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“Very disappointed” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Planters Country Hotel & Restaurant

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Planters Country Hotel & Restaurant
Surrey, England
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Very disappointed”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 27, 2008

My husband, my daughter, a friend and I booked this hotel as part of a short break to Penang. As part of this break we thought we would like a visit to the Cameron Highlands. We booked the hotel by telephone which was fine. We obviously had to provide them with our credit card details to secure the room but I was told, on booking, that if we didn’t turn up we were still liable for payment. This was fine as there was no other accommodation available in the Cameron Highlands because it was the Deepavali weekend.
En route to the Bala’s we got stuck in some heavy traffic jam just outside of Brinching which held us up for over an hour. A member of Bala’s staff called us to see if we still needed the room. We told them yes and explained that we were stuck in heavy traffic and would be there shortly. We actually ended up getting there at around 5pm. We checked in and were told that we had to pay for our rooms in advance, which we did. We enquired about tea and scones and was told by one member of staff that there were no more scones but tea was available.
We were shown to our rooms, which were on the second floor. In both rooms even though the windows in the bathroom and the main bedroom were flung open the rooms smelt very bad. They were dark (even with the lights on), badly furnished (very old shabby furniture), one bath towel per guest (no hand towels or bath mat), no tea/ coffee making facilities, no drinking water available and the rooms smelt musty with damp carpets and beds, even the toilet paper was damp!! The musty smell was choking and almost ammoniacal!
My husband then went to the reception to enquire about some tea for the four of us. He was told that there was no tea available and we would have to wait until dinnertime (some two hours away) before getting a drink as all staff were preoccupied with preparing dinner! Considering that we were in the middle of Malaysia’s tea-growing area and the fact that it had taken us 5 hours to get to the hotel we were looking forward to a cup of this famous tea that the Bala had pasted on their website. I then went down to enquire about a flask of hot water and tea bags (as mentioned in their room information sheet) which should have been available for all rooms without tea/ coffee making facilities. I was told that tea had finished and they could not do this. While I was chatting to the gentleman another gentlemen came up and spoke to him in Malay presumably asking what I wanted. This gentleman said that there were no more scones but he would get some tea for us which we could have out on the patio area. This seemed OK.
After showers and a change of clothes we headed out to dinner in Tana Rata.
On return to our rooms at Bala we found that the smell had not improved and the dampness was still present – added to which the bed in my daughter and her friend’s room was so old that the mattress had worn away leaving bare springs to lie on! The bed in my husband and my room was marginally better but on getting into bed it felt damp and the musty smell was quite unbearable! I was scared to move in bed in case I disturbed the dust and the mould spores! Needless to say I did not sleep! I actually contemplated leaving that very night!
The following morning I discovered that the dampness in my daughter’s bed and the horrid smell of it had forced her and her friend to sleep in our rental car! Needless to say we were all up at 7am the following morning. We decided that we were going to skip breakfast and just have coffee and head back home – I did not want to give any more money to Bala’s than was absolutely necessary! At 7.40am I tried to get some coffee for us but was told that the restaurant had not yet opened - yet it clearly states on the guest sheet that the restaurant is open for breakfast from 7.30am. I returned at 7.50am and was told that they had no one to make the coffee and bring it out to us on the patio as they were preparing breakfast! I said that I would take it out and return it afterwards. I was told to call back in ten minutes! I returned at 8.15am and collected the tray. We enjoyed our coffee in the lovely surroundings but could not wait to leave to get back home for a good night's sleep and a clean flat!
On checking out my daughter complained about their room and was told by Mr Bala that he had never received any complaints about any of the accommodation at the hotel and basically it was tough luck! She insisted that they offered her a discount as they had not actually slept in their bed! He said he was only prepared to offer 30% but she managed to persuade him that 50% would be more appropriate!
This has to be the very worst hotel I have ever stayed in and I would be recommending to all my friends, family and work colleagues that they avoid it at all costs! The staff were rude and extremely unhelpful. Whatever happened to the statement that ‘the customer’s always right?’ If Bala is having problems living up to their website sales promises I suggest they invest in extra staff who are better trained and polite!

