Compensation Clinic: Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden

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After an absolutely amazing stay at the Marriott Constantine, we had one night left in Algeria so we decided to treat ourselves to a night at one of the nicest hotels in Algiers, the Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden.

Sofitel Algiers

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You can access Sofitel Algiers Hamma Gerden’s website here.

READ MORE: Le Club AccorHotels Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

The stay started out with a short wait in the lobby to be helped, then as Accor Platinum we were sent to check in at the Sofitel Club Lounge. We were assigned a room with one bed, and then asked for a room change to one with two single beds. That was completed in about an hour.

Rooms at the Sofitel are dated, with older furniture and fixtures. It’s one of those familiar “garden atrium hotels” with most of the rooms opening into a huge, rectangle-shaped atrium. We made a visit to the lovely pool.

Once back in the room after the pool, we noticed that we’d only been catered for one person in the room

That’s when things went downhill. Kind of, unbelievably, comically, fast.

At first the Sofitel promised me a suite upgrade on my next visit which (see below) I turned down, and asked for something better.

Good morning Ms. xxxxxxx,

Thanks for reaching out.

I plan to write a much more detailed (sorry, very poor) review on the Trip Advisor site when I have time.

I want you to know that I post very positive reviews quite often on Trip Advisor– so I’m not the person who complains much. In fact, I never mentioned that I’m a Platinum member until the late morning, planning to check out shortly then after. Even then, a simple bathrobe could not appear in my room after SEVEN attempts by me to get one.

As a Platinum member, I do have a lot of experience, both good and bad, with Accor Hotels but I still usually like them. For example, on Saturday night I needed a hotel for a short stay at Paris CDG airport, and chose the Ibis Styles. It was GREAT, and I will post a positive review of that place for sure!

Please let me know what you’ve heard from your colleague.  I will for sure write up a detailed experience, since I still cannot believe how poor my stay was.

The reply to that email offered a Suite Upgrade:

I was however concerned about your remarks concerning the bathrobe, coffee cup and the slippers missing from your room,  if you can just give us more details about the incident like : at what time you asked for? With whom?…etc. It will be very helpful from you to complete our investigations.

We are sincerely sorry for this disagreement, our commitment is to provide you with impeccable standards and greatest quality possible to ensure each guest’s stay is an unforgettable experience; as we have many positive reviews on TripAdvisor that you can check it personally, However, it is not acceptable from us to give any bad experience to our guests

Therefore, we are very pleased to offer you an upgrade to a Suite for your next stay at Sofitel.

If there is something else I can do to make your future stay more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Your satisfaction is the best reward for all of us who work every day to provide you with a better service.

While I appreciated her quick response, I turned down the Suite Upgrade, while (since she asked for details) giving the entire story. Reading it now, I think a big part of this was the simple fact that these were not difficult requests, yet it was comically challenging for them to be fulfilled.

Dear Ms. xxxxxxx,

Here is my detailed description:

I’m not sure what they did in the one hour it took them to prepare the room for us– since when we entered, it had obviously been prepared for one person (one hand towel, no floor towel, no washcloth, one bathrobe, one pair slippers, and only 1 coffee cup). What did we wait for?

2) I called down to the front desk about 20:00 for a bathrobe, slippers, and coffee cup. Was transferred to Housekeeping, I used my little French and some English. Nothing came, we went to sleep at 22:00.

3) In the morning, I called again for the same things as in #2. Front Desk or Concierge said they’d take care of it. About 8am, I called again, asked for a duty manager. I was told yes, I’ll connect you. The call was disconnected. Nobody called back.

4) I called again, call disconnected when I asked for Duty Manager.

5) Called front desk, asking for the same things in #2. Was told “I’ll personally take care of this.” So, We went to breakfast at 8:30am. Came back by 9:45am. NOTHING IN ROOM.

6) I called down and talked to Front Desk, who said he fully understood me. He transferred me to Housekeeping. She said, “Seulement Francais.” I used my poor French, and she came up with 2 pairs of slippers and about 15 packets of coffee (!) but no bathrobe or coffee cup.

7) We laughed about it, decided to go out of the hotel into the city. I stopped at Front Desk and asked for Duty Manager. “He will be in later.”  We paid for the room but we were overcharged by DZD4600 (for the room rate was wrong, plus we were charged for a breakfast that should be free). We paid cash.

