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Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Chicago, IL USA
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Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Hi All,

I am first time traveler to Greece and planning to have small wedding in Oia. There will be about (10-12) people in our party. I don't want to look into the wedding packages because we will not be having traditional wedding - just small ceremony. Thinking about 12 day trip (at least 8 in Oia - but after reading some posts, Oia does not seem good for groups).

We would like to rent a villa, car, yacht charter, arrive in Athens (from Chicago) and take high-speed ferry to Santorini.

Is it better to go with travel agent or plan myself?

Cheaper to fly into Athens or directly to Santorini?

Thanks!!!

Oregon
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1. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Please explain why Oia does not seem good for groups. Are you referring to the limited nightlife?

"Is it better to go with travel agent or plan myself?" Are you detail-oriented? This will take some time and a lot of careful organizing skill. I'd make all the plans myself, but that's just me, I'm already familiar with a lot of what would be necessary to make it happen.

Fantasy Travel and Dolphin-Hellas Travel are both very reliable travle agencies in Athens that can help you make your plans, and the advantage is that they will just be an inexpensive phone call away if you run into any unforseen problems with the bookings they make for you.

fantasytravelofgreece.com/english/index.html

www.dolphin-hellas.gr

"Cheaper to fly into Athens or directly to Santorini?" You can't fly directly to Santorini, you have to change planes in Athens.

It's possible that the highspeed ferry from Athens to Santorini won't even be operating yet in May. It's not put into service until summer demand increases. Since you're planning ahead for 2008 I suggest you look into flying from Athens to Santorini instead of taking the highspeed ferry. Every year Aegean Airlines has fantastic offers of RT flights from Athens to several islands including Santorini for 19 Euro each way (about 40 euro each way with taxes and fuel charges). This is CHEAPER than the highspeed ferry and the flight takes 40 minutes as opposed to 5 hours. If the seas are rough the ferry won't be fun. There will be 3 flights per day so at least one of them will be convenient to your arrival from the States. Start checking the Aegean Airlines website in November-December for the updated 2008 timetable. Eventually the 19 Euro tickets will show up, maybe as late as January, but they will be available. This gives you several months to prepare your wedding party for the online booking process, so once you see the fares available you will just need to alert your friends and family to go ahead and book.

www.aegeanair.com/aegeanen/home/index.asp

Chicago, IL USA
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2. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Hi Brotherleelove!

Thanks for the great info. This is over a year away and already totally stressing me out!

Yes, I was worried about the limited nightlife for the group on Oia. I think this was simple itinerary: Athens (2 days) --> Santorini (7 days - charter yacht, rent villa/car) --> Athens --> Chicago.

Then I read about the ferries, potential hotel overbooking, transfers, language barriers, and etc..yikes! I am panicking!

i think i'll look into fantasytravel, but i'm worried about getting extra excursions and killing my budget.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

You won't get better advise than what you just got from Brotherleelove:) You have picked an IDEAL locale for a once-in-a-lifetime event and will definetely return for at least 1 honeymoon!! Why not look into some properties that you may be able to get somewhat connecting/together ... check out www.ikies.gr as well as www.artmaisons.gr ... both offer wonderful amenities and location w/some super close and some connecting accommodations for your party.. take your time and try planning it out on your own...if it gets overwhelming you can always go with what you've got (or know you want) to one of the TA mentioned and have them arrange it! Will you go over (or kill!) the budget? Probably yeah! But it IS an event that will leave you with a lifetime of precious memories...Plan on it! and Congratulations....Enjoy!

Oregon
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4. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

No need to stress out. You'd just need to break down the booking process into sub-categories:

1. Chicago>Athens>Chicago

2. Athens>Santorini>Athens

3. Hotel

4.Santorini port or airport>Hotel>port or airport

5. Yacht charter (is this for the volcano cruise?) and island activities/group tour/etc. These can be booked once you're there if you want to wait to see what's available in the moment, or of course you can do some more investigating to see about booking ahead using the internet. I suppose one issue for pre-booking would be how many people will want to participate in any given activity.

Overbooking won't be a problem in May, it's not that busy then. Transfers aren't that much of a challenge either. Many hotels will arrange this for you from either the ferry port or airport, and there are taxis and buses you can take from the ferry port and taxis from the airport if you want to do it by yourself. Will you all be arriving together? There are some transportation companies on the island that have big vans for larger groups.

I understand your concerns about Oia's nightlife. If you want lively bars and dance clubs it's not the place for your wedding party, although I suspect wherever your group chose to go for the evening would end up being pretty lively! Besides the few quiet bars in Oia there is, just so you know, a great taverna (in Oia) that offers traditional Greek food, music and dance, SANTORINI MOU. Tuck that away for a possible group excursion by taxi or rental car from wherever you end up on the island.

