Over the years I’ve relied quite heavily on TripAdvisor when booking holidays, it’s been an absolutely fantastic resource and one that, until now anyway, I wouldn’t have wanted to be without.
But not anymore, I no longer trust TripAdvisor
This year we booked a holiday based largely on the reviews that had been left on the “World’s Largest Travel Site” but, sadly, it didn’t live up to expectation. This, however, is not what has bothered me.
I decided that I would leave a review of the hotel to help other potential travellers. So I spent nearly 3 hours crafting a review that I geniunely believe to be honest, accurate and balanced between good and bad. I posted the review, which can be read below:
The hotel facilities itself are ‘not bad’, though nowhere near 5*. I’ve stayed in 4* hotels that I would score higher for reasons that I’ll come onto.
We left the airport on the shuttle bus at around 22:30 and arrived at the hotel at circa 0:30 as expected. We walked into, what can only be described as a large, empty, soulless, Doctor’s surgery-esque deserted box a.k.a the hotel reception. We were pleasantly surprised to be offered some food on arrival, it wasn’t great but at 1am in the morning we weren’t really looking for a four-course slap-up meal anyway so it did ‘just fine’. We checked in and were taken to our room, 332, on the hotel Golf Caddy.
We discussed unpacking but as it was now after 1am we decided that it could wait. The room was hot, stifling hot in fact, so we turned the air-con on, turned it down to the coldest setting and went to bed for some much-needed sleep. By 3am we could bare it no longer, the room was over 30°C; I know this because stepping outside felt like walking through one of those walk-through fridges that they used to have in Kwik-Save. It was 28°C outside according to my watch (which is normally accurate to within a degree or two). I discussed the idea of sleeping outside but the wife thought better of it and instead ‘phoned reception. They moved us to room 712 ‘temporarily’, off we went on the hotel Golf Caddy with all of our stuff. Moving hotel rooms is not something I recommend that you take up as a hobby, little did I know that this was the beginning of my new ‘fun thing to do’.
3:30am, the wife is not happy; there’s a lot of noise from the main road behind 712 and more noise from the road in front of 712. That’s right, the hotel has a block of ‘villas’; which are really nothing more than rooms with a bit of decking outside, in the intersection of two roads. Admittedly, one of those roads is, theoretically, quiet as it’s the service road for the hotel’s reception. But with speed-bumps forcing large buses / coaches / delivery trucks / lorries to slow down the noise of ‘tsh tsh tsh ‘ from the air brakes followed by ‘bump bump’ from the wheels hitting the speed bumps and then 8-litre plus diesel engines accelerating away is something that, all but the deepest of sleepers, will hear in the early hours of the morning.
At 10am in the morning we approached reception bleary-eyed and asked what was happening. “We thought you’d like to keep 712”, they said. “No we wouldn’t, thank you” was our response. There was then some discussion about why we didn’t want to keep 712, the receptionist seemed surprised that we didn’t want to keep a room with a “pool view” and another receptionist was surprised that the main road had kept us awake as it’s a “quiet road”. It isn’t, it’s a 50km/h road, which to Rhodesian drivers makes it an 80km/h road, with a Bus Stop and hotel entrance directly behind the block of flats, sorry, ‘villas’. After reception accepted that we did not want to stay in 712 we were informed that an ‘external technician’ was coming to fix the air-con in 332 and were asked to check back later. 4 hours later we checked back, 2 hours after that we checked again, reception were not sure if it had been fixed so we reluctantly agreed to stay in 712 for one more night.
To cut a large chunk of this story short, we went back to 332 the next day with all of our belongings and the air-con was still shockingly bad. Like a hand-held £1 mini-fan blowing on you, bad. After several trips to-and-fro between reception and alternative rooms we ended up in room 316. A quick summary of the other rooms is below:
Room 426 - Air-con 2/10. Hot.
Room 7208 - Air-con, at best, 5/10. This room had a better bathroom which looked like it had recently been refurbished although had a road running between our hotel and the nicer looking Lindos Imperial behind it.
Room 136 - Air-con 4/10. Hot again.
