Staying at a Brand-New Resort — Reader Mistake Story

Jul 6, 2018

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader David, whose visit to a recently opened hotel fell short of expectations. Here’s what he had to say:

Good deals on hotels are hard for me to pass up, as is staying in a brand new hotel. So when I saw special opening rate available at the Renaissance Uluwatu Resort & Spa in Bali, I decided to take the plunge even though in the back of my mind I wondered about start-up issues at a brand new resort.

I should have listed to that whispering voice. The rooms are new and nicely appointed, and the staff was anxious to please its first guests during my visit. However, the air conditioning didn’t work properly — it wouldn’t turn off once the room cooled to the desired temperature — so we had to either leave it off at night and wake up sweating or leave it on and wake up frozen. The manager told me they had been working on this issue since the hotel had opened a month earlier.

The beds were way too firm for this American (who likes a medium bed). It was a big disappointment, as I was expecting a Marriott bed and have never had a bed that hard at any Marriott property. Again, the manager told me the mattress toppers were held up in customs and they were trying to find another source. Finally, there was ongoing construction in an adjoining room, and due to the acoustics of the place it sounded as if it were in our own room. In this case, the hotel offered to move us and adjusted our bill as compensation.

Lesson learned: staying in a brand new resort may have some advantages, including a very fresh room and lower opening rates. But it may be better to wait until the property has been open a few months, construction is finished and all the bugs are worked out.

Opening a new hotel is expensive, and there’s enormous pressure to start generating income as soon as possible. New properties begin accepting reservations well before opening, so if there are delays in construction or other setbacks, they may end up serving guests before everything is running smoothly. I don’t have a problem with that model so long as hotels are upfront about major deficiencies (like the pool being closed) and responsive to the impact they have on guests. While David’s experience may have fallen short of expectations, it sounds like the hotel was sympathetic to his complaints and responded appropriately. If you have a low tolerance for such circumstances, then think twice about booking stays at a sparkling new hotel.

Of course, established hotels experience plenty of service issues as well, ranging from mundane deficiencies (like dated rooms and subpar cuisine) to total meltdowns (like being told you don’t have a room after you’ve paid for it). In any case, speak up if you’re dissatisfied with a significant aspect of your stay. Politely inform the staff to see if they can address your concerns, and if that fails, consider reaching out to the hotel’s social media team. Your feedback is important not only to rectify your situation, but also to help the property do better in the future. Finally, while you shouldn’t go fishing over minor grievances, don’t be shy about asking for compensation if it’s warranted.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank David for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Feature image courtesy of the Renaissance Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa. 

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