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Rude staff
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Easy-going50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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301 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    2.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (58)
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 1, 2008

Rooms can appear dark and damp but don't be put off. The rooms are clean and the shower surprisingly hot and powerful. Can get cold at night so pack extra layers.
Beautiful settings, good food for breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea. Internet available too.

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank CHontour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Tanah Rata hotels

Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
58 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 24, 2008

After a review in the New Straits Times the week we were due to drive up to Cameron Highlands, we decided to make a booking, just for the one night. The article said it was once a favourite for backpackers and had since undergone renovations to emerge as a place to appeal to both budget and discerning travellers. The main Tudor building is delightful, interior very comfortable and cosy looking and the gardens beautiful with long established plants and creepers on the roofs. We were aiming for the lowest room rate of RM120 but they had all gone, next rung up was RM180 but Bala kindly gave it to us for RM150. This did not include breakfast. The room was very basic, two single beds, side table with small TV showing 3 channels, mirror on wall and bench for luggage and hooks for clothing. No cupboards, almost threadbare towels but at least it did have a bedside lamp. No heating but we weren't cold although it was said to be a chilly evening. I didn't notice any musty smell, but did experience allergy problems which I put down to dust in either the carpet, curtains or bedding.

We arrived too late for lunch, so settled for afternoon tea of scones, jam and cream and sandwiches. The place claims to serve the best scones in CH but we were horrified to see they didn't serve real cream! Synthetic cream just didn't do it for me, although the scones themselves,although small, were a good consistency and were not dry. Two small scones, jam and synthetic cream was expensive at RM18.50.

Dinner was better, with a charming open fire in the dining room, and we enjoyed our Mini Thali meal, but would have loved to have it served in a real thali rather than a normal dinner plate. They also do fabulous pancakes.

I would stay there again, but would prefer a nicer room, would have to decide whether I want to spend that kind of money. I feel that CH is overpriced based on what we paid at Bala's, but as we didn't stay anywhere else, hard to say. Certainly I expected to have tea/coffee making equipment in the room for RM150.

We didn't experience the rudeness of the staff as mentioned in other reviews, but Bala was the only one who spent any time with us.

CH is a place where you can pick fresh strawberries and buy all manner of strawberry products. Strange therefore to go for morning tea at Boh's state of the art teahouse and were served scones (dry) with packets of butter and Australian strawberry jam! And no cream.

  • Stayed August 2008
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank FennKualaLumpur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
1 review
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 13, 2008

Was there for 3D2N.

1) Booking via Telephone
Called up the Chalet and tried to make a booking for a room, the operator was not helpful at all and sound very impatient on the line. After giving her my credit card number, she just hang up with out saying thank you or good bye.

2) Rooms
Arrived the chalet and was given a room by the hotel staff. The room was a deluxe suite. When I and my wife first entered the room, the room was really smelly and looks terribly run down for RM$220 per night accommodation. I requested for air freshener and the staff told me it is normal for the room to smell as it is in the highlands, which i don’t believe at all. They look around and advice me that they don’t have any air freshener at all.

Took another room from him and the new room looks slightly better but still stink as well. So we wanted to look at other better rooms and see if it is any better.

The staff passed the keys to the Raffles rooms and just asked us to walk up and see it for ourselves. Not even willing to show us the direction. The room is not worth the extra RM$30. You get an attic, kettle and remote control for the TV. If you want a bathtub, you need to add another RM$30.

3) Room condition
The room is nothing fancy for RM$220 and the place stinks and is very dusty. There isn’t a kettle for boiling water or making hot drinks and not to mention no hot drink sachet is provided.

The TV is really old and only provides two local and one cable channel which will change according to what was viewed at the TV room. So if it is stuck in any particular channel, that is your only viewing. There is no remote for the TV, which make senses as you only have 3 channel, so you can forget about channel surfing.

