My stay at Sterling Emarald Bay at Karwar (14th Dec to 20 Dec) underlined that my decision to get the Sterling Holidays membership was completely wrong.
It was my first stay through Sterling and I chose Karwar because it was at drivable distance from Mumbai. That would help me to keep things in my control while travelling with two small kids. Below is the simple, true and non-exaggerated account of the facts related to this vacation. Sorry to keep it detailed, but otherwise it would not convey the message. Believe me, I have discussed only major items.
1. Booking and front desk
I had booked the suite for a 6 day stay, a month in advance. One thing that I had repeatedly noticed in reviews of Emerald bay was the goof-up that Emerald usually do with the booking. So I was extremely careful, stayed in constant touch with them for the month, until one hour before my actual check-in. Everyone gave me the confidence that everything was fine, confirmed and in-order.
I got to the check-in counter and guess what? I was told that the Suite room is not available. For a few moments, I was speechless. There was an artificial apologetic and modest tone while conveying the message, but that soon changed into indifferent and arrogant as I enquired more specifically on what went wrong. Different people started giving different reasons like allotment process was automatic, centralized, they had no control, they do not know, room is under modification etc. They offered me two single rooms in exchange for a day. It was 1 hour of fruitless discussion, there was no Air -Conditioning in the lobby and I was sweating. My wife and two kids were waiting to rest after a long journey. So I accepted whatever they gave. Ironically, on a family trip where we wanted to spend time together, we stayed in separate rooms on first day.
Got my suite on day two. It was not the river facing one that I had always requested. I was told that that one is getting free on 18th Dec and I’ll be moved in there on 18th. I was even told to keep my luggage packed on 18th, so that they can move it while I’m out. Guess what? Comes 18th and nothing moves. When enquired, they told that the room was no more free. By then, I was tired with various experiences and was in no mood to get into any further discussion.
2. Overall quality of resort-
Don’t go on photos and presentations. It is, at max, 2.5 star in terms of appearance, quality, cleanliness and facilities. I can give many examples but just one is sufficient – Their presentation says that it is a WiFi facility. The fact is that WiFi is supposed to work only in Lobby. And “supposed to”, as in my entire stay, it was not working even in the lobby.
Food quality is Ok and too overpriced for place like Karwar. The service is good, until the manager, Bhim Singh, is around and extremely confused/sluggish when he is not around. Couple of times, it took two hours until we kept getting small menu that we ordered until we lost our appetite and left in-between. And that was happening with quite a few people around.
I ordered (from their own menu) a Promphret. It was not available.
So I ordered Tigers Prons. That was not available.
So I ordered King Fish. It was not available.
Eventually, I asked them whatever was available and ate it.
I am Sterling Member. So I was supposed to get 20% discount on food. Having two small kids and pathetic restaurant experience, I ordered most of my food in room. Guess what? On the day of final billing, I was told that no discounts are applicable for food if ordered in room. Why? They did not know. But they knew that it was in writing somewhere. Again, I was in no mood to indulge into any conversation. I paid.
5. Travel Desk
Again, don’t go on what they say on their sites and any presentation that they send. The presentation will have a long list of locations and beautiful pictures. Below is the response from travel desk when you actually land there. Written below are their actual responses.
a. Sirsi – “Sir, there is much to see except the jungle.”
b. Jog falls : “Sir, there is no water there. It is only in mansoon. (Remember , I was there in mid Dec. Not May)”
c. Dandeli – “Sir, there aren’t much animals out there. But you can do boating.”
d. Cancona (Which is referred as must see place in their list) – “Sir, its like any other beach, And wildlife has couple of captive animals. You will get bored.”
I actually appreciate their honesty which saved me of some efforts. But that honesty should have been in the presentation or websites before customer commits to the place. That would have saved many more of efforts.
That leaves hardly anything to see other than local Karwar, which is like any other town . Don’t think that Karwar is a tourist place only b’cas Sterling has a resort there. Yes, It does have a beach, but that is it.
The resort has a local tour to an Island in Karwar, where a few mins drive, few mins boating, a beach, hill, temple, a tea and few biscuits cost you Rs 1050 per head.
So, a consistent thread is “loose commitments and complete non-delivery”. Being Sterling member does not help. Rather it worsens the situation as you are, in fact a customer who has been already sold, has paid in advance and hence can’t do much except expressing frustration. That is the biggest risk that most of us fail to anticipate when we take such a holiday membership. We trust that the organization would be professional enough. From my interaction so far with Sterling, I’m more or less convinced that I am going to get similar experiences in my rest of Sterling stays (if and When I really dare to have another).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located next to the estuary where the Kali river meets the Arabian Sea, and with the Sahyadri mountains forming a backdrop, Emerald Bay is a full-service Sterling Holidays resort that offers some beautiful glimpses of an unspoilt, unexplored region of India. The backwaters of the Kali River add to the beauty of this place. Karwar is a great holiday destination due its close proximity to Goa. A combined holiday in our resorts - Villagio in Goa and Emerald Bay in Karwar, will work as a great way to spending long vacations with loved ones. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Priceline, Agoda and Booking.com so you can book your Sterling Karwar reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.