Used to be a "Gran" Hotel
Posted Nov 7, 2011 on Hotels
Although I had not been to Venezuela over the last 7 years, I have traveled there dozens of times since the early ’80’s
This hotel is located in the Sabana Grande sector of Caracas, which is reputed to be not one of the safest. However, the security detail at the hotel is visibly very good. I understand that some foreign dignitaries stay there for its reputed security. It is located adjacent to the El Recreo Shopping Center, which opens at 10:00 am and has a food court on the upper level with many fast food options.
Upon arrival in my room, there were no towels in the bathroom. I had the impression that the room had not been completely made up before assigning it to me. This impression was further justified by the unclean state of the glass surface on the room’s desk. There is an older style, smallish security vault in the room, which had been left locked. After making two phone calls and waiting over 1.5 hours to have it opened, the new magnetic key provided to use for the safe did not work after the first use. Likewise, the magnetic entry key for the room door became demagnetized twice during my stay. The room has older, matted carpets, and its doors show evidence of multiple coats of varnish to what once were stylish, quality wood doors on its closets.
The prices of food at the hotel are extremely high and its quality is OK at best. However, what was most surprising and unimpressive about this hotel to me, is that some of the staff have an “indifferent” attitude towards customer satisfaction that is reminiscent of old Soviet Era style of commitment to service. There seems to be a pervasive callousness that is uncharacteristic of the warm and friendly nature of the Venezuelan people that I know.
In speaking with locals and in conversations with several taxi drivers over the course of my three-day stay at the Melia, the reasons for this general state of things became evident. The law now prohibits the firing of any employees, which virtually guarantees that there will be little incentive for employees to go out of their way to provide excellent service. People are struggling make ends meet, as inflation is sky high (one of the highest rates of any country in the world). It is clear that the environment will preclude foreign investment, which most probably explains the reason for the apparent state of dilapidation of this and perhaps many other hotels in the area.