Courtyard Marriott, Abu Dhabi
Good day to all of you out there. We hope you had a great week so far. Let us tell you about our latest hotel experience. For those who follow us quite frequently, you would know that we check in hotels 2 – 3 times a month, and well, we must say, the differences in quality and service are immense across this beautiful country. Not every five star hotel deserves five stars and every other four star property is in the position to ask for another one on top. National hotels compete on the same level with International hotel groups, and street restaurants soon replaced the fine dining restaurants available for hotel guests.
Last week we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott in Abu Dhabi. It recently opened it’s doors, and officially is still transitioning through it’s “soft-opening” phase. “Soft – opening”, as hoteliers call it, is the phase in which a hotel has already opened it’s doors to public, the official opening ceremony (usually 2 – 3 month after that) however, has not happened at that stage.
It is both, a blessing and a curse as the management still has time to reinforce standards, train and develop their employees for another couple of months, however, on the other hand not all of the employees know how to deal with constructive feedback and maybe do not pass on important information to those who are there to take the right action. Therefore, in many cases positive, negative or constructive feedback falls under the table, and the property operates like a convey belt of misunderstandings until something happens.
Yes we have seen it all, and yes, in case you wonder, we have gone through the experience of pre-soft-post opening phase of a five start property in this country ourselves. It is not an easy task to accomplish, that is for sure – but it is manageable.
In case of the Courtyard by Marriott, the first Marriott in Abu Dhabi, 40% of the task looked completed, 60% of the task felt incomplete. 40% to us were the design, decor, the rooms and guest facilities such as the pool, gym and restaurants. 60%, and therefore the over weighing factor, were incomplete – to us that were the attitude, skills and knowledge of the employees.
We arrived quite late in the evening and were welcomed by one of the valet boys. He assisted us in off loading our luggage and escorted us to the reception. At the front desk however, we had to wait for about 5 minutes for any of the ladies to acknowledge us first, before we were informed that our twin bedroom was ready for check in.
Once we reminded them that we initially called and requested for a double bed, only a few hours prior to our arrival, the ladies seemed to be overwhelmed with that information, nevertheless, with the assistance of another colleague managed to change our room and fulfill our initial request. We received the keys and took the elevator to the 11th floor.
The room was cozy and relatively spacious. The interior design reminded us of a wooden hut somewhere hidden in the German forest, and made us feel at home right away. The bathroom was fairly spacious too and had been equipped with a 2 square meter big rain forest shower. We got changed, went upstairs to the gym and where looking forward to a great work out, a healthy meal and a couple of hours of sleep.
The gym was great, the pool amazing. The employees, who were looking after the recreational area were even better. The lifeguard, Bali, and his colleague were always around, looked after us, held chit chat and anyone could notice that they love their job.
The recreational areas where top nudge, clean and literately what we would call “state of the art”. We felt very comfortable on the 12th floor, and want to take this as an opportunity to thank Bali and his team.
Besides the room and the recreational area however, the stay resulted into a tragedy. We were booked in including the full board option and went to Bistro, the all day dining restaurant on the 1st floor for dinner. As the restaurant was closed, we were escorted to the 5th Street Cafe, located on the lobby level to enjoy our dinner there. We did not mind and did not think about this incident further and took a seat in the restaurant.
The waitress came up to us, we informed her about the full board option, ordered a glass of orange juice and asked for the menu. She informed us that for full board I could only choose between chicken, burger or a sea bass and one drink. When I asked for the sea bass, she smiled and said “Great, ‘cos that is the only thing we have anyways.”, before she left. It did not take too long for our dinner to be served, which unfortunately also reflected in the actual state of the main course. The fish was great but it swam in a mixture of boiled vegetables, olives and a “sauce” which tasted like pickled water out of the olives’ glass stirred up with an additional portion of sea salt. A combination which killed our gustatory taste. A detailed review about the restaurant, will follow. Why are we mentioning that in our review about the hotel itself you might wonder? Simply because we had been asked about my room number twice on that evening, three different employees approaching me and one waiter informing me that the amount due for the main course and the glass of orange juice where included in our hotel booking and we did not have to pay – up on check out however, the front office staff asked us to pay the difference for that night.
The second evening at Bistro was not better unfortunately, and considering we were the only gusts in the restaurant, the service was slow, the staff demonstrated a concerning lack of knowledge and the food was so la la.
On top of that we experienced challenges with the housekeeping department as well. All in all not a very pleasant experience. And as said, the only employees who demonstrated knowledge, skills and attitude, were Bali and his female colleague from the 12th floor as well as the valet boys from morning and night shift.
We wish we would have better things to report, but The Good has been mentioned, and the rest is constructive feedback that the right people will hopefully take into consideration for their future actions.
Good luck for the future!