Association Congress

Monday, 4 April 2011

A holiday post

I am holiday at the moment. And despite this account of the hotel, I am actually having a good time.

Hotel Riu Club Marco Polo, Hammermat Yasmine

The Pancake Hotel

Pancake ingredients are pretty basic and it doesn’t take much effort to knock up something that passes as food. Pancakes are pretty flat, and without the individual bringing something to the party (like a chocolate topping or lemon and sugar) they are pretty bland. Marco Polo in Hammamet Yasmine is a pancake hotel.

Situated in a small bay next to a jostling marina on the north east coast of Tunisia, it’s easy to see why this would be a popular destination during the ‘off season.’ The four star resort was busy enough so there wasn’t any complaints there; the complaints just came from everyone who was there.

We all know what ‘four star’ is. It’s about very good service. It is not having your staff barge past your guests as they try and get through a door; it’s not only having one table tennis racquet (thankfully I was never that bored and lonely that I had to place the table against the wall and play myself!); it’s not having toilets with no lights; it’s not having a gym out of order; it’s not having a battered tennis racquet, with more Sellotape on it than a Christmas present wrapped by a six year old. ‘Four star’ means that, if the sun is not shining, the venue still has the desire, and the ability, to make sure you still have a good time. Without the sun this hotel is a car without petrol; a sailing boat without wind; a singer without a song.

Evening entertainment is minimal; one ‘show’ per night, always in the same area. There are very few places to actually sit and have a relaxing drink, actually there is only one place - unless you count the hotel reception as an area to relax. This lack of space and choice, had the hotel open up its’ conference space one evening during a particularly bad ‘show’, just to have somewhere for people to sit. Their cocktails all look and taste the same and the choice of alcoholic drinks doesn’t stretch past your basic two white and three dark spirits.

But I hear you say, surely the food is what makes it four star! Well lunch and dinner are indiscernible from one another. And so are the courses on offer. It’s like daytime TV. It is basically the same bland format that after a couple of hours is just a passing memory. For “What was I just watching?” Read, “What was I eating earlier? I can’t remember”. And that sums up the hotel, it’s just not memorable. If Marco Polo had come across this place on one of his epic journeys he wouldn’t have stayed that’s for sure.  Four stars would have replaced the word he exclaimed when he saw the place. 

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