Sunday 29 March 2009

Novotel St. Pan Crap

Service before edifice

The moment a hotel fails to realise that is it the service rather than the edifice that makes for returning customers, they have lost the plot and are on to a monumental failure.

Generally, I use hotels in the Accor Group which range from the upmarket Sofitel through Novotel, Mercure & Pullman to the budget Ibis and bargain basement Etap or Formule1. I use the Radisson group of hotels where the Accor brand is either unsuitable or not available, for instance in terms of location, accessibility, service and quality, I would stay at the Radisson rather than the Ibis in Antwerp.

Where hotels and service have been worthy of commendation and praise, I have almost been effusive, the Riu Hotel Maspalomas stands out as an excellent hotel with the most exquisite service, in my mind.

Destroying habits

I am also a creature of habit; I rarely change what I am used to and would probably return to the same hotel until they mess up big time.

I remember an instance in Berlin where the Mercure Hotel near Templeton oversubscribed the hotel and I having booked my room almost three week before was about to be bumped off around hotels for nights before I could settle in the one I booked.

I refused to sleep around hotels like a prostitute and demanded as a holder of an Accor Favourite Guest Card holder – which comes with guarantees – to be put in another hotel of similar of better standard for the duration of my stay at no extra cost.

They met that requirement, but having been a customer of that hotel for over 3 years, I have not returned, no, not for another night, it is black listed and that is the end of that story – all because the service as offered by the staff was rotten.

When in London

In London, I stay at the Novotel St. Pancras which until the St. Pancras International railway station was opened was Novotel Euston, I might have stayed here up to 15 times.

A tall imposing 15 storey building beside the British Library with views all around London, it would not been lost on regular customers that since the name change, the prices have gone up but the service and quality has deteriorated.

With the change of staff especially at the reception has come a bearable tolerance for the convenience of the location of that hotel.

The staff at the breakfast restaurant are quite good, friendly and generally efficient in the circumstances, however, my room bookings end up in debate either because I am not getting what I paid for or something is not working in the room.

This time, I had to get them to sort out my television, I could have changed rooms but if you have done 6 hours of travel, the last thing you want is to move around rooms like the chambermaid.

A taxing case for taxis

Usually, when I check out I am able to inform the concierge that I need a taxi to Paddington Station and he goes out and hails one – it is the least one can expect from a 4-star hotel that caters to business clientele even though the rooms have diminished to perfunctory status without flair or sophistication in style – Gosh! I have stayed in better 4-star business hotels, also belonging to the Accor group.

This time, the receptionist tried to call up a taxi, and when he learnt that it might take 10 to 15 minutes he said there were no taxis, when he could have managed the information better by asking if I did have 15 minutes to wait.

However, I brought the issue of the concierge going out to hail a taxi and he said there was no concierge employed in the hotel anymore, which was strange because I have seen people man that concierge desk during my stay.

Not if I could help it

Besides, there were 4 people at the reception, it was not busy and seeing that I also use a cane he could have asked one of his colleagues to hail one – no, in the end, I had to drag my luggage out onto the street and cross the road to hail one.

That hotel has lost a customer just because they had allowed poor customer service personified in their staff to destroy confidence, interest and loyalty.

It is very likely, I would not return to that hotel; if they ever get the opportunity for me to review this blog radically. I am for now done with Novotel St. Pan Crap.

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