Thursday, 18 April 2013

“…..I have been all over the world and…”

The room was first class, clean, spacious and warm. Food, plentiful and gratifying. Staff, kindness and helpful personified. So sat in my hotel room overlooking the graceful and winding Yesilirmak river in Amasya, I felt compelled to share my judgment on this lovely family run hotel. So, what better place to avail the travelling world of my thoughts then the mecca for the world’s wayfarers , the website On sending my post under the hotel’s name, I decided to check and see what others had experienced in this wonderful place. The first one on the list, not two weeks before me had written:

“ This hotel could best be described as an advertisement on how NOT to run a hotel. The food is mostly inedible and when I wanted to complain, the manager was never around and the staff’s English virtually zero. My stay in Amasya has been ruined because of this place"….definitely do not stay here”

I sat in wonderment of how someone just two weeks before me had viewed the same hotel in such total contrast to my own. The next posting on the list:

“ Here is a gem of a hotel, my stay in Amasya was enhanced staying here. I can not fault the staff and me and my husband, who is disabled, decided to eat in the hotel every evening as the food on offer was out of this world. First class hotel ”

So it continued, it seemed for every positive posting the laws of balance threw in one of discourse.  Of course, we all have different requirements, different standards of living and different attitudes to people and ultimately different opinions on what is classed as satisfactory and not. However the contrast in opinions based on this hotel was distinctly black and white!

Now, I have a passing interest in the hotel trade. My dear wife is a Front office manager in one of the multitude of five star resorts along the beautiful Antalya coastline. With this in mind, the contrasting reports on the Amasya hotel should not have taken me by surprise. In the summer months, not a week goes by when my poor wife is forced to answer an accusation by a guest who on return to their country had decided to seek compensation on some grievance experienced in her hotel. Interestingly, the majority of the complainants never raise an issue whilst undergoing their" “holiday from hell” but wait until their return home to vent their anger!

Take for example the summer of 2012. These are genuine complaints by guest received at her hotel, word for word.

“ We were informed by the brochure that the average daytime temperature in Antalya in July was 34.6 degrees. During the two weeks of our stay, on checking with the local meteorological office website, the average daytime temperature for the fourteen days was 39.7 degrees. Thus making it impossible for us to leave the air conditioned room”  - Franz Klein, Cologne

“ On squeezing the oranges in the breakfast hall using the machine provided we discovered the orange juice was not fresh!” – Olga Alexopoulo, St Petersburg  

“ Being a family run hotel me and my husband were amazed to see to see so many bikini clad woman, which made trips to the beach and pool uncomfortable for our children”  - Saif Hamad, Oman

“ I purchased a pair of Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses from the boutique situated in your hotel for 25 lira (approx 18 dollars) on returning home I have since discovered that the said sunglasses were in fact fake and a cheap imitation “ – Wolfgang Richter, Munich

“ My family came to the ****** Hotel along with Sister’s family. On comparing my one bedroom suite  we discovered it was a lot smaller than my sister’s two bedroom suite”  - Amanda Thorp, Sutton

“On using the hairdryer in our room, it was set to such a high temperature that my daughter had to undergo expensive  hospital treatment for burns to her hair when we returned to Moldova” – Domanica Cemerton, Chisinau

Amusing I think you will agree, however it has to be pointed out that these are not some throwaway lines on a website that most people, if they are intelligent enough, take with a pinch of salt. These are taken from official complaints that the hotel had to deal with on a legal level. They are costly, time consuming and damaging!. A few months ago, I was talking about this issue with my wife’s boss, the hotel manager, over a coffee. A likable, highly intelligent and experienced man with over 25 years experience in the tourist industry. He explained that in his hotel/resort that the percentage of guest that complain works out at less than 4%. “Seems, such a small amount in a resort that has upwards of 1500 holiday makers a week staying in the Summer season” I offered to him. He agreed, however went on to tell me that this 4%, cost in the region of 80,000 US dollars a year in legal cost, translation cost, and time taken by hotel staff to deal with these crazy complaints – although was honest enough to explain that some guest had genuine cause to complain!

Continuing with the website, I decided to look up some other hotels that I had stayed at in recent years. Some hotels that had been excellent, some that had been adequate and some that had been not so great. However none that I had ever felt such a degree of discomfort as to ever publicly complain.  Smilingly, I was happy to see the the well worn phrase “ …..this is the worst hotel I have ever stayed in” plastered in criticism on various hotels. The prelude to this sentence is of course always “ I have stayed in hotels all over the world and…..”. I just love it when someone writes that! I visualize that the persons “all over the world” equates to once being forced into an overnight stay at a Travelodge of the M6 after their Ford Fiesta broke down on the way back from a Take That concert at the Manchester Arena! Their second “world travel adventure” probably being , Julie’s Hen night In Dublin and staying in a Bed and Breakfast run by a lovely Irish lady called Mrs Donelly!. Not so much Phileas Fogg but Phyllis Bog standard!

