One of the anticipated hotel launches for the year for me is the Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa. This is a resort that has been in the making forever, and I was very excited when they decided to open up March 1, 2015.
Eager to check it out earlier than everyone else, I went ahead and made reservations for the coming weekend, except, the property has not opened doors yet.
I got an email from the sales team of the hotel, a month ago informing me about the fact that the hotel is not opening. No remorse, nothing except an apology. As if, I am supposed to take it as fait accompli that the hotel decided not to open for a few more weeks and I should rearrange my plans around theirs.
I asked them to activate a service recovery. I never heard back from the hotel, and I contacted Starwood on Twitter. They simply asked me to be in touch with the hotel.
Yawn. Next up, the folks at the Starwood hotel in question come back to me with a wishy washy email offering me a perishable commodity, with no certainty:
As mentioned in my previous email, it is really unfortunate that we will not be able to open Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar by the time you wanted to visit the property.
However on your next stay post hotel opening, we will be delighted to upgrade you to a higher room category including suites subjected to availability.
Now, I don’t know the way this resort will take about treating elites, but I think I know elites can be guaranteed not to be upgraded without special consideration. I am not trying to be a DYKWIA here.
That uncertainty was not good enough for me. Also, it pinched me hard that the hotel, for a fault of their own, is making genuine customers suffer. I wrote back expressing dissatisfaction. So then, they come back with another one which was a fair deal for them:
However on your next stay post hotel opening, we will be delighted to offer you a complimentary room (Classic Forest) for one night with Buffet Breakfast at Latest Recipe for two adults. Valid till August 31, 2015.
Somewhere they also mentioned over the phone that this offer was going to be only valid for a weekday stay.
All of this occurred as odd to me.
First and foremost, they are going to be cancelling a two night booking and offer me a single night in return. They did not touch the subject of the cost of organising a vehicle which I touched upon for pickup and drop from Mumbai as well.
Then, they expect me to take a day off during the week to visit a place about 6-7 hours drive away from home, and stay there for one night and come back to Mumbai with another long drive. All that during the times it rains heavily in Mahabaleshwar and hence you can’t do much but to sleep or watch TV in the resort.
I laid out my case to the hotel, and this time, they kicked it upwards, but still without a satisfactory resolution:
We will be able to consider a relocation of your reservation and pay for the first night of your room rate accommodation for your first stay on ______ for two nights. We will be happy to send you a check on production of the verifiable charges in Mahabaleshwar for the specific nights you booked with us.
Hell yeah, making it up to the customer is not an art this property clearly learnt, and instead of making it up to the customer, they did not get the 3 problems I outlined to them clearly:
- I was planning a trip to Mahabaleshwar to experience their resort, not a comparable resort. I made my reservation in good faith after they opened the reservations.
- I made a reservation for two nights, so wanting to pick the tab for one night does not make good for the discomfort they are putting me through.
- I have a confirmed vehicle reservation paid in full, so they can and should provide for the commute.
I’d have imagined these issues to be addressed, and the hotel being apologetic. However, I find them unapologetic and taking a bargaining stance, which is so unfortunate. When that would happen at a non-brand hotel, I’d have taken it into my stride. But when a Starwood does that to you, you feel burnt!
What do you think is a good make-up offer from the hotel for the continuous shuffling they are going to put me through at the moment?