Living in the Middle East, I’m exposed to essentially the best hotels and service in the world. Indeed, I could tell you a handful of nice properties I visited while residing in the States. Eight years into life in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi, I regularly (once a week) go to five star resorts. This is not bragging, this is just a fact of life. Thus, I have fairly high standards when it comes hotels. I don’t think this is me being picky or high maintenance, it is just that I know where the standards fall.
While I had my heart set on either the Four Seasons or Constance Ephelia, in the end, with as much as we were going to spend, I wanted to earn some points. While I thought Hubs and I would be out most of the day (we’re doing our Open Water PADI training), I believed it wouldn’t matter so much…
Reservations? Usually, I go to Booking.com, but in this instance, I went direct through my SPG account (hoping I would get some perks, but also because the prices were mostly similar).
Ambiance? I’ll let the picture talk for me. This is at the far end of Beau Vallon beach. Yes, it’s like waking up to a storybook every day.
Room? Well, the first one was immediately on top of the pool. No bueno. I say this because in my note to ANY hotel, I always mention “a quiet room is appreciated.” I don’t demand it, but I do like to be away from loud groups, elevators, etc. Walking in, I knew I didn’t want to stay any longer than I had to. I requested that any comparable room would be adequate. The next day
after some effort we were move into a much quieter, somewhat larger room. Strangely, the amenities were different (they were much better in the first room). Also, there was a coffee table missing in the second room (we brought in the outside one) and there was no sun lounger. The second room was also lacking washcloths and the mini bar was locked. Both rooms also had a strange feature that I shall call the ‘peekaboo’ bathroom. Why anyone on Planet Earth would prefer to have a small window which is open specifically to where they are doing their business is beyond me, but should you want to defecate in nearly full view of the person you’re sharing the room with, well buddy, have I got the place for you.
Service? And here’s where the Le Meridien lost the most points. To start, when I made the booking (paid in full, July), I e-mailed reservations to see what they suggested about getting a car to the property upon our arrival. Nothing. Nothing for 2 weeks. Then I followed up and got a response. During that response, I asked for their suggestions for my husband’s birthday. They came back with a bouquet of roses. Sure, just what every 38 year old man wants. In further correspondence we went back and forth on confirming the rides (getting a response for the return flight was also a challenge), they then try to add roses I didn’t order, to us finally settling on having a bottle of champagne waiting in the room (the best of the good options, none that were any brand you would recognize).
Upon arrival, guess what was waiting in the room? Nothing!
As I mentioned with the first room, I called the front desk (no mention by last name any time I called for anything, which, is a service I like, mostly because Hubs gets my last name), who suggested I should pass by the desk around noon to determine when we could move. Given how much confusion had already happened, I gave the hotel extra time and called at 2PM (naturally, they did not call me), only to be met with misunderstanding. I then waited until 2:30PM to call back to receive word that the room would be ready at 3:15PM. Not wanting to spend my whole day waiting, we went for a late lunch and upon return at 4:30PM, I called 3x only to have the line busy. I walked to the front desk and FINALLY our stuff got moved.
To be fair, the front desk did comp the bottle of champagne I had ordered that had not been delivered.
I would also note that our room wasn’t ready on arrival on the first day – which seems strange, given we got to the property after 3PM.
Please do not get me started on the omelet station woman, who looked as though cooking eggs made her want to end her life.
Request to have room made up at 8:30AM (while I was at the pool), no sign of any staff until I requested (again) at 10:30AM. I’ll remind you that this property has 70 keys.
While I’m currently having one of the worst earaches of my life, I asked the front desk where the closest pharmacy was, to which I got bad directions and the wrong opening time. (Furthermore, this is where a 5 star would go the distance and most likely offer to drive me directly, or go on my behalf).
My final note, is how often someone wanted to come into our room. Hubs and I almost always throw the Do Not Disturb tag on the door as soon as we get in. On a fairly regular basis, someone tried to knock and come in our room. Why?
Cost? Take a deep breath. This one is going to hurt. Now, Hubs and I have been fortunate enough to travel to some exotic locations and stay at some nice properties, however, the EUR484 a night (advance pay, breakfast included), could not prepare us for the sticker shock of basic items in the room. I get it, everyone needs to make a profit. I get it, we’re on an island. I do not understand USD7.60 for a can of Coke (330ml). After getting gouged for a mediocre buffet on the first night, we’ve opted for street food and other options.
My advice? Stay somewhere else. I wish we had tried for a self catering opting (which we usually do) or just ponied up for one of the nicer properties. Honestly, we were directly next door to the H Hotel (in soft opening) which looked incredible. To be fair, with such killer views, the room doesn’t need to be that amazing, but it could’ve pushed our trip to the next level.