We tried to book ourselves a double room in this hotel online, a month before travelling to Italy. The website was not user-friendly, and we should have taken this as a sign of things to come. There was no way to pay online, and when we phoned the hotel they were unable to process our credit card number—even though they were successful with the same card at our actual check-in later. They also asked that we fax or mail them copies of our ‘documents’ (passports), which we refused to do, saying this had never before been asked of us when booking a hotel room abroad. We would give them that information when we arrived, as had been the practice for us countless of times before, at other European hotels.
We arrived on a Saturday, for a five-night stay. There were two women at the Reception Desk, one of whom appeared to be the Manager. We were given a double room, on the second floor, facing the busy and noisy Viale Columbo, instead of one facing the ocean. When we enquired about better options, the Manager reminded us, with an air approaching smugness, that this was the room we had 'contracted' in our e-mail, and we were referred to the agreed-on price. Then she informed us that the ocean-facing rooms were “superior” rooms and would carry a 30-euro per night surcharge. When we pointed out that we had not been told of these options when we had sent our enquiry by e-mail, we were told that, well, 'now we knew the choices' - we could pay the extra 30 Euro, if we so wished, or not.
From our perspective, we had booked a full five nights in this hotel and all indications were that it was nowhere near capacity, and wouldn’t be until the next weekend. Based on this, a savvy manager would have taken the initiative to “upgrade” us to the ocean side or at least move us to a higher floor, on the Viale Columbo side of the hotel, so that we were not seemingly in the traffic . True, they didn’t have to do any of this, but such a gesture would have made a big difference to us. Instead, we just settled into our room, which was clean and well-appointed.
Over our stay, we discovered things which spoke volumes to us about the attitude of hotel Management. This did not apply to most staff, who were efficient and friendly enough (except for the taciturn Attendant at the included breakfast each morning).
First, our room. There was a long safety-alarm rope in the shower stall—a standard feature in most shower stalls in Europe. However, instead of hanging down to within easy reach, it was wound up tight and hung neatly up near the ceiling, close to where it emerged from the wall (see photo).This rendered it useless.
Second, the room contained no binder with the expected printed information on hotel services, amenities and local attractions. When we enquired about this, we were stunned to learn that, if we had any questions, the hotel staff would simply tell us whatever we needed to know. Any queries, no matter how small, had to go through them. ("Is there a charge for local calls from our room?" "Yes." --Just a terse answer, with no volunteering of other potentially helpful information, e.g. how much it would actually cost; for that, we would have had to pose another question, of course! A textbook example of how information is power.)
Third, the room telephone had two small keys attached to its cord (see photo). Upon inspection, we discovered that these keys fitted two holes on the underside of the phone. When we asked innocently about this curiosity, we were told that this was none of the guests’ concern.
This obsessive micromanaging also included parking. The good news: there is free guest parking across the street, in a small, gated area. The bad news: one has to alert the person at the Reception Desk--if there is someone there--that one intends to leave. The staff person then points a handheld remote control towards the gate to open it. Meanwhile, there is a keypad over on the gate mechanism itself, which guests could use to open the gate themselves—if only they were vouchsafed the access code. The more problematic aspect of this rigmarole is the guest’s return to the hotel; someone has to get out of the car on the busy street, make their way in to the Reception Desk and ask staff to open the gate. If the driver is alone, it is more of a problem, obviously. Try jaywalking across the Viale Columbo and you will discover the battle of nerves that typifies the pedestrian-driver culture in Italy.
Finally, my wife decided one early morning to take a walk along the passeggiata, the promenade which runs parallel to the beach. When she descended to the lobby, she was astonished to find that the hotel’s main doors--modern sliding glass doors--were locked, and there was no way to open them. There was an Emergency Exit but it would only lead to an enclosure which would then require scaling a fence to get to the street. There were no staff behind the Front Desk, or indeed anywhere to be found. When my wife returned to our room and reported this, we tried using the phone to contact someone—anyone on staff. Of course, we had to guess what number to call for the Front Desk, but 9 seemed to be a number we remembered from other hotels. Twice, someone answered, fumbled with the phone, and then promptly hung up. I went downstairs myself but all was silent and empty, so I returned upstairs. My wife decided to try again downstairs. This time, she found a staff member, still in her nightgown, unlocking the doors.
This disconcerting event was repeated a couple of days later, even though my wife waited until after 6 a.m., thinking that perhaps someone might be up and responsible by that time in the morning. Again, there was no way out -- at least none that would be obvious to a guest -- and my wife waited, frustrated and feeling like a prisoner, until the same staff member arrived, still in her robe. The worker apologized and showed my wife what seemed to be an interior door (in an area opposite the lobby and reception) that we could use to exit the hotel in the future, if there was no staff present. It would have been helpful to have had this information in an Information Binder in our room. More importantly, this situation could have been a truly significant problem if there had been a fire or a guest’s medical emergency. The idea of being locked into one’s hotel makes no sense.
All in all, we got the distinct impression that Management had some control issues in this hotel, and was running it like a boot camp, with guests kept on a need-to-know basis. We are seasoned travelers and have been to Italy four times, having seen it from one end to the other, including Sardinia and Sicily. We have never found a hotel where we have been treated with such supercilious, thinly-veiled contempt. In our travels, we have always found that, even if a hotel’s physical layout, rooms and amenities are in good order—and this hotel was more than adequate on that score-- it remains for Management to create and maintain a climate conducive to a feeling of being welcome , respected and taken care of. If that’s what you are looking for in Lido di Camaiore, then our suggestion is to look beyond—far beyond--this hotel.
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