8) We returned 3 hours later. Nothing more ever came to the room.

9) We went back to the Executive Lounge to get back the DZD4600. I was given DZD 4500 and told, “No change”.

10) I had two postcards with stamps, and we were leaving the country. (carte postal avec timbres)  I asked the man at the Executive Lounge if he could please send them for me. “No. You have to ask the concierge.”

11) When leaving the hotel, I asked the front desk if the Duty Manager had arrived. “Oh, it’s Saturday, he’s not coming in at all.” So, I asked, “Nobody is in charge of a 5 star hotel?”  He shook his head, no. I guess not.

If I had paid US$75 for this hotel, that’s one thing. If I had no status with Accor Hotels, that’s also something.

But please understand that, anyone paying DZD27000 (US$250) for one night in a hotel room, anywhere on the planet, deserves to at least get some service when I asked SEVEN TIMES for something so simple.

Anyone who has Platinum status with the hotel (even no status!) should get better service.

Please don’t blame language issues: If these staff were trained properly or had more energy to fix problems, when a guest is asking for something in a language they don’t understand, staff have two options: 1) Shrug your shoulders, ignore the request and pretend it never came or 2) find another staff member who can help. Obviously, in several cases they chose Option #1.

Even when they understood the request, it was sometime ignored: The woman at housekeeping tried to help. But bringing two slippers, and 15 coffee packets, and then I showed her the bathrobe and the coffee CUP that we needed– she nodded and smiles, but then she never came back.

MANY of these staff also did a “It’s not my job” answer when I asked for something: twice the front desk or concierge, after totally understanding my request, transferred me to housekeeping, where neither staff I spoke with understood me. The front desk or concierge should call housekeeping for this case, so there isn’t a language issue.

More “Not my job” was about the postcards. REALLY? He can’t accept them and give them to his colleague? By this point, I actually laughed to him when he said for me to walk down and do it myself.

Looking through this, I can see that this experience involved housekeeping (not preparing the room for 2), the Executive Lounge staff (not preparing the room for 2, overcharging me, not having change, and refusing to mail postcards), the front desk/concierge (not helping or taking responsibility for housekeeping’s lack of English, transferring me to people who didn’t understand me, telling me they’d take care of it and then it never happened), the reservations department (not fixing my rate correctly in the system so then I was overcharged), and most of all– the Duty Manager (Ha ha– if there WAS one on a busy Saturday???? but I guess not??) and the Operator (disconnecting my calls to a Duty Manger who wasn’t working that day– she should know that information and if a guest is disconnected, call the guest back).

Honestly, it’s hard for me to think of one section of the staff who did well. There were some individuals who did their jobs nicely (the woman at the front desk Saturday afternoon was nice and helped me get my DZD4500 refund) but really, this was a total disaster.

To be honest, I’m not interested in paying another DZD 250-300,000 for a room at your hotel, with the promise of a suite upgrade. That’s not very tempting compensation. Sorry.

Please let me know how this goes.

I definitely think management needs to think about training, especially for working with non-French speakers. If the staff doesn’t understand the request, there should be a protocol in place to find a staff who DOES understand. The Sofitel is too expensive to be ignoring customer requests, even for something small like a bathrobe…. .

I stayed at the Marriott Constantine for 3 nights, and the AZ Hotel Vieux Kouba for 3 nights. Both had staffs that were energetic, friendly, and tried hard to speak English and asked questions like, “How is your stay going? Do you need anything? Please let us know.”

Those questions really didn’t come from the Sofitel staff. I hope I am just unlucky! Maybe it was a bad day. Thanks!

Conclusion

The result of this was the Sofitel management offering me a free night on my next stay. I accepted. I do love the pool area, and the location is decent as well for getting around Algiers.

While points is always the preferred type of compensation, since you never know if you’ll use a free night, I do have plans to return to Algeria in the next year, so I’ll be sure to use it.

So, while the stay didn’t go well, I think they recouped their losses and kept me as a customer by offering the free night. They didn’t make excuses or ignore my emails– they actively sought out my comments and details. I was happily surprised at their service recovery in my case, so I will definitely give them another chance to earn my business.

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