Ibis Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Having visited this place several times I kind of new what to expect. Ibis is a semi-budget business hotel group which fills the market between 4-5 Star and the lower end of the market. Its operates by having new buildings with very clean but very basic architecture that are easy and cheap to maintain. Services and facilities are no frills specification but the necessary facilities for business travellers are there. Clean, good bed, good shower, internet and sometimes a little extra like a swimming pool. No spas or fancy gardens etc.
The group must also have strict limits on what it will pay for staff and training because despite the very basic nature of the services, expectations of customers and simple nature of equipment they seem to struggle with consistency.
Again, despite complaining about it on two previous visits the wifi connection is very poor. If you use an ethernet cable from the sockets provided in the lobby you have no trouble but if you try to use the wifi you are lost. So slow that using broadband test software the download speed registers as zero and upload at 60Kbps (about 10 times slower than the usual upload speed of broadband).
When I mentioned the wifi problem they seemed perplexed at yet so many people must have complained about it. "Tomorrow we will get someone to work on it." The same answer as last time and the time before. Obviously they use an outside contractor to reduce the payroll costs but whenever there is a problem, which is nearly always, the customer is never given a quick resolution.
It was the same with the room safe for storing your small valuables. The safe was locked closed when I arrived and so I couldn't use it. When I told reception they again looked perplexed and couldn't give any positive response like "We will send someone to correct this immediately". They staff seem to be unprepared for any of the usual "surprises" and give responses which give you no confidence that anything will be done to rectify the fault. I suspect they are running on a very low level of staffing. I could never get a positive answer to anything and there didn't seem to be a manager anywhere.
At breakfast at 06:30, half an hour after the breakfast start time, the hot food buffet didn't have any serving spoons and the plates were cold. Strangely they have a cup warmer but not a plate warmer. Understaffed restaurant from 06:00 to 07:00. As I found on previous visits the bread/toaster is in one corner and the jam and butter in another. This means that you have to keep crossing the flow of people who are coming for food or going for tea/coffee. Due to the poor layout there are bottlenecks which become obvious as the dining area fills up. Clumsy layout. The food is pretty bad and not enough variety of fruit. Very basic like a 2 star hotel.
I am copying and pasting about the room from a review I wrote about the Mumbai Ibis which I stayed in two days ago as the rooms are generic especially the bathroom which are semi pre-fabricated units:
The room was small but clean. Very comfortable bed and good room temperature. Good TV channels including CNN but no BBC. There was the usual small safe for valuables but this was locked shut. Good lighting. There is a lot of light from outside at night due to the street lights but the drapes are good quality and block out most of it. The floor is a fairly hard material, not carpet but clean and not cold. I prefer not to have carpets in tropical countries as with air conditioning there is a tendency to get mouldy smells so Ibis has definitely got this right.
The bathroom was small but very clean. Medium size, medium quality towels and toilet tissue. Quite plasticky feeling and reminded me of prefabricated bathroom units found in ships. There is a generic bathing-gel provided in a dispenser. No bars of soap or wasteful little bottles of bath gel, shampoo etc. I like this and it fits in with the clean but no frills budget business traveller niche that Ibis seem to be catering for. Very good water pressure and unlike the Mumbai branch the adjustable shower holder in this shower room was in good condition.
When I asked for the business card of the manager as I left they looked perplexed again! I wonder whether their understanding of English is sufficient and they are confused and embarrassed to show that they don't understand. My driver tried to explain to them in the Fang language but by then I had enough and just wanted to get to the airport.
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