Saturday, 10 June 2017

Sitiawan: Fine beach but jaded rooms

The Swiss Garden Beach Resort in Damai Laut, about 30 kilometers from Sitiawan in Perak, is supposedly a four-star hotel but unfortunately, we felt that the rooms were rather jaded and tired. The hotel could do with a refurbishment to bring back its glory.

When we entered our room, we found it rather impractical to keep the curtains pulled open because the room was practically next to the road, meaning that we would be within sight of people from the outside.

But by pulling the curtains shut, the room was dim even with all the room lights switched on. The wall paint was blistering and the furniture had obviously seen much better days. Yes, a refurbishment would certainly be in order to put the hotel right again.

And the bathroom. Apart from the absence of towels in the room upon our checking in, I would comment that no decent hotel should be seen with bath tubs anymore. The norm is a standing shower zone. While less water usage is an obvious advantage to the management, shower stands are actually more user friendly for the older guests. No need to climb in and out of the bath tubs. Dread to think what would happen if they were to slip and fall.

There is one other incident that should be well worth mentioning. Maybe it was an honest mistake but what if it was not? When we arrived at the hotel, I unloaded all our bags onto a trolley which the hotel bell boy then pushed to the side of the lobby together with the trolleys of other hotel guests. Fair enough, I had thought to myself. But some time after our check-in had been processed, I suddenly realised that our trolley had gone missing. Seemed that one of the bell boys had moved our trolley by mistake. We had to wait a while for it to be returned, with our belongings intact. If we had valuables in our bags, this incident would have been a cause for concern.

After checking into our room, we went exploring the grounds. First stop was the inappropriately named Samsara Spa. I know that it is exotic to call the Spa that name but if only the hotel had checked its meaning first. Samsara is a Sanskrit and Pali word that refers to the endless cycle of rebirth, mundane existence and dying. Samsara is considered to be dukkha, a state of dissatisfaction and pain, perpetuated by desire and ignorance, and the resulting karma. Samsara is nothing glamorous.

Then we turned our attention to their fitness centre that doubled up as a games room. Here, at least, we were quite satisfied with the facilities: a gymnasium, a sauna room and a jacuzzi. We promised to avail ourselves of these facilities in the morning of our final day at the hotel. Eventually, we found ourselves at the excellent private beach and spent some time wandering around until it was time for dinner. But too bad there wasn't any spectacular sunset that evening.

UPDATE: Comments and reviews are a-plenty on the tripadvisor website by people who have stayed at the Swiss Garden previously. Generally, the comments were made about the poor condition of the rooms. People aren't happy, and they are saying so. I wasn't alone in noticing that the hotel needs a refurbishment. But if one were to read the comments closer, it would appear that the hotel's management are avoiding to respond on the condition of the rooms but rather, they kept harping on the forthcoming improvements of their swimming pool later this year. Really, I don't know what should be more important: to provide a comfortable stay for their guests or a nice swimming pool for those guests who like a swim.

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