Both those travel agents I mentioned will tailor your "package" to your budget and will not impose something on you that you can't afford or aren't interested in. I will suggest that you get the hotel names from them and check for reviews and opinions from others as to quality and location. Even though they won't put you someplace terrible you still have the right to say yes or no to what they're offering.

And I hope you realize that you won't find a villa large enough for everyone, if that's even what you have in mind. But there are lots of nice complexes of small studios and apartments that all have separate balconies and privacy that should satisfy you. It might even be possible so far in advance to find one complex just the right size for you to be able to book the whole thing at a discount.

Chicago, IL USA
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5. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Thanks so much Brotherleelove.

So Far:

Well, we took out Fira so now I'm choosing between Oia, Firostefani, and Imerovigli.

From what I read:

Oia - beautiful, quiet, great views/restaurants but isolated, expensive

Firostefani - suburb, quiet, close to Fira, mid-priced

Imerovigli - very quiet, highest cliffs, midway from Fira to Oia, cheaper

Wedding Goal: good celebration (15th anniversary -yeah!!), relaxing week, I am going to call couple of small hotels to see if we can rent the whole place, maybe daytrip for yacht and wineries.

I contacted travel agent (fantasy travel) - they gave me about 700 Euro per person for 10 day trip (3 days in Athens). I am revising trip to eliminate Athens to save money -- waiting to see what they say on the revised price.

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6. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Don't mean to be cutting in here, but honestly, I don't think cutting Athens out will in any way lower the daily p/p rate you've already been given...allot depends on the property they use and Brotherleelove is right in asking exactly what properties are used.. if you cut Athens out totally then you are simply left with the flights and a full Santorini stay which in all reality involves the flights and the hotel...Let's see what the agent comes back with and what's included in that rate...you can also in the meantime check out hotels in Santorini and as mentioned, getting a smaller deluxe property to accommodate you all sounds wonderful and feasible.. don't think it would run 700E daily just for that though:) If your total stay will be in Santorini only, your expenses would involve the r/t airfare, transfers to/from airport-hotel, and hotel stay. In May you can readily find the top, deluxe properties in the 350-400 range...check out some of the ones already mentioned...You are planning a wonderful celebration here which is truly not as complicated as it may seem especially w/great advisorsand Experts to walk you through it:) Enjoy!

Los Angeles, CA
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7. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

I highly recommend you check out hotels at www.tripadvisor.com, this site offers reviews based on guest reviews, not hotels or travel agent reviews. Also, some guests submit their own personal photo's of the hotel so you get a more honest depiction of the hotel.

I, initially was going to book my trip (this summer) via a greece travel agent for 17 days - 5 islands. I was quoted (7,400 Euro) and this quote was limited to using only the hotels that the travel agents has a relationship with. Some of which got rather 'iffy' reviews....ranging from staff complaints to room complaints.

I ended up booking the hotels that got GREAT reviews in tripadvisor (galaxy hotel in Santorini) and the trip so far is costing me about $3,800 U.S. dollars...and that includes two flights for 4 using Aegean Airlines.

It took me a lot of internet time (1 week at least) but eventually I got all the hotels/apts that had great reviews and locations!

Hope this help, RMITCH

Chicago, IL USA
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8. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Thanks Litsa and SMitch!

I think 700e (Volcano Views in Fira and 3 nights in Athens and ferry) is quite reasonable for that length of trip 11 days/10 nights. Since we are inviting everyone (now its about 14 ppl), we (my fiance and I ) will be paying for accommodations and everyone is on their own with airfares and food/entertainment.

Great tip on AegeanAir - even now I see tickets for late May 2007 from Athens to Santorini for 37e one-way (travel agent quoted $200 USD roundtrip for that leg and $1000 USD from Chicago - Athens).

I requested new quote for only 7 nights in Santorini for 12 people (with car rentals) - I'll let you guys know the prices tomorrow.

Chicago, IL USA
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9. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

sorry, i mean RMitch! I can't believe there isn't edit post function.

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10. Re: Santorini - Oia - May 2008 Group Trip- Help!

Hey Luv....Just so you know...if you check out fares as late as today for May of this year, they can be had for as low as $800 r/t..Alitalia shows a great Chicago/Rome/Athens flight at that rate as an example..Unless fuel prices skyrocket beyong what they already are, and you've got your dates set, am sure you can do much better than $1000...Same w/flights to Santorini as you've seen youself being quoted $200....Since yours is a pretty straightforward itinerary, would definetely play with the websites as there is plenty of time:) Agents and Agencies are obviously in the business of making a profit, of course, but not a fleecing:) ...and yes, they take the hassles out of the little things like transfers..(in your case, cab rides to the hotel in Santorini)...and many are willing to pay for the priviledges involved thus the industry...Just beware of how MUCH more you may unwittingly end up paying with a realistic mark-up and not be taken advantage of during a very 'exciting' time and event in your wonderful life:) Enjoy!