We had a great time with our boat which we hired from Living Lake, Ghiffa. But the fuel charge was horrendous and that's because they 'forgot' to tell us that the two nearest marine fuel points are both shut at lunchtime......and our boat had to be returned by 13:30, ouch - an extra 90€ on top of the otherwise reasonable 110€ for the boat hire.
We wanted a hire boat on Lake Orta but Living Lake's offices at Omegna doesn't hire boats. But they helpfully suggested that we travel 30mins to Ghiffa on Lake Maggiore and hire one of their boats from the Hotal Ghiffa - good stuff.
We hired the Marine model, 40hp for four hours at 110€. We took the 09:30 - 13:30 slot. The hotel has some parking which is available for folk who hire from Living Lake. There's a chunky 200€ deposit which must be left with them in cash. All of this is made clear in advance so there's no nasty suprises on this front.
The two guys who dealt with us could do with attending a customer care training course. One spoke English but they were both very offhand. We were shown to the boat. The instructions were provided but the man spoke no English, but we got by somehow.
VERY IMPORTANT POINT: If you hire a boat for the four hour slot in the morning then, be warned, the two nearest marine fueling points are both closed for lunch. This means that you cannot refuel just before returning the boat to Ghiffa. Living Lake charge 30€ for each quarter tank that is missing when you return the boat. For us that was an extra 90€.
THEY DIDN'T TELL US THE MARINE FUEL POINTS CLOSE FOR LUNCH: And so we travelled first to the one on the shore opposite Ghiffa and then onward to the one just south of Ghiffa - both were closed. So we used more fuel on pointless trips to closed fueling stations. The guys could have told us this before we took the boat out in the morning or, at the very least, noted this in the information pack that is on each boat. The pack simply shows the fueling stations and their morning opening and evening closing times - nothing about lunch.
A cynic might suggest that the refuelling charge is part of their profit margin? Who knows, maybe that's harsh and I should give the two guys the benefit of the doubt. But I did ask them before we took the boat out about the refuelling. Telling us where the refuelling points are but fogetting to mention that they're both shut for lunch, when the boat is due back at 13:30, makes for a very poor customer experience!
On th positive side....the boat was well appointed and we had a lovely time up until the debacle with the fuel. The boat has enough power, is clean, has a nice canopy you can erect to provide shade, and a little ladder at the rear for swimming from. It was good fun.
Our conclusion: good value if you avoid the big refuelling charge and find a marine point where you can fill up yourself before returning the boat. But for us, on this occassion, the customer experience with the two guys was poor, the information they provided was missing in vital parts and the total cost was just too expensive.
Do it but have your wits about you!
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