How can a traveller be sure that a hotel is what it claims to be?
The accommodation-booking website Wotif.com sells rooms at a hotel called the “Shreaton” in Khalidiya, a district of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Bookings.com calls the same premises the Khalidiya Hotel. Locally, the hotel is known as the Sheraton Khalidiya and, as the photo on the Bookings.com website shows, it has the Sheraton name and logo on the side of the building.
I’ve moved from the Ramada Downtown and I’m now ensconced at the Mercure City Centre, Abu Dhabi.
As this is an Accor Hotel, I’m on more familiar turf here. The hotel — one of the oldest in the Abu Dhabi CBD (and, I believe, originally The Novotel), is showing a bit of wear and tear, but the experience so far has been very pleasant.
This is a hotel keycard. It’s supposed to let you operate the lift and open your room door. Except it doesn’t always do that.
I’ve been in the Ramada Downtown for a week, and I’ve had to have my card “recharged” or changed four times. [Update: it’s happened five times in 10 days.] On the second occasion, the very pleasant check-in clerk told me I shouldn’t keep it in my pocket near my mobile phone.
My hotel room, in common with every hotel room I’ve stayed in in the past 10 or more years, is very “green”. What I mean by that is that it has little notices like this:
There are a few variations, but basically they are asking guests to indicate whether they want their sheets or towels replaced, reminding us of the damage we are doing to the environment by washing things to often. Continue reading It’s not easy being green
Three bags for five years of life in the United Arab Emirates. As part of the very convoluted process of leaving, I am moving into a hotel (hello to the folks at the Ramada Downtown Abu Dhabi!) for at least 11 days as I get the paperwork sorted and spend one final week at work. I’ll keep you posted here and on social media.
There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.
It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).
It continues to amaze me that so many people who work in the hospitality industry don’t understand the basic rules of hygiene I learned as a child.
And how, despite millennia of experience in creating public buildings, and decades of public-health research, many restrooms (bathrooms, toilets, WCs … call them what you will) are still badly designed from a hygiene point of view.
Christmas markets, Christmas lunches, Christmas shopping … it’s all happening, and not just in traditionally Christian countries.
Not long after I moved to Abu Dhabi, somebody sneered on social media about “politically correct” Britain, where some councils had (allegedly) banned Christmas, and then added for good measure: “I bet you’re not allowed to celebrate it in the UAE, either.”
In summary, I filled in an online survey in which, on average, I gave them a score of 8 out of 10. Apparently they weren’t pleased with this, and wanted to know what was wrong.
So I wrote back and said nothing was wrong, I just usually don’t give out marks of 9 and 10.
Now they’ve written to me again, asking specifically about what was wrong with their internet.
I am a big fan of loyalty schemes, but I’m the first to admit that I’m no expert.
There are entire websites devoted to helping you make the most out of frequent-flyer and hotel memberships, and the credit cards that link to them.
If you really want to maximise your points, and you are prepared to change banks, juggle many cards at once and go slightly crazy doing it, I suggest you check them out. Lucky’s One Mile At A Time blog is a good place to start. You’ll be amazed at how he manages to make the system work for him, often resulting in spectacular upgrades and free trips. But it’s a full-time job. Continue reading It pays to know the rules
After their hotel stays, many guests receive an online survey asking them to rate the service and facilities.
I have a problem with these surveys — they are often too detailed, too long and too time-consuming; they often demand answers to questions that are irrelevant to the respondent; and they require some of us to think in ways we may not normally think.
Given the recent death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, I was expecting the mood in Bangkok to be more sombre than on my past visits.
Indeed, many people are wearing black and dark colours, and many of the billboards on the road from the airport were black, with pictures of the King and plainly written, heartfelt, tributes from companies and government bodies.
However, Thai hospitality persists, and both the taxi driver — who, regrettably tried the old “meter broken” trick (which I handled by offering him the fare I knew was correct) — and the hotel staff were friendly.
I stayed near Siam, at the Marriott Courtyard (more about that in another post) in Ratchadamri near Central World, which is well located for the BTS (Sky Train) and taxis (although the roads are impossibly clogged most of the day and night).