I have finally booked my holiday for this year. I was looking at visiting Aruba for the first time. It took a while, but I found a hotel that would do a vegan meal plan. However, the tour operator and one of its travel agencies proved to be less than helpful.
Simple questions, but no answers
It’s a ten-hour flight from the UK to Aruba, and I wanted to know which seats were available. Obviously, me and the wife would want to be sitting next to each other. Also, I wanted a guaranteed room in the adults only part of the complex.
Thomson couldn’t help on anything. To get answers I had to hand over my cash and hope for the best. Unfortunately, this is common practice in the travel trade.
A trip to an old favourite nearly didn’t happen
It was too risky, so I looked to book an old favourite, St James’s Club in Antigua. I contacted the UK office for the hotel and asked if I can arrange for vegan meals.
I was very quickly told no, special meal plans are not available.
Not good service. Luckily I had my old travel agent black book, and within a few hours, the head chef at St James’s said that a vegan meal plan was no problem.
So I’m sorted, but what if I was just a normal punter? I probably would have gone elsewhere due to the unhelpful tour operator.
My six hotel pleas
On the back of my experience as a traveller, who is no longer in the travel trade, I listed some pleas to hotels to improve their service.
1. Could you offer flexible and affordable food options?
My brother-in-law was a head chef and the mark-up for food is huge. So hotels make a lot of money from serving expensive food with a limited range of options. As I have already mentioned, I’m a vegan and I don’t want to eat left over buffet bits (as was once suggested by a very upmarket hotel in the Maldives).
So please make it easy for those who are awkward, or have medical conditions to choose options that are varied. No one wants the same meal for seven nights.
Also, have cheap options for those on a tight budget.
2. Please have decent/useable maps for your location.
The trip to Antigua was originally going to be a trip to the Azores. The hotel suggested by the tour operator was only a few months old. The map was hopeless when trying to find out exactly where the hotel was.
3. Not everyone drinks tea or coffee.
I don’t, I never had (except when forced). Please offer soft drinks, such as squashes for those who are thirsty, but don’t want a hot cup of whatever.
4. While I’m at it – water
If I can’t drink the tap water, please provide plenty of bottled water. Again, I don’t want to boil water for a hot drink, a lukewarm water will do just fine.
5. Have electronic door keys that hold the info for much longer than the walk from reception to my room.
Going back and forth and up and down is no fun after a long flight.
6. Free internet
Need I say more. I realise that pay-per-view films are a source of extras income, but seriously, how much would you lose if you charge a little more for the room to cover the internet fee.
BTW, a couple may have five or six gizmos that use Wi-Fi, don’t limit the number of devices to two or three.
Have I missed anything out? What would you like to see hotels improve or offer?