An old family friend was a member of a group who attended a 'Country and Western' themed short break at the Burston Hotel in Folkstone last weekend. They had been promised all the usual amenities including 'three fun-filled evenings of entertainment' which, on the face of it, sounds fairly reasonable even to a confirmed C&W-Phobe like myself.
To say that they were disappointed with their break is one hell of an understatement. In fact they're quite angry about the whole thing, describing it as an "Unmitigated Disaster" and a "Complete shambles". For some the phrase 'Bloody Furious' might be a far more accurate description of their mood.
Yes. I know. 'Holiday' brochures etc. But this is not simply a case of a glossy brochure overselling the event or the reality not matching up to expectations.
The first hint that 'all was not well' was the very poor condition of the corridor leading to the rooms. This had an ageing false ceiling with a number of tiles missing and many others cracked or broken. The only bright spot in this dismal passage was a new-ish looking carpet which one guest suggested would be more appropriate in a Las Vegas casino.
The rooms were also in a very poor condition. None of them had been cleaned properly, perhaps for weeks, while some did not appear to have been cleaned at all. One member of the group was eventually forced to scrub her own 'facilities' before she could use them. Housekeeping staff were apparently "Too busy" to deal with this within a reasonable time frame.
The dining room, while considerably cleaner, was only in a slightly better condition and resembled a self-service cafeteria of the kind now out of favour even with Public Sector Organisations.
The food was absolutely appalling. Cold, improperly cooked, etc. The fish and chips served on Friday evening appeared to have been prepared from the previous days leftovers with the batter oozing rancid oil over the plate. The chips were shrivelled, hard and completely inedible.
Even the entertainment fell far short with performers wearing traditional Hawaiian costume on Friday and Saturday evening. Yes, that's right. Grass Skirts etc. with Country and Western music. Can you imagine how ridiculous that looked?
To paraphrase Queen Victoria, the group were Not Amused!
Then on Sunday afternoon while waiting in reception, one member of the group observed the arrival of another guest who told the receptionist that he had seen two men "Trying car doors" in the hotel car park. Only to be informed that all vehicles were left at the owners risk while having his attention drawn to a small, discretely placed, 'No Liability' sign. It seems that he was not impressed by this callous disregard for the safety of guest's property and cancelling his reservation, promptly left the hotel in search of somewhere more congenial.
While he was undoubtedly the quickest to leave, he certainly wasn't the first as some of the 'C&W Weekenders' had already left on Saturday morning after the fiasco with the fish and chips. Others waited until Sunday morning in the vain hope that things would improve.
The fact the that entertainment on Sunday evening finally lived up to the promises was little consolation for a much anticipated weekend break which was thoroughly spoiled by bad accommodation and even worse food. The group were unable to give a clear picture of staff attitudes or behaviour as they were "Conspicuous by their absence".
A week later the group are still divided on what action to take with some in favour of legal action against both the tour operator and the hotel for "Misrepresentation and endangering their health".
Whether the latter refers to the general state of hygiene or the food is unclear...