Note: This entry is not about the Bohol experience. The Bohol Experience (TBE) is independent in its own rite and should not, in any way, be misconstrued as part of my review below. TBE will be dealt with I’m done reviewing my resort accommodations.
Joel + Ana + 3 kidlets =5
Jon + Angel + kidlet = 3
Jerico + Moi = 2
Yayas (Nannies) = 2
By aiming high, it meant choosing a place that could accommodate our need for extra large family rooms, with enough poolspace to prune my little neices hands from nonstop swimming. Oh, I was also looking to replicate the ever memorable trip for my 13th birthday at Amanpulo. Kaching!
Enter Eskaya Resort. I was familiar with Eskaya because our hotels would participate in wedding fairs. I met the sales & marketing lady who was so gracious with my requests and my constant reshuffling of room assignment. Before we left, we were given a package that had oodles of catalogs and a CD of photos. Think Amanpulo, mini-fied.
There are two sides to this story. The Visible, and the Intangible.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by smiles and kalachuchi leis+welcome drinks. Check-in was a breeze but front office too sedate to make a major impact. There were golf carts, just like Amanpulo, but we were just driven and serviced, we didn’t have our own to trek with.
Interestingly enough, the lawns/driveways were not completely paved nor was the landscaping completed, but I was able to overlook it because what mattered most was the bed in which I would be sleeping in.
The bathroom, aside from the bed, makes or breaks any hotel/resort room stay. It doesn’t have to be gilded in gold, but cleanliness is key, toiletries a close second, and a rainshower as cherry on top.
When a local resort pegs the rates in USD, a certain level of quality service is expected. For the actual figure that comprised our stay, we were all expecting to be treated like semi-gods and goddesses because, hey we paid you to do it.
Let me be a bit more specific. I took up hospitality in NYU, and one of the main themes in the industry is the notion of quality service. Quality service is what you should receive regardless of room rate. When you shop at Barney’s, you pay for the elite selection of items. You come home with a paper bag filled with items you purchased. When you buy a plane ticket from Singapore Airlines, you pay for the service of flying you from Manila to New York, the delicious airline food, and the cute little toiletry it.
When you stay at a hotel or a resort, you technically get nothing. By ‘nothing’, I mean a bed to sleep in, a hot shower to relax, a/c to cool the air. Save for the (maybe) free breakfast or the cute little toiletries on the countertop, you leave the place empty handed, unless you have sticky fingers like one of our guests who tried to leave with duvet comforters in their suitcases.
Except, of course, for the memories. Courteous staff, attentive housekeepers, thoughtful gestures, unforgettable experience. The price of a hotel room teeters more on the things you cannot see but feel, moments you cannot pinpoint but remember.
One of the most poignant examples was my 13th birthday celebration in Amanpulo eons ago. I don’t remember how the food tasted, or how soft the sheets were (although now I’m a stickler for threadcount). What stayed on as my Amanpulo memory was this: Banana chips. I saw a small coconut bowl of banana chips on the desk of our casitas. Because it was deliciously sweet with the perfect thickness and crispiness, it was inhaled immediately.
During our first breakfast, I asked the server if they knew the brand of the banana chips placed in our room because it was yummy and I wanted to buy some when I got to Manila. The server said he didn’t know, and it didn’t really matter coz I was only 13 and you can only be discerning and demanding once you actually have some street cred to back it up.
When we returned to our casitas after our meal, the bed had been made up, the towels replaced, and there, on the desktop, were 3 big bags of banana chips. Dolly’s Banana Chips. I still buy a bag everytime I pass one at the grocery.
This was the encounter I was expecting to find and/or replicate in Eskaya. The instances below demonstrate a memorable experience, but not the one we were hoping for:
1. My mom (ever the professional), calls the Spa to book her massage
Mom: Yes hello, I’d like to book for my massage
Mom: (a bit weirded out) Ok, I’ll be coming there at 330 with my husband (she continued in English coz she said she’s in “Eskaya” and its sosyal.)
