This is a very difficult review to write as our experiences varied from good to bad.
My wife and I stayed at the hotel over the Christmas and New Year period, arriving on 22 December and leaving on 4 January. We booked a king club room and in correspondence with the hotel asked if at all possible we be allocated a smoking room with a sea view, and received a response to say this had been arranged. Arriving at 3am, after a horrendous journey we found we had been given a non-smoking room, and whilst we could see the sea in the distance our view was basically the Rocca restaurant. I should have asked for a different room, but after all the hassles we had been through to actually get to the hotel we decided to make the best of what we had. We later in the day found that our balcony was in perpetual shade being tucked into a corner which was not good. After a few hours sleep we went along to the Club Lounge for breakfast to find it was no longer being served there, but a complimentary breakfast was available at Santa Monica Breakfast Club. We could live with that as the breakfast there was generally good.
That evening we went to the Club Lounge for the "social 2 hours" where there was an open bar and a good selection of food items available. The lounge was comfortable with a nice ambiance, and the staff there helpful, friendly and hospitable.
The hotel has a very impressive lobby area, and sits in attractive gardens, with 4 main restaurants, pool and private beach. We did think though that there were few things missing that we have come to expect from 5* hotels - no doorman, nobody on the concierge desk, no turndown service in the evening. Despite that I think for the first part of our stay we would have given the hotel a 4 rating.
However, everything changed on 28 December. At breakfast time we noticed a distinct lack of staff, faces we had become used to were just not there and service was very poor. It took best part of 20 minutes to attract somebody's attention to get coffee. That afternoon a paper was put under our door to say that due to "unforeseen circumstances" the Club Lounge would be closed for at least a week, but the social hours would now take place in the Santa Monica Breakfast Club. This did not work well, despite the efforts of the club staff. Whilst there that evening we heard that as well as the club lounge the Rocca Italian restaurant, and the Majlis Middle East restaurant would also be closed. We were far from happy!
We went to reception and asked to speak to a manager to find out exactly what was going on as we saw this as a major loss of amenities. I have to say that the manager we spoke to squirmed. He told us it was a "technical problem" that had only come to light that morning. When we pressed him on what sort of technical problem could affect the club lounge and a restaurant in the main building, but not 2 other restaurants there, whilst also affecting Rocca which was in a totally independent building he said he did not understand technical matters, but they had outside people looking into it. He also told us the hotel was not accepting any further bookings at that time - strange that next day when I went into the hotel website I cold have booked a room for that night. We asked about the missing staff and whether there was actually a health issue (a pertinent question in the circumstances) he laughed and said of course not. We were not impressed.
We decided to have something to eat and to consider whether we wanted to stay in the hotel. We went to the Santa Monica Breakfast Club and looked for an outside table. The area looked like the aftermath of a teenage party with none of the tables cleared - dirty crockery, glasses and bottles everywhere. Eventually a table was cleared for us, and we ordered only for my wife to be told that what she wanted was not available - not good when there is a limited menu. When our food did arrive it was poor.
On our way out Rohan Kohli, the restaurant manager, and by far and away the best manager we came across in the hotel asked how our meal was - so we told him. He sat us down, listened to what we had to say and tried to placate us by saying he would report our thoughts to senior management.
We thought very hard about checking out of the hotel and moving elsewhere, but in the end decided to stay. Rohan told us that he had sent a report to senior managers and we did hope as a result somebody would have reached out to us - but they didn't although a bowl of fruit was delivered to our room.
The staffing issues continued for pretty much the rest of our stay, and it was obvious that temporary staff were being brought in to cover the odd shift some good some not so good. One day we decided to have lunch at the Monkey Tale beach restaurant which the hotel website said was open from 1pm to midnight. The place was closed, and were told would not open until 4pm.
These were not actions I would have expected from a 5* hotel, and if this review was just based on this period I would have been pushed rating it more than 1.
Having said all this there were some good points. We attended the New Year's Eve event at Santa Monica Beach Club which was excellent - good food, good entertainment and good service. What really impressed us during this was that at about 10pm it started to rain, which turned into a deluge causing a diners outside to dash for cover inside. The way the staff reacted to this - led from the front by Rohan Kohli was impressive.
I would also like to say that the waiting staff etc who were still there, and particularly the club lounge staff did the very best job that they could - and we did enjoy the cake given to us on our final night.
Overall, we were not impressed with the way the hotel acted, and I am afraid we would not visit it again.More