! So you do need to be fairly fit. And be prepared for a headwind! A real sense of achievement at the end of the day and we felt we had earned all the amazing food!
By Mr Haines on 24/09/2014
Travel arrangements and accommodation were excellent. Cycling on Day 3 from Scopello was very demanding with many hills! The written instructions for cycling route into Marsala could be improved- just follow the waterfront. Alitalia flight meals were poor so an arrival snack at hotel 1 would be helpful. A thoroughly enjoyable holiday. Thanks.
By Mr McLenachan on 17/09/2014
Overall a good holiday but one or two issues:
1. The minibus driver on arrival did not know where he was going and tried to drop us at the wrong hotel. Fortunately, we realised this before he had left and got him to take us to the correct hotel.
2. Not much to do on the last day in Marsala, so this was a bit of a dead day. I'd prefer the option to move on each day.
3. When you do have 2 nights in one place, I'd prefer that dinner in the hotel was included for one night onlyp on the dinner on the second night (eve
By Mrs Buckham on 17/09/2014
Beautiful area of Sicily, which took us by surprise. It is very hot though as there's little shade on the walks so a slightly later departure in the year may have been better for us. A good variety of walks available though so when it was at its hottest we just did slightly less strenuous ones.. Also the walking ability of our group of 6 was mixed so we could split up at times but all enjoy a walk then meet for dinner together which worked well.. The sightseeing trips were well chosen and really interesting.
By Mr Davis on 28/08/2014
The itinerary is excellent and the islands are beautiful and well worth visitng. The highlight for us was the night-time climb up the Stromboli volcano. Howver the walking notes were scanty, and in some cases positvely misleading. In particular there needs to be more accurate and detailed information about the Mount Etna day, with a clear warning that it may not be possible to do the walk and information about what customers are supposed to do if this is the case. It would also be more useful if the driver dropping you off at least knew some very basic information about the itinerary eg that he needed to drop you off by the Guides' hut, not the cable car station. Some of the walks are very demanding, with long steep climbs, and in our view the walk sould be graded 2+ boots. There should also be clearer warnings in the holiday description that the number of extras which custormers have to pay for (bus fares, ferry fares, most dinners) is much higher than is the norm for Headwater holidays (this is the eighth that we have been on). All in all, we felt that the customer care element of this holiday (which, for us, has always been one of Headwater's strengths) was of a much lower standard than we have experienced before - enough to make us think twice before booking another holiday with you, which is a shame.
By Mrs Robertson on 07/07/2014
A stress free walking holiday knowing that hotels are well chosen , routes are well documented and local tour operator is easily contactable.
By Mr Oldham on 26/06/2014
Of all the Headwater holidays we have done, this is perhaps the most difficult to sum up in a few words! The bikes and cycling were really good - probably one of the best experiences on that score. However, even then the scenery was somewhat less than great for the most part, with little opportunity to see a great deal of interest along the way.
The hotels were great - although in the two cases where we had to eat at outside reatsurants the service was laughably poor - really felt as if we were being served under sufferage. That did not happen where the hotels provided the food, nor at other external restaurants and cafes we used along the way - far from it. So whether they felt they didn't have to bother too much hard to say.
Dogs were an issue in parts - unlike most other rural areas we have cycled in throughout Europe, where dogs are used to protect properties but are generally tied up or confined to the property, here they could nearly all get out on the road, and in one particular case we were very glad that we could 'outpace' the rather vicious looking brutes as we were going downhill at the time.
Dear Mr Oldham, Thank you for your feedback, it was great to see that you enjoyed the cycling and the hotels on your holiday. Although, it was disappointing to see that some parts of your holiday did not meet with your expectations. We have discussed your feedback with our local agent. They have taken steps to ensure a more professional service is provided by the restaurateur’s we currently use, this will be closely monitored during the following tours and if an improvement is not achieved alternative restaurants will be used. We were also sorry to see that you encountered issues with free roaming dogs in the area, whilst this is the first report we have received of this kind. Our agent has reported the issue to the local council for their immediate attention. We would like to thank you for your constructive feedback and look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future.