To balance the scales, one would love to see a website set up by Hoteliers the world over entitled Great summaries of guest could be shared the world over baring entry into any hotel they step foot in! One can only imagine with joy at some of the entries:

GUEST NAME: Mikael Zblovaninch
COUNTRY of BIRTH: Bulgaria
HOTEL:  Black Eagle Hotel, Fethiye
DATE: 2.06.2012 – 16.06.2012

This tiresome individual stayed in our hotel during the dates above. Unfortunately it seemed that the gentleman has some type of allergy to water, thus it seems, making it unable for him to shower or wash during his stay with us. This allergy did not extend to all liquid post items though as proved by his ability to consume Vodka and cola from dawn to dusk. His inability to use the lavatory in the room still baffles us, unfortunately in his vodka induced slumber he seems to have  mistakenly understood that his bed was for urinating in – much to the discomfort of the chambermaids who had to endure changing urine soaked sheets day in and day out! I would not allow this man to stay in a Cattery let alone a hotel!

GUEST NAME: Trevor (our kid) McNally and family
COUNTRY of BIRTH: Liverpool, England
HOTEL:  Hotel California, Palma, Mallorca
DATE: 7.09.2012 – 21.09.2012

 Mr McNally, and his family, wife and seven children stayed with us recently. In all my years as a hotelier I have never witnessed such chaos caused by one family. I am writing this one week after their stay and have had to close the hotel to enable emergency redecoration of the premises. Taking the “all inclusive” concept to the maximum, the McNally family decided to attempt to drink the hotel dry of every alcoholic beverage held in our hotel. Unfortunately this included the children right down to seven year old “Kenny junior” who then on joining the child’s area removed the other guest children’s private property with menaces and at knifepoint!. The McNally family are a living and walking advert as to why contraceptional drugs should be induced at birth to some specimens of humankind!.

To counteract this seemingly need to voice and bemoan at the slightest thing that some guest seem obliged to do – usually with photographic evidence.,my wife’s hotel recently made a startling observation. It transpired that guest who had experienced a lack of respect or a problem checking in on arrival would in all likelihood hate everything about the hotel from that moment on.  Take for example a German guest that arrived last year. On arrival he was confronted with thirty other guest checking in and out at the same time. Forced to wait his turn, he unfortunately had to wait slightly longer than one would want to – 15 minutes to be precise! After 15 minutes his camera came out to take a photo of the queue in front of him, and from that moment on his Sony point and shoot never left his hand. The whole two weeks of this man’s Summer holiday, that had cost him and his wife over 2000 Euros, was spent on the hunt for any annoyance, hitch and disagreement he could discover.

On his return to his homeland he filed a court case against the hotel in a thirty – yes thirty, page document which included over one hundred indiscretions. From the minor “the “<” symbol of the volume button on the TV remote control had worn away to the major “there was a main sewer pipe running from the hotel beach into the sea where human excrement spewed into those swimming around”. All with photographic evidence. Of the hundred complaints he had raised only two were seen to be legitimate by the court. In fact, on inspection,the sewer that he had so carefully photographed transpired to be a water pipe that took spring water, good enough to consume, from the mountains behind the hotel into the sea and fully 700 meters away on a public beach!

The man had made one very big error though, in his wisdom he had decided to log every single complaint on a public travel website, similar to tripadvisor with all his photographic evidence. As I write this, the owners have counter filed a defamation and libel case against the man – and are expecting to win! Who can blame them and I for one hope they do.

How a German guest saw the hotel beach!

The reality!

The complaints do not always arrive by legal notice though. Sometimes they are instant and face to face with the hotel staff themselves. In the years my wife has worked in the hotel industry, she has been called every name that you could ever imagine. Along with being threatened with extreme violence. Then an occasion witnessed by my own eyes, had to stand patiently and unflinching as some vodka soaked Ukrainian woman screamed into her face “ I will make sure you are fired for this, you uneducated woman”.  This coming the day after my wife had had to witness the brains of a Russian woman splattered all over the tiled floor of the hotel swimming pool, who had decided that she would end her life by diving head first from five floors up! I better point out my wife is fully educated with a degree in tourism management and speaks four languages…and obviously has the patient of a saint!

Why do people make such an effort to seek out trouble and complain though?. I guess every person living on this planet wants to become stronger, more resourceful and if possible superior to others. People have varying ways of doing things, some people do it by making extraordinary achievements others do it by putting people down while a third group does it by complaining. Maybe in the hotel environment it is paradoxically a way to hide their own self worth. Witnessing others all around enjoying themselves, interacting with others fills them with a self pitying realization that they do not have the social and personal skills to simply enjoy . Their reaction is to fill that lack of self worth with their ability to complain. People can be divided into two main groups, the first are the ones who keep complaining and blaming the world for their mistakes while the second are the ones who take responsibility for anything that happens in their lives. Thankfully the majority of humankind are in the later!

