Mother/daughter weekend May 2010.
Upon our arrival before 9pm, both our taxi doors were opened by the ever-present valet staff...a special touch that is over looked in some of the nicest hotels we’ve stayed in.
We were warmly greeted by Jenn at the front desk who proceeded to check us in. Jenn was very friendly, professional, and informative and seemed genuinely interested in making our stay a comfortable one. She informed us that the hotel store was closed and asked us if we had everything we needed. Coincidentally, we had both forgotten some items, so Jenn supplied us with safety pins, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a couple of razors and shaving cream. Way to go Jenn!
There was a mix up with the original room we were given being currently occupied. I phoned Jenn from the nearby fitness center and she quickly rectified the problem by sending a staff member with a key to a new room. We found our new room which was C201... an end suite, nice view of the marina, and nearest the valet circle.
We were hungry and wanted to meet up with my sister for a drink, so we headed to Duke's for the Friday night entertainment. We seated ourselves in the lounge and were promptly greeted and served. The drinks and then food arrived quickly. We ordered the coconut shrimp and Mediterranean sampler, both of which were surprisingly good for 'bar food'. When my sister arrived we moved onto the patio so we could have a conversation. The entertainment inside was good, but a bit too loud for three ladies who needed to catch up on each other's lives. That night I had a hard time sleeping because of music that I thought was coming from a neighboring room.
The next morning I realized the music that kept me up was coming from the valet circle and had played thru the night. My daughter and I visited the concierge (front desk) to find a place to walk to for breakfast. The girl was not as well-informed and called Jenn out from the back to assist. I pointed out on the map of where I thought I remembered a cappuccino/bakery location. Jenn knew the place and confirmed the name and location for us. She arranged a shuttle for us later in the day to get us to our reception on a nearby yacht. As well, she took the time to ask us how our stay was so far and if we were happy with the suite. I informed Jenn that the noise from the valet music kept me up and she said she would have them turn it down or off at night. Problem solved...way to go, again, Jenn!
We had a nice morning walk to start our day. We were in town for a wedding that afternoon and chose staying at BBC for the location nearest the yacht we'd be boarding. Our plan was simple...eat breakfast, go to the pool, go to the steam room and then back to our room to get ready for the wedding by 1pm. We enjoyed the pool in the morning, though not updated, the pool and jacuzzi are on the marina which lends to a nice relaxed ambiance on a Sat morning. Members, however, pay no attention to their own rules and ignore signs prohibitting toddlers in the jacuzzi. We decided to shorten our stay at the pool to relax in the steam room between 10:30-11:00am.
We approached the young girls at the spa desk as we were not sure where the steam room was. I gave them my guest information and informed them that we just wanted to use the steam room. The girls asked my daughter her age and told us that since she was not 18 that she could not go into the spa. (At 5'8" my daughter can pass for 18 and had already been asked if she were my sister more than once.) I pleaded with the girls that we were only going to use it for 20-30mins before getting dressed to go to a wedding. they informed us that it was 'members rule'. I told them that no member would question my daughter's age. I understand rules and agree with them. Being a member of two private clubs back home, I thoroughly agree with rules restricting children in certain areas. There are times, however, when one must assess the rules and why they were made. this was just such an instance and what these young ladies should have done. Their youth, lack of judgement and life experience, prevented them from seeing past a 'rule' and why it was made. If there were any members in the steam room they would not have questioned or been disturbed by us, a mother and her mature teenage daughter. It was very disappointing for us not to be able to use the spa and steam room during our stay, but especially that morning. Needless to say, it was a negative experience and one that will dictate whether we return, as we regularly use spas and steam rooms when we travel.
We went back to our room and decided to order room service since we had extra time. The soup was lukewarm (warm in the middle, cold on the edges). The server didn't open and pour the waters we ordered…but maybe this is routine? I don't mind the automatic 18% gratuity for room service, but a little more effort would be appreciated.
We dressed and went downstairs to catch the shuttle Jenn had arranged earlier for us. There was some confusion from the valet desk as to where the shuttle was. Ten minutes passed. I informed the valets that we needed to be to our destination by 1:30 boarding time. Finally they figured it out and a nice valet successfully dropped us at our destination at 1:30. This was the only glitch we had w/ the valet service. All other experiences with them were grade A.
