My heading might not be 100% appropriate but it’s the best I can come up with just now.  I am taking a few days off in a 4 star hotel in the USA.  I’m not going to name the hotel because really the staff here are doing the best they can.  But to be honest, as far as I am concerned, I deserve better treatment by the hotel chain.  Why?  Because I am Mara?  No, but because I am a human being and that’s enough reason.


To the hotel chain, I am a statistic, a deposit payment to their bank account.  It would seem I am nothing more.  What’s wrong with hotel?  Absolutely nothing if we want to talk only about basics.  The room is lovely and spotlessly clean.  The front desk provided all the info they had on check in.  More later.  The waiters in the restaurants are extremely nice and helpful.

So, what’s missing?  What exactly is my problem?

Let’s start at the beginning.


I arrive at the town.  Hot, tired, hungry and more than a little stressed from my travels.  I tried to make an advance booking for the hotel shuttle bus to transfer me to the hotel.  This was not possible.  I had to wait til I arrived in the town and then call the hotel and so I was standing on the side of the road in the dark for 20 mins.  No passing taxis available or I would have hopped in one.

The hotel asked for online check in and so all I needed on arrival was my ID.  The lovely girl gave me the key – end of story.  She presumed I would know that room 4___ was on the 4th floor.  She presumed I would know where the lifts are.  She presumed I was ok with carrying my two suitcases up myself.  She presumed I would know where to go for dinner and breakfast.  She presumed I would know (by divine inspiration) where the pool, gym and other hotel amenities were situated.  She presumed I would know the beginning and ending times for breakfast, dinner and room service.  Well I didn’t know, so I had to ask all those questions.  My problem with that?  She did not know all the answers without having to go ask someone else.  Of course I was only covering my bases because I actually presumed there would be an info book in the room to tell me all that anyway.  There wasn’t!


Over the next few days I frustratingly battled with learning how to make a cup of coffee in the coffee maker.  No operating instructions other than those on the back of the Starbucks coffee packs provided.   Frankly, a kettle, jar of Nescafe and a cup would have been easier to deal with.  Let’s order room service… easy?  Well, no – because there was no dial tone on the phone and no instructions on how to use it!   Several frustrated minutes later by process of elimination I hit the button marked “talk”, got dial tone and managed to order room service.

Room Service was delivered in a paper bag… enough said.

Breakfast was not included – it was $25 per person extra.  I can’t say if that was before or incl tax because I consider that too much for breakfast anyway so did not try it.


The people cleaning the rooms gave me the impression they were not exactly enjoying their work.  I opted out of the daily room cleaning.  I prefer to lay out my stuff in my own way and not have it tidied away so I generally hang the “no room cleaning” sign on the door.  But I would have thought that delivering my bags of rubbish to them, taking my own clean towels, coffee refills and water from them meritied a smile.  After all, mine was one less room they had to work every day.  Were it me I would beam at the person saving me that much work!  Overworked and underpaid?


The pool was unattended – forewarned by said sign, as was the gym area.   Are they not afraid of being sued for negligence in case of an accident?  BTW, without asking directions from various hotel workers en route there is no way I would have found the pool area.  A sign said “no bare feet” but does not provide a place to purchase pool shoes…on the other hand no problem with walking in the pool area in street shoes?


Would I use the hotel again?  Certainly – the price was good and so the hotel excellent once I managed to find my way around everything.  My point is the overall initial experience was upsetting and disappointing.  When I go to stay in a hotel I want no stress, no learning curve, no trying to find my own way around.  I want to relax, be pampered, de-stress and hate to leave!

Overall the staff did their best and were lovely – however, they are let down by their chain management and it would seem staffing levels are kept to the minimum.  In my opinion such a lovely hotel would be better off enhancing guest experience and standing out from the crowd rather than budgets and cut-backs.


Mostly, I find it very sad that so few people in business today seem to pay any attention to real “customer care” – there was a time it was top of the priority list.  Maybe it is our own fault?  Maybe enough of us don’t speak out when we find it lacking and maybe we don’t publicly acclaim it when we find people who go beyond the basics required.  Maybe we don’t give enough support to the smaller business and maybe we sell ourselves short to big business.  Are we so cheaply bought?  Is the dollar the bottom and deciding line?


I am, however, extremely grateful for the experience because I have always wondered why my American guests love my Mara House and my tours so much.  Well, now I know.  I have always treated my guests like the most important people on the planet from first to last encounter.  From the moment of confirming a booking with me, my guests don’t really need to think about anything if they so choose.  I automatically send them all the info they need to book flights and get through the airport procedures on landing in Egypt.  My driver and (sometimes) staff member picks them up, takes them to Mara House or the hotel in Cairo, checks them in and gives them any extra info they are going to need.  I show them the best of Egypt, my staff and my Cairo partners could not treat them better if they were VIP’s or hollywood big shots.  At the end of the trip they are deposited back to the airport for their flight home.  On very rare occasions I have guests who ignore all the information given to them and then blame me for it.

Someday I will find my own “Mara” when I go on holiday 🙂

I am headed back to Egypt in a few weeks for my next group tour and will be dreaming up of even more ways to enhance my guests’ experience, now having my own trial of Western hotel guest care.  So, should you take a holiday in Egypt with us now?  Only if you want the VIP treatment!


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