On 19 acres along the Pigeon Point Causeway at the northern edge of Rodney Bay, this villa resort surrounds a private, 80-slip harbor where residents can dock their own yachts, literally, at their doorstep. About half of the 231 waterfront units may be rented; they range in size from 900 to 2,300 square feet, and half have their own plunge pools. Each unit has a beautifully appointed living room, dining room, and kitchen, as well as one, two, or three bedrooms with en
suite baths and an enormous balcony or terrace. Naturally, the atmosphere is particularly conducive to yachting and boating; nevertheless, landlubbers will love the 7,000-square-foot Soleil Spa, socializing at the lobby bar in the Grand Pavilion, and soaking up the sun at the beach club or at one of the pools. You can prepare your own meals, grab a snack at the gourmet deli, have a light meal on the pier at the open-air Beach Club restaurant, or dine at high-end The Palms. Guests also get preferred tee times at the nearby St. Lucia Golf & Country Club.
Feb 17, 2014
The Landings – the land of staggeringly bad service! The General Manager states that The Landings “is a distinctive hotel”. He is right but sadly for the wrong reasons. He states that what sets the hotel apart from others “is careful anticipation of your needs”. He adds that the hotel’s “desire to be of service is paramount” and “we delight in doing everything to make sure that you will come back to us”. The only thing that The
Landings “carefully anticipates” is how to make a guest’s stay as painful as it possibly can be on what is a pretty property and pretty beach in the Caribbean. If its “desire to be of service is paramount”, it fails miserably. Onto countless experiences during our stay, although let’s remember -- to keep all of this discussion in context -- that this is a hotel which charges 5-star prices and markets itself as a luxury resort. So if they are going to charge 5-star prices and market itself as a luxury resort, then it probably is not unreasonable as a guest to expect a level of service at least somewhat or even remotely commensurate with the prices they charge and the way in which they market themselves. Let’s begin. First, communications. Internet connectivity at The Landings was available only in one’s room and at two other locations on the entire hotel property. Why? Because the hotel has chosen not to properly outfit its property with Wifi. Moreover, where one can get internet connectivity the connectivity often failed. The phones in our room, they often went dead. Furthermore, when they did work and we called the front desk or concierge, there frequently was no answer. The front desk or concierge phone would just ring and ring. Suffice it to say the communications infrastructure of the hotel was terrible and there was no one on the end of the line at the hotel when the phones actually did work and we would try to call for assistance. Management liked to blame the communications problems on the weather. The problem with that explanation was that other high-end hotels on the island were not experiencing the same communications outages, and yes, we checked. And I am not sure how the weather explains why no one answers at the front desk or concierge desk. Also, the weather was only bad one of the eight days we were there. The real problem is that The Landings simply has failed to properly invest in its communications infrastructure and guests pay the price. As an aside, the one time we asked the front desk of the hotel to make us a dinner reservation at one of the hotel’s two restaurants, the front desk said they did but when we showed up at the restaurant – surprise -- that restaurant had no record of our reservation. By the way, management will represent that the hotel’s “communications infrastructure is amongst the most advanced on the island, with 4 phones in most suites along with phones in many public areas”. This is a ludicrous comment. The number of phones you put in a unit or on the property means nothing if the wireline service itself is deficient. And that it was! Moreover, the number of phones you put in a unit or on the property has nothing to do with one’s ability to get internet connectivity, which again was wildly inadequate. Second, the rooms. To be clear, the units are very nice, the nicest part of the hotel. That said, the servicing of them is poor. When we arrived at the hotel and checked into our two bedroom unit we found one of the two toilets did not flush properly, one of the two bathroom sinks did not drain, there was no soap in one of the two bathrooms, there was no soap for the kitchen sink, and the entire unit was humid because the air conditioning was not properly cooling it. In short, the hotel either does no quality control checks on rooms before people check into them or they do a remarkably poor job preparing them for the next guest. On an ongoing basis, housekeeping consistently failed to leave enough towels in our room and frequently failed to pick up all of the dirty towels left on the floor in our two bathrooms. We even left notes for housekeeping requesting basics, liking leaving enough towels or enough bottled water, and yet housekeeping consistently failed to respond. Third, food at the hotel and the beach at the hotel. There are two restaurants at the hotel. Curdled cream was a daily part of our breakfast coffee. Moreover, the restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch at the hotel actually ran out of coffee one day. Yes, I know, hard to believe but true. On another occasion it ran out of lemons. And one day when they were serving pulled pork sandwiches for lunch at their lunch buffet, the restaurant employee overseeing that area of the buffet chewed me out for taking a roll by itself because they were for those guests eating the pulled pork. I actually was grabbing a roll for the pulled pork but to have actually had to defend myself for grabbing a roll at a lunch buffet that I was paying for was patently absurd. On the beach, guests can get served drinks and lunch. Sounds great. The catch is that the hotel, at least when we visited, dedicated one member of the staff to cover the many guests who are ordering food and drinks on the beach. The result: it takes far too long to get served. The waitress or waiter is not at fault for this, instead the hotel is for dedicating insufficient resources to cover guests on the beach. Sadly, where the waitresses or waiters who serve guests at the beach are at fault is in consistently screwing up guests’ food orders. On countless occasions, my family and I while on the beach would clearly spell out uncomplicated orders for food and yet no matter how many times we repeated ourselves the given order more often than not would come back screwed up. Also, the hotel does not even offer a snack menu. If your child is so unusual that he or she wants