Monday, October 20, 2008
Hotels, Service and common sense
I was recently invited for both lunch and dinner to the Mount Lavinia Hotel, a historic hotel that celebrated its 200th anniversary last year. Both meals were had on the terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean.
I ordered a fresh Mango Juice, as Mango is now in season, the price Rs400 before the service and taxes totaling Rs500(US$5). I was extremely disappointed with it. It was very watery and tasteless. The only positive was that no sugar was added, but there is no point if that is done to add so much water so the concentration of Mango is not even one to one. The chef must use good tasty mangos for the juice, and all the battered parts of the mango can be cut out so it is not essential to use a perfect mango for juicing either.
In Sri Lanka there is no point in returning the juice to the kitchen as being tasteless as all the chef would do is add sugar and send it back. It is the concentrate that should be served and if they do not have it they should politely say so, rather than add water to increase the servings.
With this lesson learned not to order fresh juices from a Luxury Hotel, I ordered during evening drinks a Ginger Beer (EGB as it is colloquially known) as one could not go wrong with it. It was served un-iced or barely iced. If one knows about Ginger Beer it needs to be served extremely chilled to enjoy this drink to the fullest. So when I ordered the next bottle, I said please do not serve if the bottle is not well chilled, as it was not the last drink I had. Hey presto it was brought in the same state as before, but with a glass full of ice cubes right up to the top. Immediately on impact with the Ginger Beer, the ice cubes melted, leaving a tasteless watered down drink.
I don’t know who is at fault, but it should lie squarely with the hotel management for not training the staff on the nuances of their drinks, and the dos and don’ts of serving refreshments. Sri Lanka that always prides itself on service, always falls down on its service which surprisingly or not is the weakest area of the hospitality industry. One has to anticipate the problems and cater to them. It is possible that all the good staff leave for better jobs in the Middle East and one is left with the not so good. It is still no excuse when 6star prices are charged to give one star service.
I did not bother complaining. A simple matter like this is not understood, despite it being serious, as the standard they seem to apply is very low.