Now that Trinidad carnival is over and I am no longer hating on my friends that went, I can now laugh at a few of them that got a snowy welcome back, while I am still enjoying sun 🙂 hehehe…yeah that is evil of me…Anyway this year was one of my friends first time and lawd did she talk about it for months upon months (yes, I still hating ma’am). She has taken the time to talk to me about her first experience; detailing the good and the bad.
- Was this your first time playing mas in Trinidad?
Yes, this was my very first time playing mas in Trinidad.
- Have you played mas in another country and if so, what country?
I have played mas in Miami and Barbados several times as well as New York.
- How would you compare the different carnivals where you have played before?
The other carnivals can not be compared to Trinidad Carnival (lol) – Just the scale of the bands, level of organization, costumes, goodies, the route and of course the two days on the road set the carnivals apart.
- How easy was it to find accommodations?
Accommodations were practically non existent for someone overseas. I checked online and all hotels were booked; the hotels that were not booked never responded to my inquiries. We ended up staying at Alicia’s Palace – not bad and not great; just a place to basically rest your head, get a warm breakfast and tutu and shower. Would I stay there again (not at the one up the hill way to secluded) but if desperation sets in …. den is dat because carnival not missing me next year. (Her cherry has been popped, people 🙂 )
- Did you use a planning service, (which btw I have seen is the norm)?
I ended up using a concierge service to assist me with finding accommodations for my trip. I started planning in April and the fee for the service was approximately $90 USD. The concierge service offered assistance with all carnival related items, costumes, airfare, hotel, sightseeing tours, transportation, fete tickets, etc. I thought this would be ideal for us since we are fairly busy women with full time jobs and family’s.
- How would you rate your experience with the planning service, and would it be an option to use again or refer people to use?
So in all fairness, I will first say that the concierge service did deliver all the items that we requested and paid for. I would rate them a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. I absolutely would not refer anyone to use this particular company as I feel that the owner lacked business acumen. She constantly demanded things of our group and treated us like we were children and not clients who paid for a service. Often times her emails would come across as discourteous, abrupt, condescending and downright unmannerly. She would demand that we do things on her time as she also had a full time job and could not respond to our inquiries during certain hours. She went as far as posting a comment about my group on the Facebook page of one of my friends who does custom boots and other items berating our group as being back stabbers who finally calmed down after switching our band section. Eloquence Inc. was able to get us into the band we wanted to get into and the section we wanted to get into but I didn’t appreciate how she communicated with us. An example, our band released five new sections after we had already registered for a section so one of my group members reached out to the band to inquire on how we could change sections. The band responded letting us know that we could change sections but we would have to make payment in full at the time of the switch. We discussed and we had the money to make the switch so we reached out to Eloquence Inc. to facilitate the switch and provided her with the same info the band provided us. Her response was basically are you aware that payment must be made in full and do you each have approximately $1000 USD to make this payment today. Clearly we checked beforehand and made the decision that we could do this immediately – so this made us feel a tad bit belittled. Another example – we inquired about having a personal driver since there were four of us and we wanted someone to pick us up and drop us off as needed – her response was “that is very expensive” – never giving us a price.
- Did you use any other service? (boots made, Monday wear, etc.,)
Yes, we did use several other services.
- For fete tickets (since Eloquence told us we could not get Caesar’s Army Ambush tickets because we arrived after Wednesday before carnival) we used Karnival by Kandi – I would highly recommend her – she offered a package for a back-line costumes in Fantasy and 5 Fete tickets – because we were already in a band, we opted just to purchase our tickets through her. She was polite, responsive and made the entire process seamless. She delivered tickets to our hotel room (almost like a ghost) and I absolutely plan to use her services again.
- For transportation – we started with Drunk Drivers TT – we sent them our full itinerary and at first they were very responsive. We wanted to confirm a few details and how we would be able to make payment and if we would have a specific person driving us, that’s when communications basically stopped. (I work in corporate America so maybe my expectations are a bit high – but, I need to know someone is going to pick me up when needed). The day after we arrived a driver texted one of my group members and said that he would be our driver and asked for directions to where we were staying … HUH??? – maybe there was a mix up, I will give them the benefit of the doubt since they received a high recommendation from a top Trini blogger but um yea they will not get a forward from me – thanks but no thanks.
- Transportation – we ended up using COA’s Taxi – Dale and Charlene Coa took the best possible care of us! Very responsive, checked our itinerary asked questions, gave suggestions, picked us up everytime – on time! HIGHLY RECOMMEND – when I had an emergency they came and got me, when I was sick they brought me medication, when we were hungry (lol) they cooked and brought food to us! Polite, funny, entertaining….and if you don’t want to talk they won’t lol. I will definitely be using them next year, I already reserved.
- Monday Wear – by www.chandramaharajswimwear.com – Chandra was always responsive, always helpful, always kept me abreast of my order status. My Monday wear was made exactly as requested, fit perfectly, and shipped on the exact date that she told me it would be shipped. I would definitely use her services again and I would recommend her.