Sunday we had breakfast at the restaurant on site. We were greeted by a hostess and a manager who confirmed our room number. I thought this was wise of him and loved seeing a manager with obvious experience. The assistant server promptly took our drink orders, was very friendly and informative as was the server. The cappuccino was delicious! My daughter and I ordered a la carte menu as opposed to buffet. I loved the healthy egg white omelette choice. It was a bit watery which makes me wonder if they steam it as an even healthier alternative? It arrived with a white string on the edge of the omelette. The server saw me pull it off. He tried to insist on making a new one, but I told him I would not let him because the omelette looked too delicious. Unfortunately my daughter's eggs Benedict was overcooked (yolk not runny at all), much to her disappointment. She did not want to bother to send it back. We enjoyed the service, the view and the overall ambiance of Sunday morning at the restaurant. Later, we utilized the valet service to drop us off at the Fun Zone on Balboa Peninsula. The driver was friendly and informative, telling us how and where to catch the ferry to Balboa Island if we desired. We did just that and phoned for the car to pick us up after we finished shopping.
We decided to give room service another try as we wanted to pack up and lay low Sunday evening. We ordered a simple dinner of 2 small Caesar salads, fried calamari, and French fries. It took 50 mins for our order to arrive, though the receptionist said it'd be there within 30 mins. I thought the room service attendant would apologize for the tardiness, but he didn't mention it upon his arrival. I commented that he must be very busy because he was so late, but still no apology. The calamari and French fries were warm and tasted fine, which leads me to believe it was a delay in the kitchen. The Caesar salads were too small for the $10 price tag per salad and quite bland. Frankly, room service leaves much to be desired at BBC. As well, upon our departure Monday morning, we noticed that there were 3 room service tables in the stairwell containing dirty dishes and old food. Two room service tables were from Saturday because they belonged to our neighbor and us. This would be a concern to the health dept, I’m sure. I'm not sure who pushed the tables into the stairwell, but clearly either there was no communication between employees passing by the tables or it was another thing room service ignored.
I paid the bill Sunday evening as we were to depart early the next morning. The bill was correct. I ordered a taxi at the valet desk for 5:45am the next morning. My daughter and I were ready to go at 5:25am so we ventured downstairs. The valet told me that there may be coffee inside so I went to look for it. It wasn't ready yet. My daughter wanted to wait in the lobby, so we started to move inside and a nice staff member passing by quickly grabbed our bag, held the lobby door for us and carried it in. I jokingly informed him that the coffee wasn't ready yet. He checked and replied that it usually is. He left and returned a few minutes later with a hot cup of coffee for me from the spa. What a saint! I'm sure anyone would agree that at 5:30 in the morning, that gesture gets extra brownie points! Not to mention that it was literally the last 15 mins of our stay and made for a pleasant departure. Sorry I don't know this gentleman's name, but the valet attendant said he worked in the fitness room or spa. In my opinion he and Jenn are the backbone of your hotel and resort, exemplifying gracious hospitality, professionalism and genuine kindness.
I might have recommended this hotel had I received a response to the detailed evaluation I sent to the Director of Operations in May, but since my letter was ignored I can only conclude that guest satisfacton is not a priority and the problems I encountered would never be looked into.
-reservations, the girl I made reservations through was exceptional.
-car service shuttle
-general location...especially with car service
-valet’s initial greeting and opening doors for more than one car passenger
-reception (sundries from Jenn)
-Two amazing employees, Jenn at front desk/reception (and fitness mgr? we encountered within last few minutes of our stay).
-Dukes’ laid back atmosphere… surprisingly good lounge food and entertaining to watch the ‘regulars’ dance.
-good cappuccino at restaurant in morning
-balconies in marina view suites.
What didn't work:
-spa rules too strict. Inform these young girls about when, how and why to make a good judgement call.
-members breaking obvious rules. I.e.…babies in the Jacuzzi when the sign reads 14 yrs and older, adult members speaking on cell phones at brunch though signs on each table stated no cell phones. This was a slap in the face to my daughter who was refused to go in a simple steam room the day before because of ‘member rules’.
-valet music thru night too loud
-bad room service (food cold, not prompt, disappointing overall)
-Sunday brunch (a la carte menu, Benedict) eggs were overcooked. No reason for this.
How to improve:
-friendly professional employees like Jenn and fitness manager (name?) should be recognized and be training other employees in gracious hospitality (especially other spa/fitness and pool staff who were not naturally friendly).
-promote car service/shuttle. I didn't readily know about the 2 mile radius service and learned about it thru valet staff. Is it mentioned on the web-site?
-guests feel at home if referred to by name. No employee accomplished this during our stay. It'd be a nice touch for the valets who we encountered daily to greet us by name. This could easily be accomplished if someone gave it some time and effort.
-when making hotel reservation, I asked if BBC had a car service and was told no. There may have been a miscommunication because they may have thought I meant to/from airport. It would have been a good time to inform me of the general 2 mile radius car service as that is a definite plus of staying at BBC when one doesn't rent a car.