I must state at the outset that having spent a lifetime in the hotel management business I might be considered an exacting critic. In truth, based on that long experience, I am very sympathetic to the myriad challenges faced in the delivery of service and more inclined than not to excuse human mistakes. The hotel business is about details: if management looks after the details, the business looks after itself... but details are elusive, and only passionate people make great hoteliers. Witness the atrocious English language on the corridor signs...
The experience at this property points to a poorly managed business; one that needs to wake up to the real experience its guests face at their hands.
I should have known what to expect when three emails to the hotel's Reservations Dept. prior to arrival to request airport transportation went unanswered, totally ignored.
After finding my way there, though, the stay started on a sour note with a check-in process that was slow, cumbersome and made worse by the bureaucratic attitude of a room clerk whose parsimonious pecking at the keyboard was matched only by the speed of what appeared to be a computer system from the neolithic age.
After finally succeeding in printing it out, the clerk presented a registration form for my signature that was filled with my name and passport number but with someone else's address, company name, occupation, etc., etc. Upon my refusal to sign something that was patently wrong, the clerk insisted that this was no big deal and if I wished to sign a different form it would take longer....well, it did: this turned into a 20-minute check-in process, lengthened by the clerk's insistence that I sign a BLANK credit card voucher for incidental expenses (the room charges for the six-night stay having been prepaid). Just the thing you need after a long international flight. Has management ever heard of the virtues of a speedy welcome in a hotel?? If your address, etc. were provided through the reservation process, why have the guest repeat it all again on arrival rather than have it all preprinted on the registration card? And if the government requires guests' passport particulars, why not photocopy the relevant page and deal with it after the guest has gone to his/her room???
Incidentally, the above employee was observed a couple of nights later comfortably sitting at the bar, watching a soccer game on tv at 9 pm while happily sipping his beer: professional decorum be damned.
In fairness, the room was ample and clean. However, although the coffee maker worked, no coffee sachets, spoons, creamer or sweetener were provided. And while these were brought up after a call on the first day, they were never replenished. As no coffee sachets were provided, the alternative is to purchase a 350 gr. bag for sale on the minibar... a little too much coffee even for a 6-night stay. Night table water was provided one night out of six. Perhaps minibar sales are low and this is their formula to boost them...
Another inane policy is to call every room around 9 pm to offer Room Service. Let me assure management that hungry guests will surely call Room Service, and they'd rather do so than be disturbed by a sales call! On second thought, perhaps the hotel does this since there is no way for a guest to know where to dial for Room Service from the absurd telephone instruments in the rooms; the phone system installed in this hotel is perfectly useless!
On day two, the blinking light on the phone told me that messages were awaiting. However, there is not an indication anywhere in the room as to how to retrieve them and calls to Reception and their complicated instructions failed as well. We finally learned that the message system was "out of order", so the solution was for us to come to Reception and listen to our seven messages on their phone. The "out of order" status remained for the six days of my stay. To state that going down to Reception every time you have a message light blinking is highly inconvenient would be a huge understatement.... and they have "5 stars"? Who gives those out?? Does management understand the importance of a working telephone to a business person?
But management doesn't appear to have noticed what guests must put up with in this place. Another ridiculous operating policy has a housekeeper every morning at precisely 8 a.m. start vacuuming the corridor with a cleaner that sounds like a jet turbine! If you should like to sleep in after 8 - even on week-ends!! - be prepared for a very rude awakening... with room doors as thin as crepes, this is about the worst wake-up call you'll ever have.
Most employees are amiable and polite - as most Colombians are - and eager to serve. But they obviously work under a management group lacking in the knowledge, attention to detail and passion necessary to know that staff excel only when given the tools and support to do their jobs. And that the guest's experience is totally dependent on the staff and its interaction with them.
On checking out, I was handed a copy of my room folio and while I waited for the credit card imprint, etc., etc., to be done, I turned this paper over. To my horror, the obviously recycled paper contained on the other side another poor unsuspecting soul's full name, credit card number and particulars. Which meant that my own private information could very likely fall in the hands of anyone, with potentially dire consequences. The clerk (different fellow from the check-in) insisted that this was no problem, and that "we always do that". I then had occasion to speak with the gm about this and to tell her a couple of the incidents above, but as my time was short, I told her to watch this space for a full account of my experience at her hotel. I pray she takes action to make sure that future guests have a more comfortable and pleasant stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This 5-star hotel in Bogota's Santa Barbara district is a 40-minute drive from El Dorado International Airport. It features modern and elegant rooms. The rooms comes with wooden floors,TV and telephone. Some rooms offer extra features, like kitchenette, terrace, balcony or barbecue facilities. Home theatre is also included in some of them and free WiFi is available. La Alcazaba restaurant is popular for its Spanish food such as Paella and the buffet breakfast. Guests can also enjoy a welcome cocktail in the Don Fermin Bar. Exe Santafe Boutique Hotel is located only a 5-minute drive from Unicentro and Hacienda Santa Barbara shopping malls. The Gold Museum is a 30-minute drive away. Parking is available. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Melia Santafe Hotel Bogota
- Melia Hotel Bogota
- Melia Hotel Santafe