Compensation Clinic: Miserable Stay At The Aloft Seoul (Gangnam Property)

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This weeks Compensation Clinic is making a stop in Seoul, South Korea where yours truly had a very terrible stay at one of the two aloft properties in town (Gangnam District).

Remember that our readers can also always email us, send us a Facebook message or Tweet about the issues you have with hotels, airlines and other travel providers. We’ll feature one new Compensation Clinic each week.

Seoul is a beautiful city if you appreciate certain aspects of it, especially culturally and that’s why I always like to return. Hotels however can prove difficult and I came across only a few properties that really reflected what one would call professional, international standard.

Since SPG has quite a few properties in Seoul I decided to try the Aloft Seoul Gangnam for a night which showed up in the hotel pool the company offers. The previous night was a private stay where I used points at the Intercontinental Grand Parnas, probably my favorite hotel in that part of town.

The check-in at the aloft was already rocky with the associate actually charging my credit card instead of just taking an authorization. I was assured it wasn’t a charge, sure enough the hotel needed to refund the full amount.

I don’t like this at all because usually I give remaining currency to the hotel before I leave to pay part of the bill so I don’t have to drag it around until the next visit.

What’s bothering me most is that these lies “Oh, it’s just an authorization” were kept until the end. The account statement of my Chase Hyatt Card showed clearly that it was a purchase and reversal of the transaction.

The “upgrade” at this aloft was a joke, apparently to a River View to which I say at any hotel: A view isn’t an upgrade. The room was like a tiny box and since I have stayed at multiple aloft before I can say this isn’t the standard for this brand. I’m quite a fan of these select service properties because it’s usually a clean, easy stay for a decent rate with acceptable standards.

The next issue was the alarm clock which rang around 5:45am since it hasn’t been reset from the previous guest visit. Great way to start the day when you just had to get up at 9:30am. Not!

Final straw was the breakfast as I was informed the evening before it would go until 10:30am. When I reached the restaurant at 10:05am it was already taken down as it actually just goes until 10:00am.

I requested to speak to the General Manager of the property because at this point too many things had been piling up. Now the usual Korean spiel (and Asian style in general) comes into play where the person telephones around and speaks for minutes to some person discussing everything apart from the issue. too bad for them if the customer understands what they’re talking about though as in this case. I told the lady to end the call and get management down to the restaurant. It took 14 minutes in total.

The GM was empathetic and I appreciated the time he took to eventually come down and discuss the matter. It’s not his fault that the employees try to give the customer the runaround. I find that in Asia nobody likes to call the boss due to a customer service issue and you almost have to go berserk so they finally relent and call the GM’s office.

I mentioned the issue and that we’d go and have breakfast or early lunch (whatever was available) outside of the hotel. Since I had a meeting at the COEX we ended up eating there and paying ~ 50,000 KRW for 2 guests (a hotel breakfast is charged at 22,900 KRW as per the sign outside).

This is roughly half of the corporate room rate but honestly that’s not my fault and I should have been given the correct timing beforehand. Since I realize the amount is quite high I offered to accept 7,000 SPG points instead which is the equivalent of one free night at this property.

Upon check-out the Assistant Manager offered 3,000 points without even mentioning the email and the receipt i sent. I declined that offer and said it’s either a full reimbursement of the check or the 7,000 points which is already a concession on my part. Eventually he confirmed the 7,000 points credit.

The points credited roughly a week after the stay and I didn’t press in the meanwhile as I was sure I could trust the word of a manager in Korea if he confirms such an offer verbally. There are other countries where I wouldn’t be so sure of it though.

Conclusion

I believe that the compensation in this case was fair and even though on the high side in terms of points value, I value cash much higher and rather have $50 in cash that was my personal money instead of piling up points. With 7,000 points I say it’s a break even for me all things considered. Good thing with SPG is that full points stays are qualifying as well.

To be fair I will likely end up redeeming these point at the same property again so the loss for them is marginal if any. I actually prefer the brand new aloft in Myeongdong (where I was even upgraded to a suite multiple times before as a Platinum) but for convenience and proximity to my appointments I need to use the Gangnam location at least during business stays.

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  • ihg newbie

    John, i think you once whined about hotels with lobby on top floor. is that why you prefer grand intercontinental parnas over park hyatt across street? other than the lobby issue, i think park hyatt is superior in every aspect. just my 2 cents.

    • Good memory! Indeed that is one of the most annoying things at the PH Seoul but not the actual reason. I find the service at the Grand Parnas especially at the Club Floor (which the Park Hyatt doesn’t have) fantastic, very personal and professional. Yes the rooms and suites are a little older but to be honest I rather deal with that than the terrible service and pretty worn down Park Suites across the street. Park Hyatt Seoul has one of the worst managements of all Hyatt around (again, it’s a local GM). Oh and the pool is pathetic as well at the PH. My go to Hyatt in greater Seoul is the Incheon property, other than that I do Starwood and IC.

