Early in the year I bought a hotel package deal. Nothing special there – I know a lot of people who buy daily deals, groupons etc. but this was my first deal and I have to say I was a little exited about it.
The deal was from boards.ie and it was for a nights stay in the Prince of Wales in Athlone with dinner for two, a bottle of wine, breakfast and a late checkout. The price? 79 euro. Bargain. It was from boards.ie but it could have been from anyone.
I rang in May looking for a Friday night but couldn’t get a Friday Night – “All the Friday & Saturday nights for boards vouchers were gone”. I also rang in June & July and got the same response. It seemed only mid-week slot were available which doesn’t suit most people. With the voucher due to expire in September I decided we would use it when we got back from holidays .. to help us ‘adjust’ into the Irish Summer.
I booked it for a Thursday night. The Prince of Wales (if you google them) states it’s a recently refurbished four star hotel but it doesn’t really have the facilities that you expect for a 4 star hotel. If you put the Sheraton (also 4 star) beside the PoW it’s hard to understand why the Prince of Wales is a four star hotel.
We checked in fine, the receptionist asked what time we’d like to reserve our meal for – we agreed 8pm. The room, on the 2nd floor, was clean and typically what you get from Irish hotels today. The room was a little stuffy so we opened the window to get some fresh air. The window looked out over the square and towards the entrance of the town shopping centre and consisted of a main window and a second separate sliding window.
Around 8pm we went to have our dinner. We headed towards the Restaurant but we were told it was closed and that we could have our meal in the Pub arena. The pub had the usual combination of high tables and low tables with plenty of televisions showing a championship soccer match on all of them.
There wasn’t many tables left as most people were having a drink so we ended up under a large flatscreen TV – not ideal as you think most people are staring at you! We got menus only to find out the usual menu wasn’t the menu for voucher holders. The voucher menu didn’t really have a great choice but we found something to eat. Having dressed up a little bit we felt a little overdressed in the pub to be honest.
The bottle of wine was a very cheap and cheerful Cono-Sur bottle which retails about 5euro but listed as 18euro in the wine list.
The mushroom soup starter was dire, one of the main courses (beef) was dry and tasteless. The other main course (chicken) was fine but the vegetables were over cooked and soggy. Desert wasn’t anything to write home about either.
As we were finishing up we noticed the pub was starting to fill up with people out for the night – as it turns out the Prince of Wales has a nightclub and it swung into full swing by midnight. We went back to the room and the noise from the people coming and going was booming into our room with the windows opened so they had to be closed. With no air-con the room was hot & stuff and not conducive to sleep. Also the low-frequency booms from the nightclub music didn’t help at all in getting some sleep.
It was about 3am when the music had stopped , the people had gone home and when we eventually got some piece and quite.
Not being happy campers we left early in the morning without the breakfast . Being a bit peeved with the whole experience and just wanted to get out of the place as quickly as possible and promising never to return.
It’s left me very wary of hotels that advertise via daily deals, I also put my hands up that I didn’t do my research either – the Prince of Wales on their homepage advertise the nightclub and hen parties – so the moral of the story is beware of the deal that seems too good to be true and do your research!!
Putting my mini-rant aside – the bigger picture is that hotels could be getting a quick revenue injection from deals like this but if the experience is bad it will hurt them in the long run. A bad customer experience will ensure that customer doesn’t return and tells other people of how bad it was and to avoid them. The exact opposite is also true – so hotels – if you’re listening – get it right. Give Friday/Saturday nights, open the restaurant, give good food and wine.. and for the love of gaud put guest miles away from the noise if you have to have a nightclub!