Here’s the situation:
1. This 5 star boutique property just off Al Hamra and costs approximately USD 650 a night.
2. My husband and I booked an overnight getaway to celebrate a personal milestone in our lives, and to make up for a trip that we couldn’t make because of work.
3. We choose this hotel because booking.com clearly states ‘barbecue’ along with ‘air conditioning, hair dryer, alarm clock, etc’ right under ‘Room Facilities’. In fact, if you refer to images below, you will see that I’ve asked them about it and they’ve responded saying the ‘Cook it yourself’ barbecue is coal and not electric. (hold on to this point, it’s important).
4. To stay true to the honeymoon series, this trip was entirely paid for by us and the request for ‘something special’ was made, without highlighting the blog at any point.
So let’s start with what impressed…The room.. was.. stunning. The concept of a getaway with chalets and private pools is amazing. We also had the opportunity to visit the other Banyan Tree Property where we could try our hand at archery, meet falcons and desert owls.
What Depressed.. I think my extra detailed narration of our stay may answer this for you.
There was no communication about a boat needing to take us to the hotel. We got to the area and there is barely any signage on where we need to go. After asking Hilton’s valet guys, we are told to park next door and ‘look for a boat’. Post parking our car, we get on a boat full of staff working at the hotel. We walk in to the reception still carrying most of our bags except one trolley bag that was taken by a staff member.
In my husband and my fairly vast experience of boutique hotels, we have noticed that one of the best qualities of a boutique hotel is the fact that there is more staff per guest and that they always strive to personalise the experience for their guests. This did not come through at Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach. We did stay at the Waldorf a month prior to this and despite being more ‘cookie cutter’ in nature, we were known as Mr and Mrs Tandon by almost every client facing staff.
When we were taken to the room, someone was still cleaning up and preparing the bed. This isn’t a big deal, but shouldn’t have been the case. I have no problem with paying for facilities & amenities at a hotel. But to have something repeated over and over by the gentleman showing us our room is unacceptable. There was too much emphasis put on where the minibar and spa is, what the timings are and the attempt to incentivise with an AED 150 off voucher (valid on 1 massage only – may I lol at this point?).
What really upset me was actually point number 3 above. My husband and I have infinite memories of barbecuing during our time in Toronto together and we booked the room specifically for this facility. There was no communication on the fact that ‘Cook it Yourself’ is a AED 500 per couple service- so I just assumed that this was one of those exclusive chalets where you take meats and coal and have a fun time making your own meal. I felt absolutely foolish when we were informed that the bag of expensive steaks and meats that my husband and I picked up had to be wasted. I’m not upset with the idea of it being chargeable. It’s more that the fact that this was not communicated effectively and the post-check in behaviour of the staff member was inappropriate.
Final Fatal Mistakes that Sealed the Deal…
Broken remote in the room, coffee machine that refused to work, pitcher of alcohol delivered without glasses, room service food was beyond average (I had to send my steak back because I asked for medium and they brought me an over cooked rubbery TINY piece of meat- when they brought me the second one it was a larger steak but still rubbery)
My husband did ask them if they could do anything special for our special evening together. They provided us with a menu of ‘packages’ that in my opinion would’ve been a complete waste of money.
The hotel concept is absolutely amazing. But the lack of attention to detail, accountability, and service quality is not up to what you would consider 5 star hospitality. Visit the hotel if USD1200+ a night is chump change for you. Don’t do it otherwise.