Thursday, 3 November 2011

Phuket Fawlty Towers (L Esprit De Naiyang)

Our next hotel was really just an overnight stop before our morning flight. We thought it best not to push Charlie for a long day of ferrying then taxis then planes etc. Even though it was only an overnight stop we had still opted for a nice establishment near the beach at a cost of $115 for the night.

The whole experience was really quite comedic in hindsight, somewhat akin to a Fawlty Towers episode. We arrived at 1 with Charlie badly in need of a sleep and us not too far behind. Things took a bad turn when we were told the room would not be ready for another hour. This us when Tina kicked off with her first use of the phrase 'Not Happy'. Tina had read a lot of Agoda comments when booking this holiday and was more than ready to complain about service or standards that were not as advertised. I should say that this is quite different to our usual behaviour at home where we rarely complain about anything instead just copping it sweet and resolving never to return. Her complaints had the desired effect and our room was quickly prepared. Unfortunately when we arrived at the room things took another turn for the worse when Tina noticed that the beach view we had paid for was nonexistent! To add insult to injury we had also been given two single beds! I noticed that the hotel wifi was not detectible in our room but kept this to myself and quickly put Charlie to bed while Tina went down to continue complaining. The hotel was quite unusual as it was quite new but built on what looked to be a swamp/wetland with no civilization in sight save for a few farmhouses. One of the photos below is of the swamp view from our balcony side window. I reluctantly accepted that it would be a hotel dinner for us that night. Tina returned defeated in what would be round one of an ongoing battle. The manager had pulled the old run and hide trick and the staff apologetically informed Tina that she was unavailable and they did not know where she was or when she would return. At this stage of the bout I had the score at Tina 1 - Hotel 3.

Down but not out Tina took some time to recuperate and we all had a sleep. Charlie woke us all around 4 and Tina immediately went down to reception to 'kick some but!' Charlie and I waited eagerly for her return. Upon her return Tina had made a small comeback and at least located the manager. She had landed some solid blows but the manager returned fire and explained that the room does have a beach view, it's just that the trees are very tall. It's difficult to argue with this kind of logic but Tina persisted and turned down offers of room upgrades and a free extra night. Instead she settled on two free massages. Although we weren't sure when we would have time to receive these massages Tina was feeling good about her efforts. The manager also told Tina that there were shops and restaurants a short walk down the beach so we decided to go and check it out. The first hurdle was a murky inlet that needed to be crossed before we could reach the by now infamous beach. Fortunately the resort provided a makeshift pulley ferry for people with driver. We boarded the rickety device and Tina recalled the manager mentioning that we needed to cross a bridge... More points to the manager there I'm afraid. We successfully negotiated the crossing and made not of the time it closed for our return trip. After a short walk we found the beach and shops, restaurants etc. It was a strange place for reasons we couldn't put our finger on but after a walk up and back navigating the restaurant and taxi sprukers we decided on dinner back at the resort. We didn't go for a swim as it was quite a windy and dirty beach and we had been spoiled by the beauty of Phi Phi. On the way back Tina felt she had unfinished business with the resort manager. I wasn't sure what she had planned and my suggestion of swapping the massages for some magic beans didn't go down well.

We made our way back across the "bridge" to the resort and sat down for dinner. The menu wasn't too bad and while I checked it out Tina went back to continue her duel with the manager. Shortly after Tina returned the manager came over and said something about a 10% discount to which Tina agreed. I wasn't sure what had been agreed but I felt Tina had made some good ground and scored the battle at that point Tina 3 - Hotel 5.

We ordered a Green Curry chicken with roti and a fried rice with pork for ourselves and a ham, cheese and egg sandwich for Charlie. Not long after we sat down it started raining very heavily and we praised ourselves on the decision to return to the hotel for dinner, negotiating the river crossing in pelting rain would nit have been fun. After a short wait the waiter brought over a small plate with 4 pork sausages and a few slices of ham and told Tina it would be 150 Baht. Rocked by this very loose interpretation of a sandwich we accepted the offering. Fortunately Charlie quite enjoyed it! Our dinner took a little longer but was quite nice. Nothing to rave about but by this stage our expectations weren't high and we were satisfied except that we did not receive any roti... Tina was not taking this lying down and after pointing this out to the waiter a freshly cooked roti arrived not long after. After finishing our roti we asked for the bill which Tina scrutinized meticulously. She pointed out to me that there was a discount listed and explained that this was what she had negotiated in place of the massages. When I pointed out that the 48 Baht discount she had brokered was equal to about $1.80 she fired back to reception to demand reinstatement of the massages. The manager agreed to this request and we returned to our room to wait for them. By this stage we were both pretty tired but felt compelled to receive the massages on principle. As Charlie was still awake we needed to have the massages on after the other while we took turns entertaining Charlie who should probably have been in bed. The massages were wonderful and the masseuse was incredibly strong leaving Tina wincing in discomfort throughout the whole ordeal. We wondered if she was under instructions from the manager to inflict as much pain as possible! Charlie found the whole thing very entertaining and even joined in for some of the massaging. My massage was also quite painful but I was left once again feeling very loose and limber. I really hope we can find someone back home who is as good as this lady although I'm sure the price will be much higher. Although the massages were free I gave her a 100 Baht tip. Feeling very happy with ourselves we both crashed. I quietly to myself assessed the score at Tina 4 - Hotel 5.

The next morning we woke early and had breakfast. Once again it was fine but nothing memorable. After breakfast Tina returned to reception to check out. This went smoothly and Tina even scored a round victory when they tried to charge us for the airport transfer. Tina referred to her travel printout book which stated that free transfers were provided. The manager succumbed and we were provided the transfer free of charge. For the official record I gave a final score for the whole encounter Tina 5 - Hotel 5. A great comeback effort from Tina I have to say!

Tina has been reading all my blog entries after they are posted and often pointing out typos and other mistakes. In an offering of fairness I am going to give her a right of reply to this entry so stay tuned...



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