Headwater Customer Service
By Mr Ploszajski on 17/06/2014
Overall very enjoyable, with Zingaro, Erice and Mozia particular favorites. The welcome at Baglio Fontana was outstanding - we were the only guests that night and they cooked us an amazing meal!
The least pleasant element was the base in Nubia. The salt pan landscape there was far less attractive than the one visited subsequently at Mozia, the staff in the local Trattoria were very off-hand, the food was poor and we were overcharged by a taxi arranged by the hotel, which cost 20 Euros for a 4-mile trip one way.
The location of the hotel in Marsala (described in the notes as 'enviable') was not great, fronted by a busy road, surrounded by industrial buildings and our room (at the back) overlooked a railway line. If your descriptions raise expectations, it leaves an unnecessary sense of disappointment.
Dear Mr Ploszajski, Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday questionnaire, it was great to see that you enjoyed your holiday overall. We have passed on your feedback to the team at Baglio Fontana they were delighted to receive such lovely comments and enjoyed your company too. I was however sorry to read of your poor experience at the local Trattoria, again we have passed on these comments and the owner would like to offer his sincere apologies for the poor service you feel you received; they pride themselves on delivering good service and tasty meals and will highlight your feedback to their staff for their immediate attention. We were also sorry to see that you felt you were overcharged for your return taxi, the hotel use licensed taxi's only with fares set by the local council. The hotel suggested that the taxi you returned in may not have been licensed and therefore charge less. We would always recommend the use of a licensed taxi wherever possible. We thank you once again for your constructive feedback and for travelling with Headwater this summer.
Headwater Customer Service team
By Mr Cross on 07/06/2014
Good first experience with friends who have been with you before.
By Ms Swinburne on 29/05/2014
Secrets o Sicily was probably one of the best holidays ever. The walking was great, the routes good, the accommodation (with one exception) excellent with good food. Everything you could want for comfort and enjoyment, but not at all fussy. Domenica at Baglio La Luna was great in letting us keep the room for the whole day before we flew back in the evening, and in offering us food in a location where there is nothing else. The help given in choosing appropriate accommodation for our two extra (lazy) days before we started the walking holiday was much appreciated. Thank you.
By Mrs Marchant on 24/05/2014
Overall a good holiday with (mostly) good weather and great eruptions on Stromboli. Some parts are excellent (the walks are good and the Stromboli climb is excellent). Some parts just don't work. It's utter madness to include dinner on all 3 nights on Lipari - the food at the Rocce Azzurre is poor (edible, but certainly not any sort of local specialities) and there are lots of far better eating options nearby. Please also ask all the hotels to stop serving tinned fruit at breakfast - the markets are heaving with the most fantastic fresh fruit and every hotel just provided tinned peaches, pears and prunes. The Etna day also needs reviewing. There were 4 separate couples doing the same non-guided trip, so Headwater made significant savings on all the transfers by putting us into one group (which was fine). However, on arrival at Etna we had to wait to find out if the trip was going to run as the weather was poor, but the driver was unable to wait for us as he had another appointment. We knew the weather was going to be poor so we emailed the local rep the day before but no-one responded. Surely there must be a better process than having to get up early, arrange early breakfast, drive for an hour to Etna, find out that the trip isn't running, wait around for a few hours to get the driver back and then drive another hour back to Taormina. It feels very much as though you're on your own.
I would recommend that the onus be put on the local rep to find out what is likely to happen on Etna the day before the trip is due to happen, and then leave info for Headwater guests at the Corso/Continental with an idea of what the itinerary is likely to be. Guests would then have a more informed choice of whether to go along with the trip (potentially in wind/fog/rain etc) or whether to stay in Taormina.
More info on alternative hydrofoil/ferry options would also have been useful. On our Vulcano day all the ferries stopped due to high winds, but we were able to get a private boat - this would have been easier to find if it was mentioned in the notes. We also did the walks in the order suggested in the notes whereas if it was suggested to look at the weather first it would have been more sensible to do the Vulcano trip on the first day on Lipari and the Quattropani walk on the second.
