Saturday, June 23, 2018

The luxury resort panned by guests

A luxury hotel owned by one of Australia’s largest accommodation chains has been condemned by guests as filthy and worse than a motel.

At the QT Port Douglas, in the popular Queensland resort that is a jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef, rooms can cost more than $400 per night in the high season.

But angry customers have fumed, with one saying they “wouldn’t stay here again if you paid me”.

A spokeswoman for QT’s parent company told news.com.au they were “always sorry to hear that some guests have been disappointed” and that the resort was now on the market and would be sold.

When the first QT opened in Sydney, it wowed guests with its luxe but left-field interiors, funkily dressed bell hops and classy service and food. It now has branches in Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast.

The flagship hotel is one of the Harbour City’s funkiest spots and has played host to the likes of Sunrise’s Sam Armytage, MasterChef’s George Calombaris, Labor heavyweight Anthony Albanese and TV and radio star Kate Ritchie.

However, in Port Douglas, the top-end hotel has been dubbed a “fail”. Scores of customers have raged that bed linen was stained, furniture broken, rodent droppings filled in the laundry, service was almost non-existent, showers were cold, cutlery was grubby and rotting food was left in rooms.

It’s not all bad news for the QT. The pool was praised by some customers on Booking.com, with one saying staff were “friendly and efficient” and another calling it a “beautiful resort”.

But on the TripAdvisor review website, pictures have been uploaded of mould-splattered sun loungers, pillows streaked with dirt and squashed bugs in uncleaned rooms. When it came to the food, well, “a Bunnings sausage would be better,” a customer said.

Another claimed room service took so long they managed to have a takeaway delivered from an outside restaurant to their room before the phone was even picked up at reception to take their order.

“We felt like we were in a cheap run-down motel,” was one comment. “If I could rate this zero stars I would,” was another.

QT is part of the same group as Rydges hotels and the Thredbo ski resort as well as Event and BCC cinemas.

In the half year to December 31, Event made a profit of $66 million. The hotels division contributed $36.4m, an increase of 48 per cent over the same period the year before.

But little of that profit seems to be reaching the QT in Port Douglas.

Norman Arundel, Event’s Hotels Operations Manager told news.com.au the hotel was now up for sale. It’s been reported that is with “vacant possession” — essentially that the hotel will be empty.

“While QT Port Douglas has been a much loved part of the QT family, the property is on the market following an asset review in 2017. QT Port Douglas is still open for business and we will continue to deliver great guest experiences synonymous with the brand,” he said.

QT did not reply to questions about whether the resort was being slowly run down prior to the sale.

The QT Port Douglas, formerly a Rydges, opened in 2012. It bills itself as “boutique luxury hotel … a tropical paradise for the way you are”.

It boasts of “spacious resort rooms” with pool or garden views, a swim-up pool bar and moonlight cinema.

However, the reviews in the last few weeks have been damning.

“The decor is cheap; lampshades broken and lopsided; there are stains and scuffs all over the floor, walls and decor; grease on the handles of the cupboards; stains on the pillows; batteries were corroded in the TV remote which made it unusable and there was an out of date Snickers in the minibar,” said one angry customer.

“We felt like we were in a cheap, run-down motel room.”

“The room smells like mould, everything is chipped or broken,” said one review.

“The complimentary tea bags and sugar were all wet and unusable.”

Management at the hotel said the tropical heat could “take its toll” on fixture and fittings.

“It feels like the management have given up and it’s sliding into disrepair,” said a guest this week.

A general theme was the hotel had fallen from grace after opening to acclaim. “We had stayed about three years ago and it was fantastic. Woefully underwhelming this time. It seems no one cares.”

On QT’s website, restaurant Bazaar promises much: “Inspired by international street stalls, souks and bodegas … at Bazaar, your plate is your passport and there are no rules on which destinations to explore.”

But so bad was the food service, some guests said they were forced to explore food destinations far beyond the QT’s walls.

“We tried to call room service for dinner … and was left on hold for 15 mins. So we ordered take out from the restaurant down the road, which was delivered faster than the phone was answered at QT.”

Other guests were livid that they had to pay extra for coffee despite being charged $28 for a breakfast they thought was all inclusive.

“Breakfast was crap and not worth $28. A Bunnings sausage would be better.”

There are claims rooms went uncleaned, fruit rotted in bowls, Doritos were found crunched up on couches, and tables in the restaurant were piled with rubbish from previous guests.

“Service was terrible, carpets were putrid with holes in the curtains and the rooms smelt of mould and dampness.”

Not all reviews were bad. Some guests loved the large rooms, the pool and the staff. “The bed was big and comfy,” said one reviewer on Booking.com. Someone said the pillows were almost “too fluffy”. But time and again, the lack of cleanliness is raised, even in otherwise good reviews.

QT’s Mr Arundel said the company encouraged guests to share their feedback directly with the hotel if they had any concerns so they could be resolved immediately: “At QT Hotels, we strive to resolve any customer concerns generously, as people appreciate the brand for its quality and service.

“While the majority of guests have a great experience at QT Port Douglas, as witnessed by our 4/5 TripAdvisor score and the number of positive comments we receive across all feedback channels, we are always sorry to hear that some guests have been disappointed,” he said.

Since January, more than half the reviews on TripAdvisor have rated the QT as three stars or less. In Port Douglas, the luxury resort is rated as only 31 out of 42 hotels.

One guest summed up the experience. “All I can say is stay away. QT need to have a serious look at this place. We spent the rest of our (stay) outside of the resort.”

About Benedict Brook

Benedict Brook writes for news.com.au

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