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Part 3 is a slightly shorter article than the others, but it didn’t really fit into any of the other categories and there’s some stuff I wanted to share with everyone. You can review the previous articles here;
An obvious limitation of booking your own separate accommodation and travel, is that you often have missing links. In our case, this was getting from Faro Airport to the hotel in Vilamoura. I opted to book a dedicated transfer via specialist transfer company, Hoppa. According to the confirmation the service on the ground is provided by Greenbus Algarve
There were a number of options available, at slightly differing price points
We had done package holidays, with coach transfers some years ago, before we knew any better. We’d experienced the driving around several hotels before finally reaching yours in the early hours of the morning. I had no intention of recreating that with up to 10 stops en-route.
Next up is the Speedy Shuttle with a maximum of 4 stops; still didn’t fancy that
This is more like it, and for just £3.37 more than a coach with up to 4 stops, it’s a no brainer.
Pricing is taken from Hoppa’s website, 27th June where they have a 30% discount offered. That said, when I booked in January, I paid £40.56 for the private transfer, so much like airport parking, there are always “discounts” available off the supposed “usual” price. On top of that, I received 10% cashback via TopCashback.
The instructions provided with the booking suggest the following process on arrival
What to do when arriving at Faro Airport (FAO).
On arrival please follow the instructions below:
Please proceed to the arrivals hall, where you will find the Greenbus / hoppa Desk in the Travel Agents Area.
Once you have located your transfer representative, simply present this e-ticket to them and you will be escorted to your vehicle.
Let me tell you, it was not that simple!
First up, as mentioned in my previous article, the flight was delayed (we landed one hour late, at 22:15), and clearly whilst in-flight I had no opportunity to contact the provider. My view on this is as follows;
- Hoppa are in the business of providing transportation to and from airports
- I booked a private transfer, and provided my flight details.
Therefore they ought to be able to figure out the logistics of getting a car to Faro airport around about the time of my arrival, delayed or otherwise.
It seems this is not how it works! Having walked through arrivals, past all the drivers holding up signs (none for Mr & Mrs Perry) we found the Hoppa “office”, which was actually a cabin outside, due to significant building work on the terminal buildings. Here we joined a short queue, and optimistically handed over my booking confirmation expecting to be “escorted to my vehicle” as suggested.
What actually happened was we were told we’d have to wait, and stood around with at least 50 other people. On enquiring, I was informed the wait could be around 20 minutes, which was not what I expected for a pre-booked, dedicated transfer. In the end, we waited at least 45 minutes by which point I was extremely annoyed, and was halfway through pointing this out to the Hoppa staff when someone called my name.
Once it arrived, the car was a fairly new, clean Mercedes taxi. The driver was friendly and helpful, loading our cases for us. Driving and conversation standards were the usual: aggressive driving, politely asking where we were from and if it was our first time visiting the Algarve?
Given the problems at Faro a week ago, I had my concerns about getting back for our flight home, but this was a whole lot smoother. Here’s the procedure provided in the booking;
What to do when leaving Vilamoura
Your driver will pick you up from Crowne Plaza Vilamoura on 17/06/2017 at 09:30. Please be ready fifteen minutes prior to this.
If you have opted in to receiving SMS text messages from us a reminder of your pickup time will automatically be sent to your phone.
And that is exactly what happened. I received a text the day before reminding me, and providing a phone number in the event of any problems. The driver turned up 10 minutes early in a clean and shiny minibus, and was just as helpful and friendly as the previous one.
Public transport looked a bit complex for this journey, and from what I could tell would involve a bus to Faro city centre, then a bus to Vilamoura. There is no train station in Vilamoura. Taking a taxi from the airport on a meter, would likely be a lot more expensive. What I learned, to my surprise, while in Vilamoura, is that Uber operates in the area. Looking at pricing now, it is quite reasonable, but obviously that can vary with demand.
As the Pound gets nearer to parity with the Euro, at the lower end the return with Uber would possibly have been a fraction cheaper, but I’d have to look at pricing and wait times when a bunch of flights from the UK have just landed.
The final option would have been to hire a car, but as we had no intention of venturing further than walking around Vilamoura and neighbouring Quarteira we didn’t see the need. The hotel (Crowne Plaza) actually had free parking for guests, so if using Vilamoura as a base to explore, a hire car might work for some.
Obviously my flight being delayed is not the fault of Hoppa, but I felt they could have reacted better – that is their business after all (“You had one job!”). On that night, a lot of others were in the same situation. The return journey was excellent, cannot fault that. I’m really in two minds to use them again, after such contrasting experiences.
Comment below if you have used this service before, and it was any better than we experienced. Were we just really unlucky?
Transfer airport to Vilamoura £40.56 (ignoring cashback) Total £40.56 Sub-Total from Part 2 £155.64 Money Spent so far £196.20