07/10/2017

'Luxury' Wannabe Hotel | Avoid in Sicily

I have to be honest with you, I was dreading writing about this part of our Sicilian experience because Sicily is such a beautiful place, and I would not want to put anyone off. However, I would like to save you for disappointment and your money, especially for your honeymoon. I want to highlight that this is my opinion, based on my experiene. 

After our fantastic time in Ortigia we moved on to the next destination, which we had very high hopes for after seeing and reading how amazing the venue looked on Booking.com. Located away from the city hustle and bustle Falconara Charming House Resort & SPA, which is marketed as being exclusive, relaxing, very romantic and scenic treat for anyone’s honeymoon. This was exactly what we were looking for. ‘Perfect’, one would think and click on the ‘book now’ button on Booking.com. Btw this is not a sponsored post and yes, we paid for the accommodation. However, Booking.com plays an important part in this story.
Upon arrival the reception made a very good impression on us and the start of our amazing stay had begun; we thought. We followed the receptionist to our apartment, which was supposed to be a spectacular apparent with a sea view and terrace doors opening straight out onto the sunbeds; the perfect location to relax on your honeymoon whilst being in each other’s arms.

Upon walking to the apartment the realisation hit us and the disappointment came over like a wave. This was not what we had booked and was not what we were looking forward to.
The first thing we noticed was that there were not patio doors opening up for us, there was no relaxing sea view there was not luxury; a walk was between the apartment and relaxing on our own private terrace. Instead we had a dark and tired building in dire need of a refurbishment, a terrace that was not as described and created an isolated communal feeling.
I am assuming lighter patches are where someone attempted to clean dirt with water, camera did not capture it quite well 
In the room we were welcomed by worn orange walls with unidentified marks on them and peeling paint and cracks. It can happen to anyone, thinking that the room needs a touch up but not thinking too much about it. This could be overlooked and ignored because it was something I would expect from a very cheap hostel however, we were meant to be in a luxury resort. Still hit with shock I went to the bathroom to discover heavily rusted and discoloured towel and toilet paper holders. Moreover not all of them were attached properly so they were just hanging down waiting to fall off onto an unsuspecting guest. Guess who would be charged for ‘damage’ when that would happen?  
I use work in hospitality and tourism for a few years therefore out of sympathy I do not like to complain. However, this was one of the occasions that clearly the hotel did not reflect their promise of standard and luxury which they shouted out on their description. Unfortunately, the reception was determined to pretend that the issues do not exist. 

Firstly by making us wait almost 20 minutes, hiding in the back really does not work, problem, aka consumer, will not go away thinking you have disappeared. When finally the issue was addressed the only solution the hotel could offer was a paid upgrade to the room we booked originally. Basically they wanted us to pay again for what we had already paid for. I really wish that is how the business works because it means when I was working in the hospitality industry I would make a lot of money for the place I worked at and be promoted in no time to a commercial genius. Fortunately it does not work like that so consumers cannot be tricked and hotels should honour their promises. 

Thankfully Booking.com, which we contacted by this point came to our rescue and sorted out the issue in a very quick, professional, and helpful manner. They forced the hotel to give us the correct room we paid for and not try to take us for a ride. Finally we were moved to another apartment, which… 

By this point we were tired, disappointed, and felt that there is no point even discussing it with the hotel. The dirt which had been left, I am assuming, after the insect repellent lamp was not cleaned for two days as well has the dirt and mortar crumbling from the ceiling all over the TV. The intense smell from the candle/lamp also stayed with us till the end of our stay. At the end of our stay we received only one downturn service, which was basically a little treat on our bed waiting for us. This may not seem like an issue but it’s a usual service you receive every day in hotels that consider themselves high end and luxury, so I wonder why we received it only once. Later after raised concerns the receptionist admitted that although we paid and were charged for a sea view terrace we had been downgraded to a garden view.
A few other points that should be mentioned:
  • The sea shore is full of sharp rocks which combined with strong waves meant for me issues getting in and out without falling over and cutting myself. I was very careful but yet I managed to cut open my knee. I would definitely not recommend it for kids or weak swimmers.
  • The stairs to and from the beach are rotten and falling apart. It was not nice walking down them as they felt like they were about to collapse.
  • Despite being a private beach it is poorly maintained with lots of rubbish and sea debris.
  • The fountain above the swimming pool has not cleaned, or repaired, for a while which meant many of tubes were blocked and hanging off. Again, this shows the lack of love and investment in the place.
  • The tennis court, need extra care because there was barely any grass on it. There was an astro-turf covering however this had become mouldy and rotten.
  • There is the possibility of weekend wedding with fireworks, music, and drunk guests knocking on your room/window etc. The wedding party that happened when we were there had food nearby the restaurant, which made us feel like we were intruding on their ceremony that should be personal and intimate. Basically we just wanted to finish our food as quick as we could and leave.
  • The breakfast is a buffet. Be aware that your table can be cleaned, mine was despite having a full coffee and plate of food still waiting for me to get back from the restroom, before you actually finish your breakfast. I found that particularly rude.
  • Dinners were definitely a highlight.  

In my opinion  Falconara Charming House Resort & SPA does not deliver the promises made on their page and definitely not for the price they ask for their ‘apartments’. I would like to say that this poor experience and unacceptable consumer service did not influenced our honeymoon but that would not be truth. We left with a huge relief and a feeling that we could get a way better hotel for over £600 we spent there for three nights. Hotel, in my opinion, does not deliver what they charge for. It has the potential to be a very lovely spot however I would not recommend that you stay there as there are better accommodation options available. Unfortunately the high price is not justified in this instance. Another hotel added to the list of accommodations that I cannot recommend and if I can I will lead people away from the idea of staying there.

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