Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Positive Aspects

Yes, there are positive aspects as well.

The water park was a heaven for the three older ones (3, 5 and 8) of our four grand kids. The three year old girl tired herself completely out on the water slides.

Individual service by Atlantis' associates was close to perfect; everybody was friendly and tried to help as much as possible within the restraints of their jobs.

The quality and variety of the foods on the buffets was well worth four stars.

The many aquariums with salt water fish are a sight to behold and their architectural integration may well be truly unique.

In the library were about 10 to 12 computers available free of charge for 15 minute sessions per guest per day. 

The rooms were spacious and well furnished.

The grounds are well maintained and a pleasure to walk.

The elevators were mostly working well; they were large enough and there were enough of them to handle a rush at dinner time and on check out day.

Day Of Arrival - A Horror Story?

First my open letter to the Atlantis, written the night of our arrival. I have added a few explanations in [braces and cursive].
Out of respect to my wife and daughter and their friends I have changed the name of the company they work with to B-Inc.; this is NOT about B-Inc., it is all about the Atlantis Resort.

Paradise Island, The Bahamas, July 7th 2011
Open letter to the management of Atlantis resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Copy to B-Inc.
For your background: My wife is an B-Inc. consultant who earned double occupancy for the 2011 B-Inc. incentive trip to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas. The very same applies to our daughter, a good friend of my wife's and another lady from their B-Inc. team.
Our group [upon arrival] thus comprised six adults from four families and nine children ages 11 to one year.
Because of the very inconvenient flight schedule from Wisconsin to Nassau we flew in [to Nassau] one day early and stayed one night in another hotel. Shortly past noon we all arrived at the Atlantis where my horror story begins:
  1. Check in upon arrival took two and a half hours! Some of us were waiting in the muggy heat with children to get any information on where and what; that really did not raise our mood at all.

    The five star Atlantis Resort was not able to handle the arrival of a few thousand guests from B-Inc. in a timely manner.

  2. My wife had called ahead and spoken with the reservation desk. We (the grandparents) requested a room next to and with connecting doors for our daughter with four little ones (ages 8 through 1). We had asked for the two families of our friends to be placed on the same floor as we had planned some babysitting for them all. The reservation representative confirmed that all this was noted and would be taken care of upon check-in.

    None of that happened as promised. We got assigned to room #11507 in Royal East and the adjacent room #11509 was not reserved for our daughter and her four kids but for somebody else from our party. After 45 minutes of contentious debates my wife finally managed to get our daughter assigned to the adjacent and connected room #11509. But the two other families got put in Coral tower and in Royal West.

    So much for confirmations from the Atlantis reservations desk.

  3. When we started to separate our luggage the then bell captain on duty refused to let us sort our luggage by family and thus room number.

    He wrote an additional third ticket but as we later discovered he did not mark all pieces with the new number and left the old randomly assigned numbers on many of the pieces. Consequently we had to have the bell captain of Royal towers start a special search for three missing pieces which turned up by about 7PM.

  4. Around 7:30PM we all met in the lobby of Royal Towers to go to dinner together. Because the line for the Marketplace restaurant reached right out into the main lobby [about 400 to 450 feet long!] we ended up in the line of the restaurant on the lower level. [This line appeared to be much shorter.]

    After TWO HOURS 30 minutes patiently waiting we had finally reached the check-in desk only to be told that we would not get in anymore, no chance. My wife had an acute bout of tachycardia and two of the little kids had fallen asleep! And there seemed to be no chance for any food in a reasonable time.

  5. The lady named Nichola who had managed the check-in up to that moment took pity in us, got a shuttle bus and accompanied us to the Beach Tower and into the restaurant [called Seagrapes] where she took care that our key cards would be accepted and we would not get charged separately. BIG applause and thank you Ms. Nichola!

    Finally at 10:30 PM our kids got some dinner!

