Attention to Detail
As you may have seen from my Twitter feed I have recently enjoyed a few days break in Belfast. Belfast? Yes Belfast. Not a place you often hear of on the top city break destinations. I too was a bit dubious when my other half suggested it.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Belfast has so much going for it – architecture, shopping, history, great vegan and vegetarian food (at almost every restaurant!), The Titanic Quarter and interesting walks taking you through the troubles from both view points. And the people. They are lovely and friendly and really do give you a warm welcome.
Our hotel was brilliantly placed – close to transport links, the heart of the city and in easy reach of the sights. We had pushed the boat out for this trip and booked a five star hotel. On entering it was plush, inviting and very organised. Suitcases disappeared, maps handed out to help with our planned excursions, we were made to feel welcome and comfortable. It felt like luxury. But to an extent that is where it stopped.
At breakfast each morning we were left searching for spoons to eat cereal with, or jam for toast. The restaurant was designed with booths and larger tables. The booths were lovely – giving you some privacy, however also putting you out of sight, making it easy for staff to forget you had asked for something, or were ready to order.
The designer rooms were great and very comfortable (decorated in the current fashion for dark colours) but some items left us wondering. The light system was so confusing we usually had a short disco sequence trying to switch them on or off. A tea tray in a cupboard which was too heavy to pull out and manoeuvre from the small space it is stored in And the only place to put it down is on the other side of the room. The bathroom was beautiful and spacious but in some cases impractical – only one flannel for two people, toilet roll holder in one of those positions that make you feel you should take up those yoga classes. A candle holder with matches in it, but no candle to light, until our last day. At the evening room turndown it was pot luck whether or not chocolates turned up. OK some of these are first world problems and not the end of the world. But they are below expectations. And all of it down to a lack of attention to detail.
But the bit that really made me angry was the waste. The compulsory leaflet saying please help us save the world by not wanting your towels washed every day was superseded by changing the small soap bar everyday. A small bar, in a plastic wrapper, inside a cardboard box was replaced everyday even though we never got close to using it up. It would have quite easily lasted for the whole of our trip. And we would not have minded. In addition we would come back most days to find the air conditioning on full, the windows open and all the lights on.
Honestly do they think that washing towels less is going to make the difference?
On looking at the hotel website there is no published environmental policy, so I haven’t been able to check reality against their goals in this area.
I know the hotel star rating system is mainly judged on the amenities at the venue and the mix of rooms, however I think we all expect service to go with it. A little more thought, joined up thinking and attention to detail at all levels could have really made our stay special.
Instead it was good.
But not special.
And I think special is what you aim for when you pay over the odds for any product or service.