Monday, March 19, 2012

Bali. - accommodation woos

Well after three flights and 12 hours I arrived in Bali. It was 11pm and absolutely pouring with rain. The one thing I had not researched well was that both Phuket and Bali are rather large islands made up of a number of beach communities that are not all that close together So one really needs to know ahead of time where they might want to settle in.
I had purchased a groupon voucher for a luxuriant one bedroom apartment with a garden terrace to enjoy exotic balese for 7 days in seminyak (close to seminyak in the fine print). I paid $475 and the value was stated at $1169.
The accommodation included airport transfers which I was very happy about given the hour and the fact that I had no idea where seminyak was located. The ride was about 45 minutes and then we turned on to a very bumpy dirt road and stopped outside my accommodation. No check in they just took me to my room a studio suite- I decided I would wait until the next morning to tell them I should be in a one bedroom apartment.
The next morning I went for breakfast that was included with the accommodation. It consisted of juice, coffee, toast, fried rice and eggs and there was no milk for the coffee.
I then told them there must be some mistake as I should be in a one bedroom. They agreed and said they would talk to the people in the one bedroom and move them into the studio. I watch the people from the one bedroom leave without anyone talking to them and when they were gone the staff switched the rooms. YUK!
Everywhere in Asia even the cheapest hotels give you bottled water - not these folks it is water in a wine carafe sitting in the bathroom. Let's talk bathroom no hot water to shower, sink with ring around drain, ring on floor around toilet and there was a horrible sewage smell coming from the drains This was actually not a one bedroom but one large room with an area for the bed and a living room/kitchen area. The garden terrace was two patio stepping stones with a few shrubs and no chair to sit on but believe me you would not want to sit there as the view was the cement back wall of the kitchen. I will say the rooms were clean and the staff were very nice.
The pool was nice nothing special but small and because there were no grounds the pool was beside the dirty street - ok there was a wall for separation. This was not the luxury accommodation I was expecting.
So I thought I would calm down by walking the 15 minutes on the back roads to the beach.
I was greeted at the beach with a sign that said and I quote 'tsunami danger zone' use beach at your own risk. You guessed it no one was on the beach and there were huge waves crashing on the shore. Actually the beach did not hold a candle to those in Australia.
On my way back to the hotel I looked for a small village or somewhere that I might be able to get a meal. There was no where close and at night the streets have no lights so it was going to be impossible for me to stay here as apparently seminyak is 20 minutes away by taxi.
I sent an email to groupon about my displeasure and got an immediate reply that they would look into the situation.
In the meantime I overhead the reception staff offer a couple of girls a room for $50 a night. I asked what the rate of my room for a week was and she told me $457 - I paid more on groupon and passed i immediately this information on to groupon. This accommodation was not luxuriant and was not a value of $1169 as they advertised.
I went into seminyak and was really not very impressed. Lots of overpriced boutiques. Sidewalks were horrendous to walk on as there were huge holes everywhere (guess they do not have a sidewalk program here). I decided I would not be staying in this part of bali and would look for other accommodation.
I took a taxi from seminyak back to the hotel. I gave the guy the hotel brochure which included a map and he could not find the place. So here I am in a taxi alone at night in nowhere Bali.
When we finally got back to the hotel (it cost me more as the meter was running as the taxi driver was searxhing for the hotel) I stayed up until 3am on the Internet looking for other accommodation and was able to secure an ocean view room at the Aston Bali in nusa dua for $100 a night. This time I checked the reviews on trip adviser and they were all great.
To date groupon has offered me half the value of my voucher in a groupon credit which I have declined and asked for a refund - the do not answer my emails I email them about twice day. I found a website with other unhappy groupon users and it appears this is their MO to deal with complaining customers. I will not go away - I am retired and have all the time in the world to pursue this issue.
Lesson learned - when booking any kind of accommodation do your research. Do not believe what these coupon websites say. Unless you already know the reputation of the accommodation, go to trip adviser and check them out. People write good , honest reviews and I have never been disappointed. Where I went wrong was this accommodation did not have a review (it does now!) don't purchase if there is no review.

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