Here is the review that we wrote for our stay at the Grand Aston Bali Beach Resort in Tanjung Benoa. We wrote them a letter regarding out stay, here it is!
We are writing in regards to our stay at the Grand Aston between the 23rd of November and the 3rd of December. Ultimately, we had an excellent stay and we would recommend the Grand Aston to our friends and family. The staff have been polite and all our needs were met to an astonishing degree. We appreciate the kind gesture of the flower arrangement and cake on arrival and for the fact that all the inclusions on our package were delivered. Unfortunately, towards the end of our stay several mishaps occurred which have tarnished our experience, which we would like to address.
Firstly, on the menus at a number of your restaurants there are different prices for local and imported spirits ($5 for local, $9.50 for imported). We have been ordering the local option for our beverages only to find a couple of days ago that we have to pay for the mixer to go with the spirit, which is an extra $3.50. However, if you purchase the imported spirit the mixer is free. It seems strange that this isn’t specified anywhere on the menu. We were purchasing the local spirits without realizing that we were being stung for several days. In addition to this, on Saturday we ordered local vodka & a Bintang in happy hour from the Aloha bar. When we went to claim our third free beverage for the “buy two local drinks get one free” deal, we were told that we were given Smirnoff and the deal didn’t apply to us, and despite explicitly asking for the local vodka when ordering.
We brought up the price difference between the local spirit plus mixer and the imported spirits with staff two days ago in the Grand Benoa Resto, when we received a bill that we believed to be too high. All the staff at the time seemed very reluctant to assist us until we persisted by refusing to sign for our drinks until it was sorted. The entire time we were seeking help one of the waiters was shoving a pen at us trying to get us to sign our bill, which we were challenging the price of. We understand that there is a language barrier here, which may have been part of the confusion, however the whole situation was very intimidating and it doesn’t excuse for poor manners. Having worked in customer service for over seven years, I understand that the “customer always being right” rule can be a pain so I always make an effort to be as polite and reasonable as possible when there is an issue. I feel like there was no remorse or willingness from staff to adhere to this unwritten rule of customer service. In addition to this – although the wait staff may not have known this but we have a tab of over $300, for them to hassle us over an amount less than $5 each seems a bit ridiculous.
In addition to this, there was an occasion where we went to the Aloha bar before the end of happy hour, and while we were looking at the menu we realized that they were about to hit the happy hour bell for the end of service. We asked the bartender if our drinks would be included in the happy hour special, and he advised that this would not be a problem, as we had technically sat down before happy hour ended. However, when we inquired about our third drink, we were told that it would not be free as we ordered outside of happy hour. Had we had known this was the case we wouldn’t have bothered ordering our first drinks. While it may not seem like a big deal, ordering drinks shouldn’t be this stressful or difficult to get what we ask for.
For our last full day in Bali, we wanted to spend some time in Kuta to do some shopping. We understand that the hotel provides a free shuttle service, which we have taken advantage of previously. On Tuesday we went to the taxi service counter to ask them to book a taxi for us, and as usual they offered to send one of their own drivers. Last time we said yes to this we ended up paying an extra 50,000 Rupiah so we explicitly asked for a Bluebird Group taxi to be ordered. In this instance, the gentleman at the counter said that he could drive us to kuta for 170,000 Rupiah, we declined saying that the taxi to Kuta is 100,000 Rupiah. He then began bartering with us and stated that he could drive us for 150,000. Although we have become quite accustomed to being hassled about the prices of things and bartering, we expected more coming from this hotel. We came to have a relaxing time and our time is better spent than negotiating taxi prices with staff. Also, does this mean that if we had accepted the 170,000 Rupiah thinking that it was a reasonable off that we would have been ripped off, knowing that the driver could go as low as 150,000 Rupiah? Should we have bartered on the price of our room or the tab as well, or is it just the driving service that has an unstable/strange price system? In addition to this, after we had asked politely for the third time for a Bluebird Group taxi to be booked (knowing that this is the safest taxi option in Bali), we were shocked once we entered the booked vehicle to realize that it wasn’t a Bluebird Group taxi, but some other brand that we had never heard of. We spent the entirety of the ride into Kuta very nervous as to what the ramifications would be when it came to paying the driver. We were thankful that this experience occurred later in our holiday as we would have been deterred from booking a taxi service through the hotel as it’s cheaper and requires less discussion to hail our own Bluebird Group taxi from the street.
Although these experiences were unfortunate, as one off occurrences they’re not worth mentioning. However, once we started to take a look at all the incidents it makes it seem like a much larger issue and it has left us feeling annoyed. An issue that we would have left unmentioned was the room service, which we ordered on Friday night. We had selected a Cheddar Burger, Penne Carbonara with no bacon and the Spring Roll entrée. In comparison to the rest of the food which we had sampled across the hotel (which was excellent), this was sub par. The meat on the burger was burnt, which meant that we couldn’t taste the other ingredients over the charred flavour. The spring roll was also burnt on the ends and although the staff were helpful in allowing us to have the carbonara with no bacon, it was ordinary. For around $30 it was disappointing. In addition to this, on our final night we wandered down to the Aloha bar to have some happy hour drinks with some of the people we had met whilst staying at the hotel and we were presented with a group of around 8 people who had clearly had too much to drink bombarding the area so we could barely approach the bar. After elbowing our way through them and their attempts to converse with us, we ordered our drinks and moved elsewhere. We then had a frightful display of behaviour of 16 year old girls who had clearly been served too much alcohol (illegally?) calling out to us, yelling and being generally inappropriate. Then, after they managed to drag themselves out of the pool, several of them proceeded to vomit in the day bed area where we have spent some of our time. It was gross and again, I’m grateful this this occurred on our final day as I would have been apprehensive to spend any further time around this group and near those day beds. Understandably, this isn’t entirely the hotels fault (despite serving them the drinks initially), however it was a definitely change of pace to the usual Grand Aston feel – which is relaxing and respectable. It was the kind of behaviour that we expected to witness in Kuta, which is why we intentionally didn’t stay there.
After the way that our previous concerns had been handled, we felt like these issues wouldn’t been taken seriously. To date, there seems to have been excuses from the staff and no action taken to rectify the issue, which is why we felt it better to write things down so it can be handled appropriately.
Despite these mishaps, we did have an excellent time at the Grand Aston and we would definitely consider staying again should we come to Bali. The staff who were walking the halls and serving in the restaurants were generally polite, the food at the buffet breakfast, Georgios and Bali Luna were all excellent. The room was immaculate and spacious. The facilities such as the gym and spa were fantastic and well maintained. As we witnessed, the staff who were responsible for maintaining the garden and surrounds were attentive and it was a joy to be able to look out the window onto the greenery.
We would love the opportunity to discuss this with you further via email.
Thank you for a mostly excellent stay.
Lincoln & Sara
Also, I just wanted to say aside from the letter we wrote – we really did have a pretty good stay. We met some great people there too. We had a hilarious after sun massage thing where we were wrapped up in plastic. The hotels pool was amazing and right on the beach – although the beach wasn’t very nice. We loved that the hotel wasn’t near Kuta – we were away from all the schoolies and partying which was excellent.