Worst hotel stays ever

Cliff-side dining: Romantic or convenient for disposing of guests who complain too much?

I just got off the phone from a lady who blew a tonne of cash getting to a very remote part of a very remote country to stay in a five star resort.

The reason she called me was that I had written about this place on my work website; a piece that she’d read when she was researching where to go. I had posted a super gushy article based on the PR information and images I had been sent.

It wasn’t entirely unfounded. I have actually been to this very remote part of this very remote country and was psyched that there was now a well-known resort brand operating in the region.

But wow – this lady’s story made me reconsider my approach.

It’s one thing to receive a press pack that makes something look like a modern day Shangri-La. It’s an entirely different thing to think it through.

The remote country in question is Islamic and has a very small population, meaning a lot of the hospitality staff are a) male and, b) poorly paid labourers shipped in from India and the Philippines. I’m not being racist or sexist – I’m merely pointing out that you have half the number of untrained people to choose from when hiring.

The resort in question is about 2.5 hours from the capital, accessible only by 4WD, meaning you’d also have to be pretty desperate for a job to work there. There is nothing else around, unless you count rocky mountains and birds of prey.

Subsequently, it starts to make sense that the service was a little dodgy.

This lady also said the food was terrible and expensive – the equivalent of AUD$90 for room service frozen pizza. Again, remoteness = limited access to suppliers. Makes sense.

After a two day stay that cost her a whopping AUD$1400, she wanted to leave and subsequently had to beg the very ill-tempered GM to refund her the remaining three nights’ accommodation and transfer her back to the city.

A bit of a horror story, wouldn’t you agree?

Which raises the question: How much should a buyer beware? How much should we look beyond the marketing to the realities of a destination when we’re booking?

Have you ever had a terrible experience? Wanna vent?




1 comment on “Worst hotel stays ever

  1. Hey Em
    Interesting story and sucks that it was so bad.

    Sometimes the website, information and photos is far better than reality. That’s why I’ve been going on various hotel aggregating websites and reading reviews before I book anything myself.

    I’ve actually been finding that in the medium spend category, the places are blowing me away. I stayed at one place in Cairns that I booked through Expedia and it turned out to be BETTER in real life than the photos! I had this experience again with a hotel in Mumbai, India where I expected the worst, but was pleasantly surprised.

    It sucks for that lady that she didn’t get what she was expecting. But I think when dealing with remote areas and third world countries… you have to take the descriptions and photos with a grain of salt. Better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed.

    Oh one more example! Went to Meghalaya in India recently and the place was called “Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort”. The area on the website looked lush with waterfalls and tropical forests. So here’s me picturing a family resort, 5 star, massages, and something you would see in the tropical rainforests of Queensland. I laughed out loud when we walked in as I quickly remembered what “resort” means in India/ Nepal region. It was totally charming and lovely and the service was amazing. But it wasn’t the Sheraton and there were no massages ha! It’s all about the experience.

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