Saturday 7th December 2012.
Excellent, courteous and prompt pick-up from the airport. I arrived at the hotel at about 2.00am and the reception area was clean and bright and welcoming with friendly staff. I was pleasantly surprised by being upgraded to a suite.
Upon entry to the suite it seemed quite pleasant but the furniture obviously needed updating, upholstery was stained in places and the carpet could have benefited from a deep clean. The decor was adequate but dated.
After unpacking, I retired to a bed which was comfortable, at about 2.45am, looking forward to a lazy late lie-in and slept soundly until 8.30am when all hell broke loose, literally 2 metres from my head. Outside my window, unbeknown to me when I went to bed, the hotel had evidently arranged for major construction work to be done and a very powerful hammer drill started on the outside wall of my bedroom two metres from my bed. The shock of being woken from a deep sleep by such a horrendous noise was most unpleasant. It paused after a few minutes and I took the opportunity to call reception. Reception of course apologised and offered to delay the work until I had finished my sleep, but stated that the work could not be halted. It was quite breathtakingly arrogant that they honestly believed that I should live with the noise during the rest of the day; it was not after all a working day. I was not offered another room, but I insisted on being moved. I was not of course warned of the work when I checked in.
For the first time, I repacked my bags and was shown to another room which was much smaller and evidently a downgrade. I refused the second room. It seems if you complain at this hotel you lose your upgrade privilege.
The third room I was offered was a suite the same size as my first room, so this was accepted and I thought matters would now be in order for the rest of my trip.
After unpacking for the second time, I became aware that the air-conditioning in the sitting room area was not working. It was working in the bedroom and I was able to work in there, but saw no reason why I should live in my bedroom all the time. Shortly afterwards I noticed an unpleasant smell of drains coming from my bathroom, I had no kettle and the room safe was still locked. No-one checks these things.
I called reception who promised a visit from housekeeping for the smell and an engineer for the non-functional air-con. Housekeeping arrived with a simple spray with which he anointed the bathroom, leaving little pools of sweet-smelling liquid in the corners in an effort to disguise the foul smell which was evidently coming from the drains, in particular from a drain access on the bathroom floor.
The engineer said the air-con motor was broken and could not be fixed. A kettle arrived and the room safe was opened.
At that point I e-mailed the General Manager in person, giving chapter and verse of the litany of complaints up to now.
A short time later (and this is still my first day, Saturday) I received a call from the Front Office Manager* who then visited my room. I reiterated the content of my e-mail and he promised things would be put right. He also asked me what I would like as some sort of compensation and I was content with a pot of coffee from time to time in my room. This was agreed. Some fruit also arrived later. At this point I was also informed that the General Manager would like to meet with me and I arranged for a meeting at lunch time on the following day Sunday. Meanwhile I understood I would be given 10,000 points in Hilton’s reward scheme. I had no idea what this really meant, as the likelihood of my repeating a “Hilton Experience” was extremely small.
I also discussed my requirements for my conference with this gentleman and I asked for my conference room and facilities to be made available from 7.30am as 9.00am was not much use given that we would start work at 9.00am. He agreed.*
During the afternoon the “unfixable” broken air-conditioning motor was actually fixed but the smell remained. At this point, I didn’t want to pack my bags yet again and move to room number four. So I slept the night in room 423.
Sunday 8th December 2012.
I went to my conference room on Sunday morning as the staff were beginning to prepare it. I noted that the 9.00am start time on their paperwork had been altered to 7.30am. Refreshments arrived within the next hour and were satisfactory.
My meeting with the General Manager did not take place at lunch time as he was unavailable, but the Food and Beverage Manager came to see me. We had a satisfactory meeting and further apologies were offered. I asked for the sewage gas problem to be fixed and was assured it would be.
I was offered free food and drinks at this point which was OK I suppose, but being offered free things for which someone else is paying anyway does not of course compensate for anything. The company benefits, not me so it was meaningless.
