Renting a car in far-flung vacation islands is always a pain. I previously detailed my experience with renting a car with Avis in the Dominican Republic, which wasn't pleasant at all.
Renting with Avis in the Seychelles is a bad idea; don't expect any online reservations to be honored.
I thought I would give Avis another try in the Seychelles and made a reservation online several days before my arrival. Since my flight was delayed by ATC restrictions for 6 hours, I updated the reservation according to the expected departure time.
As an Avis First, I was expecting to walk out of the airport, grab my car and be on my way to the DoubleTree Allamanda Seychelles.
Since my flight was late, the airport was deserted – even though it was only 6PM! Nobody at the Avis counter, but a mobile phone number was posted. Since there is no WiFi in the arrivals hall, I asked if somebody would be able to call and I expected this to be a short call to arrange for the car to be brought to me.
However, the local representative and her business partner were in full unrest about my idea to receive a car that late, especially for a reservation I made 'online' and why I would ever expect a car to be brought to me to the airport. They did not hang up, but both started yelling 4 letter words at me. I slowly and firmly kept insisting that I had a reservation and was expecting them to honor it as part of the Avis franchise agreement. This led to more bad words.
To my surprise, the discussion eventually settled into the agreement that they would come by in '10 minutes' to arrange a car. Taxis are very expensive (think US$100 per ride to a hotel) and with no other car rental in sight, I settled in for the wait.
About an hour later, the Avis rep showed up with a car that had seen its best time 20 years ago. It had been driven 100,000 km on an island just 20 km long and barely had any working brakes, steering or tires. It did have an engine, though.
Not that I had too many options (I later realized that there is a local bus that would have been able to take me all the way) and I paid $100 for 2 days.
In the end, the car got me where I wanted in the next 48 hours and it did not break down. However, the sorry state the car was in and the small, windy and badly-illuminated roads are treacherous. I'm used to driving on the left in small cars (yes, I lived in India and battled cows, donkey carts, one lane roads and trucks on their 'freeways') but the topography of the Seychelles makes it an especially dangerous place to drive.
I was relieved when I was able to return the car.
Online reservations basically don't exist to the local reps so don't expect anyone to honor it. To avoid the hassle at the airport, consider making no reservation and inspect the cars if you arrive at a normal hour with lots of car rental companies likely open. Otherwise, pay for the hotel transfer/taxi and have the hotel organize a car rental – they seem to be a good hand at that.
Update – reader Adam sends in his experience with Hertz on the island – he had very similar issues. It seems the major franchises really do zero quality control with the franchisees on the island.
Update 2: After reading this post Avis has promised to send me a $25 voucher against a future rental. It's not much but hey…
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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