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Would I visit again? Perhaps: Would I stay here? No

A Sunday buffet lunch with use of the private beach and the outdoor fresh water swimming pool, at this beach fronted iconic hotel, located  on the outskirts of the  city, for Rupees Five thousand, was a good ‘deal’ not to be missed.


And it proved to be just that – good. A dip in the warm Indian Ocean, followed by a cool swim in the pool while enjoying the panoramic view of the coastline of the city and ending with a buffet lunch that at best, could be described as passable.


So, Would I visit again? Perhaps: Would I stay here? I would not. Let me explain.


This hotel used to be one of the grandest in the suburbs of the city. Rich in history, it has an incredible tale (imagined or otherwise) of romance. Used as a story when marketing the property, it connected guests to a secret love affair during a bygone era. The hotel had a sense of place and holds nostalgic meanings not only to the local community but to the island at large.


Approaching the driveway; one briefly feels the majesty and heritage of this hotel at the front - the only part that remains unchanged since the inception. But it all gradually dissipates after entering the hotel and when strolling past the public areas.


It soon becomes apparent that the overall maintenance and cleanliness is really in the 1-2 star territory. From the lights that didn’t work in the changing room to the glass shards and rubbish scattered along the sand to the ugly unfinished structures at the rear of the hotel (as seen from the hotel’s private beach).


Over the years, commodification, loss of authenticity and going beyond the hotel’s carrying capacity has taken a heavy toll. Resulting in a wing full of rooms that are over 100 years old, uninhabitable and run down and another wing (referred to as the new wing but built over 35 years ago) that could be better maintained.


In the context of heritage hotels, heritage, architecture and the level of service are strong pull factors. But it’s not just the architecture or physical space that enables an historic property to leave an authentic impression. The service is just as important, where the people who staff such hotels acknowledge you as an individual.


That did not happen during my brief guest journey through the hotel. The guard at the beach was more intent at looking at his mobile than acknowledging us, the doorman mumbled a greeting and did what he probably does best, i.e., he opened the door for us, the pool attendant handed over towels and pointed out where we could sit. it took 25 minutes for a portion of french fries to be served, the lifeguard asked whether we lived abroad (?), the restaurant staff hardly spoke when serving nor did anyone come around to enquire if everything was alright.


For a hotel whose identity is inseparable from its history and architecture, preserving the condition of the building and managing its relationship with the people who patronise it are important tasks.


Sadly though, in the case of this hotel, that ship appears to have long sailed.


Ilzaf Keefahs is a freelance writer who enjoys focusing on hospitality related matters that he is passionate about, and likes to share his views with hoteliers and customers alike. He delves into the heart of hospitality to figure out both customer service and consumer trends that impact the industry


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