I stayed at the hotel while visiting Australia in conjunction with the promotion of my new book on teamwork (which draws lessons from the Sydney to Hobart Race). I just come from a wonderful experience at the Park Hyatt in Sydney, and was expecting a something similar in Melbourne.
My wife and I were met at the reception desk by a young woman who explained that, as we were privileged members of the "Crystal Club," she would escort us upstairs to a special check-in service. On the way up, the receptionist shared that she was overworked, and was escorting us to the Crystal Club as a way of taking a break.
During our special check-in, I raised a question about the Crown Towers policy of charging $25 per device for wireless access. As my wife and I have a number of devices, this added some $100/night to the cost of the room. The new receptionist indicated that she would check with her supervisor, and that he would contact me to discuss the charge. He did.
The charges for extra device were annoying, but they were nothing compared to the brusque, unfriendly call I received from the receptionist's supervisor. With an abrupt tone bordering on rudeness, his message was clear: "Take it or leave it, that's what the competition does." I was astounded that the call was devoid of the slightest concern for customer service, but there were more surprises to come.
As someone who studies teamwork, I was struck by the stark contrast between the staff at Crown Towers and what I saw during our previous stay in Sydney. Things weren't perfect at the Park Hyatt, yet I left feeling that the staff cared about their guests, and they were a cohesive team. At the Crown Towers I saw an overworked collection of people -- some trying their best, but hardly a team.
Curious about what others thought, I looked at the reviews on TripAdvisor. I was astonished to find hundreds of 4 and 5 star reviews. People raved about things like the flimsy white rug in the bathroom, the worn, dirty white rugs in the bedroom, or the crystal lights by the sink. I don't know if the reviews were concocted, or if they were genuine reviews by people who are dazzled by chrome -- or, perhaps, have never stayed at a really good hotel. But there were only a few people (28) who shared my perception that this is an average hotel. A small number (16) rated it as poor, and some (9) thought it was terrible. I vote with the 28: this is an average, but highly overrated hotel.
I found the General Manager, Andrew Cairns, on LinkedIn and decided to share my experience in an email. I didn’t expect anything to change, but I was curious to hear his response. I didn’t get any, but the effort wasn’t wasted. I'm confident that I can use these two diverse experiences in Australian hotels as informative case studies for my next book.
In the meantime, I don’t expect anything to change at the Crown Towers. I’m writing this review only to warn others who may not be so blinded by chrome that they can overlook poor service and faux elegance
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Beautifully located on the southern bank of the Yarra River in Melbourne, Crown Towers sets the benchmark for luxury hotels in Australia. Lavishly appointed and offering an impeccable standard of customer service and attention to detail, Crown Towers is a hotel that truly understands the meaning of opulence. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Crown Towers Hotel Melbourne
- Crown Hotel Melbourne