  • Joseph Merrick

    Aren’t you exaggerating a bit? I honestly pity you if a few tiny issues like that are enough to make your stay “miserable”. Travelling must really be painful for you 😉

  • Pierre

    Another drama post 🙄 I strongly advise you not to travel anymore , you will feel less pain and the millions of hotels in the world will not fear you visit!

  • qfx

    ‘Very terrible’ stay, life must be one big drama. Shame, because you had some valid complaints, just not ‘very terrible’.

  • SH

    Hotels despise people like this author — complain everywhere they go with the objective of getting compensation. Eventually they get a note about this in their profile though, and the game ends.

    • Pierre

      +1 I am sure there are plenty of notes in all his hotel profiles.

  • disgusted

    “I give remaining currency to the hotel before I leave to pay part of the bill so I don’t have to drag it around until the next visit.”
    **Drag it around?? How much cash are you carrying that it’s so burdensome to carry some bills and coins??

    “A view isn’t an upgrade. The room was like a tiny box and since I have stayed at multiple aloft before I can say this isn’t the standard for this brand.”
    **Actually, Princess, it is an upgrade. And if you had a view of the Han River, I’m sure it must have been quite nice at night time. As for standards, you will also find room sizes can be affected by location regardless of the chain’s “standards”, especially where land and space are at a premium. I’ve stayed at chains in France and NYC where rooms require that I have to walk sideways to get around but in other parts of the world, they are enormous. Suck it up, Sebastian, and maybe next time get something larger, especially if there are two of you and certainly when hotels adverts tell you the size of the room! Did you take the cheapest room imagining that you would be upgraded for it? I’ll bet you did…And since that didn’t happen, I guess you thought you should just have it for free.

    “the alarm clock which rang around 5:45am since it hasn’t been reset from the previous guest visit. Great way to start the day when you just had to get up at 9:30am”
    **Hey, I’ll bet this hotel has several rooms over several floors, they can’t just cater to you. I’m surprised that considering how much you travel, this hasn’t happened in the past. Maybe it’s a good idea for you to check the alarm before going to bed? I know it’s a hassle, and in your case, likely a “travesty” to have to do so but stop being such a whiny biatch, it’s so ugly. I don’t know who you were traveling with but I could never travel with someone like you. You sound like such a stress-inducing monster.

    “I requested to speak to the General Manager of the property…Now the usual Korean spiel (and Asian style in general) comes into play where the person telephones around and speaks for minutes to some person discussing everything apart from the issue. too bad for them if the customer understands what they’re talking about though as in this case. I told the lady to end the call and get management down to the restaurant. It took 14 minutes in total. The GM was empathetic and I appreciated the time he took to eventually come down ”
    **You speak Korean or your “travel partner” did? I am guessing you didn’t pay full price for her either? 14 minutes…you really should just sue these people, seeing as they should have known to be waiting for your call and sitting on the other side of the wall, ready to spring up when they heard your footsteps, instead of “eventually” showing up after having to drop something they were probably actually engaged in and stop the world for you. If you did actually appreciate the tie the GM took to spend with you, you probably would not have gone as far as you did, but thank goodness your graciousness was able to accept the matter with points instead of cash. I feel so sorry for the company you were with. I’d be so ashamed to be out with you, throwing tantrums everywhere you go, just to save on your travels which you seem to get to do for free all the time anyway.

  • Gary

    As I have stated previously, if I were a hotel GM, I’d permanently bar this prissy little entitled racist misanthrope from my property. I’ve also suggested John remove him from this blog given how it’s hurting his brand having little Sebastian go around the world demanding and complaining in the name of Loyalty Lobby.

  • Ridoncularious

    Sebastian must either be the most unlucky traveler in the world, with the myriad of complaints seemingly at almost every hotel he stays at, or just the whiniest. Take your pick.

  • Patrick Yu

    Well, I might not be staying at hotels a lot like you do. But I certainly think you were making these things too dramatic, like I previously read in this blog, you might be banned from the chain after so many complaints!

    I don’t feel this is a valid complaint for a compensation of 7,000 points indeed.

  • YoLaViajera

    I agree with the need to complain about these issues. I would be VERY PISSED if my card was charged and someone lied and said it was an “authorization” instead. What kind of crap front desk service is that? I would also be very upset about being given the wrong hours for when breakfast ended. These are not tiny issues, they are important service quality details that make or break a stay. I doubt anyone else commenting negatively here would let any of these things slide. Thanks for the heads up about this hotel. I’ll be aware of these issues.

  • hihi123dah

    why is this joker still allowed to blog here? he doesn’t add anything of substance to the site

  • Nenad Pasic

    you should know by now to unplug hotel room alarm clock from the wall and pull out any backup batteries it might have installed…