Dear Mrs Marchant, Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday questionnaire. Please be assured that all of the feedback we receive is useful in assisting us to continue to improve and develop our holidays for future customers and is always well received. It was great to see that you enjoyed your holiday to Sicily and were lucky enough to witness the eruptions on Stromboli, I am sure it was an amazing sight. We would also like to thank you for your constructive feedback, I have discussed your comments with the Programme manager for the region and we have since put measures in to place where improvements are required. These include insisting the hoteliers serve fresh fruit at breakfast. We are also decreasing the amount of dinners included in Lipari to allow our customers to sample the local restaurants and are working closely with our local agent to improve the information and service provided on the Etna day, unfortunately, due to the very fast changing weather conditions on the volcano it is sometimes necessary to delay or cancel the trip. Although as this is a highlight to most peoples holiday, from past customer feedback, whilst it is sometimes frustrating waiting around depending on the weather, most customers say they would have preferred this option, however, we appreciate some people would rather not go if the weather is poor beforehand therefore, we will give our customers the option to stay at the hotel in future.
Our route notes are updated seasonally and then throughout the season as required, we will consider your suggestions when the next update is due. Whilst I realise these amendments do not help you personally. I do hope that it goes some way to show we take your feedback seriously.
Yours sincerely, Headwater Customer Service team.
By Mrs Cameron on 15/05/2014
Idyllic setting but some disappointments. See below
By Mrs Arlett on 07/05/2014
This was a very enjoyable holiday. The walks, locations, itinerary and choice of hotels were all well thought out. We enjoyed the variety of walks and the wild flowers were stunning. Spotting a Bonelli Eagle was one of the highlights. Our local reps looked after us well, leaving us to be independent but stepping in when required - for example, sorting out a hotel in Trapani when our boat trip to Marettimo was delayed due to high winds. We found some of the walks quite tough but rewarding. The hotels were varied and our favourite was the self catering on Marettimo.
By Mr Ainger on 07/05/2014
We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday. The walking mix was good, and flowers, birds, sea and sun were a great combination. Marettimo was special.
By Mr Arena on 23/04/2014
This was a very well arranged holiday and headwater proved faultless in its arrangements. As a region, however, it is neither especially beautiful, nor especially interesting. The hills were very steep in the initial stages- far steeper than anticipated. The accommodation was fair but not exceptional and often not especially comfortable. The food was by and large mediocre given that there were set menus which seldom changed and which were repeated at nearly every hotel/restaurant. Notwithstanding the efforts of headwater, this was a disappointing holiday.
By Mrs Boram on 20/04/2014
The dusk hike on Stromboli was incredible and was the highlight of our holiday.
By Mrs Organ on 17/04/2014
The overall holiday was very enjoyable, well planned with a good mix of site seeing and excellent walking in a little known but beautiful part of Sicily, all local
Agents were on time and efficient, Carlos in particular was well informed and helpful, others were less so.. We opted to pay extra to have some time sight seeing in Palermo on the last day. This caused quite a lot of arranging and could have been offered to us before we went, The last hotel was not good. The food was very poor, bit like school dinners and as it was in such an isolated location it was not possible to walk to any where else as another choice to eat, it was a long distance from the planned walks in the reserve so it entailed long taxi rides to and for , which seemed pointless and made the whole thing rather regulated rather than the freedom offered at the other hotels and locations. In addition I had been persuaded to pay 60 Euro extra by the U.K. Booking agent from Headwater for a room with a sea view and little patio when in fact all it was was an ordinary room with rather a small window which did look over the sea, a rip off.
By Mrs Dolan on 21/10/2013
Holiday was around three centres and we didn't walk between them. Taxi transfers ere very reliable and efficient. Our taxi driver Daniella, was keen to practice his English. Our three night on Marettimo where we ate in Il Veliero where the anto pasto was marvellous. We got a really great welcome at La Luna and we were lucky to be able to stay in our room until late on the last day when we were flying home late so we could have a shower after a day on the beach at San Vito Lo Capo. We enjoyed the visits to Segesta and Enrice. It was a really good mox of walking and seeing a few of the sights.
