Feickert & Co.

                                              Learning & Development



  Mystery Guest Program

5 Star Mystery Guests


***** Hotel
Star rating:3 star
Date of Visit: 24th July 2008
Room number: 341

Requested services:
Staff; booking; check-in; food; ambience; hygiene; leisure centre; child-friendliness; check-out.


Booking - Internet booking process was smooth and simple. Telephone booking was prompt and helpful. No additional information was offered. Only when parking facilities were inquired about, was I told that there was a free space with each room.

Check-in - Calm and efficient. Only one room key offered. The receptionist refused when I requested a second one. She had poor knowledge of the surrounding area. See page 2

Staff - In general, with the exception of housekeeping, the majority of staff seemed uninterested in guest welfare. Several times I felt that I was being tolerated as a necessary evil. See page 2

Food - My evening meal was enjoyable and well presented. Hard to believe I was in the same hotel that served such a disappointing breakfast. Breakfast waiting staff appeared totally uninterested in their work. The meal was very poor in both service and food content. Food temperatures of the sausages was below 64 degrees. Room service menu was short, but the food was well presented. However, 40 minutes was too long a wait for this to be served . See page 3

Ambience - Good location. Nice façade. Hotel lobby is very impressive but this turned out to be the only good impression. A problem with the lift, which will not rise with more than 3 people in it, while adding character to the hotel, must be addressed. The leisure centre has a particularly unwelcome feel about it. See page 3

Hygiene - Generally good in all areas, exceptions being a stained mattress on the bed and grubby looking gym equipment. Some chewing gum stuck under bar tables. See page 3

Leisure centre - very cramped. Gym equipment so close together it looked like a shop display. Pool slightly bigger than a plunge pool. The picture on the website is very deceiving. Only 1 staff member on duty. Majority of gym users (young men) were familiar with each other and did not appear to be residents. I felt like an intruder in somebody else’s club. See page 3

Child-friendliness - Two children stayed, a girl aged 11 and a boy aged 15. They did not enjoy their stay at *****. Reception did not inform us on arrival that children could not use pool after 6.30. Therefore they were refused on entry to leisure centre and were embarrassed. I was quite angry at this treatment because the pool was empty at the time. They were ignored by waiting staff twice at breakfast when they asked for tea. See page 4

Check-out - Unremarkable. Bill well presented. Unhelpful about bus times or taxis.


The receptionist (Karen) was reasonably friendly and efficient. I was disappointed to be offered only one room key when I had two children with me. However, she did stress that it was hotel policy and I felt if she could have helped me out she would have. I ‘lost’ my key within an hour and was promptly given another at the desk. Her knowledge of Sydney was poor but she had moved into the area only a week previously so I forgave her.

1a) Barman at 4pm (Ahmad) was functionally pleasant but spent all his free time watching TV (loud sport). He returned small change to me that I had left on the counter. His understanding of English was good but his pronunciation was so poor that conversation was very limited. He used one cloth to wipe both tables and ashtrays.
1b) Evening barman (Shane) gave service with a smile. He was helpful, honest and cheery. He enjoys working in ***** because the pay is reasonable, it funds his college life and management do not insist on him working long hours. The bar area was quiet but he went about his duties trying to look busy even when he wasn’t. He still kept one eye on the TV (loud sport again. Why?)
1c) Arrived for breakfast at 10.15am. Breakfast waiting staff did not appear to have sufficient English to get by or have much interest in the task at hand. There was no obvious supervisor of the breakfast room. Staff wandered in and out of the kitchen at a leisurely pace while I cleared a dirty table for my children and I to sit at. There were six free tables but all of them had been used. The buffet area was very untidy. Orange juice was all gone. When I asked for more I was refused. A pot of tea was eventually presented but we had finished our meal by this time.
1d) Evening meal was taken from the early bird menu a 7pm. We had two waiters at our disposal who were polite and helpful. I had a sense of being whizzed through the meal but this may be more a symptom of the early bird experience than any fault on the waiters’ part.
1e) Room service attendant hung around far too long when serving our snack. I got the distinct impression he was waiting for a tip but after waitning 40 minutes it was not to be...
1f) Housekeeping staff gained maximum points in all areas. A request for extra pillows was dealt with immediately. A passing member of the housekeeping staff saved us from being trapped in the lift. All were friendly and cheerful when greeted on the corridor. They appeared to be efficient and busy at all times. I observed one lady attempting to carry a heavy pile of linen down a flight of stairs. Her view was restricted by the load and I felt this may have been a health and safety risk.
1g) The reception area of ***** is spacious both inside and outside the counter. Every time I passed there seemed to be four or more staff behind the desk. Yet if I had a query I felt I was a nuisance, interrupting their busy schedule.
1h) Management were invisible.

