If you are here to complain wildly that these are first world issues and how dare someone write something on the internet that has nothing to do with human suffering, please please GTFO. Is not nobody got time for dat. If you want to help with the suffering, here is an amazing list of charities to go and do it.
Anyway, for everyone else with their popcorn popped and the plot ready, let’s continue with the comedic story of a recent hotel stay, in tandem with some of our dearest friends. . For $2,500 a night, water should be free, right?
Let me start by saying that while I believe in splurging on hotels, this was a case where we were traveling with friends and for this part of the trip they chose the hotel and wanted it is their pleasure. Very generous, certainly.
The hotel had a series of “villas” designed for groups like ours, with their two children and our Olive. In the most polite terms, expectation did not meet reality for us and a calamity of what can only be described as bizarre mistakes sent us home early.
The hotel agreed to refund unused nights they had booked, which they didn’t have to do, so I’m going to be somewhat respectful of their goodwill, hence the lack of a name.
But even then, I can’t help but LOL at the first encounter of our stay, which dramatically sums up everything I hate about the hospitality industry right now. It reinforced why I spent more than ever on Airbnb and sharing economy solutions.
Water is “paid”
So we are shown what is essentially a resort’s penthouse villa on semi-off-peak and off-season dates. We had just arrived and were looking forward to diving straight into the pool. But first, a little tour of our “butler”.
It all sounds good, I know. It should have been.
And as we were shown around the entirely disappointing kitchen, which was really just a nook for storing wine and water, I did a double take. The first four bottles are free, but after that there is a charge for the water?
Attention, we are seven on the stay, although three are children. Water, good old H20, is an essential element of life and four bottles in our group would have been significantly less than the doctor’s recommended water intake for a day.
In fact, I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. We were not in a remote desert or a place where water was hard to find. You can walk down the road about a quarter mile and get an ocean’s worth for 5 bucks.
And the butler chose to basically do our first interaction at the hotel, where our friends were paying €2500 a night, about how we would be charged a huge amount of money if we consumed the doctor’s recommended daily water intake.
I would totally support a game about sustainability
Forward thinking hotels have done things like install reverse osmosis water faucets and offer nice carafes to help you filter water, to discourage single use. Some people may prefer bottled water, but the sustainability game is nice.
Beautiful Hotel Calile in Brisbane, the lobbies have chic gilded water taps where patrons can fill sleek jugs at their leisure. Done well, it doesn’t feel like a cut in luxury, especially when the jugs are refilled by housekeeping daily and upon arrival.
If the water is equally smooth – or basically just not tasty – I don’t mind filling a reusable bottle from a water tap or anything else. There was nothing like it here so it was basically drink the bottles or treat.
This set an awful tone
I am a person of principles and vibes. If people try and hospitality is the goal, I’m easy to please. If I feel like I’m in a rush and things go beyond any decent principle, I wouldn’t use the same description.
The interaction made everything more annoying, from the broken water heater in the pool to the closed restaurants that weren’t declared on the hotel’s website. If the first impression had been of hospitality, we might not have been angry at dinner time.
This all took place during the Arabian sandstorm that swept across Europe at the end of March and we angrily ventured out of the sprawling complex, which at times felt like a Saudi prison for princes, to dine somewhere “Italian” very mediocre.
It gave us enough time, over very mediocre food, to realize that this place just hasn’t ‘gotten’ what travel is supposed to feel like on the luxury spectrum, especially since it seems to be recovering the losses of the Covid-19 era. You recoup losses with happy guests, not sneaky little charges.
The manager intervenes
One “closed”, “broken” or wrong error after another, we let our “butler” know that the stay was not up to our expectations and phoned the travel agent who made the reservation – and the hotel suggestion. Anyway.
A few hours later, the duty manager showed up. I found the tone odd as he basically explained to me how ‘most’ people really enjoy their stays and how this hotel was not only one of the best in the Porches area of the Algarve or Portugal , but worldwide. Wow.
This is where my job is a bit difficult sometimes. I’m just not your average guest, simply in the sense that I’ve been almost everywhere and regularly splurge for some of the best hotels in the world. Sometimes it’s to entertain you, sometimes to entertain me or my family, but you get the idea.
A disconnect from reality on this level simply could not be resolved. I have seen too much and I know too much about what exists.
Time to settle the water bill and bolt
Once we walked these roads, I knew what I was dealing with and it was clear that it just wasn’t going to work. It was them, not us, but we were happy to say it wasn’t you, the fit just isn’t for us.
Before everything was over, the manager very graciously offered to compensate for the water consumption of the day before, with 7 bottles consumed. Three more than allowance, but to keep us happy he was willing to settle that bill for us.
Hey, for $2500 a night, water should be free, right?