Here’s part 1 of this post about my birthday stay in Banana Island.
Frankly speaking, I have expected a lot from this resort, it being from a reputable hotel brand, and the price itself is more than what I allot for my monthly budget. This is not the most expensive hotel I stayed at, but the most expensive one was due to the peak New Year season.
Anyway, we left Anantara twice with a sigh and disappointed hearts. Allow me to rant 🙂
- My worst check-in ever, hostels and low star hotels considered. We were first assisted by a Filipina lady, who referred us to a guy, who just briefly told us that they cannot accommodate my request for a room upgrade (non-complimentary, of course) similar to my friend’s. The guy didn’t finish our check-in process. We waited until someone came, who would transfer us to another crew, and so on…
We came early to for an early check-in. It turned out we just lost our time coming early…
- Anyway, my request for room upgrade was denied but they said that my original room is ready but my friend has to wait for theirs for about 20 minutes. Somebody escorted us to my room, and since it’s just near the Reception Welcome Center, we just walked. The resort staff opened a room in 3rd floor and it was not ready so she had to usher us back to the Reception. In my booking through Agoda, I requested for a twin room at the ground floor for easy access to the pool/beach/walking/etc. However, I liked the view from the 3rd floor so I requested for a room on the same floor.
We waited again for me to be given another room. The guy who I requested a 3rd floor room from, approached me and said they can only give me a room on the 2nd floor. It’s OK I said. Another lady escorted us to my room. She brought us to the 3rd floor. We just followed, thinking that a room in 3rd floor suddenly became ready. It turned out “she got lost” and we had to go back down to 2nd floor. To my final room!
Imagine the time lost, energy spent and the sun shining so brightly. No special request at the booking was granted.
- Remember they said that my friend’s room will be ready in 20 minutes? Well, all that happened from waiting to finally having my room took more than 20 minutes. We have made tea/coffee, finished the fruit basket, taken a tour of the room and the terrace, made ourselves comfortable until it was getting close to an hour… and then more…
My friend called to follow up their check-in a few times that she got pissed off already, she went to Reception herself to settle the matter faster. Again, they waited. Then, finally, they moved to their room.
- The Ramadan package includes amenities such as dates, Ramadan juices and nuts, Iftar buffet at Azraq restaurant and Suhour buffet at Azraq restaurant. At least that’s what their website said.
My room had no Ramadan nibbles but had a welcome basket of fruits instead. My friend’s room had neither. My friend asked about the Ramadan nibbles and the resort crew staff that this amenity is available at the Reception. No, I don’t think so, the website says “in-room”.
And more about the Suhour incident in another post.
- Buggy service that day was horrible. We had to wait a long time to be picked up even after placing the request early. Ironically, there was 1 time we were walking out of our room, when a buggy driver asked us if we needed a ride. We didn’t.
The buggy service was clearly understaffed. We would see at most 2 faces alternate picking us up, and there were a lot of guests that day, being a weekend.
- Housekeeping service is also a hit or miss thing. Yes, we requested for an extra big bottle of water that came after about 15 minutes, and not just 1 but 2! 🙂 But we requested for dental kits and got served almost an hour later.
- Some facilities were closed or not available because they said “it is Ramadan”. We read from a blog about a floating bean bag that we were excited to try. We asked the pool towel guy where they are, and he said it’s not available due to Ramadan.
Having a baby in the group, we were also not informed that the Kids Club is temporarily housed at the Balance Wellness Center “due to Ramadan”.
We were also supposed to try the steam room but the staff manning the treatment room is not available. The cleaner (?) who assisted us was very helpful and warm but did not know how to operate the steam room!
- I booked through Agoda, my friend booked through Banana Island and with her requesting a “birthday surprise” for her husband. Well they got some staff singing him a “happy birthday” and a cake and a special bed arrangement. She called the Reception to thank them for taking care of her request. Then she requested if I could be given a “special treat” too since it’s also my birthday, to which they said “that would come with a fee”.
What’s a birthday song over the phone or a birthday note slipped on my room door? And FYI, my friend wasn’t charge for this birthday package.
The following day at lunch in Q Lounge, my friend informed the restaurant crew about the celebration in our group. In all fairness, the guy tried to get me something, a cake, a baklava or whatever. And they didn’t have anything in their pantry and we should have reserved or informed them a few days in advance.
Again, no birthday song or birthday note. Talk about making celebrations special in this resort. Though, I would have to say my friend’s husband’s birthday is much different from mine. At least he got a cake and we got to share it with him over brunch!
Again, I could make a long list of just even the littlest rant I (we) had that day but the point is… I really don’t think it was worth what I paid for. Customer service leaves a lot to be desired for, big time. I am not sure if it is the lack of staff, or the lack of experience, but clearly there was no oneness and team collaboration. Hotels and restaurants would have occasion gimmicks for their guests just to attract them to celebrate, I didn’t feel that in Banana Island.
At check-out we negotiated hard and I mean HARD to be allowed to come back for the Suhour that we missed as we missed to have afternoon nap due to a lousy check-in process. We wanted to salvage our Banana Island experience if everything works well when we come back.
So… Did Banana Island redeem itself? Find out in this link.