  6. When we left the Seagrapes restaurant there was no bus in sight. The next shuttle bus driver just shut the door, waved his hand declining and drove off! He is lucky that I have no revolver (not funny, I know) and in the dark could not read the license plate of the vehicle.

  7. I went to the reception/guest services desk of Beach tower but it was completely deserted. There was a telephone on the counter; I used it and dialed the operator Susan who promised a shuttle within ten minutes. And the shuttle actually came, thank you Ms. Susan.

  8. And on a slightly different note: One of our grandsons will turn 1 year later this month. He is active and lively and categorically demands to crawl. So naturally we let him crawl on the carpet floor of the room. And guess what happens: After about one hour of crawling his knees, top of the feet and hands are black!

    That makes me wonder how long ago the floors have last been vacuumed thoroughly, not to talk about a steam cleaning?
What are the lessons that I learned tonight?
The Atlantis is not a place I ever will recommend to anybody, not even my best enemy. Nobody deserves to experience what we went through today. It seems to me that the Atlantis is all about appearances but not about adequate delivery.
Atlantis, please don't try to tell me that your organization was overwhelmed by the sudden influx of a few thousand B-Inc. guests. Go sail with any of the five or seven thousand passenger ships of Royal Caribbean or any other major cruise line and you can experience how and that several thousand guests can be checked in and fed in a timely and pleasant manner! [Any four or five star establishment ought to be prepared for occupancy to capacity or IMHO they don't deserve the stars!}
As far as B-Inc. is concerned I strongly believe that the Atlantis is in no way except exterior appearances adequate to the high standards of the B-Inc. organization. [These standards are exemplified and justified by the exceptional quality of B-Inc. products.]
Dear B-Inc., do these incentive trips only every 18 month and do them with Royal Caribbean as in 2010. That was a memorable and pleasant trip perfectly representing the positive image that B-Inc. otherwise projects .
And, by the way, I would appreciate any comments [from the Atlantis] except excuses. Today I had my fill of the latter for the foreseeable future.
Eike J. Heinze

Internet Access - A Saga

Here my letter to the Atlantis management about their internet access. For a change after putting my foot down fairly hard a positive solution was achieved.

Paradise Island, August 11th 2011

To whom it may concern:

We arrived at the Atlantis on Sunday, August 7th 2011. My wife did the check-in process and forgot to sign up for an internet access plan.

Consequently I signed up for five-day of Internet access online using my credit card on Monday, August 8th at approximately 4:30PM and received an access code. I could use the connection on Monday afternoon and evening.

Tuesday, August 9th I had already some major problems and was told that the problem was being worked upon and I should try again.

Wednesday, August 10th I had no internet access at all. A female Atlantis' Prompt Response representative promised to look into the issue and to call back. I never got that call.

Today, Thursday, August 11th I don't have internet access at all.

I see the futility of trying to get the issue resolved before I have to leave tomorrow morning.

I request a refund of my payment prorated for the days I had only limited or no internet access.


Eike Heinze
[full address and phone number]
I brought this letter to a concierge and asked him to confirm the receipt on my copy. He refused to do that referring to their, the Atlantis' procedures.

When I asked what the procedure was he gave me a 1-800 number and asked me to call that number after we had checked out. I told him politely but in no uncertain words that I considered that to be an imposition and a very unreasonable demand. I mentioned that this procedure would force me to have my lawyer take up the issue with the Atlantis.

I asked to talk to his manager and got the 10 to 15 minutes wait treatment. Yes, I waited patiently, I was sufficiently infuriated and frustrated by then.

After talking to an associate of his and some phone calls the gentlemen called me back to his counter and connected me with a lady in another department. I explained the situation to her, she said she would be checking the issue and then gave me another ten minute waiting treatment on the phone line. When the background music and background advertising went dead I first thought I had been hung up upon but the concierge claimed that the connection was still active.

After about another five minutes the lady finally came back into the line and claimed that my credit card had been credited with the full amount that I had paid for internet access.

