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Stained Shower Curtain at Chateau du Lac Hotel Genval Belgium | by Lawrence Chard
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Stained Shower Curtain at Chateau du Lac Hotel Genval Belgium

This is supposed to be a 5* hotel.

We arrived late at night, our first two choices in Namur being full.

We had not had time or opportunity to check it out on Trip Advisor, where it is listed as #1 in its location (out of 1!), and it only had 3.5 TA stars or blobs. If we had checked this, we would have avoided it and headed into Brussels, to one of the numerous good hotels there.

We did think that in a small rural area, the hotels may have offered better value, and been quieter than in a big city. We were right about being quiet, but sadly wrong about the value.

The hotel, owned by Martin's Hotels, which appears to own and operate about 10 "luxury" hotels in Belgium, is in a location which could farlry claim to be a five star location.

The exterior and main public rooms of the hotel are impressive, but...

...as we tried to find the lift (elevator) to take us to the second floor, we became somewhat irritable about the difficulty in finding it. We asked two staff members, who each gave us cursory and inadequate directions.

As we progressed along a ground floor corridor, we became apprehensive about the accommodation, as it was apparent that the corridors appeared shabby, grubby, and uninspiringly decorated and furnished.

We found the single lift half way along the corridor, which seems a strange place to locate a lift. It was poorly signed which made it harder to find than necessary. If the staff had appreciated this fact, they may have made a greater effort to help us find it, but failed to do so.

The lift itself was old and slow, with a manually opened and heavy door, no modern safety doors, and its decor and visual appeal matched that of the corridors.

My wife looked out of the window for the wonderful lake view we had been promised (we had apparently been allocated a room upgrade), but could only see a car park. I said that perhaps we could not see the lake because it was dark; the view next morning was better, although the window was small with a restricted opening.

If it had not been so late, we had not been so tired or hungry, we would have probably refused the room, and found better accommodation elsewhere. Next time, we will.

We were both surprised and disappointed that a supposedly superior room in a supposedly five star luxury hotel had a shower over the bath, and a shower curtain, rather than a separate shower and a proper shower screen in place of a curtain. The actual arrangement I might expect in a two star hotel, or one with a limited budget and / or space.

We wondered who would choose to stay at this hotel and why. My guess is that most other guests are being accommodated there as part of a corporate hospitality or business meeting, and are not paying for themselves, probably spending more time on the golf course, in the bars, restaurants, and meeting rooms.

I also guess that it is run by accountants, box-tickers, and marketeers, and that most of the management have not tested their bedroom facilities, and have limited experience of other similarly graded hotels.

I presume that all or most of the other Martin's Hotels offer similar surroundings and poor value, and will make efforts to avoid them in future, and advise others to follow suit.

I have uploaded a few other photos from this hotel, with some more to follow.

 

I wrote this review for Trip Advisor:

When our first 3 choices were fully booked, we used our car's SatNav to find this hotel.

First impressions, from the outside, were quite good, even grand. The doorman / porter gave us cause for concern, looking more like a flunkey, and rather pretentious.

The receptionist was unfriendly, my wife recalls.

Perhaps it did not help that we arrived quite late, tired and hungry after a day's driving; but then again this is partly what hotels are, or should be, about, welcoming tired weary travellers with warmth, charm, and hospitality, all of which were lacking.

This was the last night before catching the Rotterdam ferry home, after a month long European tour. It was also the second most expensive, after the excellent Palace Kempinski Hotel in Portoroz, which was also good value. The Chateau du Lac was probably the worst hotel of our entire trip.

Enquiring the whereabouts of our room, we were waved in its general direction, then left to our own devices. It is necessary to negotiate some stairs before reaching the lift. The corridors were shabby and dingy, with scuffed wall coverings, trolleys, trays and other stuff obstructing them. In a 2 star hotel, this would have been disappointing but forgiveable, in a supposed 5 star hotel, it is almost fraudulent.

The bedroom, which was supposedly an upgrade as it had a lake view, was worse. We are aware that most hotels now use low-energy lighting, but in some hotels it feels like a money saving trick rather than a green, planet-saving effort. Perhaps it was so guests could not discern the dirt, stains, and general neglect. The next morning I took some photos, a few of which I later posted on Flickr.com with appropriate descriptions.

If we had not been tired, we would have eaten, here or elsewhere, then driven on until we found somewhere, anywhere, better. In fact, this year, on a similar trip, we did indeed find a much better alternative, using Trip Advisor or course.

I always feel cheated when we receive such poor value, and my wife agrees.

We tend to avoid the cheap and cheerful budget chain hotels, but if faced with an alternative, we would choose one in preference to the Chateau du Lac, at least their bedrooms and corridors are usually clean, and their public rooms and reception areas are not pretentious.

We did get dinner in their restaurant, which was good.

We both formed the impression that many of the other guests were on corporate freebies, or possibly golfing breaks. Perhaps the type of guest who enjoys enough alcoholic drinks, and is not paying their own bill, fail to notice or care about the state of their bedroom or bathroom.

At breakfast, it seemed we were being rushed, and the staff keen to clear up and go or prepare for lunch, even though we were not late.

If Martin's offered to pay for us to stay, we would certainly refuse, as politely as we could, which might require some restraint. We have already decided to avoid any and all Martin's hotels permanently.

After we arrived home, I looked at some of the existing Trip Advisor reviews, and was surprised to find quite a number of positive ones.

This is my first negative review on T.A., and I hope it can be the last one. I much prefer to write positive reviews.

I have just realised that we checked in on what Americans would call 9/11, which leads me to think how this hotel could be improved.

 

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Taken on September 12, 2012