Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A 4 Star Rant

So, maybe it's the weather or maybe just my U.M.S. (Ugly Mood Swings aka male P.M.S.) kicking in but I am fired up. But Sean you are on a permanent vacation how could you have anything to rant about? Well I will rant about deception, the 4 star kind.

I am staying in the Killarney Plaza Hotel, rated 4 stars. They have them right next to the name outside the place. They are very proud of that and make sure it is known how swanky and upscale the place is. Everyone is wowed by the lobby and the fresh flowers and for most they never look any deeper than that. But take a closer look and I think you begin to see the real place. Let me first tell you what I think 4 star means to me. I have had the privilege to stay in some very nice hotels before so I feel I have a good idea what 4 star service should be. I have also stayed in at least 2 places I consider 5 star so I feel I have a good base for comparison. I stayed in Singapore at the Intercontinental for $98.00 per night and it makes this place look like a Days Inn.

Let me start by telling you that a standard room goes for 350.00 euros ($495.00) per night. (Keep in mind, in Slovakia my rent, food, bus fare, cable, internet and smokes only cost me about 350 euros per month. It is one of the reasons I love it so. The fact that the best looking women in the world live there also helps. Don't believe me, come visit and see, its like a supermodel factory.) And no I am not paying the full rate, Jason worked out a deal for me. If I was I would have checked out and gone across the street to the Killarney Park Hotel. (That's 4 stars for sure)

I will tell you all the things I like about this place, my view. And it is only because I got lucky and got the top floor (4th) and I have a great view of the main shopping street and a nice church. That's it, that is the only thing I like. What I don't like will take some time but I will try and keep this somewhat coherent.

Parking at reception, there is no parking for reception, you have to hope that there is not a bus blocking the entrance like I had and just drive up onto the sidewalk to unload your luggage. Really if you don't want to block traffic, you have to park on the sidewalk. No one to come out and help you unload, no valet service to take your car. Instead I had to park illegally down the street run in and get a room key so I could then drive my car around the back and park underground. Why didn't I just park underground first and then check in? Simple, you can't get into the garage without a room key. Again just keep reminding yourself, 350.00 euros per night.

I then park the car and try and make my way to the lobby to get to my room, not an easy task. This place was designed by a crack smoking fool. I would only confuse you if I explained the layout of the first two floors of this place. I have yet to walk around and not find someone confused by the layout of the place. Instead of having a ground floor and then a mezzanine level they refer to them as LG and UG for lower ground and upper ground, this is not some hilly battlefield you are trying to gain position on your enemy, it's a hotel.

I walked into my room and was extremely happy with the view, it helped me not notice the fact that this hotel is now 7 years old and in need of some updating. Some of the carpets are in need of repair in the common areas, they looked tattered and the seams are starting to separate and fray. The furniture in the room is nothing special, the same stuff you would find at any decent hotel. It's not cheap but it is mass produced crap really, just not what I would expect at these prices. The room size is fine and it does have a nice flat screen TV but with only a few channels. No movie channels or Pay per View, which on a crappy day like today, it would be nice to watch a new movie on TV. The bathroom is fine and the towels are soft, which even I admit is a rare thing these days in any hotel. The bed linens are nice but the bed, well if you like marshmallow soft then you are in luck, because it is one giant marshmallow. I am sure 7 years ago it was wonderful, soft, supportive yet just firm enough, now it's all soft, Viagra couldn't help it.

The next thing I expect is a staff that will go out of there way to make sure that you have everything you could want. When we were in Lahinch the staff there was great, even if the bar was closed you could go to the desk and the night porter would get you what ever you wanted, even just a glass of ice water. It was not a problem. This is what I expect but am not getting here, not even close to what I expect at 350.00 euros per night. I will give you an example of what I am talking about . Last night I went out and had a nice Chinese dinner but as usual I was hungry a few hours later. (why is that?) So it was 9:50 pm and room service is finished at 10 pm. So I called down to find out what desserts they had available. I am not stupid enough to order real food 10 minutes before the kitchen is closed, have you not seen the movie "Waiting". So I figured a dessert is quick and easy for them to do and I had a good shot no one would mess with it. (watch the movie) The guy who answered the phone seemed somewhat confused by the idea that I just wanted a dessert, I was confused by his lack of English language skills. He said he would check what was available. He came back to the phone to tell me the kitchen was closed. Now I could understand if someone ordered up a full dinner, drinks and dessert but I was looking for a bowl of ice cream, a simple order. The kitchen didn't feel like working, this I can understand, if I was paying 75.00 - 100.00 euros per night for a room but not 350.00. At those rates I expect service above and beyond. The other thing is because the only Irish people working here are at the front counter the rest of the staff does not have the internal hospitality, that is part of the Irish genetic code. Most of them are from Poland, India or Paskistan and while they are nice, this is just a job to them, nothing more nothing less, it just pays better than at home. Maybe I was spoiled in Lahinch because it is such a small little village almost everyone was Irish. Now I don't want you to think I am disparaging the non Irish, I am not, I am just pointing out they don't have the same mindset as the Irish when it comes to taking care of guests.

But the kicker and the one thing that has pissed me off to no end is Internet access. They have it in the hotel, wireless in every room, and the speed is OK and it is free. (free Internet is not a big thing in Ireland, most cheaper places charge for it or don't have it.) The thing that kills me is I have to call down to the front desk every 2 hours to get a new code to login into the wireless system. Because each code works only for two hours. You could be in the middle of a download or on a skype call or video conference, whatever, after 2 hours the connection drops. You have to call downstairs and get a new code. Again it is frustrating that you to have to do anything when you are paying 350.00 per night.

So I would not recommend anyone stay here, if you are visiting Killarney, stay at the Killarney Park or for a wonderful experience, stay at the Adair Manor, they are both true 4 star places. I even felt the hotel in Lahinch was better than this even thought it is not a 4 star resort. Also Killarney has lost some of it charm it had when I was here 7 years ago. While it is a great jumping off point for may sights in the area, it has grown past a small little quite town into a tourist only kind of place. I don't see or hear the locals like I did in 2001, just loud, fat Americans. (some say there is nothing worse than a reformed smoker, but a reformed American is worse. Yes I once was a loud, fat American but not anymore) It is life and things change, it just sucks when they change for the worse. I am sure this will be my last visit to this part of Ireland. In the future I will stay in the small towns that make up most of this country and avoid the more populated areas. You can still find the Irish charm and hospitality out there but is it slowly fading away. Skoda (it's a pity)


Clement T. said...

Classic post...

Unknown said...

Yeah, my inner Hunter has returned.