All of the above rooms had twin beds rather than doubles despite requesting a double room, which is a bit of a pet-peeve for me but one that I’ve learned to live with over the years. 712 actually had a double-bed and the best air-con too but the noise was unbearable. Another couple confirmed that it was noisy as they had been moved from 702 for the same reason and that was directly below 712. Giving credit where credit is due, all of the rooms were a good size and had good sized balconies too. Aside from the odd mosquito blood splatter on the walls, some electrical tape repair jobs and the aforementioned pathetic air-con they weren’t too bad really. Some even had 2 TV’s in them, not that it matters to English speaking visitors though as there’s only one channel for them, ‘Euronews’.
By day three we’d visited six rooms and had still not unpacked our cases. 316 wasn’t perfect but it was the best of a bad bunch so we settled for it and vowed to not let this spoil our holiday. Whilst still on the topic of rooms, we had to ask for more toilet roll due ti this not being provided by cleaners and our bed sheets were not changed during our whole week stay; maybe moving rooms after day two was a blessing after-all. Our maid was also a little passive-aggressive with the plastic fob thing that keeps the air-con on and pulled it out every day despite reception telling us to leave it in to keep the room cooler. The wife is also quite sure that they helped themselves to a couple of pieces of Greek Delight which we had left in the room. For those new to Greece, Greek Delight is literally the same thing as Turkish Delight by the way.
The food is, well it’s edible, you probably won’t starve. However it is, pretty much, the same every day and it gets very boring very quickly. You also have to search for clean plates, cups, glasses and cutlery as a lot of it comes back from the dish-washer dirty. My theory on this is that they don’t have enough of them and so have to put them through quick washes to get them back out for guests to use so they don’t run out. If you paid the extra tenner, or whatever it is, to be a ‘Miraluna’ guest rather than a ‘Kiotari Bay’ one then this means you get access to the Panorama restaurant which is a bit nicer than the standard ‘Socrates’ buffet but very limited in what is on offer due to being so small. You also get access to the most ridiculous a-la carte restaurant which I’ll come onto next.
You have to book the ‘a la carte’ restaurant in advance as ‘it is very popular’, so we did, three days in advance in fact. On arrival we were absolutely surrounded by empty tables and had food brought to the table that we hadn’t ordered ( you know, from a ‘carte’ ). Some Ouzo also came to our table which I can only assume was an attempt to soften us up for what was about to come. If you’ve not tasted Ouzo before it’s basically liquorice flavoured paint stripper. The starter consisted of four types of salad, some beef kebab chopped into pieces, a pork dish and some prawns. In addition, we also got some Tzatziki and some spicy cheese ‘coleslaw-y’ type dish which wasn’t too bad. It was definitely the best course of the three but a definite source of food wastage as neither of us wanted the prawns and neither eat ‘octopus’. Once the starter was done we were offered Pork, Chicken or Salmon for our main course. I opted for chicken which was one bone-dry leg and the wife ordered Salmon which turned out to be a small piece of bony white fish that definitely wasn’t Salmon. Both dishes came with rice that had peas in it. For desert we got given a baklava with some chocolate ice-cream served on a plate. If you’ve ever tried to eat ice-cream from a plate with just a spoon you’ll already know how much of a pain in the derrière that is. In summary, the ‘a la carte’ has no menu ( ‘carte’ ) and, in fact, after the starter is a total waste of time. We went on our evening walk via the buffet still feeling hungry despite both having BMI scores that the NHS are happy with.
The local beer ‘Mythos’ is really not too bad, especially with a bit of lemonade in it. However if you want any type of spirit other than ‘white’ or a named Whiskey you have to pay extra - Miraluna guest or not. Espresso also comes at a price of €2 despite coffee being free. Bottles of water in the room are very hit-and miss too; we had to make do with a 1.5L bottle of water for the first six days before we asked for more from the upper pool bar.
The evening entertainment, put politely, is lacklustre; we bought a pack of cards and played monopoly on my iPad to pass the time instead. Everything feels like a money saving exercise has gone-on. The gym, like a lot of hotel gyms was small, old and at least 10% broken as well as only having about 6 weight plates. I took some photos, you’ll get the gist from those I’m sure. You can’t play crazy golf as they couldn’t find ‘the’ golf ball. You can’t play table tennis as they couldn’t find ‘the’ table tennis ball, either. Nothing is labelled and there are no signs to help guests learn their way around. The hotel map outside reception hasn’t been updated since the hotel changed the names of things and there was no one offering drinks to guests at the pool - something that I would expect at a 5-star hotel. This didn’t bother me that much because I like to have a walk around from time-to-time anyway but still. You’ll also struggle to get clean towels at the end of the day on Sunday’s and are advised to return at 11:30 on the Monday when this happens. Presumably, this is because they send towels away to be cleaned and the third party don’t work on Sundays.
