This week’s Compensation Clinic case comes from a reader’s stay at a Hilton-affiliated hotel in Dubai that turns out to be dry (no alcohol on sale) without proper disclosure.
You can access DoubleTree Dubai M Square here.
READ MORE: Hilton Honors Rate & Bonus Points Offers
Here’s a shortened version of the reader’s email:
Let me describe the incident to you, which I do believe I might have touched upon in a comment earlier on your site, but in any case here is the ‘full’ story.
On returning to UAE from a break in Finland (yes I know you are from Oulo I believe), and due to, at that time the restrictions between Abu Dhabi and Dubai emirates, as I live in Al Ain, if I had returned home, they would have forced me to wear a beautiful ROLEX watch and stay home for 10 days. I have done this already twice rather annoyingly this year, so I decided to stay ”in freedom” in Dubai for 10 days, and follow the necessary protocol of a PCR test on the 4th day after arrival and initial test at DXB and a further one on the 8th day.
For this stay I reserved on points with HHonors (I am a Diamond member and through paid stays, not bank card affiliations), 9 nights at the above referred hotel in downtown ‘old’ Dubai.
This 9 night stay cost me, from my account 130,804 points deducted immediately when making the booking.
However on checking in, albeit at 4.30am on 21/08/21, and obviously retiring to bed until after lunchtime. On descending to the lobby to experience the so-called L’Arte Italian Coffee shop (off the Lobby), to my horror I realised that this hotel is ‘DRY’. This by itself is not a problem and if any hotel owner wishes to remain ‘islamic’ I have no problem, but obviously I wished to re-locate immediately to another hotel.
The front desk said it was not their problem, they could not assist and that it must be taken up with HHonors directly.
I must add quickly here that I went back to my room to check the HHonors website where I had indeed made the booking to see if there were any mentions clearly or even ambiguous that this hotel is ”DRY’ but there are (or were) NONE at all. Whilst on the website I sent an ‘in system’ message telling to find a solution immediately and re-locate me, or refund my points and I would re-locate myself.
I did also check the website you know the usual corporate BS contact us directory and it had a UAE contact no but this proved to be inactive.
So at this point I start to get extremely angry with HHonors who have ‘deliberately” concealed the fact that the hotel is ‘DRY’, this is deceit, furthermore that have explored the hotel fully I discovered that this hotel, marketed as a 5* hotel, clearly and very obviously is not!
So this is a FIVE Star hotel in Dubai, and if you have been, and I’m sure you have, you would be fully aware of what constitutes a 5* Hotel in Dubai.
The reader had contacted Honors and received 15,000 points as compensation:
They answered again — same story here’s another 5000 points and that’s their final offer, so if I am still upset then I must take it up with the hotel. (so after 3 months of trying to communicate with these morons over their obvious deceit and connivance) I had reached just 15000 points (a little over 1 night in value) of refund or compensation.
I thought something weird must be going on with this Hilton-affiliated hotel in Dubai. The neighboring emirate of Sharjah is dry, but alcohol can be served at licensed venues in other parts of the UAE.
I checked the Hilton’s website of this hotel and the “warnings” there were. Nothing indicated that this would be a “dry” hotel.
The amenities image implies that they serve alcohol.
There is not a word on Dining & Drinks beyond that guests can “sip on a cool refreshment.”
Additional hotel policies don’t communicate that this is an Islamic hotel without alcohol.
I forwarded the reader’s email to our contact at the corporate that promised to look into it. A few hours later, we received a reply that there is a note on the restaurant section that four of the F&B outlets don’t serve alcohol.
And indeed, the “dryness” of the hotel is hidden here.
The reader then contacted us to let us know that someone from the Hilton in the UK had been in touch with them and refunded 65,000 points.
This all boils down to expectations. One certainly would assume that a hotel part of a well-established brand would serve adult beverages in Dubai.
If they have decided to serve only the Islamic market and be dry, no issues with this, but they should CLEARLY communicate it during the booking process to avoid situations such as the case with the reader.
I am glad that the reader was able to find an amicable solution with the Hilton after we forwarded the case to corporate.