This week Compensation Clinic-case comes from a reader’s stay at way to HOT Sheraton Hohhot hotel in China.
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.
You can access Sheraton Hohhot’s website here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
Recently after reading through your latest compensation clinic piece on the Le Meridien Putrajaya I thought I would bring up a situation I have been involved with thats ongoing – at the Sheraton Hohhot, China.
Essentially the room and hotel was insanely hot and I believe since the hotel failed to deliver the most basic service – a good nights rest; I actually expect some sort of compensation.
Below an email I have sent the hotel and have outlined to SPG Customer Relations (over phone) on the whole stay. Its maybe a bit bold so take it with a grain of salt!
The hotel (after I have called SPG) replied back to me but basically with just an apology – in this case I don’t really feel its enough as it really was a bad stay. Ill also attached their reply below.
If you have any suggestions on how I should proceed please let me know! Do you think I am being a bit unreasonable to not settle for their sorry email?
Here’s the email that the reader sent to the property:
Today i want to write you about one of the worst hotel stays (in a 4+ star) hotel i have had ever – at the Sheraton Hohhot, China.
Confirmation number: XXXX from april 1-3 (2 nights)
While the staff were extremely kind and well-intentioned and the hotel cleanliness & quality of furnishings was really great and modern there were two things that were absolutely unacceptable.
The most basic service a hotel may provide is the ability to sleep well – in this case because there was no air conditioning and an inability to open any window more then 1 inch the room was incredibly hot. I am talking about it being approximately 29-31 degrees celsius in there. Having called staff twice the first evening to fix the problem they were unable to so we “tried” to sleep. Obviously when you are so hot you almost break a sweat in bed the hotel does not deliver on its main purpose – to provide a good night’s rest. This heat was replicated in the club lounge the next evening where our faces were literally red that’s how hot it was. Again likely a temperature of 29-31 degrees celsius. Keep in mind that outside temperatures were actually super pleasant at 13-19 degrees Celsius during the day and 5-13 degrees in the evening…
Luckily after indicating this heat to staff the first morning they changed us to another room for the second night promising it would be cooler. Unfortunately this was not the case as we realized in the afternoon of the 2nd day. At this point even i was furious (which i really don’t get often especially not at staff) and asked to speak to the duty manager, andy. Finally he moved us to a 3rd room for the second night which was slightly colder. I know he was trying his best to help. Likely this new room around 24 degrees celsius: not the best but we could sleep. Ideally hotel room temperatures should be able to be set around 18-25 degrees depending on guest preferences. Nevertheless we should not have to change 3 rooms over a 2 night stay.
Aside from that the breakfast was also very disappointing and not up to sheraton standards. Staff was awesome and very nice but the food was stale – from the almost hard & dry smoked salmon to the rock hard croissants. For a 4-5* hotel under the sheraton brand i expected more of a feast but often just had an omelette and a side of toast combined with some fruit juice from concentrate. Having just stayed at the hilton in beijing and chengdu i know chinese standards can be high for western hotels so this is not a local/cultural difference.
To be honest i rarely complain and you can see from my tripadvisor profile (XXX) that i prefer to commend hotels for great experiences but this was honestly a nightmare stay (vs expectations from a ‘good’ hotel). If this were to happen in a 2-3 star in Hohhot, China then of course i understand. You get what you pay for. Here we did not get what we paid for.
For that reason i wanted to escalate my dissatisfaction to you with the hopes that you can address this issue.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
And here’s their reply:
First of all it was a great honor and pleasure having you with us and thank you for having chosen our hotel from 1st April to 3rd Apr.
I sincerely apologize for the air-conditioning issue which you have encountered during your stay. We have already reported the issue to hotel management and taken seriously action to avoid this issue happen again in the future.
Dear Mr. REMOVED, once again I do apologize and I trust you will give us another opportunity offering our services and convincing you of the high level of quality that we always willing to provide to our guest.
If I can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to contact me any time.
We look forward to welcoming you back at Sheraton Hohhot Hotel very soon again.
I suggested that the reader should be clear what they would like to get as a compensation. Do they just want an apology, Starpoints or refund?
Here’s the reply that I got back:
Thanks for the response and your suggestion – I decided to follow your recommendation and request Starpoints. After asking they have refunded me 3,000 points to my account. Seems okay right?
Full email thread below:
Dear Mr. REMOVED,
What a pity that you will not be coming back to Hohhot in the future!
Thank you so much for your loyalty to SPG and 3,000 starpoints will be posted to your SPG account as soon as possible. I believe that you could still find confidence in other SPG hotels and resorts in the future. And we are still welcoming you back at any time.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is any other thing that I can be your assistance.
The reader’s feedback letter (some could say complaint) started in the correct tone. You should always tell first what you really liked before going to the issues you may have had.
Also, I always stress that one should be clear what their preferred outcome would be. Some are satisfied with just apology while others may preferred compensation Starpoints or a partial or full refund.
I always tend to ask points as a compensation. This ensures that they internally have to allocate the cost and may think twice about actually resolving the issue.
This air-conditioning issue is prevalent at many Chinese hotels. Some can only have either heat or cool on at the same time and seems that the locals prefer uncomfortably warm premises when it is bit cooler outside.
I was once staying at Shangri-La Shenyang and the room was so hot during the winter time (-20 Celsius outside) that they moved me to an unheated floor. I ended up being there with plenty of clothes on but at least I was able to sleep.