By Mr O'Hara on 14/10/2013
The island hopping, with 3/2/3 night stays to break up the travelling, worked very well, and all the transits were well handled. We felt the challenge of the walks was well reflected in the brochure and built up effectively through the holiday. We were fortunate to be able to do all the walks in good (and not too hot!) weather, but realised how weather-dependent the Stromboli and Etna walks are and thought the brochure might mention this.
By Mr Healey on 13/10/2013
An excellently put together holiday. Hotels good and food generally so too,where provided. We booked double rooms for single occupancy and,with the exception of the hotel del corso my suspicion is that we were given the worst double rooms.....eg at the rocco azure every room seemed to have a balcony except mine,and my friends did have a balcony but was the one situated immediately above the hotel entrance,with no view and with noise from early deprting german guests .My suspicion is that German groups at the hotel had the better rooms,for whatever reason.
By Mr Hamilton on 06/10/2013
This was one of our best Headwater holidays to date despite inclement weather preventing the Mt Etna trek. Stromboli evening climb was spectacular and the Hotels in Lipari and Taormina were very well chosen for location and the personal service. Views from both were lovely.
By Ms Tonge on 06/10/2013
A good trip around the Aeolian Islands-we had good weather and it was possible to do all the walks which were generally easy to follow. The 2 hotels on the islands were good particularly the Rocce Azzure right on the sea front.
Unfortunately we did not get to do the Etna ascent from Taormina. There was a lot of cloud on Etna on the morning of our transfer up to the refuge and when we arrived there we were told the ascent was not possible due to poor weather conditions. Fortunately we were able to get the taxi driver back in time otherwise we would have been stuck there all day until his scheduled return at 4pm. We did wonder whether this couldn't have been ascertained earlier by the rep and there was no further contact from her regarding a possible refund on the trip or the possibility of doing the trip another day(we had extended our stay so could have gone the next day) so a bit unsatisfactory.
The trip is expensive particularly with the extra costs required for ferries and meals out. However Sicily is an expensive place to visit particularly when in the very touristed towns like Taormina- eating out /drinks/entry to museums etc. was very expensive so this should be taken into account when calculating a budget.
Overall we enjoyed the trip particularly the hike up to Stromboli at sun set to see the eruptions.
By Mr Williams on 01/10/2013
An excellent holiday in an outstanding area. Local history combined with fantastic scenery, and walks. Some of the walks were at the upper end of the grading - made worse by unusually high temperatures. The organisation of the transfers and visits to historic sites was first rate.
By Mr Wilson on 16/06/2013
An interesting and varied holiday but a level of basic fitness would be needed to climb all the volcanoes in the tour.
By Mr Strong on 13/06/2013
This wasn't in our opinion, a walking holiday. More of a test of endurance. Hard to believe the paths had been walked out by yourselves as were very overgrown in places. Trip up Stromboli arranged on the same day as a trip up Mount Etna was ridiculous. We managed to change it ourselves. Hotel at Catania was awful - the lift didn't even stop at reception and there was no assistance with luggage and reception staff were rude and unhelpful. Nowhere to get a drink at hotel. Hydrofoil trips were laborious and took up too much time when we would have preferred to have been walking. There was NO contact from your rep to see if were still alive and there was confusion over the transfer back to the airport on the last day. Too many hidden extras - hydrofoil fares too expensive and we think some of these things should have been included in the holiday price. We were disappointed with the walks organised from Taormina and felt we could have put these together these ourselves. The 'inclusive' evening meal was at a restaurant a long way from the hotel and we had a very limited menu. The trip up Mount Etna was chaotic - lots of waiting around for a guide who was only interested in increasing the numbers in his group - only to find they were mostly French. Impossible to hear/understand what he was saying once up the top as it was windy and there were far too many people. We had to pay extra to get a jeep back down. First Headwater holiday where we've had to cart our own luggage everywhere. Our 6th holiday with yourselves, probably won't book again.
