Staying at a place like The Retreat makes you wonder what they mean when they say ‘hospitality industry’. If it means providing you with an affectedly-done up, vitrified(to the point of being sterilised)-tiled, shiny-fauceted stopover which constantly reminds you of how much of a tab you’re running up staying at the place, then the Retreat fits the bill.
But if being made to feel welcome is even part of the ‘hospitality’ package, the Retreat fails miserably.
I had planned a trip to Agra hoping to catch a glimpse of the Taj Mahal on a full moon night. Some five days beforehand, I’d called up the hotel’s (non-existant) travel desk to request them to arrange tickets for the same as I was pretty sure that by the time I reached Agra, the tickets would be sold out. They refused outright and hung up. I was pretty ticked off at this because later when I was leaving the Taj and people who HAD managed to score tickets began showing up for the night viewing, three out of the five people I asked said that their hotel had arranged for tickets, albeit for a small fee. The check-in desk is invariably manned by surly, uninvolved characters whose demeanour almost immediately makes you feel unwanted. They will not offer any suggestions whatsoever about where you can go eat or sightsee. Do not expect any help with parking, and be fully prepared to be woken up at some inane hour for the keys to your car so they can move it about - we were woken up at 630AM. I asked for a firm pillow but they didn’t have any. The amount of effort they seemed to put into not putting in any effort was baffling.
I guess their buffet breakfast was quite satisfactory, but really I don’t know what else to say. I wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone unless they have no other choice, for the simple reason that people who come on vacation have worked very hard for the money they’re spending, and deserve a certain bare minimum amount of hospitality and geniality. This place offers none. Yes it looks swanky enough on first glance, but that really isn’t what stays with you. The bad mood you’re in, and the sense of being shortchanged when you’re paying and checking out is what does.
Stay here if no other option is available in the price range, but if you do, thicken your skin and lower the bar.
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