If you’re here to savagely complain about this being first world problems and how dare someone write something on the internet that has nothing to do with human suffering, please GTFO. No one’s got time for that. If you want to help with the suffering, here’s an amazing list of charities to go do that.
Anyway, for everyone else with their popcorn nicely popped and intrigue at the ready, let’s continue with the comical story of a recent hotel stay, in tandem with some of our dearest friends. For $2500 a night, the water should be free, right?
Let me start by saying that while I do believe in splurging on hotels, this was a case where we were traveling with friends and for this portion of the trip, they selected the hotel and wanted to it to be their treat. Very generous, for sure.
The hotel had a series of “villas” designed for groups like ours, with their two children and our Olive. In the most polite terms, the expectation didn’t meet reality for us and a calamity of what can only be described as oddball errors sent us home early.
The hotel agreed to refund the unused nights they’d booked, which they didn’t have to do, so I’m going to be a bit respectful of their goodwill, hence the lack of name drop.
But even then, I can’t help but L-O-L at basically the first encounter during our stay, which spectacularly summed up everything I loathe about the hotel industry right now. It reinforced why I’ve spent more on Airbnb and sharing economy solutions than ever before.
The Water Is “At A Charge”
So we’re being shown around what is basically the penthouse villa of a resort on semi off peak, shoulder season dates. We’d just arrived and couldn’t wait to dive right into the pool. But first, a quick tour from our “butler”.
It all sounds lovely, I know. It should’ve been.
And as we were being shown around the entirely disappointing kitchen, which was really just a nook to stash wine and water, I did a double take. The first four bottles are free, but after that, water is a charge?
Mind you, there are seven of us on the stay, albeit three being children. Water, good ole’ H20, is a total essential to life and four bottles between our group would’ve been significantly below the doctor recommended water intake for a day.
I actually couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. We were not in a remote desert, or place where water was hard to come by. You could walk down the road about a quarter of a mile and get an ocean’s worth for $5 bucks.
And the butler chose to basically make our first interaction at the hotel, where our friends were paying €2500 a night, about how we’d be charged an egregious amount of money if we consumed the standard doctor recommended intake of daily water.
I Would’ve Totally Backed A Sustainability Play
Forward thinking hotels have done things like install reverse osmosis water taps and offer beautiful carafes to help yourself to filtered water, to discourage single use. Some people may prefer bottled water, but the sustainability play is nice.
At the lovely Calile Hotel in Brisbane, halls have chic gold water taps where guests can fill stylish carafes to their hearts content. Done right, it doesn’t feel like a reduction of luxury, particularly when the carafe’s are filled by housekeeping daily and on arrival.
If the water is equally smooth — or basically just not noticeably not tasty — then I don’t mind filling up a reusable bottle from a water tap or anything else. There was nothing of the sort here, so it was basically drink the bottles or deal.
This Set A Horrible Tone
I’m a principles and vibes person. If people are trying and hospitality is the goal, I’m easy to please. If I feel like I’m getting squeezed and things are just beyond any decent principle, I wouldn’t use the same description.
The interaction made everything, from the broken water heater in the pool, to the closed restaurants which weren’t declared on the hotel website all the more annoying. Had the first impression made been one of hospitality, we might not have been irate by the time dinner came around.
This all took place during the Arabian sandstorm that swept through Europe in late March and we angrily ventured out of the extensive complex, which felt kind of like a Saudi Prison for Princes at times, for dinner at a highly mediocre “Italian” spot.
It gave us enough time, over highly mediocre food, to realize that this place just didn’t “get” what travel is supposed to feel like in the luxury spectrum, particularly as it looks to recoup Covid-19 era losses. You recover losses with happy guests, not sneaky little charges.
The Manager Steps In
One “closed”, “broken” or erroneous error after another, we let our “butler” know that the stay wasn’t up to expectation and got on the phone to the travel agent who made the booking — and hotel suggestion. Anyway.
A few hours later, the duty manager showed up. I found the tone to be bizarre, as he basically walked me through how “most” people really love their stays and how this hotel was not just one of the best in the Porches area of the Algarve or Portugal, but the entire world. Wow.
This is where my job is kind of hard sometimes. I’m just not your average guest, purely in the sense that I’ve been almost everywhere and that I regularly splurge for some of the world’s best hotels. Sometimes its to entertain you, sometimes to entertain myself or my family, but you get the point.
A disconnect from reality of this level just couldn’t be resolved. I’ve seen too much and know too much about what exists out there.
Time To Settle The Water Bill And Bolt
Once we walked down those roads, I knew what I was dealing with and it was clear it was just not going to work out. It was them, not us, but we were happy to say that it’s not you, the fit just isn’t for us.
Before it all came to a close, the manager very graciously offered to comp the water intake from the day before, with 7 bottles consumed. Three over the allowance, but to keep us happy, he was willing to settle that tab for us.
Hey, for $2500 a night, the water should be free, right?