So, if anyone reads this who is thinking of holidaying in the beautiful country of Turkey – or anywhere else comes to that. Before you show discontent at that waiter or waitress who has bought you the wrong drink in a “couldn’t care less” manor, keep this in your mind before showing your anger by complaining. The cost of your two weeks holiday is probably the equivalent of six months salary to that waiter or waitress! Before venting your anger at reception because your air condition is not cold enough, think that the poor receptionist maybe in the middle of an eighteen hour shift! Before, you decide to throw a complaint that room service has forgotten to remove your dirty towels, think that the woman maybe has been working for twelve hours and still has to find time to feed her children when she arrives home!

Just one last thing, for any German readers, do not take it to heart regarding the example of the German guest and his Sony. My wife happily tells me that the vast majority of German guest are polite, warm, friendly and respectful . They worse nationality for complaints is in fact closer to home and is.............well I will let you guess!

Happy Holidays



  1. You've summed this up so well Westy. My husband has worked in hotels on and off for many years and I have experienced a lot of this. Often they are what I call the professional complainers. Their purpose is not to enjoy a holiday but to spend their precious time finding fault with everything.

    The complaints you quote don't surprise me at all, ridiculous as they are, and I recall guests in a hotel in Side complaining to reception about the call to prayer at dawn, and asking if it could please be switched off.

    I'm constantly amazed at what customers expect from their very cheap all-inclusive deals. You don't just get what you paid for, but in most cases of AI deals here, you get far more than you are ever likely to get elsewhere...but still they complain.

    And still throughout it all, the poorly paid Turkish hotel employees, on 12 plus hours a day shifts, keep smiling, keep serving to the best of their ability...I don't know how they do it..I wouldn't last one day with British tourists...yes British in the main, I assume you were referring to them.

  2. The professional complainers are in abundance and after programs like that Ann Robinson program in the UK, the name of which escapes me, they came out like rashes on the tourism industry - all looking for financial gain! What people tend to forget is that ths never ending circle of fault finding pushes up their holiday insurance premiums!

    You are right at the cost of package holidays, I had an email this week from Thomas Cook offering a weeks stay in a 4 star resort in Bodrum for 380 pounds - flights included! Then they arrive and expect to be staying at the Ritz! word - IDIOTS!

    Actually and luckily maybe, at my wife's hotel there are few British that come. So, I was referring to someone closer to "home" for the worst comlainers:). On the reverse of that, according to her the best guest for never complaining, always polite and understanding are Iranians!

    1. Ah yes...I get what you mean by those closer to home. I agree, in their case they actually expect something for nothing, and they hate spending money!

  3. They are an absolute nightmare Ayak apparently :)..Maybe your husband can confirm that:)

  4. For many years I ran a villa rental company which specialised in properties on beaches. A woman once opened her balcony door, looked at the 180 degree sea and beach view and said " I can't stay here, it makes me claustrophobic surrounded by all this sea and sand". A few years later, I had to move a couple because the woman couldn't walk on the beach in her stiletto heals.

  5. It all sounds very strange to me... We quite often book hotels through bookings com (or whatever it's called) and they always ask you to review. We do try to be positive.... We think hotel staff put up with an awful lot (a couple of times we have been shown into rooms which were not made up and the mess some guests make of hotel rooms is.... indescribable).

    At the same time, part of my old job at one point in time was looking after complaints at a very large NHS Trust (made up of three quite well known London hospitals). A bit different, I think, because one of the rules was that you couldn't go through a formal complaints procedure and legal proceedings at the same time... So, whilst one or two people undeniably 'tried it on' our philosophy had to be that every complaint was worth the time and effort of investigation.

    After all those years of attempting to persuade clinicians to be more 'customer focused' it's amusing to see what the end results of customer focus in a customer focused industry appear to be.


  7. @Annie - Nothing would surprise me anymore Annie, we are talking with humankind..everything is possible :)... Stiletto on the beach though fantastic:)

  8. @Omentide- I think that is the problem, most people do attempt to be positive, and at the end of the day, what better environment to be positive then on holiday. Unfortunately, it seems that sometimes holidays can be just as stressful as moving for some people. They want every single thing to be perfect and like a house of cards when one thing fails, according to them it all fails and the complaints run in !!

  9. Mack - How so true that little cartoon is - I suggest everyone looks at it. Maybe a comic scenario but an element of truth in it!

  10. We all can understand the need and right to complain about products and services that do not meet our personal satisfaction standards. But, lately, I've noticed that even though we as humans tend to complain much faster than we praise, complaints have escalated dramatically.

    I've thought a lot about why this is happening and came up with a lot of reasons, but the primary ones appear to me to be one, the ease and speed with which we can now complain online.

    How To Complain

  11. Hi Rayan - I think you have a point that a Complain culture has started in Europe. Especially in the UK, where it has taken the American ideal of "complain and win= money". We, of course have a general right to complain if something is not as promised or the service offered is well below the standard required. I have done it myself in restaurants - for fear of food poisoning. However, in hotels people seem to think because they have paid a certain amount of money that every single thing must be perfect. That is never going to be the case though. Some people are wise enough to accept that and get on and enjoy themselves. Others, are not and prefer to allow a trivial problem to escalate into a massive problem and ruin their own holiday.