I have no idea how a chain of luxury resorts could completely screw up a wonderful hotel and make guests so angry. I recommend that you do not stay here. I was excited when I booked a tailor-made trip across India. This was actually the Rasa Resort at the time I booked here. I was really excited about the idea of staying in a ‘Luxury Tent’ in an historic and rural setting. I couldn’t wait to sit outside and sip a cold beer while watching the sunset on the mountains. The pool area looked beautiful and the restaurant as well. The selling point for me was that despite being a tent, that the resort prided itself on being quiet.
Except for the pool – all of this proved to be very very wrong.
When my driver was approaching the hotel on a deserted road, he stopped. Something was wrong. There were signs for the Lebua Hotel. The driver rang the hotel to be told to proceed as the hotel has just been purchased by the Lebua chain of hotels. Big mistake. We were greeted at the ancient wooded gates by the night guard and drove down into the field where the tents and facilities were located. My driver dropped me off at reception and drove off to the city to stay at his accommodation. I was shown to my tent and everything seemed fine.
Once the door was closed I started to notice the first signs of why I would suggest you book another luxury hotel in the area.
I went to the mini-bar to get a cold beer and unpack. Weird. There was NO ALCOHOL in the mini-bar. I thought it was very odd, but I have seen hotels where they leave a small sign to say just ask for the alcohol to be put in. Keeps kids from getting into trouble, fair enough. Hmmm. No sign. Anyway I unpacked and inspected the nice bathroom. That was the best part. I looked at the ‘Tent’ and realised that only 1 wall was actually anything approaching a tent. No problem. It was really quiet. I had some nice furniture outside and thought I would go to the bar and get a drink for outside later. First things were to get to the bar, get a beer, and make my way to the restaurant as it was getting late. I ended up in reception and they said to go by the pool area. I found the cool pool. In fact there are actually table IN the pool itself so you literally sit inside the water. Maybe tomorrow I thought. I walked past the restaurant looking for the bar. Nothing. Outside of the restaurant was one of those crazy puppet shows they have at most luxury hotels. They expect to be paid afterwards. I hate puppets and said no. This obviously was translated as ‘ok’ and they said they would be waiting for me. Great.
So in I went to get a meal. The waiters greeted me and handed me a menu. I didn’t see any drinks listed. When they came back for my order I picked some VERY expensive dishes and ordered a beer and my food. After a long wait I asked for a beer again. That’s when they dropped the bomb. Partially.
”We don’t serve any alcohol”.
OK, then. Where is the bar? Ah. We don’t have a bar.
Yes – Lebua doesn’t sell alcohol. At THIS resort. In fact it’s the only resort they own WORLDWIDE that does not sell alcohol. And it gets worse! It was miles to the nearest store or bar and they said it could take an hour for a taxi to come out. So no beer for me. Also they didn’t want to tell me they had no alcohol until I had already ordered my food. Tricky.
Anyway, I went back to my semi-tent and went to bed noticing just how quiet it was. I was dreaming away….
THUMP! THUMP! BANG BANG BANG BANG! THUMP! THUMP!
I could suddenly hear loud music. No, loud drumming. It went on for minutes then stopped. Then started again. I rang reception and they said there was NO music! I got dressed and went to find the source. Near the pool. Yes – it was the damn puppet show and a few unsuspecting fellow guests. I have to say the show sucked, but they were good drummers. 2 phone calls later (2!) to reception and finally the drums stopped. I did point pout it was past 11pm at night.
THUMP! THUMP! BANG BANG BANG BANG! THUMP! THUMP!
You have got to be joking. I rang reception. They again said there was NO music! I demanded that they go to the pool area – again – and tell them to stop. Reception interpreted this as sending a guy to my tent. He wanted to come inside and find the source of the noise. Yes, really. I explained that it was outside. He said no. Argghhh!!!!
I demanded that he follow me towards the pool area and he came with me. He then started saying that sometimes the air-conditioning units make banging noises. He wanted to go back to my tent. I stopped and explained no, it was from the pool area. He started pointing in a different direction and walked off looking for the noise. I was just following him when the drums start again from the pool area!
I demanded that he follow me even as he said it wasn’t music, but air-condition units. Argghh!!
We arrived at the pool area to find that behind the puppets was a huge wedding party with 200 people outside. With musicians. Nice. I had given up on the staff member who kept lying to me. I marched down to reception to let them know what I thought. This achieved nothing. The music did get a bit quieter, but it went on. I did notice that the wedding guests had brought their won alcohol and were transporting bottles of wine between their rooms and the party. Well, I would make sure I picked up some cold beer tomorrow.
The next day I picked up lots of cold beer on my way back to the hotel and filled my mini-bar! I then went with a nice bottle of cold beer to sit by the pool and enjoy the sunset. This lasted for about 3 minutes.
“You cannot drink alcohol outside. You can only drink it in your room.”
Nice. So, If I have 199 friends I can, but drink solo and you are under house arrest. When I asked why not? I was told “If you do it, every other guest will want do this”. EXACTLY!!!! Argghhh! Then, bizarrely, they moved my room. Yep, they had another wedding that night. When I asked, they lied and said no. I knew they were lying.
Anyway, I opened a beer and sat just outside my room and out of sight from the pool, restaurant and reception. This lasted 2 beers before a staff member arrived. Yep – go to your room! When I went to dinner later, they confirmed I could not bring my beer in. I just kept getting up from the table and drinking in my room and back.
Then the drums started. Several calls and a confrontation at reception and the wedding that didn’t exist got a bit quiet.
HERE IS THE BOTTOM LINE.
Outside of Saudi Arabia and Iran (ONLY) – this is the only ‘Luxury Hotel’ in the known world that does not sell or allow you to drink alcohol within the grounds of the hotel . Except in your room like you are doing something wrong. I even rand my tour agency and they really did not believe it. The manager of the agency had drunk beers there (as the RASA Resort) just 2 weeks before. At the pool!
And there was the attempted fraud!
Only these idiots could try and pull something as shocking at check-out. When I went in this idiot was on a mobile and ignoring me. I kept trying to check out as my driver – and my tour – was waiting to leave. The guy suddenly asked me to put my credit card in the machine. It only said ‘enter pin’. I did. Then the guy did something suspicious. He took the small slip and the full page receipt and folded it up in an envelope. Then he sealed it. Given that these guys were already liars, I decided to not trust them. In fact I have always been presented with the full page bill to check for accuracy. That’s when I discovered the attempted fraud. I opened the sealed envelope and the full page just said ‘Charges’ and a cool $120. Nice!
When I confronted him, he made lots of weird excuses. It took 30 minutes for the hotel to sort this out.
There is seriously something wrong with this hotel. Best avoided!
• Fraudulent charges on your bill
• Loud parties you are not invited to
• No alcohol sold or served
• You cannot drink your own alcohol outside of your own room
• Crazy puppet guys ambush you (twice) when you try and get to the restaurant
• Restaurant prices are shockingly high – higher than in Delhi!
• Remote – so no shopping for anything
• Other than a pool and restaurant – that’s it
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