Reader Question: Pullman Khao Lak Reflagging Mess?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about the reflagging surrounding the Pullman Khao Lak and award reservation that he had for the property (not honored).

Pullman Khao Lak

Remember that you can always email me, sent a message via Facebook or use Twitter and include photos too. We’ll try to cover Reader Questions & Comments here several times a week.

Here’s the email from the reader:

I’ve been pointed to your website by a friend after discussing an ongoing issue with Accor’s customer service… I’ll try to give you a brief overview of what has become a terribly bad experience for me.

I have been travelling intensively in South East Asia for 3.5 years, always staying in Sofitels, and as such had accumulated a considerable amount of points (and a Platinum status which ended in August last year). I decided to redeem my points last December for a stay in Thailand at Pullman Khao Lak next week (C/I 13/02). After finally booking on 16/12, I received an email on 29/12 stating that the hotel was leaving the group on 31/12. As a consequence I’d have to pay cash and points would be refunded, which was not an option for me for 106.000 points (i.e. more than 2.000€). Their call centre right away referred to their level 2. After this initial contact, and despite multiple calls and emails (not mentioning Twitter PMs), I wasn’t contacted by anyone at Accor for more than 4 weeks. As my points had not been refunded I could not make another booking.

I finally got the points back early last week, and straight away booked at Pullman Phuket Naithon Beach, which was already almost fully booked, and where I could not get anything close to the villa I had booked in Khao Lak (not mentioning that Phuket was clearly not my favourite place to go). As you understand less than 2 weeks ahead of my vacation I was getting quite nervous… The next day I finally received a call from Accor, initially just intended to close the case with no further discussion. Of course I expressed my dissatisfaction and requested a compensation. Which came only today, and was again highly unsatisfactory: 3000 points (a joke), a free drink, 15% off the spa, free laundry… plus “VIP welcome” which I don’t really know what it is. I honestly couldn’t believe that after such an appalling performance, they would try and get away with such a ridiculous offer…

Is there any way I could get hold of someone to actually take care fo this and provide adequate compensation? Any help or advice will be welcome. We’re leaving on Sunday anyway, but I’m not prepared to let go of this so easily… Thanks for reading me!

I have covered the reflagging of this property already twice! First when the owners decided to ditch Starwood brand (read more here) and most recently when this happened to Accor (read more here).

It is really unfortunate that these reflaggings affect mostly loyalty program members that either choose to stay at the property due to elite benefits received (+ points and stay/night credits) or those that choose to use points.

Hotels always honor paid reservations and sometimes wouldn’t want to refund them due to affiliation ending. My advice has always been to contact the GM and ask for a refund. The last choice is to open a chargeback that should be successful due to material change in the contract between the consumer and the hotel.

Award stays are sometimes honored but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. Accor cannot make the property to honor these after the affiliation has ended. Perhaps they should include something on the agreements that are signed at the time hotel decides to join one of the Accor’s brands to better protect the consumer.

Accor could work with this Phuket property trying to ensure that they would give you a better upgrade and perhaps some other benefits. The compensation points they offered are truly a token considering the number of points used for this reservation.

Conclusion

I don’t believe that there is much that Le Club AccorHotels can do here beyond contacting the new property and trying to get them to give the reader best possible upgrade and care during their stay.

The problem is that all the hotel chains have gone asset light and rarely own any of the properties that carry their flags. Owners change the brands if they feel that fees are either too high or the propriety hasn’t performed well enough. There must be something wrong with this property, however. Hotels don’t change their flags this often.

If the reader feels that Accor hasn’t done enough, good place to start would be to Google the names of Accor’s Asia Pacific executives and drop them an email.

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  • Holiday_Hero

    Does this person realize that accor doesnt own the thai hotel and has nothing to do with it now its no longer affiliated? The management/upper staffing has probably changed at the property too.

    Maybe if they state what they are looking for, explicitly. They might get it. Or not. Unlikely i would think now they no longer appear to hold any elite status (no recent paid stays for plat maintenance).

