A family holiday at the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel, Kalives cut short by inept management.
This may seem like a scathing attack on what seems a perfectly nice hotel. On the surface, sure, the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel does look pleasant but looks can be deceiving. This is my experience, an experience that’s virtually ruined a family holiday.
First, let me point out that this is my personal view. I was not a paying guest, but was visiting paying guests. I was not interested in using any of the hotels facilities, I was not interested in eating the mass-produced frozen/re-heated food, I was not interested in drinking their bland, watered down drinks. I was there simply to see my family. Personally, I’m against the rising tide of all-inclusive resorts that I think have a negative effect on local tourism, but I can see the advantages they have, especially when travelling with children.
I’m fortunate to live in Halkidiki, I’ve lived here for the last 10 years. The down side is that I don’t get back to the UK as often as I’d like so once a year my family come over for their holidays. I see them for 1 maybe 2 weeks a year. Every year they choose their hotel, always different locations and different hotels. I visit them every day where ever they stay. It’s always been an enjoyable holiday for them and me. This year was to be extra special, as travelling with them was my new niece and nephew that I had not yet met. We were all looking forward to a fun week and spending time together. All that changed upon arrival at Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel.
Monday 20th June 2016
I arrived early at the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel, to be sure I was there to meet them when they arrived on the coach from the airport. They were on a late flight, due in at the hotel around 10pm. I parked up and asked security if I could park in the hotel as I’m waiting for my family. The answer, a firm NO. I accepted this and parked outside, while I was waiting, I observed rather solemn looking hotel staff leaving after their shifts, and then realised that security was tight with every person leaving having to go to the security box for their bags to be checked. That made me curious about my situation as a visitor. I again approached the security box and explained again, that I’m waiting for my family and that I would be visiting every day. I enquired if I would need a special visitor pass to allow me access. That’s when the bomb dropped. The security made a call to reception, and at that point I was informed that if I wished to visit my family, I would have to pay either 55 euros for half a day or 75 euros for a full day!
I was not impressed, the security offered to call the manager to explain. All the while, I was tactically kept on the outside of the barrier. The manager came, or room division manager, they like their titles. Instantly, his manner brushed me up the wrong way. Very dismissive to my concerns, no eye contact, constantly playing with his phone while explaining the ‘Blue Lagoon Hotel groups policies’. That’s when I saw the ugly side of how this hotel is run. Because I was not a paying customer, I saw the full extent of this regime run business. I was told under no circumstances would I be allowed access to the hotel or its grounds unless I paid the extortionate fee. When I asked if I could at least stand where the coach drops off the passengers, again, the answer was a firm NO. I would have to remain on the outside of the barrier and my family would have to come and see me, unbelievable. At this point (11pm), the coaches turned up, I saw my family (for the first time in a year) leave the coach, and I made the decision to cross their border to meet my family. They could instantly see something was wrong, and instead of the usual greetings, we were met by 2 security guards and the so-called manager rushing to intercept me and threatening to physically ‘escort’ me, the 10 meters to the other side of their border. After some heated discussions, the so-called manager obviously was out of his depth and getting more confused by the minute having to deal with 2 coach loads of faceless euro signs, he relented and allowed me to stay and even allowed me access to hotel foyer while my family checked in, buy beyond the foyer was forbidden ground. By this time I was constantly watched. After my family had checked in, they tried to reason with the manager, but they also received his dismissive attitude, but set up a meeting the following day with the hotels main manager. So far, a nice start to what was supposed to be a relaxing family holiday.
Tuesday 21st June 2016
The meeting was held, but the same excuse about the hotel groups policy for visitors still stood, but they were willing to give a discount. Unacceptable.
I arranged to meet my family on the beach outside the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel, there was some discussion as to whether I was even allowed there, but in the end I was allowed access. I was constantly watched and even ordered to move my car 3 meters further away.
Wednesday 22nd June 2016
Today, I have been forced not to visit. It’s unfair to expect my family (my dad’s 74 and my nephew, the youngest is just 1) to stay on the beach during the scorching mid afternoon heat, where they would obviously prefer to be around the shade of the pools etc. But, as I am forbidden access to these areas, the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel’s decision has, in effect, cut the time I will spend with my family.
Thursday 23rd June
I arranged to pick up my mum & dad and take them for a coffee somewhere else, somewhere out of the hotel complex and somewhere I could spend some time with them. Not being allowed in to the complex to find them, I drove along the public beach road trying to spot them. As soon as I saw them, I stopped the car and was just about to ask my dad where they wanted me to pick them up, when another security guard came up telling me that I could not park where I was, on a public road, not owned in any way or form by the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel. This time I totally ignored him, waited for my mum & dad and spent the rest of the day away from the hotel and its all-seeing eyes.
After the first nights debacle and the subsequent, albeit pointless meeting the following day with the ‘management’, my dad had actually managed to track down one of the Blue Lagoon Hotel groups directors. He emailed a complaint directly and received a prompt reply. The director happened to be flying in to check over things at the hotel, and arranged another meeting between him, the management along with my dad and brother. The director over ruled the management and instantly allowed me full access, with no charges. The director confirmed that the management had made a bad decision, the hotel is new and they are all under pressure to make the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel a success. The hotel had received very bad reviews upon initial opening last year (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Five-star-luxury-hotels-grand-opening-an-absolute-disgrace/, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/familys-five-star-holiday-hotel-still-5694119)
Friday 24th June – Monday 27th June
After the arrival nights show of complete disregard to customer service and the following 3 days of no access, I was finally allowed to spend the remaining time with my family and they could finally relax.
Generally, the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel is pleasant enough and does have genuine potential to become very popular. It’s new, so will have the inevitable teething problems. The main problem which lets all of the good things about the hotel down are the management and the hotel groups hardline policies which seem to be followed to word.
I am, of course, grateful to the director who intervened, but I have no doubt at all, that if the situation had been left up to the management, then instead of half a ruined holiday, we would have been facing a completely ruined holiday.
A management staff with more experience and less dismissive attitudes along with a complete review of its policies would go a long way in helping the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel achieve its future goals. Also, a different attitude towards its general staff (of which I have no complaints whatsoever). The staff are run by fear, one negative comment by a customer, and they’re threatened with job loss. If they ask for one single day off, they’re threatened with job loss. They are made to smile and it comes across as fake, but it’s born from fear.
Never before in the 10 years I’ve lived here and the 10 years my family have been visiting have we ever experienced anything like this.
The Blue Lagoon Group seems to have no grasp on the concept of a ‘family’ holiday, their primary concerns are not you, the customer, no, their primary concern is your money. I strongly urge anyone who is still thinking about staying at this hotel to take a long look at the charges for ‘extras’.
Things I should point out that the brochures don’t tell you:
- If you’re susceptible to mosquito bites, then you may have a problem here. The whole complex is built on marshland. In fact, the foul smell that some people report as being sewage, is in fact the stagnant water and marshland that surrounds the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel and is the breeding grounds for millions of mosquitoes.
- The beach is coarse sand and pebbles
- To see another side of life, walk to windmill, turn left up the road/storm drain and take a look at the seasonal migrant worker shacks, that seem to be occupied all year round.
Although the holiday ended well, first impressions count. Overall, the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel has more of a, how can I put this…..’polite detention center’ feel to it, where rules and orders must be obeyed.
If the hotel can adopt a more open view on their policies and react to situations in a more friendly and mature manner, if they can try to put their customers concerns first instead of their rules, if they can learn to treat their staff better and if they can train their management to actually listen, then I’m sure they will be succesful.
For now, I would not recommend the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel to anyone, and I know for sure that none of my family will be visiting any of their hotels ever again.