- High-Waist panty I ordered from ETSY “Tavoo90”– after two unsuccessful attempts at using local producers. One is a friend so I will reserve comment on her and the other individual delivered but item was huge and ill-fitting (mind you I used the exact same measurements with my Monday wear bottom so I have no idea what went wrong there – I would not use her again – good waste of $50 plus the bag she made $40 – the bag was nice but since it didn’t even match the color of the panty or colors of my costume I was a bit displeased – also I had to send a shipping label which was fine but after two days of no updates on my shipment I reached out only to find out that she had a problem printing it (People when you do business – let your clients know when you encounter a problem before they have to contact you) Back to Tavoo90 – ordered my bottom on a Friday – for $30 bucks plus $5.99 shipping – received Tuesday – perfect color perfect fit! Highly satisfied and would use again if I don’t get my abs to come in.
- How was the costume collection?
Costume collection eh? So – About a week before we were set to leave, our concierge service sent out an email blast saying that she would be offering an additional service for a minimal fee. GREAT I thought, I wouldn’t have to stress about getting around to pick up our costumes and a few other fete tickets that would not be delivered – we paid the fee sent the required authorization letter and ids and asked for confirmation that everything was in order – now at this point I didn’t even want to reach out to her anymore because it had become downright painful and I didn’t want to see what her response would be, so one of my group members received a response that said – check your sent box if you sent it I received it. Needless to say at the last minute there was a problem with one of the girls not having sent one of her authorization letters properly – ok – so now we get to Trinidad and our Ambush tickets were delivered! Great – but no costumes (we arrived early Friday morning our costume pick up day was the Thursday) – we ask about our costumes and the surprised look on her face said it all. She said she would collect them and bring to us, ok……Saturday after Ambush the other members of my group wanted to go to Soca Brainwash but I opted out, around 1 pm I decided to send her a WhatsApp message to see if she would drop the costumes off later that day. She told me she was there collecting our costumes and would drop off later about an hour later I receive a message saying this is not going to work I need one of you to come down and take my place in line to collect the costumes (you could imagine the shock as I read her message) – First of all, what would make her think that any of us was available, secondly I paid you for this service. Nervous that we wouldn’t be able to get our costumes, I told her I would come, she asked if I wanted her to send a driver to get me – NEGATIVE – I have a driver – called my driver and told her the situation and she came and got me. Now, the reason that Ms. Concierge Service could not stay on line for our costumes was because she had another appointment and our band was disorganized etc. **sigh** – no the reason is that you did not plan accordingly. Anyway, I get down to the costume pick up site walked around, my driver walked around …. No concierge lady – we stayed there for sometime and I just about gave up – eventually we left empty-handed. Later she sent me a message on WhatsApp and said her phone died and she had no credit and how I was supposed to have a trini phone (which I did) and blah blah blah – Honestly, I get it – you had a lot to do and got backed up – but you’re trying to blame me and the band – stop trying to place blame and rectify the problem. She did eventually go back and collect our costumes and delivered them to us, but the stress of that day sealed the deal for me. Oh and our makeup appointment for carnival Tuesday – we waited over an hour because apparently we were supposed to be there at 2 am meanwhile we showed the MUA that she specifically told us to be there by 4 am – LaCara Makeup took care of us though and we would definitely use/recommend them again. I am sure I could go on with stories for days about this concierge service but I will say this I bumped into several of her clients throughout my trip and the general consensus was she would not get their money again (do yourself a favor and stay clear – there are other concierge services give them a try and let me know how they work out).
- How easy was it to get fete tickets?
Fete tickets were fairly easy we used Karnival by Kandi and she got us into the committee member fetes with all the extra drama. Her fee was $30 USD and I compared her ticket prices to the prices of the concierge service and some of the tickets are 2-25$ more! She also hand delivered some of the tickets while others it was our responsibility to uplift (small thing)
- How were the fetes you attended, where they worth the money that you paid for them?
So, doh shoot me – my driver hates Chaguaramas because of the one way in one way out thing fine – so we opted to go to our fetes out there early to avoid sitting in traffic and we also left early for the same reason – plus we old and I ain’t able. (Actually this is what I did a year too!)
Candy Coated Boat Ride (Friday) – I had a great time boat was a lil late but the vibes were on point – ticket purchase was seamless.
Caesar’s Army A.M. Bush (Saturday) – My only issue was the wait – we waited about an hour to get to a shuttle to then drive recklessly for what was a five minute walk – that killed whatever lil vibes I had – and that powdered paint I am pretty sure I still have some on….drinks were no problem and food on the way out no problem – we were able to get tickets through Karnival by Kandy but the whole committee member thing would have made it otherwise impossible. I think for all the hype I was a lil bit disappointed– that’s not saying I didn’t have a good time – it just wasn’t that epic experience that I was anticipating.
- Would you play mas in Trinidad again?
Already started planning, my trip was great overall (I am a firm believer that you have to create your fun times and not let the small things mess up your time).
- What did you think of the quality of the costume, was it worth the money?
I didn’t have high expectations since beforehand I saw many complaints about the costumes etc for my band. I was pleased my bra fit even though pieces fell off; we came prepared with glue etc. My bottom was tiny but I had my highwaist and a few other options so I was good. Best thing is to come prepared – you don’t want to go out looking a hot mess and you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute. We all had extra bras and bottoms and different types of stockings and considering we aren’t small women, we all pulled ourselves together well and cleaned up well.
- Was it easy to get into your band of choice?
Because we used a service yes it was but otherwise it would have been impossible.
As you can see people, her Trini carnival cherry has been popped and she is heading back to Trini; now for her to experience St. Lucia carnival eh!