Let me preface this litany of complaints with two points: (1) Go to Rovinj! Rovinj is a lovely, charming town. I would love to return, but I would never again stay at Baladur-Pavan or Casa Garzotto after our experiences. (2) I am rarely this disappointed in a travel experience, but I cannot overstate how angry I was at our treatment by this hotel by the time we left Rovinj. For some context, please peruse my other reviews, which are usually quite positive.
We stayed for two nights in Rovinj at an apartment in Baladur-Pavan (BP), which is entirely run by the staff at Casa Garzotto (CG). (For example, when I originally emailed CG about their availability, they offered the BP room to me, calling it the “annex,” and when we were in Rovinj, we interacted only with CG staff and ate breakfast at the CG facility, etc.) The reservation process was smooth, and Mateo met our ferry at the port the night we arrived, to help us with our luggage, to bring us to the apartment in town, and to carry our luggage up the narrow, twisty staircase at BP. Martina then showed us where CG was (just around the corner), where the breakfast area was (around the very next corner), and suggested some places to eat dinner. So far, so good.
Our room was very spacious and clean, and it had a kitchenette and dining table. It was at the top of several flights of stairs, and miraculously, given how steep and winding the stair case was, I only fell down the stairs once in two days. (That fall was caused by a burnt-out light in our room that was intended to illuminate the top stair case, the non-function of which made it impossible to see where to put your feet as you descended. CG first discovered that the light didn’t work while showing us the room, but it wasn’t fixed during our stay.) Next we discovered that the safe in our room was locked shut, and the CG staff had no solution to that problem, nor did they seem to be aware of it before we pointed it out.
The next morning, we discovered that the shower had serious deficiencies. The Rovinj water seems to have a high mineral content, which may have contributed to the shower head’s nearly complete blockage. While there was great water pressure from the faucet, when the shower was turned on, water sprayed viciously through the few working holes in the shower head, resulting in an erratic spray of water in various directions that was exceedingly painful when directed at your body. The variety of directions of the spray made it difficult (in addition to excruciating) to get thoroughly rinsed, since most of the water was spraying out of the shower and onto the walls/floor. We immediately informed CG about the shower problem, and after the CG staff looked into it, they reported back that nothing could be (would be?) done. Apparently new shower heads are impossible to get on short notice in Rovinj. OH – also, there was not enough hot water, so after a bit, you would get attacked by stabbing streams of cold water, as if the experience wasn’t horrid enough already. The shower was so thoroughly unpleasant that my travel companion opted not to shower on the second day, preferring to wait another 24 hours until she could get the next hotel to try her luck with that shower.
I’m not sure you could get away from this anywhere in the old town of Rovinj, since it’s such a small place, but the church bell tower woke us up every morning, at least as early as 7, though I feel like one day it was even earlier. Then it repeatedly rang at intervals ranging from 30 minutes to an hour, making sure we couldn’t fall back asleep. It also rang in the afternoon, while we took a nap. It’s slightly less obnoxious if you sleep with the windows closed. Other than the bells, the location of BP/CG in the old town is quite ideal. Also, the breakfast was quite good. Plenty of options and no complaints there.
On our first morning, we asked CG to call our rental car company to confirm the time and place for pick up the following morning. CG originally suggested that we use the hotel’s pass to bring our rental car into the old town so we wouldn’t have to drag our luggage outside the gates (which restrict the cars that can enter the old town to those that have passes). But apparently the pass was already fully committed, so they said the car was arranged to meet us at 8:45am at the roundabout. The evening before, I emailed CG asking (and I quote): “Will Matteo be able to help us with our luggage around 8:35?” CG’s response was, “Yes, Mateo will help you with the luggage.”
