Review of our tour June/July 2023 Part 1

Red Rocks Painted Canyons Bridges tour
We recently returned from this tour. My husband and I have traveled with Tauck for twenty years but it was our first Bridges tour with our family of nine and it was fabulous.
You can read the itinerary of the tour on the Tauck website.
Here are some of my comments.
This tour has a recommended suggested age of 8 years and above. We were six adults, three grandchildren, two nine year olds and a six year old. All are used to lots of hiking so we felt the youngest could cope physically and he did.
Our TD Julie was a Tauck veteran TD who has lead this tour for many years. She was excellent.

There were a few things we did not expect.
There was the usual assigned seating. The first day, the TD assigned one nine year old on his own, after a while, he wanted to use his iPad and a ‘discussion’ ensured with his parents! Between us all, we had hoped we could arrange our seating within our own assigned seats assuring the harmony we wanted within the family dynamic. The next day we were set to do this, but the TD had assigned brother and sister 6 and 9 together, when we told them this would not be happening, they were unhappy, but after this all was well on the bus.

From the welcome dinner on, the TD assigned the kids on their own tables. At the welcome dinner in Phoenix, they were all given a kids menu, even the teenagers. Our two grandsons had wanted the adult meal. My daughter was upset, when she mentioned to the TD later, she said the children were supposed to be offered the adult menu. It didn’t really matter, the sea bass was so overcooked, it could have been anything! The steak was apparently a little better. Our six year old grandson was overexcited at that meal, he would have been better with us. As the tour progressed, all the kids got on better and better and apparently our grandson broke the reserve of the teenagers who according to Julie are always the hardest to chill out on the tours.

My husband and I thought we would be able to give the parents a break at some of the non full group dinners and get a table for five with the children and the parents a four or two table combo but the TD kept getting us tables of 9. It would have been difficult for her to change the reservations so we went along with it without explaining our plan to her. As we live so near each other, we did not necessarily need to always be together. Another family of ten, always wanted to be together and at group dinners, that was sometimes a problem.

Food was what we call junk food a lot. The best dinner was one of the two nights at the Lake Powell resort, unfortunately, some of our tour group were mistaken for part of a Globus tour and were given a limited menu choice and asked to pay extra for certain dishes. When our family met some of them later and said how we loved the lobster appetizer and steak entree, they thought we were joking. I kept telling our family to mention Tauck at every opportunity! The TD made sure to compensate the affected people.

The worst meal was the other night at the Lake Powell resort, a pizza party, the pizza was really basic and as my son in law said, as most of us were used to great east coast pizza, it was not the best. We also had to eat outside and it was hot. We sat around concrete tables and I found myself sitting next to a fellow grandparent who was using the f word because he could not get the spirit drink at the bar that he wanted….spent $14000 on this trip and can’t get a f drink….I removed myself to another seat.

The hotels
Tauck no longer uses the Four Seasons hotel in Phoenix. We were in a Westin which on line showed several pools and a lazy river. Apparently it was changed because some people said the Four Seasons was too isolated in the past. The Westin had a large high end shopping mall nearby. The main pool was huge and busy with hundreds of loungers but few umbrellas for shade. We arrived a day early and the nine of us were able huddle under one umbrella on just two loungers. The lazy river was chaotic.
The Westin food before the tour was limited in choice and very expensive but the staff were excellent.

The three park lodges we stayed in were absolutely fine and clean. We has stayed in two of them before so we knew exactly what they would be like.
The Lake Powell resort had a couple of other problems….the pool was oddly designed with some of the sides so high that if you swam over to them you could not reach the edge lip of the pool, it was maybe two feet or more higher than the water level, I thought it was a safety issue. There were no towels left when our tour group arrived. When we asked the barman there about towels, he just said it was not his department. Then a few arrived but were gone. Eventually my husband went over and suggested the barman call for more towels for us. Almost all of us had problems with the room keys deactivating there numerous times in a day. This required a ten minute round trip to the receptionist to get the key reactivated, really annoying in the heat and when you had to be somewhere else like the bus.
We had also stayed in the Four Seasons in Vegas before but the family had not. (I think it was maybe our fifth time in Vegas, on our last day it was 118 degrees F.)
It was hilarious hearing our grandson had stated ‘This is fancy’ to his parents when we got back to our rooms in the evening and he found a teddy bear, waterproof swim bag and a pair of sunglasses placed with a spray and cloth on his bed. When the closet was opened, a child’s bath robe had been placed there too.
The hotel concierges all helped us make different reservations for the shows we wanted to see. Another couple on our tour had said they made reservations for restaurants in Vegas three months in advance as they were also staying on. They thought we would have difficulty finding somewhere to eat. I think they were talking high end restaurant there as we had no problems getting meals. We were not interested in going to any of the fancy restaurants. We just wanted to get back home and back onto a decent diet which had vegetables too.
The hotel pool area…you had to stand and make reservations for Sun loungers, shade or no shade. The late afternoon arrival, the TD suggested we all head for the pool as pools tend to close in the evening to encourage casino activity. There was no difficulty getting Sun loungers then, but the two days we stayed on after the tour, we were added to a waiting list for places. The last day, my husband and I arrived mid morning, told we were thirtieth on the list, huddled in some shade on hard seats by the bar. Eventually six loungers became vacant nearby, people left…the Four Seasons staff never came around to remove the towels piled on them, so after about half an hour, we sat on those loungers. No one came over, no staff ever called our phones to say loungers were free….not good. Cocktails will cost you about $27 each.
Four Seasons guests were able to walk over to use the Mandalay pool, wave pool and lazy river. The family went over there but were soon back, it was very busy and the lazy river fast with few floats available. In contrast, the Four Seasons pool was quiet and lovely and warm.
The Activities
Our favorite activities were those based from the Lake Powell resort, the river float which include a ‘polar plunge’ into the river, temperature average 48 degrees F….our six year old ran into the river maybe twenty times and ducked under, he shivered for ages afterwards. All the kids took part and some adults, I didn’t!
The jeep ride to the Secret slot canyon was awesome but included a ten minute walk over a sandy trail in tremendous heat there and back. It was cool in the narrow canyon thank goodness and it was beautiful.


