Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Getaway...

Its been a hectic month and with holidays coming at a premium, I thought, since it was school holidays, I might as well take a break and give my kids a surprise. After all they were asking if we were going anywhere at all these holidays.

Its early though we do have something planned this December so, my wife and I thought it would be great to have a short weekend break up on a hill resort... so Camerons it was. Was a short 3 hour drive from KL to Camerons... it was about 18 months since we were last up there. But this time round, we thought we would give Equatorial a miss and decided to try something new... we gave Century Pines a go this time round.

Booking for the hotel was a breeze. It was just a click away. However, to truly experience Malaysian hospitality, we just need to be Malaysians. I am sure many of us have gone on holidays and the norm would be check in time to be at latest 2pm. This hotel is simply out of the world. I was told to check in at 3pm when I arrive at the reception table! No greeting, no smile, just an unexpressive look and... "your room is not ready. come back at 3pm. We are fully booked." Then I glance around the parking lot, its... well.. empty. Then I drove down to their basement park, its... well... empty.

My wife was aghast... it was 12.15 noon and we thought we would check in, put all our stuff in and then go off for the evening for lunch and some walk-a-bout in the cool weather. So, being a "diplomat" I asked the duty manager what are their policies. He dutifully told me that he would work on it and promised to call me back by 2pm to tell me my room is ready. We went off for lunch and 2pm came and went... no calls..... (typically Malaysian).

We went back to the hotel, well, now it has become their policy that they do not greet anyone and there were now a few more guests checking in/out.... and the mono-syllable girl now would not even dare to look up at me, while the other gave me the same reply when I asked her about my room... then I asked for the Duty Manager... and well, this reply is a gem.. "He has gone out to buy some groceries." My jaw dropped and was speechless for a few seconds, then I asked for the GM...

As usual her task was to do damage control as I rattle off a flurry of comments.... In Malaysia, after all these years, I learnt a few things... if you do not demand for your rights, you will be sidelined. I got my room in 10 minutes... and a free extra bed+breakfast thrown in as well...

This post is not to rant about the holidays or what you could get for being a pain in the arse but, really, its more of the level of understanding their job that is important. Imagine one being at front office, you are the face of the organization and if you show a face that in cantonese, looks like being tiu-ed a thousand times the night before, that is not going to endear you to the guests, would it? Your "guests" expect to be treated with respect and dignity. After all, they pay your monthly pay-check and I am sure they expect to be accorded some level of service.

The term, one can take a person out of the kampung but you cannot take the kampung out of the person sums up the whole episode. Had the same experience in Langkawi early this year as well, when the staff was apathetic to the cause when you have cockroaches crawling all over, instead of appeasing the guests by offering an upgrade without any fuss, they handed a bottle of Mortein to the guest. And guess what happens when you spray insecticide into the nest??

Now, back to my "experience". I find it really disheartening... really.. Century Pines is a wonderful hotel with a lot of promise but delivered little. Its great location, wonderful lush garden... with a bit of landscape and some fun activities for the guests and family activities at the hotel proper would have given much value to the hotel. The rooms were adequately appointed, I think we loved the super king sized bed... the timber flooring gave it warmth and felt cleaner than carpet... the coffee house with a portion of al-fresco dining area is great under such weather condition. I think everything else stopped there.

I would really recommend the hotel to everyone if they do not mind the rude front office staff attitude and just wanted a clean and comfy room for the evening at Cameron Highlands... just nice for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids.


cleffairy said...

Aiyoyoyo, lu pi cuti ka, no wonder never see you bitch around here... LOL...I sympatize you and your entire family for having to go through such 'Malaysia Boleh' attitude... LOL.

Malaysian Joe said...

yeah... the real boleh attitude... :(.

cuti satu dua hari saja lor... change lifestyle... cannot go far far or go expensive expensive location hotel liao.. :(.

Overall, it was great time... the organic vege steamboat was heavenly.

cleffairy said...

Change lifestyle anymore, and you'll end up bringing your kids to the kitchen for a tour... LOL good to hear you unwind with your family...the kids sure had a blast. :-P

Calvin Soo KJ said...

how to lure foreigners to malaysia like that. being a malaysian, i feel very paiseh for ourselves.

cameron for the holidays i think will be a lil bit boring. only sceneries right? ive not been there for more than 15 years, so i guess things have changed. the road still winding ar?

Malaysian Joe said...


The Simpang Pulai road up is easy on the drive. Faster too if you intend to be at Brinchang.

Scenery, boring... well, depending, shutterbug like u will love it there.. :).

I enjoyed my hibernation.. :). Kids love it too, the weather and strawberries.. my eldest son had a whale of a time walloping all the strawberries. Remembered once, two years back when he was deprieved of going up there for a year or so, when we arrived and walked into a gift shop, there was a wax strawberry and he held it up and ask.. Daddy, can I eat this... in all honesty he believed it to be real ones.. :). That was a real kodak moment but I did not have my camera with me at that moment in time.