    • My point here was that I don’t believe that it is fair that it is the consumer that usually loses on situation such as this. Accor and other hotel companies should have stronger agreements in place with their affiliates when it comes to reflagging and how they deal with award and paid nights.

      Le Club AccorHotels here also took very long time to refund the points.

      • Holiday_Hero

        Le club are dire to deal with. My own questions have gone totally unanswered many times before. Its good to see they got a refund. Franchised hotels seem to have a get out free clause with all the major brands and you are right, loyal customers get screwed.

        It looks like they booked a reward stay 8 weeks in advance and were told 6 weeks in advance it wasnt possible to honor it. Not exactly the end of the world. Accor have another property literally down the road in the same area. When i am unhappy i suggest the solution that best suits me and its usually reasonable and honored.

        • Андрей Борисыч

          Accor doesn’t have any other 5* property in Khao Lak. Which hotel “down the road” are you talking about?

          • Holiday_Hero

            It’s called the Manathai and yes it’s down the road on the same stretch of beach. No discernible difference between the pool villas and suits in the Pullman and the Manathai, Iv been lucky enough to have stayed in both.

            If you want an identical hotel in the same area, book an ibis.

          • Андрей Борисыч

            Well, it’s 5 km to the north, separated by two small rivers and two large hotels (Beyond Resort and Mai Khao Lak). That’s not “same area”, it’s a different beach (Bangsak). Manathai is not an Accor property, it’s just an affiliated hotel that participates in Le Club program, which means that the reader can earn Le Club points for the stay but cannot use them to stay there. There is no other Accor property in Khaolak, hence he has to stay somewhere in Phuket or Krabi area.

          • Андрей Борисыч

            Oh, and there are no villas in Manathai, just the one-bedroom suites. Katiliya has lots of pool villas (I can only agree that they are small for a 5* but still it’s a private accomodation unlike the suites).

          • Holiday_Hero

            You are wrong. Are you the disgruntled customer that didn’t get to stay in the katallia villas? They were nice, but there are far better accor redemptions.

            I have stayed in the Manathai villas. From what you have been saying it comes across that you have not visited phang nga at all. The Pullman was near nothing, so relocating a few km down the road makes little difference. The beach is just as nice, it is on the same stretch, the area just as quiet and you are equally as isolated and in a perfect place to relax away from the tourist farm in Phuket.

          • Андрей Борисыч

            Wrong about what? About Pullman being 15 minutes ride away from Manathai? Or about Accor having no other property in Khaolak? (Both are true, by the way).
            I’ve been to Khaolak (and Phangnga in general) six times – almost in every part of it, from Bangsak to Natai, so I know perfectly well that Le Meridien aka Pullman aka Katiliya is on Pak Weep beach, while Bangsak Village aka Manathai is on Bangsak beach. Yes, these are similarly good, relatively uncrowded beaches, but it doesn’t make them same (Bangsak has a little bit of coral sand, Pak Weep is just sand). Katiliya has private pool villas, Manathai doesn’t. And if you remember the topic, this person couldn’t even use your advice to stay in Manathai – simply because this property is not available for points.

            By the way, Phuket also has relatively unspoiled and equally beautiful beaches in the north. There’s Pullman Arcadia on Naithon beach with really nice private villas – a much better property than Katiliya was.

          • Holiday_Hero

            No. You are wrong that Manathai has no pool villas. As i have stayed in one. And the rest is for Accor to sort out. Including why it takes you 15 minutes to travel 5km or why you cant discern the difference between a luxury resort and a cut and paste ibis. The Manthai would have been a good (and their only) alternative if staying in khao lak was a necessity.

  • Stefan

    To make things worse, the property was bookable (also for dates far in advance) on the Accor website virtually until the day it left the group. A few days later they were unable to contact the hotel, because their contact phone numbers and email were no longer working.

    • Hotel brands usually stop taking reservation past the exit date once it is confirmed that the property is leaving.

      Seems that Accor may keep taking reservation as far out to the future as booking window allows until the day the contract ends. They must be collecting their revenue for all these consumed stays….