We booked the house for the bank holiday weekend to celebrate our mother's 70th birthday, with the whole family. We were sold on the space and facilities for the kids, such as a heated pool, tennis court, theatre rooms and snooker table. Prior to our stay, the service had been first class and we were excited about our arrival. The owner had agreed to an early check-in and late check-out, which meant we could maximise our time there. On arrival, we were hurriedly shown around, as the estate manager was off to a party. She advised that turning the house around for our stay had been difficult due to a TV series (TOWIE) end of season party being held on a couple of days before our arrival.
At this point, we realised that the heating in the house and pool was not on, so she arranged for the maintenance guy to attend to switch it on, as she left.
Disappointing, but not the end of the world at this stage.
A few hours had past and realising that the heating for the house and pool were still not working, we called the technical manager to attend for a look. He managed to get the heating going and was very apologetic, advising that he would come back to check things.
Soon after he left, we discovered that there were only two tennis rackets, one unusable due to broken strings and the other was wooden! The snooker table also only had one usable cue, with the rest missing tips. Not great. Then, as we started to prepare dinner and were sitting the kids down to watch movies, we further discovered that only one TV and DVD player was operational. On closer inspection, cables had been pulled out of TVs and remote controllers were missing. More unnecessary frustration and inconvenience. We initially called the estate manager whose response was that it was a technical issue and that she could come up, but wouldn't be much help! Very helpful. We finally got hold of the technical manager again, who to his credit, turned up with some tennis rackets and managed to get the TV and DVD player operational. By this stage is was gone 8pm and we were sat for dinner, which had now been overshadowed by the maintenance issues.
On the second morning, the pool was no warmer, but we made the best of things and at least now the kids could play tennis. Some did brave the pool for 5 minutes, but that was all the cold water they could cope with.
As we sat for dinner that night, one of the kids came running in to tell us that water was coming through the ceiling. We discovered a pipe had burst under a sink in one of the en-suites. We managed to isolate it and placed towels and buckets down to minimise the damage. I informed the technical manager, who did not appear overly concerned or feel the need to attend. Although unforeseeable, it was just another issue, we had to deal with. Along with lights hanging out of fittings in the shower, dirty baking trays in the drawers, lights tripping out and a random frog bouncing around the cellar, it was nothing, if not eventful and stressful. As the person who found the property and arranged the booking, I felt the responsibility lay with me, that things were well below par. It felt like I was constantly troubleshooting, rather than enjoying valuable and limited family time.
By the morning of our departure (pool still cold), we were all ready to leave, before something else could tarnish our visit.
The following day, I fed back to the owner on our stay and the issues we had encountered. I was very complimentary about the house (which was previously her own home), but explained the disappointment at the substandard preparation of the house prior to our arrival.
I was met with a very curt response, thanking me for my feedback, explaining the house has only been accepting guests for a year or so and very little in the way of an apology. A further email highlighting this, received an even snippier, more defensive response, rounded off with a touch of sarcasm. She believed that her team had dealt with the issues appropriately and that ours, was the first negative feedback, they had ever received! Obviously, a newcomer to hospitality!!
If this house was to be managed correctly, properly maintained and the owner was to be objective, rather than taking the feedback as an attack on her 'home', it would be a 5* winner. As it is and for the money and service, give it a wide berth!