One of my friends works for a Chinese government organisation which recently did a study on Chinese tourism to Australia. One of its findings was that Chinese tourists who visit friends and family here come again and again. They love it: there's so much to do here, and people are friendly, and the food's brilliant, and there's a lot to like.
But Chinese tourists who stay in hotels only come once, and don't come back. Before coming to Australia, they've stayed in hotels in China, which are generally great value for money, and have a reasonable level of attention to detail. And Australia isn't usually their first trip abroad: they've usually been to Thailand for their first holiday (because of the cheap flights and visa-free access), and Thai hotels set an extremely high bar. Then they get to Australia, and they're horrified by Australian hotels. They have to deal with indifferent service, extra charges for things like WiFi, appalling decor, cramped rooms, and poor facilities.
That's a general issue in Australia, but the Marlborough Motor Inn just typifies that set of problems.
My wife checked in for us while I stayed outside with the kids, so I don't know what the check-in experience was like.
We paid A$ 177 for one room with four beds. There was a double bed and two single beds, and almost no space at all between them. The beds had nasty 1980s bedspreads which made the whole room gloomy. There were two hideous table lamps on the bedside tables, and a horrible charity-shop picture of a clown on the wall. There was a small (maybe 18") TV, with a built-in DVD player. I had to re-tune the TV so that it could receive SBS. The hotel claims to have Austar, but I followed the instructions to get it, and it didn't work.
The heater worked some of the time in the evening (although it was broken and noisy). The staff told my wife that the heaters were centrally controlled: I assume this is why there was no heating during the day. We had to dry our wet ski clothes with hairdryers. There was one tiny bin in the bathroom and no bin in the room. The bathroom was so small that the sink had to be in the bedroom, by the front door. The bathroom (toilet and shower) was tiny and completely dark, unless you turned on the light and very noisy fan. The downside of turning the light on was that you could see the bathroom in all its glory: tiny, old, and tired.
I did meet a cleaner who was very friendly. But whoever designed and manages the rooms clearly had no respect for customers. The whole thing was slapped together with a "that'll do" attitude. It's not difficult or expensive to make a hotel room fresh, bright and comfortable, but like many Australian hotel owners, whoever owns the Marlborough clearly couldn't be bothered.
I accept that hotels in Cooma have to make all their money during the ski season, so I don't mind that I paid 50% more for a motel in Cooma than I did for the Sheraton Miyako in Tokyo (I choose that as a comparison because Australian hoteliers make the excuse of expensive labour and expensive land to justify their poor quality, so Tokyo is a good place to choose for comparison). But if I'm going to pay that much, I expect a hotel room that has seen some paint at some point this century, and that maybe has some post-1985 bedding.
On the plus side, the room was clean.
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- Also Known As:
- Best Western Cooma
- Cooma Best Western