a late afternoon snack, something that is snack food rather than ordering off the lunch or dinner menu, you are out of luck. We eventually were successful at getting the hotel to find chips and salsa by the hotel’s fancy dinner restaurant but that took unnecessary effort. (It also would take too long to get served them even though presumably they were not baking or frying the chips on-site.) At times the restaurant folks looked at us, when we asked about grabbing a late afternoon snack, as if we were from another planet. And to be clear, not once did the restaurant staff ever assert that the kitchen was prepared to make snacks should any guest so desire one. What we were offered was the ability to order off the lunch menu. The lunch menu was a lunch menu, not a menu of snacks. The bathrooms near the beach for guests, by the way, are not cleaned sufficiently often. Why? Again, because the hotel clearly is not dedicating the appropriate resources or, as consistently evidenced during our stay, has done an awful job training its staff. Fourth, activities. Well before we arrived in December we had asked that the hotel make us tennis lesson reservations during our stay. After far too many back-and-forths than necessary (it should not have required more than one back-and-forth), the hotel at my request finally sent me an e-mail confirmation of our tennis lesson reservations. I thought we were all set. Fast forward to our arrival. On the first day of our tennis lessons, which we showed up on time for and awaited the arrival of the tennis instructor, the tennis instructor at the hotel ended up showing up and telling us that the hotel miscommunicated to him our request and as a result he was unable to accommodate our needs for the week of our visit. Unbelievable! This was after I could not have been more clear, including in writing, with the hotel about what we wanted and after the hotel confirmed that it had made arrangements consistent with our request. One of the things you learn when staying at The Landings is that you need cash to do a number of water sports with outside vendors who walk around and visit guests on the hotel’s beach to drum up business. They either do not take credit cards at all or make it unnecessarily difficult to accept credit cards, even though guests probably generally do not carry their wallets to the beach on a beach vacation at a beach resort. Now we had no idea that credit cards would present a payment problem (as the hotel gives its guests no advance warning, and we had not encountered this problem at other beach resorts), so we were cash-light. So what did we do so my family could do various water sports activities? We went to the hotel’s front desk and asked if there was an ATM on-property. The answer: no. We then asked the hotel what we would need to do to get cash. They responded that we would need to go into town to visit a bank or an ATM machine. As I am sure you would agree, this, of course, is not exactly how one likely wants to spend one’s limited vacation time in St. Lucia. We then asked the hotel, which they did not volunteer, if we could get a cash advance, something commonly doable at higher-end hotels all around the world. The hotel said yes but imposed a US $100 limit/day per family. Clearly better than nothing but the water sports available at the hotel that were run by outside vendors tended to cost – surprise -- more than US $100 for a family. In short, the hotel did nothing to “make it easy”. Remember, The Landing’s General Manager states that what sets the hotel apart from others “is careful anticipation of your needs” and the “desire to be of service is paramount”. Other basics. To reiterate, the Landing’s General Manager states that what sets the hotel apart from others “is careful anticipation of your needs” and that the hotel’s “desire to be of service is paramount”. How about making it easy for your guests to do the very activities that are available at the hotel? Is that so hard to anticipate? Or how about having a little shop at the hotel which sells basics like snacks – since you don’t offer them at your restaurants -- or other sundries? We were told by the hotel that for these we would need to go into town to a supermarket or elsewhere. Again, as I am sure you would agree, this, of course, is not exactly how one likely wants to spend one’s limited vacation time in St. Lucia. Oh, I almost forgot, St. Lucia has a rainy season. It also happens to be located in the hurricane belt, so yes tropical storms occur there. Why do I bring this up? Because a hotel that states it “carefully anticipates (guests’) needs” likely would stick an umbrella in guests’ units. Sure enough, during our visit it rained frequently and yet there was no umbrella available to use. Yes, if we wanted an umbrella we would need to make a trip into town to buy one. And then there was paper, yes, blank paper to write on. Most hotels supply this, no? You guessed it….no paper (and pen) provided. Perhaps it is unreasonable of me to think that a hotel might anticipate that its guests may want to jot down a note or two in their unit. Ahh, to finish things off, the check-out process. When we asked for a print out of our bill for our stay, we were told that the hotel could not give us a print-out because their reservation system was “down”. When we asked for a confirmation of our taxi reservation from the hotel (a reservation it made at our request) to the airport, we were told that no such confirmation was available. And yes, when we were finally able to see the hotel charges for our stay, there were mistakes. After reading this review, one might fairly ask, “well did you complain to the hotel about these various issues during your stay in order to make the hotel aware of such issues and give them an opportunity to try to improve their service?” The short answer is yes, on multiple, repeated occasions. We made senior people at the hotel well aware of the kinds of ongoing issues we were experiencing. And, by the way, not once – yes, not once -- did hotel management ever offer to do something special for us as guests in order to at least try to “make things right”. In sum, while it has nice units and a pretty property and beach, The Landings has abysmal service which unfortunately badly impacts the entirety of one’s experience staying at the hotel. Management is completely incompetent. Its staff is inadequately trained. The only thing that The Landings “carefully anticipates” is how to make a guest’s stay as painful as it possibly can be in what is a beautiful setting. If the hotel’s “desire to be of service is paramount”, as the General Manager of the hotel asserts, it fails miserably. If one is going to visit St. Lucia and spend the kind of money one has to to stay at The Landings, sadly, one is better off choosing one of the many alternative luxury resorts on the island.