Like most people I look forward to my annual summer holiday, two weeks of sun, sea and relaxation. This year’s destination was back to the same hotel in the Dominican Republic whereby we enjoyed two weeks last summer. Having already been to this hotel we thought we knew what to expect. However, an untimely change in management since our last visit has unfortunately changed our views.
Despite the recent controversy of the ‘loophole’ Thomson and other airlines have been using to avoid paying customers compensation for flight delays and cancellations, our experience with Thomson was a good one. The flight was smooth (and on time), the in-flight meals were frequent and tasty and the staff were exceptionally pleasant. This year however we opted to arrange our own transfers from the airport with A2B, another faultless service available in multiple countries with affordable fixed rates – (we made a saving of £90 by not booking through the usual Thomson package!)
All in all, the travelling had gone smoothly, and we were excited to get to the hotel and start our well awaited holiday. However, it was upon arrival to our hotel in Punta Cana that our spirits were dampened. Due to an earlier flight delay, having just flown 8 and a half hours, we were told that they did not have a room for us – those delayed were given their rooms for an extra night. After a lot of too-ing and fro-ing, huffing and puffing (from the staff) and numerous angry sounding phone calls, an hour later we were taken to a neighbouring hotel for the night.
We were told to come back at 1pm the following day whereby we were assured our rooms would be ready. To add insult to injury, when we arrived back the following day, the room wasn’t ready at 1pm, nor was it ready at 2pm, or 3pm. In fact it wasn’t until 4pm that we were finally given the keys to our rooms. Despite trying to air our frustration at losing valuable holiday time, the staff at reception seemed blasé, very unapologetic and even resorted to blatantly ignoring our presence at the front desk. A lot can be said for service with a smile, and the staff at this hotel were seriously lacking it.
It’s no secret that service at front of house is crucial as it reflects on the rest of the service you are providing, and this definitely was not a good start. Having not made a good first impression, it wasn’t long before we discovered that the attitude of the staff at the front desk was that shared by a lot of the staff working throughout the hotel.
Whilst I can appreciate that there may be a lot going on behind closed doors due to the change in management that could be affecting their staff, it was shocking to me how much the attitude and frankly overall atmosphere of this otherwise beautiful resort had changed. The staff were rude, unenthusiastic, unwelcoming and generally unconcerned by any issues or problems their customers had (we weren’t the only ones with complaints!).
It’s a shame that the attitude amongst the staff did not match the otherwise beautiful setting of the resort; however despite the hiccups, we made the most of the two weeks away. After all, who wouldn’t want to wake up every day to blue skies, and clear Caribbean waters! My family and I are big believers in rewarding good service, whether that be in tips or repeat custom, and a good experience last year enticed us back to this resort for a second time. Having experienced such a drastic contrast this time around, it’s safe to say we will not be returning to this hotel again.
It seems too obvious to say but surely management and staff of hotels and the like are aware of the impact of this type of experience. Word of mouth has always been powerful, that is now amplified many times by word of digital or social media. Along with many others I rely on sites such as TripAdvisor to help me make an informed decision when booking my holidays and since returning, I have discovered that my family and I were not the only ones to encounter problems at this hotel. If they are aware, presumably it doesn’t matter to them what customers think. That then must be down to the owners.