The Worst Ho­tel in the World

Last month I wrote about the BEST ho­tel I’ve ever stayed at, which came down to ‘how did the ho­tel make me feel?’ and led to the im­por­tance of ho­tel en­ter­tain­ment. This got me think­ing of the con­trary. What is the WORST ho­tel I have ever stayed at?

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Guy Stehlik.

Trav­el­ling and be­ing in the ho­tel in­dus­try con­jures up all sorts of both good and bad ho­tel mem­o­ries, but I have to say, af­ter care­ful thought and ap­pli­ca­tion of my mea­sur­ing tool – how did the ho­tel make me feel? – I must ad­mit to gen­er­al­i­sa­tion and claim that my worst ho­tel in the world is, in fact, a par­tic­u­lar ho­tel cat­e­gory.

5-star ho­tels. There, I said it.

Dis­sect­ing my de­ci­sion re­veals one clear rea­son for my bias: ex­pec­ta­tions. I guess if you are pay­ing in ex­cess of R3000 per night to stay in a 5-star ho­tel, you have in­cred­i­bly high ex­pec­ta­tions, and this is ex­ac­er­bated if you are an hote­lier stay­ing in a 5-star ho­tel. There are very few 5-star ho­tels that have ever met my ex­pec­ta­tions. I can hon­estly say that the only 5-star ho­tel that has left me feel­ing as if this may be the ‘best ho­tel in the world’ would be a re­sort, or per­haps, a par­tic­u­lar V&A Wa­ter­front 5-star ho­tel.

If we look at ‘value for money’ (my mea­sur­ing stick), in my ex­pe­ri­ence, most 5-star ho­tels fall far short. We ex­pect so much and we re­ceive so lit­tle. It’s not easy to put a fin­ger on the ex­act prob­lem – per­haps it stems from ‘’hands-off’’ man­age­ment, as in my view, most 5-star gen­eral man­agers are pos­si­bly the least hands-on man­agers in all the ho­tel cat­e­gories. Per­haps they are too busy look­ing af­ter Bey­oncé or sip­ping Viog­nier with Meryl, but by no means are they con­cerned about any or­di­nary Joe, in­vis­i­ble even though he has paid the same rate.

And if this Joe digs deeper, the 5-star con­cept con­tin­ues to feel like day­time rob­bery. Break­fast is served for a whop­ping R275; R40 for a lo­cal beer that’s half that price at the restau­rant next door; and mea­gre bar snacks which don’t com­pen­sate. R250 for overnight park­ing, where the same park­ing bay at a 3-star ho­tel might be free, is crazy. Drag­ging your own bag through the gl­itzy 5-star re­cep­tion, get­ting the up and down from the Ar­mani-suited Food and Bev­er­age Man­ager, and then schlep­ping your way to your room through a labyrinth of cor­ri­dors, un­ac­com­pa­nied and unat­tended, armed with a faulty key card is – you guessed it – un­cool!

These are some of my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences that have left me with my mouth agape, won­der­ing what my 3000 bucks were for. The an­swer must be ‘snob value’ – I guess it’s so I can tell my friends I stayed here, or I can leave my key card in­ten­tion­ally vis­i­ble at the busi­ness lunch… but deep down, I know…I’m get­ting taken to the clean­ers. It’s al­most a 5-star dis­ease.

Our lo­cal 5-star bracket needs a lit­tle in­tro­spec­tion. I have been for­tu­nate to ex­pe­ri­ence true 5-star or even 6-star hos­pi­tal­ity abroad, par­tic­u­larly in The Emi­rates, where staff are ex­tremely well trained, re­mem­ber­ing your name or your pre­ferred drink; guests are prop­erly pro­filed (there are ho­tels that place a pho­to­graph of your loved ones on your bed­side ta­ble!); the bar snacks are un­be­liev­able, and dur­ing din­ner ser­vice the chef de­lights in send­ing through amuse-bouche. The re­sult: guests leave feel­ing priv­i­leged to have ex­pe­ri­enced ‘first-rate ser­vice’ rather than be­ing irked by that ‘ripped off’ feel­ing!

What is more poignant as an hote­lier is the re­al­i­sa­tion that these 5-star touches haven’t truly cost much at all. But they reach far into the hearts of guests.

Amuse-bouche for thought.

About the au­thor: Guy Stehlik is the CEO and founder of BON Ho­tels. With an in­nate en­thu­si­asm and ded­i­ca­tion to the ho­tel in­dus­try, Guy’s in­no­va­tive and cre­ative ap­proach has en­sured a suc­cess­ful and im­pres­sive ca­reer span­ning many years as an hote­lier and ho­tel owner.

For more info visit www.bon­ho­

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