The Pools are nice and clean and the upper pool area is fairly quiet but perhaps lacks a little bit of quiet background music. Sadly, the service road that I spoke about earlier runs parallel to the upper pool area so a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is much advised. On a couple of occasions one vehicle had parked blocking the service road, and the next driver decided that the best way of fixing the issue was to beep their horn ten or twenty times - this is NOT COOL when you’re trying to relax on holiday. The sun-loungers are okay, and I think are probably the lightest I’ve come across ( possibly less than 1kg ) which make them easy to manoeuvre but also easy for the wind to pick up and move across the floor ( and almost into the pool on one occasion that I saw ). That same wind is fantastic though whilst you’re sun-bathing, it really takes the edge off the heat.
On the up-side, we were given a 15 minute complimentary spa treatment each when we checked-in and they were well received. We would have taken another treatment but the spa prices seemed quite high to us and we didn’t need / want them that bad. You can also get ice-cream at practically any time of the day - vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, banana and chocolate are on offer most of the time. Soft-drinks are also branded which is nice and, possibly the best feature of the hotel is that between 10am and 6pm you can get Pizza and / or Gyros from down by the Kiotari Bay Pirate Ship Pool too. The 24-hour snack bar is a great facility in theory but in reality, the food is quite poor between about 10pm and breakfast-time. Freshly squeezed orange juice in the Panorama restaurant at breakfast is a nice-touch, although it would be nicer if guests didn’t have to make it for themselves.
Reception staff, in general, seem a little bit ‘lost’, I’m not sure if this is due to the recent takeover by the ‘Labranda’ group or not but the number of times reception had to ‘telephone the manager’ when we had problems seemed a bit crazy. On the final day, we requested late check-out and, despite all of our problems, were told that we could have it until 5pm for €60. We rejected the idea of paying them for late checkout as we felt that it was the least they could do after messing us around at the beginning of the holiday. After yet another telephone call to ‘the manager’, we were told that we could keep the room until 4pm free-of-charge. Too little, too late in my opinion. Whilst on the subject of staff, I didn’t really appreciate a racist joke that we were told by one of the receptionists one day one after chatting to them for approximately five seconds either.
Next to the hotel there is a new hotel being built, which meant noise most of the day Monday through to Saturday and Diesel fumes wafting in to the Panorama restaurant at breakfast time on one occasion. Whilst this is probably not the hotel’s fault, I felt it worth mentioning as it did spoil our holiday a little bit and were not told about it prior to our arrival.
*End of Review*
After a day or so I got a reply from tripadvisor claiming that I’d breached the terms and conditions and that my review had been unsuccessful.
I wasn’t sure what I’d posted that broke those terms, I’m quite confident that my review didn’t. Puzzled, I thought I’d contact TripAdvisor to find out what was wrong… this is where my frustrations began.
TripAdvisor are uncontactable
That’s right, the “World’s Largest Travel Site” can’t be contacted; you can’t reply on email and there is nothing on their website that allows you to contact them. The contact section is nothing more than a ‘push everyone to the FAQ section’ vendetta. I scowered the internet to look for ways of contacting them and found other people stating the same. Unbelievable.
Determined, I decided to remove a few sections of the review and try again… this one failed too. I repeated this once more and this time didn’t even get notified of the rejection.
Was my review really so damning that it shouldn’t be posted? Did it break the terms and conditions? I really, really, strongly don’t think so. Do you?
This has now made me wonder how many reviews get rejected… are only positive ones shown? I really don’t know but either way, my opinion and trust has hit rock-bottom and I’ll be swerving the website in future. Where I’ll go for honest reviews instead I really don’t know.
If someone from TripAdvisor would like to contact me and tell me where my review went wrong then I’d really like to know. Unlike TripAdvisor, I’m quite easily contactable.