The next morning, I went into the CG lobby at 8am, and the CG staff asked me to pay 210 Euros in cash as their credit card machine wasn’t working. Well, that’s weird, but what can you do other than pay in cash? So I did. (Note that there are many other reviews on this site that mention this same phenomenon of the CG credit card machine suddenly not working when the reviewers were checking out.) Then at 8:35am, we waited in our room with bags packed, but there was no Mateo. I emailed CG at 8:41 to remind them: “We are waiting on Mateo for help with our bags and getting to where the rental car is meeting us.” Still, no one showed up or even replied. We dragged our luggage down the formidable staircase ourselves, with great effort, and we went to the CG lobby to find out what was happening. Martina was at a loss to explain where Mateo was or when he would be back to help us. At first she told me that he was helping other guests with their luggage – and this seemed to be at least partially true – he was definitely helping other people with their luggage. Rovinj is tiny, and we saw Mateo bring two OTHER cars into the old town of Rovinj in the 30 minutes we waited for him to help us. We also saw him carrying luggage out of an entirely different building (not BP or CG – unclear if this was yet another part of the CG enterprise or if he was helping non-guests with their luggage). I asked him at that point when he would come around to help us and he said “What??” – apparently he was unaware that we had been waiting on him for over 30 minutes at that point. Around this time Martina told my friend that Mateo was at the market. (Huh?) Since it seemed we would apparently have to do this ourselves, I asked Martina to point on a map to show me the roundabout at which we were supposed to meet our rental car. We dragged our luggage down to the roundabout…but there was no rental car there. Of course, we were now over half an hour past the intended meeting time. We looked everywhere we could think of, but no rental car. Eventually, I called CG on my cell phone (not cheap!), and Martina agreed to call the rental car company to figure out the problem. I didn’t hear back from her for about five minutes, so I called the rental car company (not cheap!). They tried to explain that they were at the roundabout by the bank. (There are lots of banks in this area of town…) Martina eventually called me back (not cheap!) and explained that we had gone to the wrong roundabout, and the rental car was at the other one. (Ignoring the fact that we were at the roundabout Martina herself pointed to on the map. Apparently it was our fault that she had pointed out the wrong one, and moreover, our problem that the CG staff had ignored their promise to help us with our luggage and getting to the right spot in favor of helping other guests/folks instead.)
At this point, I was livid. By the time we found our rental car, we were a full hour late, which took an hour out of the one day we had to spend driving around Istria. It also meant that that evening we had to drive through a pitch black forest on a narrow windy road since we were over an hour late driving to our next hotel and the sun was long gone. I explained to Martina how upset we were at being deliberately overlooked, as if we were less important guests than whoever they had chosen to help instead, AFTER they had explicitly promised to be available to help us between 8:35-8:45. I asked for some refund as a show of goodwill. Martina refused. And of course, since they made me pay in cash, I can’t dispute it the charge with my credit card company. I think she did use the word “sorry,” but at this point, “sorry” did not put a dent in my complete dissatisfaction with the CG/BP experience. I can absorb one burnt out light bulb and twisted ankle falling down stairs, one inexplicably useless safe, one imperfect shower (though the dreadfulness of this shower alone is reason enough not to stay here), or someone running 15-20 minutes late to help us with luggage. But not showing up at all, without explanation, and while we CAN SEE YOU HELPING OTHER PEOPLE INSTEAD OF US…on top of giving us wrong directions for the rental car rendezvous that you arranged. Well, it’s not salvageable. Definitely not without the hotel acknowledging that our experience was substantially less than the service they aspire to provide.
Oh, and the night before, there was an incredible rainstorm in Rovinj that turned the cobbled streets into rivers. Most of the buildings in the old town leaked, including our apartment – there was water running down our walls. Which went well with the water still on the floor of the bathroom from the dysfunctional shower head. Apparently other rooms in the CG hotel had worse problems, including inches of water on the floor. Perhaps they chose to disregard their promise to help us in favor of helping those guests, who must have been pretty upset to have their room turn into a wading pool. Still, I would have preferred an honest “You’re on your own this morning” to the equivocation, sense of being ignored and less important than other guests, and the waste of an hour of our time in Istria. There must be a better place to stay in Rovinj.