This was two star service at best, not at all equivalent to the five star image that the Atlantis projects.

Added August, 16th 2011: I got an official email from Atlantis confirming credit of the amount I had paid for Internet access. What a hassle.

General Remarks - Mostly Negative, Sorry

In no particular order just as it comes to mind:
  1. The very expansive grounds are a maze of winding, intersecting and forking pathways. Yes, there were signs but in my experience way too few and sometimes in "awkward" locations.

    Yes, we got a map of the premises; very pretty, artistically and creatively done with a large drawing of the signature Atlantis double towers and other large buildings. These drawings covered parts of the pathways; bummer.

    This resort claims five star quality and seems to be incapable (or unwilling?) to supply a small but precise little map like a street or city map. And I at least needed a "street map" in the maze of paths.

    Actual point in question here: I needed to go with the three older of my grand kids to a certain pool and ask one of the many uniformed helpers for directions. He does not know and asks a "managerial" looking associate; this man then describes a rather convoluted way. After the guy turns away my eight years old granddaughter turns to me and says "Opa, that is not right; that is not how we went yesterday!"

    She knew better than the Atlantis employee.

  2. The main lobby of the Royal Towers is easily a few hundred feet long with even longer hallways to and through the casino to get to the Coral Towers, the library, the conference center and some restaurants.

    In all these long hallways I did not see a single courtesy phone for in-house calls, not one!
    In my book that is not a sign of a five star establishment.
  3. You have to take little children through the casino to get from the Royal towers to the conference center, the library, the Coral towers and some of the restaurants.

    A casino with smoking guests and skimpily clad waitresses in my book is not the correct surrounding for little kids!

  4. The very best I have kept for last:

    For the record: I am a computer professional with 47 years of experience and still work daily with and on modern computers. My specialties are loss-less virus removal and tune-ups. With all due modesty I think I know what I am going to say now.

    I had to use the computers in the library because of my Internet Access Saga; if you are here you possibly have read it already. I wrote my letters to the Atlantis on my computer, printed them as PDF files and copied these PDF files to my USB flash drive.

    On the Atlantis' library computer I just pulled these files up and printed them. And guess what happened:
    My USB drive got infected with a well known virus that proliferates via networks and removable media!
    Thank you, Atlantis! Your computers definitely are not safe.

    What else is unsafe?

Leaving - Some More Chaos

For the record: I had to leave separately from my family; they stayed another night in a hotel close by for a more accommodating flight schedule.

 Upon leaving another small chaos unfolds.

There were plenty of buses available to shuttle all the many departing people to the airport; but these buses had absolutely no storage for luggage and only a flat briefcase would have fit in the few overhead compartments.

The luggage was placed separately into a small box truck.

At the airport is a multi-lane drop-off area by the departure building. We got dropped off in the open on the left-most lane. Four or five bus loads full of people including families with small children had to wait in the muggy, tropical heat for their luggage!

When the luggage truck finally arrived it got unloaded on the right side of the multi-lane drop-off area UNDER A ROOF! Some guys in Atlantis uniforms begin to sort the many luggage pieces by airline according to airline name tags.

My duffel bag does not have such a name tag so I grab it directly and wheel it away while the other people are still waiting in the muggy heat.

Great service!

Personal Summary

The people working at the Atlantis seem to be sweet, polite, nice and they genuinely try to help. But as I see it they are not sufficiently trained in facts like the geography of the place, policies and so on. They seem to be acutely wary of anything that could get as a complaint to management.

That tells me a sad story whichever way I look at it: Management is at fault! It seems to me that managers either "kick down" and/or do not educate and motivate their people sufficiently.

A "five star" resort should have sufficient restaurant capacity to feed ALL their guests in a timely and acceptable manner.

If you still want to go there, by all means do it.

But do not use their library computers, at least not with your own USB storage media and definitely not on any web site that requires any kind of password.

That aspect of the Atlantis resort definitely is unsafe!