First, the good: Staff is amazing. Kind, helpful, pamper the kids, and everywhere you turn there's another staffer looking to satisfy your needs.
We joined some family friends who were planning a weekend away from Beijing on the coast. They chose the hotel based on its location and outdoor swimming pool. They booked themselves a family room which they believed would be a suite. At the last minute, we decided to join them and all six of us took the bullet train out of BJ (just 4.5 hours!) We booked our room at the best price we could find which was approximately US$110 per night on eLong.com. The other sites were giving us a consistent US$338 which we would not have paid.
There was no hotel shuttle from the train station but the taxi queue was relatively short and the drivers knew the location which was a relief. We arrived at the hotel and a couple of the buildings are undergoing renovations so the taxi drivers let us off too soon. No matter; in seconds there were hotel staffers picking up our luggage and ushering us to the lobby in a different building. The desk staff found our reservations and when I said we'd love it if our room could be close to our friends' so the kids could play, the staff upgraded us to the nicer "The Distinguished Guests" building. So we wound up with a lovely room with a sea view, king bed and slanted window that had loads of carpeted space beneath for little girl slumber partying. The room was great and the price was still that same elong.com rate. Our friends family room was not a suite, however. It was a larger room with an extra bed. Still they were pleased with it and there were no complaints on that front.
We were greeted with cold washcloths, drinks and fruit as well. Every day, all the kids were given small stuffed animals, and that first day they got them at the lobby and two restaurants. The kids were thrilled. The moms were thinking we would've brought larger suitcases for the stuffies.
The Cantonese Restaurant in the building was yummy but a bit overpriced. The buffet breakfast, which was included with the room, was outstanding. It was obvious that people came there just for the Chinese, Western, Seafood. At dinner buffet, also very great, it included decent Australian Shiraz and also, of course, Tsingtao beer.
But now for the bad and the reason I can't give them 5 stars: I had read the reviews that mentioned room service was poor. I thought that must have been an old report because the staffing was so awesome and the food at the buffet and restaurant was good. So our last night I ordered my kid her standard room service fare: a club sandwich and fries. I asked the staffer on the phone if the sandwich came with fries and he said no, so I ordered a separate order of fries. When the food arrived, there was the sandwich and fries on one plate as well as an enormous separate plate of fries. So, I guess I wasn't making myself clear. [To be fair, I was speaking English and not Chinese to the staff since my Chinese is so unreliable. Alas, I might have been better off attempting to communicate in Chinese.] In any event, my daughter had about a quarter of the sandwich and set it aside. I happened to look over and notice the chicken breast looked funny. So I took it into the light and sure enough: it was undercooked. The middle of the chicken breast was completely raw. I could see that my kid has stopped short of the rawness but still. Not what a mom wants to see, ever, much less in China, much less when about to get on a train the next day. So I called the room service number and had a very very hard time getting across to the staff what had occurred. Ultimately, they said that they wanted to come up and see the sandwich and I said don't bother since we were getting ready for bed. I was very clear: don't come to our room. My kid went to sleep and just a few minutes later someone knocked on the door AND rang the doorbell. Luckily, my kid stirred but did not wake up. I was furious at this point and opened the door and told the two staffers that I didn't want them disturbing us. The guy asked to see the sandwich again (what? didnt' believe me? ) and I said I'd put the rolling table/tray in the hall. It was gone by this point. They apologized profusely and the woman was apparently the manager. They tried to give me a free lunch buffet and didn't know we were checking out the next day. They asked what they could do (I should've asked for a foot massage since they have spa service in the rooms but I forgot) and gave my kid two more stuffed animals. Anyway, at least they tried. The next day at check out it took quite awhile and much back and forthing to get the fries taken off my bill (they'd already taken the sandwich off). It wasn't much money but was pretty disappointing considering the rest of the trip. They did give us a van ride to the train station, which was really nice since it saved us two taxis.
One last issue: the huge gorgeous outdoor swimming pool was closed for renovations. The indoor sea-water pool was nice but not what we'd imagined lounging around sunning while the kids swam. I looked all over the website for some news on it and truly, it wasn't mentioned. Since I'd booked on line and never spoken with a person at the hotel, I guess next time I'd call and confirm that the pool and spa were in fact open. For us, it worked out well since we went to a beach instead and the kids got to do some tidepooling and sand playing so that was good. We also took a boat ride (kind of a rip off) and went to the Underwater World.
I feel for the place and still give four stars because I think it is very very difficult to do what they've done and train (most of) staff to five star standards. It must be so frustrating to get it to that level and have one segment, room service, fall down on the job. But, boy did they fall. Luckily, my kid didn't get sick from that chicken (or not apparently sick).
I'd still recommend this hotel. Just avoid room service!
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- Also Known As:
- Seaview Garden Qingdao
- Hotel Seaview Garden