After dinner I retired to my room and took a bath. When the bath was draining, sewage actually backed up onto the floor of the bathroom through a drain inspection cover. The foul smell was still much in evidence but this late at night the inconvenience of packing all over again and then unpacking a third time for bedroom number four was a greater unpleasantness. I kept the bathroom door shut and turned on the air-con.
Monday 9th December 2012.
By morning I was feeling quite ill, after all the fumes. By morning I had a headache, sore throat and blurred vision. Research shows that these are symptoms of being poisoned by sewage gas, which contains hydrogen sulphide which is highly toxic. I would note that having spent the next working day outside the suite, away from the smell, I recovered. In some parts of the world, negligence like this would result in a civil lawsuit for damages.
I had my delayed meeting with the General Manage today; more apologies and strong reassurances that the sewage gas had been dealt with by a senior engineer. Apparently a number of rooms had been affected by problems outside the hotel and they had spent considerable amounts of money in rectifying the problem in some rooms, but not all. So why did I have to be allocated a room that still had the problem? Perhaps they hoped they could get away with it and I wouldn’t notice. Not so.
I returned to room at the end of my day, and the smell was still in evidence. A machine had been installed in my bathroom containing some pink liquid which gave out yet more smells in a vain attempt to disguise the undisguiseable. The problem had not been cured despite the GM's assurances in our meeting.
At that point, less than four days after my arrival, I then repacked my bags and asked for another room. Four rooms in 40 hours must be some sort of record. I was allocated 523, this was, at long last, habitable.
Tuesday and Wednesday 10th and 11th December 2012.
At last, the final two nights of my five-night stay were acceptable. By now I had been delivered of fruit baskets number two and three. I tried some grapes, having rinsed them under the tap and within three hours was having an uncomfortable digestive problem. As I had never eaten anything outside the hotel, readers of this review can draw their own conclusions. I did not touch any more of the fruit.
*Despite agreeing way back on the Saturday (with the Front Office Manager) that I needed access to my conference room at 7.30am, on my second to last day I arrived at 8.15am to find garbage bins still un-cleared, visual aids not checked and rubbish on the tables and floor. There were no refreshments. When I complained, I was advised to use the facilities outside my conference room (belonging to another conference). I refused. The excuse offered for this lapse was that we had only booked the room from 9.00am. That’s as may be but note my earlier request (agreed personally by the Front Office Manager).
In conclusion, this has to be one of the worst hotels I have even stayed in. Gestures like free food and drink are pointless when your company is paying for them anyway. I also had an upgrade to begin with anyway, it wasn’t given as a result of my complaints.
As a result of my company complaining the following reply was issued:
“The incidents that took place with the trainer Mr ***** have been dealt in the hotel level, by offering Mr ***** an upgrade to a suite and full complimentary F&B bills during his entire stay.
We accept responsibility for the shortfalls in regards t the accommodation and we have acted according to our Hilton service recovery standards to regain the trust of the guest and turn this unfortunate situation around.
The incident of the meeting room happened on one day, and as I explained to the trainer the room was not refreshed, as starting time for the meeting was at 9am and the room started to be used at 7.30.
We have been cooperating in several occasions and I believe there were never incidents that would question our level of commitment to quality of our services.”
I am sorry but this is almost complete nonsense. Frankly I wasn’t going to say that much on Trip Advisor but the above statement is simply not correct or effective and needs refuting.
Gestures like free food and drink are pointless when the company is paying for them. I also had an upgrade to begin with at check-in anyway it wasn’t given to me as a result of my complaints. My trust wasn’t re-gained at all; after three nights of hell I accepted the inevitable but with some improvement to “acceptable” on my final two nights.
Yes, mistakes happen; I judge any organisation on how it deals with complaints. This establishment failed miserably.
The additional, final insult, was the hotel’s “Promise” advertised everywhere. It says that if your room is unsatisfactory you don’t have to pay for it. My company was charged in full, all five nights. That’s not even honest, its cheating.
Avoid this hotel at all costs.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.