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Fri 10 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Hotelier Middle East Monthly Update - 14 June 2005

The great divide|~||~||~|The gulf that exists between Dubai’s sparkling five-star product and the allegedly four-star independents to be found out of the city and away from the Sheikh Zayed road was once again brought to my attention on a recent weekend trip to the emirate of Umm Al Quwain.

The property in question, naming no names of course, promoted itself as a ‘leading hotel in the UAE’. Misleading was more to the point. This mediocre hotel with a somewhat generous star rating of four managed to tick every single box on the ‘guest dissatisfaction list’ and showed the disparity that exists between international chains with stringent brand standards and stand-alone hotels that answer only to a profit-conscious owner.

First on the list: room ready on arrival? Despite turning up at the designated time for check-in, a shocking one-hour wait greeted us on arrival, as housekeeping went to lunch before returning to give a 10-minute clean to our room.

The room itself, clean or otherwise, left plenty to the imagination. ‘Our guests feel at home’ the information had said. Ready to go home was how we felt. Cheaply furnished and poorly maintained, the one plus point was an unobstructed view of the beach.

The beachfront location was, undoubtedly, the prime selling point of the resort. And watching the security guard hot-footing it across the sand to ask non-resident young men to leave the private beach certainly scored high on the entertainment score. Which was more than could be said for the ‘entertainment’ advertised for the ‘Glittering and elegant bar and deluxe restaurant’ we unwittingly went in search of that evening.

Food and beverage options included a canteen-style Lebanese restaurant located outside of the resort, and a coffee shop at reception serving buffet and promising a la carte. However, the waiting staff had obviously never heard of a la carte before, as we were met with puzzled stares when we asked for a menu. And when we did finally manage to place our order we were informed that everything we wanted was not available. Back to the buffet then, and a room-temperature bottle of white wine. As for the live entertainment billed? I think we were it.

Yes, the service was shoddy, the room was below par, and the food nothing to write home about. Yet, the most surprising, and puzzling, thing about this hotel was that it was running at 100% occupancy and charging a room-rate Jumeirah beach properties would have been proud of.
Strangely, the general manager was on his break when we asked to see him before checking out. ||**||

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