Saturday, 21 June 2014

Shouldn't it have been an upgrade, not a downgrade?

I am just back from a week on the Costa Brava.  I need another week off to get over it.

I booked the flight, accommodation and transfers back in mid April.  Less than 24 hours before I was due to fly, I had an email from Alpharooms, who I booked the hotel through, telling me that the hotel I had booked and paid for had been overbooked and so I was being moved to another hotel.

I was not happy to say the least as I have been staying at the Maritim for the last 5 years as for me, it is the ideal hotel.

I was assured that it would not spoil the holiday, after all, a 3 star hotel is a 3 star hotel.

Well, lets compare the two.

This is the hotel I booked, the Maritim

This is the hotel I was put in, the Santa Monica

This was last year's view from the Maritim.

And this week's from the Santa Monica

There were other, little, differences too.

At the Maritim, you can sit where you like in the restaurant, the staff remember you after a couple of days so you no longer have to show your dining card.  The tablecloths are linen as are the napkins.

At the Santa Monica, you are told where to sit.  Every day I had to confirm that, yes, I only needed a table for one even though this was clearly stated on my dining card, which I had to show every day.  I was then used as filler in between groups and family parties, which would be fair enough if the restaurant hadn't only ever been about 1/3 full. The tablecloths and serviettes were paper.

The tables were all lined up and very close, it just felt wrong and uncomfortable to the point that although I had paid for half board, I only felt able to suffer through breakfast using an eat and run tactic.

The hotel also offers all-inclusive which the Maritim doesn't.  Now call me a snob if you like, but in my opinion, all-inclusive holidays, in Spain at least, attract a certain type of holidaymaker, watch an episode of Benidorm if you are not sure what I mean, I know that the show is exaggerated, but not necessarily by much.

The Maritim has a roof terrace complete with two jacuzzis.

The Maritim has free wifi, the Santa Monica charges so I refused to pay.

The Maritim has English language tv channels, the Santa Monica has none.

The Santa Monica does have a larger pool, but with the beautiful beach 10 minutes walk away, why would you stay by the pool?  Unless you are all-inclusive and don't want to miss out on the free beer and food of course.

The staff were pleasant, if you ignored the seat allocator in the restaurant.

There were daily activities for the kids, unfortunately all of these took place right under my balcony.

There was evening entertainment, which luckily I couldn't hear from my floor, but it was LOUD when I headed past on my way back from evenings out..

I think that these differences are reflected in the price.  These are two screenshots for a week in July, showing the prices for the Maritim and the Santa Monica.  There is a difference of, on average, £140 per week all year round.  I tend to book a double or twin room for single use as single rooms tend to be on the small size wherever you stay.  I also go for the halfboard option.

I was always under the impression that if you were moved due to no fault of your own, it would be to a better standard of accommodation, not to one that is a downgrade and much cheaper, in every sense.

I have been given £20 compensation.  

I do hope that Alpharooms make the most of the extra profit that they made from my booking as I will not be booking with them again.  Although that can't be guaranteed as it may happen without my knowledge, I booked and paid Alpharooms, the accommodation voucher showed the agency name as SomewhereToStay, and the paperwork at the hotel showed Cosmos as the travel agents.

Today I travelled back.  I had booked and paid for my transfers and received my tickets, stating when and where I would be picked up/dropped off.  To rub salt into the wounds, it was too late to change my transfers and so I was dropped off, and was due to be picked up, at the Maritim.

The airport to resort transfer went smoothly, if a little slow.  However, today I was at the pick up point 30 minutes before the notified time.  Thirty minutes after my pick up time there was no sign of the coach.  I phoned the emergency number, which also appears to be the only telephone number, to be told that I was supposed to re-confirm my pick up 2 days before, it was in the small print.  I hadn't noticed this as having booked and paid for the transfer and received tickets stating the time and place of pick up I didn't read any further.

I had to pay for a taxi to take me to the airport.  It only cost €120.

My ankles swelled up during the flight, which isn't unusual, however I have now been home 4 hours and they are getting worse.  Normally once I start moving around they go down.  I can hardly walk.

Oh well, back to work Monday.  Oh the joys.


  1. Ohh no....I would be livid! I would be definitely complaining! You deserve compensation! x

    1. I was fuming, I was tempted to cancel but I would have lost out on the flight, the transfer and the insurance, as well as the time off work and I did point this out to Alpharooms when they informed me of the change on the Friday. I have sent them a link to this post so they can see the differences, I doubt it will do me any good apart from feeling better from the rant! x