The cupboards is very old and dusty, the extra pillow is full of mould and dirt. (See picture of pillow) The bed is so old that you can feel the spring in the bed. Blankets are really thin and dirty. If you have a sensitive nose or skin, you will be sneezing and scratching most of the time

There is no heater or air freshener in the room. So the staying in the room for long period of time can be disturbing and uncomfortable.

4) Toilet
The toilet is really tiny with a pathetic sink which is really difficult to wash up with. The piping is lousy with water leaking from the sink here and there, and most of the time the water is brown. There is virtually no water filtering at all. The shower is inconsistent. One minute hot and the other minute cold and one of the nights there was not cold water at all!!! My wife has to suffer by showering in the really hot water and then really the really weak and cold water.

I went to the reception and complain to the lady staff and she doesn’t seem to care at all and told me it is normal. I demand her to have someone look into it. After which it was not fixed as well and as it was 10pm, the reception is closed and there is no one you can contact at all.

5) Hotel service
Room service - Non existence
No telephone in the room. So you need anything, you will have to walk to the reception counter. The whole place look like it has less than 6 or 7 people working there.
Staffs are not friendly at all and couldn’t care less about the customer.

I was glad that I did not eat at the hotel and enjoyed my meals elsewhere.

6) Overall
The place is really run down with most of it still under some kind of construction. There is no one to man the hotel after dark which can be a security threat. So if anything goes down or wrong at night, you are on your own.

I have made my complaints to the management (Mr Bala) and he couldn’t care less about my bad experience in the hotel and wanted me to buzz off and told me that I don’t have come to Bala’s Chalet ever again if I don’t like it here.

I would not recommend this place for anyone unless you really like to suffer and being treated likes dirt by the less than friendly staff and management.

I was glad that i demand for a partial refund for my bad experience there.

  • Liked — Nothing
  • Disliked — Everything
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank bigwhizkid3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Level Contributor
92 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 149 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 29, 2008

Now I am the kind of person who doesn't mind putting up at cheap backpacker hotels if the need arises. I like small quaint places with character anytime over featureless generic hotels. I can stomach a few negatives provided the whole package has something positive going for it.

Bala's Holiday Chalets in Cameron Highlands falls into one of these non-conventional places of lodging. Sometimes it feels more like a homestay rather than a hotel.

Housed in a pre-war colonial building built in 1934, it was opened as a boarding school for expatriate children by Ms Griffith Jones, O.B.E. Its present owner, the aforementioned "Bala" turned the former building into a guest house.

So what are the positives? Staying in an old Tudor style bungalow is definitely great, it has a lot of character and you can feel the history in the building. The gardens are pretty with beautiful flowering plants and nice trees. Location is great, up a secluded hill amongst greenery between Tanah Rata town and the golf course. The afternoon tea and scones is one of the must dos, even outsiders come to have tea here.

Now whats not so nice? Well the rooms feel dated. The TV is from the eighties, no remote. Just two channels and whatever satellite channel the people in the tv room are watching. Carpet is old and musty, furniture is spartan and basic. Lights are dim, windows are tough to open and close. Housekeeping is poor, when we went there the room hadn't even been made, we had to wait until it was done. Some people have been even known to complain of bed bugs. Lots of maintenance and renovation work appear to be ongoing, the roof is parched up with tarpaulin or zinc sheets here and there, the attic appears to be in the process of being renovated into more rooms.

Having said that would i return? Yes I would, i've been there twice now and i would still go. I like the sense of history, and i like staying in what is actually a pre-war bungalow. I'm not fussy and i can put up with its shortcomings. For those who are particular about comfort, luxury and everything being in tip-top working condition stay away. For me, i'll be back!

  • Liked — The location, the gardens and the colonial feeling
  • Disliked — Feels dated and in need of upkeep
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Jadamros
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canberra
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 7, 2008

I'm sorry to see so many poor reviews for this hidden gem of a guest house. I can understand that someone looking for a luxury resort or a high class hotel would be dissapointed - but really - why come to the Cameron Highlands if thats what you're after?
Bala's holiday chalet is a truely engaging experience - and is as close as you can still get to a true highlands experience without spending a packet.

