We were guests at the hotel from September 13 – 18, 2011. Overall, our stay was very good. Our initial impression, however, colored most of the rest of our stay.
We arrived for a 5 day, 4 night visit after looking at a wide range of options for our first ever trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. This trip was in celebration of our 15th anniversary and I wanted to make it extra special. This property was highly recommended to us and seemed to be a perfect blend of time at the hotel and activities around the Islands.
My goal with this trip was to take a second honeymoon and planned all of our arrangements to reflect that. I requested the best rooms at our hotel in Quito and at Finch Bay – I wanted our stay to be memorable and comfortable. My goal for our trip was comfort and luxury over cost. I selected the ocean view room with a king sized bed and I was assured it was the nicest the hotel had to offer for a couple.
On arrival at the room, we were surprised to see 2 beds. I explained that it wasn’t what I’d requested and the young man with us (Carlos) said there had been an error and no king sized beds were available. When I asked how this could be, he said it was the fault of the booking agent. This didn’t make any sense to me. Since the hotel is owned by the booking agency, I was puzzled. I said that we really wanted a king room and he then said none would be available until the 16th. Carlos said he would find out if he could get another bed to replace the two. He left, saying he’d be back in a few minutes. He didn’t come back, and since we didn’t know if we’d be staying in the room, we sat there, unable to settle in, or unpack, and even unsure if we should use the bathroom. After about an hour, I went down to the office to ask what was going on and they found Carlos. He said he was still trying to find out. Again, he said “be patient – just a few minutes.” By this point, I’d emailed our booking agent to ask for her help in resolving the situation. While I was down the office area, there was a call for me. It was the booking agent. She said that the hotel was overbooked and the room not being available was the property’s fault. At this point, I felt completely caught in the middle. By now, we’d been at the hotel for a few hours and didn’t think we’d be getting what we’d been promised. Carlos came back to our room and said no other bed was available, but thought maybe we could push the two beds together. He looked at the beds, said to give him a few minutes, and he left. It was now close to dinner time. We finally decided to change out of our travelling clothes. We felt resigned to the fact that no one was going to honor our reservation by providing us with the room on our contract. Carlos never returned to our room with an update. At dinner, this issue was discussed with the people who were a part of our adventure group. While I was trying to stay positive about it, what I felt like was that we were given a lot of words, but no action. Nothing that was promised happened and our entire afternoon was spent in limbo – no relaxing, no pool time – just waiting for someone to get back to us “in a few minutes”.
After dinner, we moved the beds together ourselves and resolved to make a bad situation as good as possible. Since it was meant to be our “second honeymoon”, it seemed quite ironic to be in a room with two beds. Not quite the romantic spot I was intending.
Through all of this, a couple of simple things would have helped. First, a sincere apology from someone – the hotel staff or the booking agency – taking responsibility for the error. Neither one would take responsibility – they pointed fingers at each other, leaving us caught in the middle. Second, an offer to give something in compensation for our inconvenience: a discounted rate on the room (preferable), complimentary bottle of wine or drinks – anything rather than continuing to say “not our fault and no options available”. Last, but definitely not least, follow through. If you say you will get back to someone, be sure you do. Don’t say “a few minutes” if what you mean is never. I realize it was a busy time at the hotel with lots of arrivals, but from our perspective, we were in limbo all afternoon and finally had to come to the conclusion on our own and create our own solution. For anyone in the hospitality industry, this is a bad first impression. The guest should feel valued, cared for, and their solution made a priority, not ignored. We did not feel any of those – more ignored and forgotten.
While all of this was going on, the only time I heard back from the booking agent was to tell me that she still could not get my payment processed on the Visa card I’d provided to her. It was used for our deposit, which worked fine, and I made sure my bank knew to expect the charges (I gave them the company name and amount) but it still wasn’t going through. Having to deal with this multiple times while on vacation was frustrating. Each time she called, I thought it might be about our room problem, but it was about this issue. It felt like again, our problem was forgotten and this issue took precedence.
We were finally offered the room next door. Sadly, that offer was made on Friday night at dinner time and we would have to move everything over after we were done. The thought of packing everything up at 10 p.m. and then having to pack the next night for our early a.m. departure held no appeal. There was no offer to facilitate the move for us – just if we wanted to, the room was available. It felt like more of an inconvenience than a solution to the problem.
I would like to have had the “rave” experience so many people have had at the Finch Bay Hotel. I was frustrated that this first impression made me feel like our stay was less than what I expected or was promised. I worked very hard to stay pleasant and positive with all the staff there - I adopted the idea of “relax…it’s vacation…it’s still OK” and that helped, but then the bill came and I was annoyed again. The experience we had in the Galapagos was wonderful – our group, our guides – all great. The property was lovely and we enjoyed our ocean view from the balcony. The food was very good and it truly was a fine stay. The only problem was that we were promised something that could not be delivered – and no one ever stepped up to say “we messed up”. That one thing was a key piece of our total vacation experience that I worked hard to plan – a room with a king sized bed for our second honeymoon.
I did write to the hotel company and never heard back. I would have posted sooner, but I wanted to give them the chance to respond. After 4 weeks, I'm think it's safe to assume I won't.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The award-winning hotel enjoys a peaceful and magical beachfront location in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. The 21 Garden View-room and 6 Ocean View suite hotel makes the ideal base for exploring the natural diversity and attractions of the island – including Tortuga Bay beach – and for taking day-trips to nearby islands, aboard its own, specialized yachts. The hotel also implements best practices in sustainable tourism. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Finch Bay Eco
- Finch Bay Eco Puerto Ayora
- Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel Galapagos Islands/Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz