Last Updated on March 20, 2022 by Maggie McKneely
Are those cheap travel deals too good to be true? Find out below in my Great Value Vacations review!
Great Value Vacations Review: Tuscany Trip
There were always two reactions when I told people that my mom and I were going to Tuscany because we found a $700 deal.
1) “Wow that’s so cool!! What a bargain!”
2) “That sounds great, but do you think it’ll be worth it? What are you going to have to put up with for such a cheap price?”
So now you get to find out: was it really worth it?
In short: heck yes.
The Full Great Value Vacations Review
This amazing deal was for a package offered by Great Value Vacations, a travel agency that puts together all sorts of different packages. All of their trips are different – sometimes they include a tour guide for the entirety of the trip, other packages just include the essentials and give you the flexibility to do whatever it is you want to do on the trip.
The deal we bought included our hotel in Tuscany for 6 nights, a manual 4-door rental car, our roundtrip flights, and wine tastings at two different vineyards. It did not include the insurance for the rental car (which is an absolute must in Italy), meals, museum tickets, or any other expenses we decided were necessary. For this Great Value Vacations review, I’m going to break down each element that we was included in our package.
Great Value Vacations booked us on the always wonderful Lufthansa airlines. Our hotel was about 3 hours from the airport, so they booked our return flight late enough in the morning that we had time to get to the airport without waking up too early.
A Fiat; what else? It was a stick-shift, but if you’ve read my other blogs, you know that my mom is a pro at that by now.
Castello di Montegufoni is a 12th-century castle that has been converted into an “agriturismo.” That’s the Tuscan name for an estate that operates as a hotel and restaurant, sort of like a bed and breakfast. The castle itself is made up of the main building, which houses several rooms, a restaurant, and the reception area, along with several separate villas that serve as apartments. The manicured grounds also have a pool and plenty of views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. We loved our stay here in our private apartment, which included 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a sitting area – just for the two of us!
For the price, which was about 500 euros for an entire WEEK according to the website, it was perfect (for similar deals, check out Weekly Rate Hotels). But because of the price, it’s not a luxury castle. It’s been around since the 12th century, so not everything has been updated for the modern-day spoiled tourist. There is no daily maid service. They provide one roll of toilet paper, so if you run out you need to buy more. The heat takes a while to warm up (as in, a couple of days).
I’m sure these things would bother some people, which is why I think it’s important that I tell you about them. Fortunately, they weren’t an issue for us. My mom and I are two people who are very self-sufficient and independent, so we actually liked the fact that we were left to our own devices.
For a full tour of the castle, you can watch this short video that I made to give you a better idea of what it’s like!
The two wineries included in the deal were Fattoria San Michele a Torri and Castello di Meleto. I was originally concerned that these were going to be touristy wineries since they were on a budget travel agency’s radar, and we usually prefer to go to ones that are off of the beaten path.
San Michele a Torri was not that way at all, to our pleasant surprise. We were given a private tour of the entire winery, a tasting of their three red wines, and samplings of their olive oil and homemade bread and meats, all included in our deal.
We didn’t actually make it to Castello di Meleto because there was another Tuscan winery we wanted to go to instead, and the way I had planned our itinerary, it didn’t work to fit in both. Therefore, I can’t speak for that one. That was one of the great things about this deal though – the flexibility to make our own plans.
Expenses not included
For my mom and me, food is a huge part of the experience, especially somewhere like Italy. We didn’t mind eating out as much as we did; you can’t find meat and cheese and pasta like that here at home! Wherever we go, we save a lot of money by being able to share meals. Also, wine is much cheaper than water in Italy; wine lovers, you now have a financial excuse to indulge.
The basic rental fee for the car was included but the insurance was not. The insurance makes it so that you’re not liable if anything happens to the car, and in Italy, you NEED that insurance for your own peace of mind. Italian streets are very narrow, the hill-town curves impossibly tight, and the drivers are crazy. We did end up scraping the side of our car, so the insurance was worth it. (Check out my article on driving in Tuscany)
All of the museums and most of the cathedrals charge to go in. But again, it’s Italy. There are just some things you have to do. As this tour package was specifically for Tuscany, we could have gotten away with not spending any money on those sorts of things and just spent all of our time wandering around the many adorable hill towns. However, we chose to go to Florence and Venice and several Tuscan cathedrals because we wanted to. But you don’t have to! (And if you decide to head to Florence too, check out this list of 8 things to do in Florence!)
With those things, the trip was certainly more than $700 a person. But had I booked the hotel, flights, and rental car, there is no way I could have made those arrangements for that price. Honestly, I have no idea how Groupon made any profit by only charging that amount.
Great Value Vacations Review Conclusion
So yes, it was worth it. Not only did it save us money on the fundamental elements of our trip, but it also saved us the hassle of having to book the hotel, flights, and rental car ourselves. The best part though about this particular package was that it gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted with our time in Italy. There was no set itinerary, aside from the flight times, so it was up to me to plan out where we would go with our rental car each day. Having that kind of freedom is how my mom and I like to travel, so for us, it was perfect!
This isn’t to say all their deals are great – this Great Value Vacations review is just for one specific offer. This Tuscany one was absolutely worth it, and the process of booking the trip and working with customer service could not have been easier. So if you are looking into booking a trip with them and are nervous at all, just make sure to read all of the details and fine print.
What did you think of this Great Value Vacations review? Have any other questions about our experience? Let me know in the comments!
Like this post? Pin it!