The rooms are adequetly appointed, with comfy beds and very supportive pillows, and mod cons. Air-con is not really required in CH and I have to say my nights spent here in natural air were my best sleeps in malaysia. Its a lovely experience lying in a comfy bed, breathing the cool evening air and listening to the sounds of the jungle surrounding you.

And thats why Balas is such an excellent choice to stay in the Highlands. Its so atmosphereic... from the fireplace set for every eveing meal, to the lovely hidden nooks and crannies of the house with hidden libraries and cosily stuffed comfy chairs just right for a cup of tea and a good book. Speaking of which - I have to agree with the advertising that Balas has by far the best tea and scones in the Highlands - along with the most amazing curry chef I've come across in years. I hear the Sultan eats here when in town and I'm not suprised - even if you're not staying the night - do yourself a favour and try the curry set meal - you wont regret it.

lastly - but by far from least - is the garden. A wonder of colour and smeels its great fun just to wonder its winding and secret paths as the afternoon mist rolls off the mountains.

This is what the cameron highlands is all about - forget the huge resorts and cheap imitators - Balas chalet offers an insight into what the highlands was really about... a place of quiet, respite and mystery, good food and wonderful surroundings.

If you're willing to take a punt - if you can spend a few days away from the sterile air conditioned sanitarium towers and are willing experience the old style highlands and a quiter pace - not necessarily with the most amazing rooms ever - granted - you'll enjoy your time at balas - and have a very different and memorable experience.

  • Liked — Fantastic location and excellent service (and food) - a reallly memorable stay.
  • Disliked — Some people may consider it a bit rough with no AC and close to the jungle.
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank tiggyr2611
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UK
Level Contributor
16 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 3, 2008

Do not stay here. We moved to the Bala Chalet having had a bad experience at Casa de la Rosa, and had a far worse time here. When we arrived the place was in chaos and we had a lot of trouble getting a rude staff member to show us a room. We told him, as well as two other people, that we were looking for somewhere quiet having been kept awake all night at the last hotel. They assured us that this was very quiet...more on that later.

On the outside the buildings look nice, and this place has the potential to be an excellent hotel if only it had the right management. Our room was basic but seemed ok, until we discovered that the whole floor was damp. It smelled bad too. The bathroom consisted of a toilet with a shower handle next to it.

We went to have lunch, and were given a menu. We went to order a few minutes later, and were told by the same person who had given us the menu that only the first dish was available. We were about to leave when I asked on the off chance if sandwiches were available, and was told yes. Not easy getting the right information!

And so on to the sleeping part. We were kept awake past midnight by a deafening disco being held in the dining room. This is in the middle of a small hotel. We just couldn't believe it. The management had blatantly lied to us by telling us that the hotel was quiet, and with rooms all around full of guests trying to sleep, they were holding a disco. I eventually got up to ask them to stop, to no avail. The next morning noone apologised - they barely even acknowledged us when we went to pay; noone said thank you or goodbye.

Overall this was probably the worst hotel I have ever stayed in with the rudest and most ignorant staff. It's a great shame, as the lovely old buildings should be renovated, looked after and managed by people who at least know something about customer service.

  • Liked — Looked nice from the outside
  • Disliked — Awful staff
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Buggy12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Planters Country Hotel & Restaurant

Property: Planters Country Hotel & Restaurant
Address: Lot 55 | Cameron Highlands, Tanah Rata 39000, Malaysia (Formerly Bala's Holiday Chalet)
Phone Number:
Location: Malaysia > Pahang > Cameron Highlands > Tanah Rata
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Tanah Rata
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Planters Country Hotel & Restaurant 3*
Number of rooms: 30
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Bala`s Holiday Chalet Hotel Cameron Highlands
Planters Country Hotel & Restaurant Cameron Highlands/Tanah Rata

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