This was meant to be a weekend treat for my parents and parents in-law. Right from the beginning, it started off on a bad note.
We had logged onto the Shangri-la web portal to book three suites, and the portal prompted us that there was a promotion going on for Shangri-la’s Golden Circle members to book the suites for half the usual number of loyalty points. This was a pleasant surprise, as we were not aware of this promotion prior. We clicked on the option offered by the portal and went on to complete the reservation to book the suites. The portal sent us three separate confirmation emails, and subsequently proceeded to confirm the arrangements for transport and attraction tickets.
One week later, we received an email from Shangri-la’s Golden Circle office saying that they would not be honouring the CONFIRMED bookings, citing some obscure T&C stating that each member was only entitled to book one room at the “discounted” rate, and that since we had only two members in our group, they would unilaterally cancel one of the CONFIRMED bookings. They confessed that the web portal had made a mistake in offering the discounted rate for all three suites and confirming the booking, but refused to accept responsibility for the mistake that THEIR portal had made, and insisted on cancelling one of the reservations which had already been CONFIRMED a week ago. They also said they would not be interested to fix the problem with the portal, and the onus was on the customers to comb through the T&Cs before booking the room to ensure that their bookings were valid. We decided that for the third room, we would just choose the normal room then, since we had kind of already lost the mood for the suite, and even the trip.
Check-in was messy. The lobby was so crowded that there was hardly space for the old folks to sit while waiting for our turn. Even though it was past 2pm, there were families sitting around in the lobby waiting for their rooms to be ready. When it was our turn, we told the staff that we wished to pay cash to upgrade our third non-suite room to a Club Room. He said that they had originally left a “normal” room for us, but if we wanted an upgrade, we would have to wait, as there were no ready Club Rooms at that time. We agreed to wait for the room to be cleaned, and he said that he would sort out the arrangements for us, and once the Club Room was ready, he would send the key card to our parents’ suite, so that we did not have to come to the lobby again to pick up the key.
Two hours on, there was still no sign of the key card. We finally decided to go to the lobby again to check. That was when we were told that the key card was waiting for us at the desk all along, and they did not realise that we were waiting in our parents’ suite for the key card. I wonder if they even communicated during the shift change. As further proof of the messy check-in, for the three rooms that we had booked, the told us that they could only find the welcome letter for one of them, and they searched for the other two in different drawers, to no avail. To add insult to injury, on that one letter that they could locate, they changed my gender in the salutation.
When everything was finally sorted out at almost 6pm, we proceeded for drinks at the Traders Club Lounge, hoping to finally relax and sip a drink before dinner. Unfortunately, there was more drama. There, we were told that according to the information in the system, we were staying in two suites and a “normal” room, and therefore only four of us were entitled to enter the Club Lounge. We pointed out that we had paid to upgrade the third room to a Club Room, but the lady insisted that it was not stated in the system. Although she was rather polite about it, but it definitely felt very embarrassing for us to be interrogated at the snack bar in full hearing of the other guests, asking us things like whom we had spoken with at check-in, whether we could produce paper evidence that we had paid for the upgrade etc. It was as if we were that hard-up to sneak into the Lounge for some freebies!
Perhaps what added to the confusion was the fact that they do not cluster the Club Rooms, unlike in other hotels where Club Rooms are usually on the same level or in a certain block/wing. Here, the suites and Club Rooms appear to be scattered all over, just like the three rooms we had were also all scattered. Other than the Lounge Access, there was nothing else to make me feel like I had paid for a Club Room, as two of our rooms were located on Level One where the view of the harbour was partially obscured.
To be fair, once the mistake had been sorted out, the rest of the Club Lounge experience was fantastic. The service level in the lounge was excellent, and it certainly was the best (or shall I say, the only truly positive) part of the stay. The parents and in-laws were pretty impressed and pleased with the Lounge experience. We were further impressed when in the evening, I offered a tip to the service staff in the Lounge, and they actually declined the tip. Doesn’t happen very often anywhere in the world!
The rest of the hotel was rather mixed. It is relatively new, so things in the room worked well in general. Cleanliness was however another contentious point. The pillows had a slight stench to them, and when we went into the room, we noticed that the coffee/tea mugs were barecleaned. We could still see the stains of the coffee that the previous guest had been drinking. The pool came with a view. However, the water also felt like it could be cleaner.
I do not think I will be recommending this place to anyone!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour, Johor is located in Nusajaya. It's approximately 20 minutes from Johor Bahru town and is easily accessible via land or water transport from Puteri Harbour International Ferry Terminal. Senai International Airport is a 20-minute drive away and Singapore Changi Airport is only 60 minutes away. ... more less
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