Thursday, February 15, 2007

THIS is Shangri-la??

Last week, after I had picked up our Thai guests from the airport and we were in the car, one of them asked me which was the best hotel in Manila. I confidently replied, "The Makati Shangri-la, where you're staying." I regretted my words when we got to the hotel for check-in... which took AN ENTIRE HOUR. I've had dentist appointments that went faster! The front desk staff said it was because their computer system was "mabagal today", which to me was an unacceptable excuse (not to mention the Taglish made me cringe). It's a 5-star hotel, for crying out loud! You'd think they could afford a better system (and hire staff who can speak in straight English).

What made things worse was that after the first excruciatingly slow 15 minutes with little progress, the pleasant but bumbling front desk clerk passed us to another clerk, who in turn passed us on to their supervisor, an unsmiling man named Ferdie who went about manually computing the room rates (since the "mabagal" system was still not cooperating) in an unconcerned, unhurried manner, like I hadn't been standing in front of that blasted counter for more than half an hour. If the Thais weren't hovering around, I would have totally lost my temper and started yelling. It was embarrassing enough keeping our guests waiting, but after I'd told them this was THE BEST hotel in all of Manila! Christ. After an hour, we finally finished checking in, and the Thais went up to their rooms to freshen up... only it took FOREVER for their luggage to be sent up. I was seething with pent-up rage. We're paying tens of thousands for this kind of supposedly world-class service?!?

Then last night, we had another slice-of-hell-in-heaven experience in another Shangri-la hotel, this time in EDSA Shang. We had Valentine's dinner at the hotel's Italian restaurant Paparazzi, one of my favorite fancy places to eat. The set menu included a main course of a trio of sea bass, tenderloin, and lobster. However, we found the lobsters on our plates all strangely... blackish. They were undercooked, and some were mushy, as if the lobster was going bad, and the one on my mom's plate had a foul, fishy odor. We immediately sent them back to the kitchen. We called the attention of the assistant manager, who, upon hearing our comments about the lobster, instead of being contrite, seemed annoyed and simply said she would look into the matter. When she failed to get back to us after a while, we followed up with her, and she gave a cursory explanation that the lobsters were actually fresh and delivered just that morning, so there shouldn't have been any problem. She seemed to be implying that we were overreacting over nothing. Then she brought 3 new lobsters to our table and let us check if they were acceptable, but they were of the same black color and mushy consistency, so we just did without lobster all together.

Even though I was mildly pissed off that we were missing out on part of our entree, I would have let it pass without further incident. But my dad became really irate at the lousy attitude of the assistant manager, who did not even apologize or offer to do anything to make up for the unsatisfactory quality of the food. When we voiced our disgruntled sentiments to one of our servers, she handled the situation better, and even offered to put the coffee and tea we had ordered on the house (since they weren't included in the set menu), or give us a 10% discount, both of which my fuming father adamantly declined, since he was too upset to be placated. He said it wasn't about the price, but the principle of the thing. When my brother asked that the assistant manager apologize to us, she chose her words poorly ("sorry na lang" --doesn't ANYONE in these hotels speak straight English?!?) and only succeeded in furthering incensing our dad. What was supposed to be a nice, quiet Valentine's evening was spoiled not so much by the bad lobster, but by the shoddy service we received, from the assistant manager no less. The servers on her staff were actually more courteous and tactful than her.

This morning I emailed complaints to the GMs and department heads of both Makati and EDSA Shang regarding the two separate incidents. How they respond will reflect the quality of service we can come to expect from our country's reputedly finest deluxe hotel group. Let's see how they resolve trouble in paradise.


At Saturday, February 17, 2007, Blogger Sean said...

Agreed; I've noticed that the Shangri-la hotels haven't been quite up to par lately, for some reason. Why that would be the case, however, I don't know.

At Saturday, February 17, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

The Assistant Food and Beverage Director of EDSA Shang called to offer us a free dinner at Paparazzi as their way of making up for our ruined evening. I'm waiting to see how Makati Shang plans to make amends. :)


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