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    British - It's amazing, I think your review was what Chevy Chase's Vacation movies were based on!! 😂

    Some things provide food for thought:

    a) Traveling in a party of nine is never easy, especially if the ages range from 6-70.

    b) Traveling on a tour where there likely will be several mid-to-large size groups (Bridges tours) adds additional issues

    c) Traveling in the desert southwest in June may not be the best idea. June is the hottest month, since monsoon rains typically haven't begun yet. In addition, this summer is a warmer than normal year so far.

    d) We recently were in Vegas and ate at Gordon Ramsey's Hells Kitchen. My wife made the reservation 3 months in advance and it required a credit card to make it in case you cancelled. Some of the other restaurants we made reservations for about 1 week in advance just as a precaution, not wanting to be denied access for the time we wanted, and no credit card was required.

    e) Vegas pools at the big resorts are always extremely crowded in the 'Summer' (May - September). They seem to be near capacity as early as 9:30 in morning.

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    Nice review, British.

    Re pizza, having lived in the northeast for my first 50 years, then moving west, you won't find good pizza outside the Boston/NYC/Phila corridor, except Chicago.

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    Great review Judy, so glad it went well for you and the family. On to the next one, can imagine what fun the kids are going to have in Africa.

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    edited July 2023

    I forgot to mention that on the last day the TD had all the kids do the seating chart on the bus. They were all bonded by then. Of course you would expect the girls be bonded better than the boys! When it came time to say goodbye, our granddaughter was in floods of tears, almost inconsolable and did not want to say goodbye to her new friends.
    A lot of the time, we all stayed in family groups because it was arranged that way for the separate meals. The rest of the time, all the kids sat at their own tables and the adults on theirs but there were less of those occasions. I don’t think we exchanged any conversation with some people because of this.
    Oh, and there were 45 people on the tour! 46 is the max. By far the largest number of a Tauck Land tour we have been on, it did not cause a problem.
    Sam, the guides told us June was better because it was not monsoon time, less chance of lightening and flash floods while we out in the wilderness.

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    British - the guide is correct for avoiding floods, but then you have to live with the heat. If you’d gone later your review might have stressed flooding vs heat. 😄

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    Judy Excellent review!
    I enjoy your reviews so much, even if it's not a place I plan on going..
    OMG! I can picture the crowded swimming pools and all that many people drinking without stepping out of the water not even once... Yuks!
    Now, waiting for some pics ;) how were the kids? you need to plan the next family outing fast before they grow up.
    Okay my friend, I"m heading out for dinner. Have a great weekend and enjoy your home & garden, before the next adventure.

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    Great detailed review. should be a journalist for tours.

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    I forgot to mention that the trip did a number on my skin. It became very dry and itchy from the dry heat. The same with my daughter and granddaughter. My mouth became dry within minutes of a drink. The TD kept reminding us to drink drink drink, hydrate hydrate hydrate and we all kept asking ‘When is there a bathroom break? My internal organs were definitely well hydrated. My tip would be to take lots of moisturizer and thick body cream

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    CeraVe Sunscreen is excellent.

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    edited July 2023

    I use Elta MD on my face and mainly keep the rest of my body covered, I’m very sun sensitive. My skin is only exposed and well sunscreened when I am swimming. Our entire family have very pale skin, we should get shares in sun screen!

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    Years ago after a Grand Canyon trip we made a photo stop at Lake Powell. It felt like the moisture was being sucked out of my body. SW heat and dry air are nothing to fool around with as sadly people find out the hard way.

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    EltaMD sunscreen is good too.

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    We'll be going on our 10th Tauck trip in May 2024. We looked at several Tauck trips that did the Canyonlands, but elected to do a Canyonlands of the Southwest with Road Scholar. Certainly, it had no resemblance to a Bridges tour. It did not stay at 5 star hotels (maybe 3 star) and the dining available was above average but nothing to right home about. Our bus leaked, had no cup holders or netting to hold our dox. Additionally, the usb ports would only work if the bus was going over 50 miles per hour. The trips did however exceed our expectations, given it in included Phoenix, Montezuma's castle, Sedona, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, Brice Canyon, and Zion Canyon. We went mid March 2022 and had the most beautiful spring snow showers in Brice and Zion.

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