I do a lot of hotel nights a year, and some work out well, some don’t. This one was in the category of underwhelming.
Let’s go back to the beginning. There was a very long Easter weekend, and I decided to pop out of town. The plans for me were made a while back, and a few days before the Easter weekend, my parents decided to join in as well. So, we started to look out for two rooms in South Goa. I prefer staying at South Goa over North Goa, purely because the beaches are quieter and more private than North Goa, which is a party place. I have favourites at both ends however, with the Taj Holiday Village in the North and the Park Hyatt Goa in South Goa.
The Park Hyatt, which gives me great treatment every time, was sold out. So, I started to look again, and I found the Holiday Inn Resort in Goa, on a beach we had never been to, going at a reasonable price. The official star ranking of this resort was 5 stars, so I booked up two rooms here.
All was okay, till the time it came to a few days before the stay. I’d managed to get on an early morning flight to Goa, and I requested an early check-in at the hotel. There was no response from the hotel, for a day-or-two-or-three. I tweeted to IHG, who again asked me to call the hotel but did not even move a finger beyond typing that tweet. While I am very used to hotels responding to me on email, this one time, I had to pick up the phone and make the call, to tell them I was arriving ahead of schedule. I asked them why they haven’t responded to my emails, and they just shrugged their shoulders on the other side of the phone.
Here are some pictures of the lobby and driveway when we arrived at the hotel.
Now, I am perfectly fine when a hotel is not able to accommodate me ahead of my scheduled time of arrival. But just out of politeness, they’d make you feel at home and wanted. Here, no such thing. I arrived at the hotel at about 9 am, and I ran into the same guy who I talked to the day before. He did not welcome me to the hotel or something like that, he just informed me I shouldn’t have been there earlier. This is where I had to remind him that he told me yesterday that, “we will try to accommodate you when you arrive, but we can’t guarantee.” The hotel was fully booked with corporate events and a wedding.
A welcome drink of canned apple juice was offered to us. We asked to process our check-in formalities. No free internet coupons or IHG elite welcome points or amenities were offered here. In fact, they did not even have the IHG Rewards Club numbers on record, and for Shipra, we had to give it to them again.
We got rid of bags, and instead of parking ourselves in the lobby, we went to the coffee shop where breakfast was on. The hotel really wanted to sell us the buffet, but since I was not hungry and Shipra was slightly hungry, we only ordered for an egg dish and some tea. And then we waited. For over 30 minutes, the order did not arrive. At this time, I was just going to move out, when the waiter on our table saw me leaving and told me he will get the order in a moment. That was a darn lie, since the order came another 15 minutes later, and that is when he told me that he had forgotten to pass on the order to the kitchen. Yawn!
We roamed around a bit exploring the hotel. This is how the rooms block looked like.
This was the landscaping on the way to the beach, and a very clean beach was out here.
We decided to get out hotel for a bit, and as soon as we left, we got a call from the front desk telling us that they had a room for us. While we were booked in a Garden View room, we were now put up in a Pool view room, which was a sort of an upgrade. Here are some pictures of the room:
Here are some pictures of the bath, which looked old and jaded. The hotel used some unbranded amenities.
The minibar was fully stocked, however pricing was modest and not very expensive.
The pool was small for a hotel with over 150 rooms, and I found it to be full all the time to get in.
We rested for a while, and with my first impression of the hotel’s restaurant, I found us trying to get away from the hotel for lunch. Luckily, we were very close to Fisherman’s Wharf, a seafood restaurant which is highly recommended and by the riverside. Coincidentally, it is also owned by the same guy who owns the Holiday Inn Goa. However, hospitality was a world apart, with folks employed at the restaurant being very attentive to the needs of customers.
My parents arrived on the afternoon flight, we drove back about 42 kilometres to pick them up. It was our first time with a self drive car in Goa, so we were having fun driving up and down South Goa. When my parents arrived, we checked them in as well, and decided to meet later in the evening for dinner.
That evening, we ate at another restaurant of the hotel which was by the seaside. This meal was to get a check-mark for Shipra’s Set Your Sight challenge. Also, my parents were tired from a day of travelling. Out here, I asked for a tossed salad, and what I got in return was a salad with sliced veggies. aaargh! I was not liking it one bit, that most of the crew of this hotel was not trained to work in the hospitality sector.
I was done so much with the hotel, that I decided to spend most of the next day back at the Park Hyatt Goa. They did not have rooms, but it was great to be able to have a nice breakfast there. That evening, we went back to the Fisherman’s Wharf for another meal. The place goes full, so it was advisable to make a reservation ahead.
On Sunday, my parents were going to head back to Delhi ahead of us. We thought it would be a good idea to give the hotel another chance to redeem themselves. So, we went back to their restaurant for breakfast. It was the most cacophonous breakfast, ever had! There were some wait staff who were not being able to take the loads of the full house, and breaking stuff every now and then. A plate dropped here, some cutlery there and so on.
The buffet was also not the most healthy I’d witnessed. The juices were canned, the food was generally oily, and when not, it was undercooked or under baked. Here is a look at the Mardi Gras breakfast.
There were the usual hot options: South Indian (idlis), North Indian (Chole Bhature), Western (Beans, Mushrooms, Potatoes), bakery items, an (overcrowded!) egg station and a nice Dosa station which was the redemption for the whole breakfast experience.
There was also an outside seating area, which was full, and hence we did not get to sit there.
We went back to the restaurant one final time that evening for dinner, but nothing changed. They took a long while to just get us some Hakka noodles.
Next morning, we had to leave very early to get to the airport for the 6 am bank of flights. In spite of asking the hotel to keep the invoice ready, the front office did not work on it till the time I came over to hand my keys back. And I found them to have charged me multiple instances for internet, something that should have never been there since I am an IHG member, and an elite no less, and I was eligible for free internet.
I usually do not feel disappointed, but this was a ripe case for a hotel which was a good property, but clueless staff. Anyone can develop a hotel, however, the staff and the General Manager bring the hospitality to the business. Here, the GM couldn’t care less. I asked for a meeting to appraise him of all the shortcomings, but I never heard back from him.
And yes, I’ve mailed the front office for a scanned/PDF copy of my invoice over a week ago, and these guys still never came back with it. Not just that, they did not send more than half the invoice to post IHG points for, and I was left chasing IHG’s great customer care service (pun intended!) to fix up the mess.
Anybody else have a similar experience at this resort? Or anyone has an instance of a good service at this place? I’d love to hear.