By Mrs Markson on 03/06/2013
Some amazing experiences ie climbing Mt Etna but also some upsets ie - taken to wrong dreadful hotel on arrival, poor standard in some hotels, ,poor food in hotels, mistakes in itinerary ,but excellent agent and organisation abroad apart from arrival disaster.
By Mr Wilson on 30/05/2013
Fantastic experience, particularly Stromboli night climb and Mt. Etna. These walks deserve much more publicity as great walks of the world!
By Mr Williams on 29/05/2013
Good variety of walking and interest on the transfer days. Traveled in late May which seemingly is low season in Sicily consequently some of the restaurants on Marettimo were closed leaving a very limited choice, however the accommodation has a good kitchenette giving the option to self cater for 1 or 2 nights. Marettimo was very windy the days we were there making the coastal path to the Castello challenging, you certainly need a head for heights in windy conditions.
By Mrs Bainton on 14/05/2013
A wonderful opportunity to get to know this corner of Sicily. We would never have found these nature reserves ourselves. The wild flowers were a spectacle, and the local cuisine excellent.
By Mrs Blake on 14/05/2013
Loved Western Sicily, looking extra beautiful covered in spring flowers. And how well we ate!
Independent walking with the confident backup of Crilu's expertise. Seeing those parts of a place not normally on the tourist routes and enjoying beautiful scenery and interesting locations away from the masses.
By Mr Scharer on 24/04/2013
Well thought out and stress -free holiday but not cheap.
By Mr Wright on 03/11/2012
An expensive holiday with lots of extras to pay for, but fantastic,,
By Mr Buttanshaw on 03/11/2012
Stunning scenery particularly from the top of the island of Marritimo (Pizzo Falconi)which was a good climb! A pity the Zingara Reserve was closed due to a fire since early August, which knocked out the whole first day's walking; a much inferior road walk was suggested instead. We feel we should have been advised of this by Headwater when booking.
We were on the last trip of the season and we had the feeling everything was winding down. Service was a bit hit and miss in places. The extra day in Palermo was probably not a good idea as there's not much to do compared to other Italian cities.
Still, another memorable Headwater holiday as we have come to expect.
By Mr Snelling on 06/10/2012
Overall holiday met our expectations. Travel arrangements all ok. Excellent walks in dramatic scenery especially on volcanoes.
By Mrs Gooder on 06/10/2012
Beautiful scenery, lovely walks, but very basic accommodation. Neither the brochure not the notes make it clear that some of the walks are across exceptionally steep hillsides and not for the faint-hearted
By Mrs Ames on 29/09/2012
We really enjoyed our secrets of Sicily holiday. The walks were exactly as described and quite varied. We liked the combination of sightseeing, swimming and walking. Altogether a very well organised holiday and we hope to return to Sicily.
By Mrs Whensley on 24/09/2012
There was one major issue regarding the first place at Scopello. We were unable to walk due to a fire in the reserve. Firstly we should have been told about this before the start of the holiday as it had happened a month previously and the local rep thought we could walk in it a little way. In fact people had been turned away at the reseve and you would expect the rep to know. Alos there should have been a typed sheet to indicate the alternatives. In fact we hired a car to sightsee and that alternative was not mentioned. It was generally poor and the food was almost uneatable. I could not eat breakfast as cake may be what the Italians eat but I do not. I did ask for some meat and that was produced on the second day but it was not acceptable..
Also the walks were generally on the verge of being boring but we found our own on Maretimmo becuase we had bought a walking book in UK.In summary the holiday was OK but only just accpetable for the money.
By Mrs Winkworth on 30/06/2012
A most unusual holiday. Lots of travelling but worked very well.
By Dr Ravenscroft on 30/06/2012
For us the combination of walking and free time was just right. An excellent holiday that worked well
By Mr Dobinson on 30/06/2012
Simply our best ever holiday abroad - what more can we say?
By Mr Clarke on 23/06/2012
Challenging but rewarding. The climbing was tougher than we expected, partly due to the heat, and all the days were 'long'. We HAD to start v early and therefore had to arrange early breakfasts in Lipari to avoid the heat and catch the ferries - your timings would have suited a more leisurely approach!