Spa: Ah… Punta ka na? (Oh, so you’re coming already?)
Mom: Hello? Ok… Three thirty ako pupunta, two forty pa lang (I’m coming at 330, it’s only 240p)
2. My mom (the unwilling victim) likes to drink tea in the room.
* She uses the pot to heat water for her tea. She finishes tea and puts the cup on the counter with the stirrer. She leaves.
* She comes back before dinner.. Used tea cup still in counter. She leaves for dinner and calls the front desk to have the cups taken because she would like to take some tea before she sleeps.
* She comes back from dinner. Used tea cup still in counter. Slept with no nightcap
* Wakes up and heads to breakfast.
* She comes back from breakfast, bed made up, towels replenished. USED TEA CUP STILL IN COUNTER.
* She goes to the restaurant and tells F&B Manager: ‘Please lang, dalawang araw ko na pinakuha yung cups sa room hanggang ngayon andoon parin at madumi (Please, I have been asking for two days to replace the cups in the room until now it’s still there and still dirty)’
* We come back from our tour… used tea cup still in counter.
* Mother gives up and washes it herself.
3. Jerico and I talking about the disappointment on the lack of attentiveness and courtesy.
Jec: Dude, like last night, I asked for a comforter….
Me: But I asked for a comforter too! Maybe that’s why mine took so long
Jec: Then you’re gonna wanna hear this!
* Housekeeper knocks, Jerico opens door.
* Housekeeper has a pile with 2 comforters and a pillow
* Housekeeper drops pile on the floor. The Floor.
* Housekeeper takes comforter from the pile and hands to Jerico.
* Housekeeper picks up pile and heads on… most probably toward me.
Jec: So I guess you got the dirty pile, huh.
4. Jerico back in the pool after moving his stuff to my room.
Jec: Dude, napipikon na ako ha! (Dude, I’m getting pissed)
* Bellman comes in to take luggage of people leaving
* Jerico asks Bellman to help him bring his things to my room
* Bellman: Sir teka lang ilagay ko lang to sa cart (Sir, wait a minute I’ll just put this in the cart)
* Jerico: Ah paki dala nalang. (Oh, please just bring it)
* Bellman: (let’s out a loud sigh and scratches his head)
* Jerico: !!!
5. Moi asking for late check out
Front: Hello good morning (trust me after this call it was NOT a good morning)
Me: Hello, My family is checking out before noon but me and my brother’s flight is at 5pm, so I’ll need to have a late checkout.
Front: Ok Ma’am one sec … Ma’am ok can extend your stay from noon until 1pm.
Me: But my flight is at 5pm…
Front: Yes ma’am, but our late checkout is 1pm because your villa needs to be cleaned for the next guests.
Me: But I am only asking that one villa be given late checkout, not all three. I know for a fact you are not fully booked, and it is a Sunday, so I think you can extend me a checkout later than 1pm.
Front: But Ma’am that’s our policy. ( this is when my blood turns to lava)
Me: Look, I’m sorry but what do you want me to do from now until my flight at 5pm? We didn’t pay this much just so you can tell me that you cannot accommodate a late checkout. I think you need to escalate this to your supervisor because we have been quite sedate about the service or lack thereof. But if I can’t even get a late checkout for my flight then this is going to be a problem.
Front: ok Ma’am I’ll call you back.
Front: Hello Ma’am I’m just glad to let you know that management has granted your request for late checkout to 3pm even if we are full occupancy today.
When I left the resort, I ask our driver how many rooms of the 16 were occupied. The answer was six. SIX.
It’s always wise to remember that when a hotel guest enjoys your hotel… he/she might refer to about 10 friends, but if they are dissatisfied with their stay, the extent of their wrath can reach continents.
I wish I didn’t have to pay so much, then I wouldn’tve expected top quality service synonymous with a resort in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World club. Interestingly, I paid 1/5th of that at the Oceana, a B&B in the Santa Barbara, and the service was impeccable. Go figure.