A Lesson in Misrepresentation
(This article was written following a visit in 2004. Since that date the management have 'strongly requested' (and more recently issued threats,) that the article be removed from the site. However, no apology has ever been offered, nor has there been any offer of compensation for what was, in reality, a total misrepresentation of the facilities available and gross exageration of the quality of the hotel. Over the intervening period some things may have changed, but the management has not, so the article remains as a warning to travellers)
When you have been travelling the globe for formore than 50 years on business and for pleasure, one remaining dream must be for a hotel to bring together all the best features you have seen in others. For a hotel to bring together most of the worst features is the nightmare we all hope will never happen! Agia Napa's 5-Star Grecian Bay, featured in the Thomas Cook Select brochure, is that nightmare! The TC advertisement shows 5 stars, two of which are dimmed. The designer was unwittingly correct, this is a 3-star hotel with a few 5-star features and more than a few 1-star. The 'dimming' repesents the management.
When you approach a hotel reception desk, you can get a good impression of what the rest of the hotel will be like. A smiling and friendly staff usually indicates that they are confident about what they offer and do not spend a good proportion of their day taking flak from the residents. At Grecian Bay, the only smiling face was the doorman, concierge or porter; the only person other than the receptionist on duty front of house. Presumably he meets all three roles. The receptionist was dour and uncommunicative with that 'if you find any problems do not call me' face. Indeed, she could well have trained on the immigration desk at Moscow airport. On the desk, on 17th March, was the Yahoo long-range weather forecast for the week starting 14th March. Although most one-star hotels update these daily, Grecian Bay still had the same forecast on the desk up to 24th March, despite being asked on several occasions if it could please be updated.
Thomas Cook(TC) has a local representative named Bill. He was very sensibly conspicuous by his absence. The usual welcome pack was not in the room, though the promised complimentary gift comprising two apples and two oranges (total value 20p) was there! A TC board in the agent's area gives false details; we got into trouble with the Limassol office because we contacted them, despite their number being the contact number on the board. Lee, of Limassol, called us to confirm our transfer and left us in no doubt that we were rather stupid for needing to contact him in the first place. It is easy to see why Bill keeps away from this hotel.
In a prosaic advertising brochure the hotel promises A home away from home.( If you live in a squat in Hackney it might just be) Each of these luxurious spacious guestrooms (sic), feature soft colours, natural wood and exclusive toiletries to complement the breathtaking views from the private balconies The reality? Bedrooms were generally quite good on first appearance. It is surprising how wrong first impressions can be. In place of a wardrobe with doors, there was a recess covered by a curtain. A rail and 10 coat hangers, some of them wire, were provided. Our next-door neighbours needed extra hangars which, after some discussion, the hotel provided in the form of a hand full of assorted plastic hangars left behind by departing guests. A service one dreams of? There was a television, meeting the hotels advertising of satellite television. Unfortunately the only available channels were the free ones with just BBC World for UK viewers. However, this was not a problem as the reception was so bad for most of the time that the urge to seek the news quickly departed. The Germans came off best with three channels with the Italians second with two. As a German speaker I was OK, but the majority of UK victims would not be. One would expect a 5-star hotel to provide a wide range of channels with antennae that can ensure good reception. Sky is available in local tavernas, but they have only visitors and not prisoners.
Electric sun blinds and light-proof curtains wereprovided. Unfortunately, a 3-inch gap at either end of the curtains ensured a permanent pillar of light throughout the night.
Comfortable beds were a good feature, but mattresses were stained and pillows were dirty to the extent that the pillowcases quickly became stained from the inside. We bought a couple of pillows in a local shop to overcome the problem. The valance around the bottom of the bed was covered in mildew where a wet mop had caused it to become damp and under the bed there were the remains of nuts eaten by previous guests (from the state of the room, Gibbons perhaps), sitting like small mountains in the accumulated dust. As our week progressed the dust accumulated on the bed-head and on top of the television cabinet.
Each morning Beds were thrown together rather than made and water glasses were not changed on several occasions. On one occasion a bed cover was used, but was not folded by staff the next morning, it was probably the: "you used it, you fold it syndrome!"
Grecian Bay Bathrooms would be a disgrace in a three-star hotel. They are very small and the shower is hooked on the wall over the small bath. In a five-star facility a separate shower cabinet is expected. Tile grout was mildew covered, despite both tiles and bath having been painted with some form of matt paint to cover the cracked and damaged tiles. Tap fittings are not flush with the wall. When the toilet roll expired it was not replaced and a personal face flannel was removed from the bathroom and never recovered. The next day a hotel flannel was also removed leaving just one. which it was felt prudent to hide!
Balconies are certainly private, but there any resemblance to the brochure description is effectively ended. The view was of the graffiti covered back end of a block of apartments, a steam tank, an oil tank and a pile of broken chairs. It was certainly a breathtaking view but of the asthmatic rather than the gratifying type. To get the acceptable breathtaking-view substantial extra payment is required; it is not the norm.
The Mini Barwas well stocked with very expensive drinks. We were not surprised when we returned to our room to find a bill for C£8.20 (£9.50 sterling) for a couple of drinks that we had not consumed. The defensive receptionist cancelled the charge, but was not very forthcoming when asked whether such matters were investigated. Her only explanation was "perhaps it wasn't properly stocked when you arrived". Given the sloppy management of this hotel, that could just conceivably be the case. More likely is that the cleaners take a drink to get them through dealing with their impossible task.
West wing corridors were a mess, with grubby carpets and partially unsound structure. In one area there was Ivy growing through a window, in another, large ceiling tiles were missing and at one point an area of ceiling plaster about a metre across fell to the ground where guests walk. On 24th March I narrowly missed embarrassment when a large spotlight bulb fell from the reception lobby ceiling and exploded at my feet. That caused merriment among the front of house staff. It's probably the only laugh they get!.
On 22nd March, we decided to sit and read the Sunday papers in a comfortable chair in the substantial lounge. No way! It would have been most inconsiderate to disturb the painters working on one of the walls! Indeed, in many areas of the hotel occupied by guests, there were workmen with ladders. We could not work out whether they were employed or simply guests trying to bring the area up to some sort of acceptable standard.