Catania is NOT a place to stay on Saturday nights - the hotel is over the busiest road and we were in a room over the street - you should ask for your custmers to have rooms over the back, particularly if they are booking an additional night as we did! We also had to handle all our own luggage up two flights of stairs, incidentally having been taken to the wrong hotel by our driver! Lipari was lovely and well organised with lots of variety but it was the only place where we were expected to eat in - the food was OK but the dining room was bleak and the atmosphere in that room, poor. A pity - the pool was lovely! Again on Stromboli we had a front room above the main door and bar although the lights went off at 10.30. WE took the short strw in Taormina again - second floor fron, over the ice-cream bar. Taormine first night - no sleep - people were coming and goind under our window literally all night with the last retching past at 5 am...just as dawn broke! Better on Sunday and Monday but aagin, avoid Saturday in Taormina!!! Your notes on Etna were not accurate...the walk-up option is a killer - you really do have to take the new cable car and then the big four-wheelers to 2900 ms and a guide really is a must - he is only a fraction more than the DIY option but unguided there is limited scope to 'feel' the volcano - but the guide took us on a scree run down -500 ms plus and we walked/ran the whole way down in under two hours - exhilarating but very heavy on the knees for the unprepoared. As this was the highlight of our trip we thought we could have been better prepared.
And it was an expensive holiday - there were endless extras...for those used to having the evening meal in the price, fewer trips (less tipping) and no ferries....
Would I recommend this trip to others...probably not..without explaining the pitfalls and additional expenses...I shall probably go back, take my time but organise it myself more cheaply...
But....I wouldn't have gone without your support this time so thank you for that...it felt a little ambitious for the Headwater programme...
Dear Mr Clarke, thank you for taking the time to send us your comments following your recent holiday. Unfortunately, due to the length of the trip and the number of 'must see' sights on the Islands, this holiday requires a 9 night duration - meaning a Saturday night is inevitable... we are very sorry to hear that you received noisy rooms in Catania and Taormina though - this is the first time we have had this kind of feedback. Following your review we have requested quiet rooms for our guests in future. This is subject to availability, but we are confident that this will rectify the issues you mention. We are in the process of checking our route notes ready for the Autumn departures, so we will make sure that the points you have mentioned are highlighted to our agent. Thank you for choosing to travel with Headwater. Kind regards, Melanie.
By Mr Turner on 23/06/2012
Very good. great to have walk options and great to have some sightseeing opportunities, made for an interesting and varied holiday
By Mrs Naylor on 11/06/2012
A great holiday with good hotels, walks,transfers. The trips to the islands made it much more than a standard walking holiday.Great memories!
By Mr Freeman on 25/05/2012
An excellent holiday - well-organised and largely stress-free. We would (in retrospect) have preferred to find our own meals on Lipari - the restaurant was very limited and we ate out on one of the nights. Otherwsie, stunning foof, views, walks and an excellent time.
By Ms Findlay on 25/05/2012
A well organise, enjoyable walking holiday in a fantastic region
By Mrs Rose on 19/05/2012
Enjoyable, lots of exercise in good weather.
By Ms Pitt on 05/05/2012
Very enjoyable. Wonderful scenery and good walking. It was excellent having reliable pickups to take us from one location to another.
By Mrs Thomas on 05/05/2012
Great walking in dramatic locations and scenery; wonderful spring flowers; overall a very enjoyable week
By Mrs Scott on 00/00/0000
The holiday was fine - exactly what we have come to expect of a Headwater holiday - we've done about 7. Every day turns up something different, the accommodation individual, sometimes quirky but always interesting and always something to do.
The Sicily cycling holiday lived up to expectation except for the quality of the electric bikes - the reason why we chose the holiday. The equipment was old and on one particular day not up to the distance for the day's journey - the batteries were collected off the bikes and we had to continue with the bikes battery free - something they are not designed for ! My battery alone weighed 12kg !
PS We didn't stay at the Agritorisimo Arcudaci - disregard the rating above - I can't delete it....
By Mr Long on 00/00/0000
Overall an excellent holiday with good accommodation and choice of walking routes