2a)Buffet breakfast may be ideal in terms of staff convenience but at 10.15am it is not a pretty sight. Meats were dried under the warming lamps but below a suitable temperature for eating. The sausages were below 64 degrees, recommended by HA. The toast was cold. Tables were dirty and service was atrocious. This meal was the most negative influence on my stay in *****.
2b)The early-bird evening meal was taken in deference to a later time as families tend to veer towards reasonable prices. Meals were well-presented and adequately cooked basic fare. The children were content with the children’s menu selection but nothing excited them either. It was enjoyable but not particularly worthy of praise.
2c)Room service menu was short but also varied. The Toasted Special was well presented and tasty. If not for the slow service (40 mins) it would have been perfect.

***** façade is imposing. Its towering height on a narrow street contributes to this. The main entrance lobby maintains this theme with its spaciousness and elegant chandeliers. It has an old world feel about it that dwindles as one delves in further. By check-out time it just felt old.
Internal signposting is erratic. I had difficulty locating my bedroom. During my stay I directed three business clients who were searching for a conference room. Our bedroom (internal) had a large seascape mural painted on one curtained wall. As a replacement for a window it was a forward-thinking idea but does not compensate for a view and fresh air. I noted several graffiti marks (swimmers shouting for help etc) had been drawn by previous guests.
The bar was quiet and sadly lacking any atmosphere. Loud television is not conducive to a lounge bar unless by guest request. A juke box was available but its sound was overpowered by the TV. Drink prices were very reasonable for a city centre hotel.

Hygiene at ***** was excellent in all areas except the leisure centre. One mattress in the bedroom was stained in a minor way. There was a mattress protector covering this but it does not rectify the problem.
The gym equipment had a distinctly second-hand look about it, maybe from over-use. Many items need replacing if they cannot be cleaned to satisfaction, particularly the exercise bikes. The leisure centre reception area was very untidy.
I found chewing gum under more than one table in the bar.

Leisure centre:
Some of the wallpaper at the entrance is torn and tatty looking. The reception area is cluttered and narrow. The leisure centre felt more like a boxers gym than a hotel facility. I felt uncomfortable (without prejudice) being surrounded by a large group of youths and left within 15 minutes. The gym equipment has seen better days and the floor covering needs replacing. Pool area, jacuzzi and changing rooms were acceptable.

Child friendliness:
Two children stayed overnight in the hotel, a girl aged 11 and a boy aged 15. They were looking forward to some shopping in the city and using the hotel swimming pool, which they had viewed on the hotel’s website. After check-in we shopped until closing time and decided to swim before dinner. However, we were turned away as children are not allowed in the pool after 6pm, even though the pool was empty at the time. If we had been informed at reception on arrival of this rule it would have been partly forgivable.
When one child was sent to reception to ask for tourist information he was fobbed off with a pointed finger to a pile of brochures on a nearby table. His specific question was not answered.

Overall impressions and conclusion

I would not recommend this hotel to a friend. My lasting impression is one of nonchalance on the part of staff. They were often unhelpful and unwelcoming (with the exception of housekeeping and one barman). ***** is not geared for children. They were disappointed with the pool size and availability, and were largely ignored by staff. Breakfast at ***** should only be tolerated once!

1. A complete overhaul of breakfast.
2. Repair the lift.
3. Check and clean/replace stained mattresses.
4.Improve staff attitudes. What can you do to make them look happy and obliging? Do you have any incentive schemes, or staff suggestion or feedback forums? Are your lower-rung staff made to feel inclusive in the day to day running of *****?
5. Retrain reception staff. They need to be nice.
A dedicated on-duty receptionist with tourist knowledge would be feasible in a hotel of this size.
6.Improve foreign staff language skills.
7.Do not mislead families with pool size and swim times for children.

Training Recommendations:

1. Frontline Management - Supervisors

2. Customer Service Training - Reception & Breakfast Staff

3. Communication Skills

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