Here at Australian Women Online we take invitations to review a product seriously as we understand just how important it is to provide our readers with genuine and honest information about what’s on offer both here and abroad. So when we were invited to review MGallery’s Australian Flagship hotel, the Grand Hotel in Melbourne (pictured), we carefully researched the literature and embarked on the task feeling confident that we would be able to confirm to our readers the MGallery’s promise of an “exceptional experience”.
The Grand Hotel in Melbourne is advertised as a boutique establishment with personalised service and a 5 star rating. But as we all know simply saying something doesn’t make it so and although we certainly had an exceptional experience, we feel relatively confident it was not the kind of “exceptional” MGallery was referring to.
On a positive note the rooms are tastefully appointed and all are unique, with features such as corrugated iron ceilings forming part of this majestic building’s heritage listed charm. The rooms are warm, inviting and cosy and offer a range of facilities including a safe, well equipped kitchen, air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, and Internet access.
The beds are luxurious and the experience of sleeping in them is akin to spending the night blissfully reclined in a cloud. They are truly one of the hotels most impressive features.
The staff are warm and friendly albeit alarmingly ill informed as to what both the in-house directories and the hotel’s own promotional materials offer the paying guest. Essentially our experience of the Grand Hotel Melbourne was disappointing.
It would appear that there are serious communication issues somewhere along the management chain and until everyone is on-board and heading in the same direction we suggest would be guests “prepare to be flexible” when choosing to stay at the Grand Hotel Melbourne.
The Grand Indulgence
We were led to believe that “every MGallery hotel boasts its own unique ‘Pleasurable Moment’ – something which reflects the hotel’s local culture, personality and background. The Grand’s ‘Pleasurable Moment’ is entitled ‘The Grand Indulgence’. It is held daily in the library and comprises the tasting of regional wines, accompanied by different cheeses and a choice of locally grown olives presented in Victorian chinaware”.
On our first night, when we went down to the library eagerly anticipating this unusual and unique experience, we were apologetically informed that no such “moment” existed, in fact as far as anyone knew it had never existed. We did show the staff that it was mentioned in both the pamphlet given to us on arrival and the pre-visit information we had been supplied with, however they assured us that they had absolutely no knowledge of this offering.
This was possibly the crowning glory of all the “misunderstandings” and for the most part the rest were small inconveniences. However, by the time I received breakfast on the final morning and received Swiss bircher muesli instead of toasted muesli and an apple instead of the homemade seasonal fruit compote I’d ordered, I was just over it. All I wanted to do was just check out and go home.
The in-room information guide states that High Tea is offered daily between 2-4pm, we also saw that bookings were essential. With this in mind we made sure we went down to book as soon as we had finished breakfast. However we were informed that High Tea was actually only offered on Saturdays and Sundays and that bookings had to be made by the middle of the day on Friday. In the spirit of De L’Esprit (see below) I went to reception, explained that we had not been told that the booking had to be made prior to our arrival and given that we were writing a review and thought it would make for a good inclusion in the article, asked if there was anything that could be done. The reception staff commiserated with us that it was a disappointing situation but it was out of their hands. In the end we took this in our stride comforted in the knowledge that if the exquisite food served to us the previous night was any indication, then a sumptuous dinner awaited us that evening.
Problems with dinner reservations:
On arrival one of the staff arranged our dinner reservations for both Saturday and Sunday night in the RAB restaurant. We appreciated this touch of personalised service. After a full day of exploring the treats that Melbourne has to offer we arrived back at the hotel. As we were a little later than expected we went to the restaurant to let the staff know that we might be a little late for our reservation. In a now all too familiar fashion the staff member smiled warmly and proceeded to politely let us know that there must be some kind of mistake as they had no booking for us because the restaurant was not open for dinner on Sundays. This came a huge surprise to us and a great disappointment as we had already missed out on High Tea and had organised our activities in the city around getting back on time for our dinner reservations.
The Grand Hotel makes the following statement:
“Regardless of the nature of your request “De L’Esprit” via extension 9 will immediately respond to your request. At the Grand Hotel we are enthusiastic and alert to accommodating your request and will ensure your request is administered as quickly as possible. All Grand Hotel staff are empowered to ensure we find the best means possible to satisfy this objective”
The hotel was not even able to accommodate requests based on its own literature and at no time did any staff member suggest to me that they were empowered to do anything other than politely lend a sympathetic ear. Something as simple as “I’m sorry for the confusion, let me look into it and I’ll see what I can do” would have been music to our ears at this point.
The Grand Staircase
The Grand is made up of both hotel and residential apartments. The Stair case, while truly majestic and stunningly beautiful is located on the second floor and is the entrance for the residential apartments not the hotel. In fact unless you ask to be taken on a tour of the hotel or get lost trying to find the pool and gym, there is a strong possibility that you may never see it. It plays no functional or ongoing part of the hotel experience even though it is featured quite prominently in the hotel promotional material. So while the staircase is certainly a genuine feature of the building the use of its image ultimately leaves one feeling as if they were slightly duped.
Other things guests might need to be informed of are:
The frothing nozzle on the in-room coffee machines are not for use because of safety requirements. There is nothing anywhere to tell you this and you will only find this out after becoming so frustrated that you can’t get it to work that you ask a staff member for assistance.
Vegetables or salads are not a feature of the room service menu, so if ordering for example the sirloin steak, don’t assume that you will receive anything remotely green, it’s just steak and chips.
The beautiful statue featured in the promotional material for the hotels garden lies fallen on the pebble pathway amongst a smattering of discarded cigarette butts. And if you are a smoker, don’t be fooled by the website that suggests that of the 103 rooms available 80 are non-smoking, we were advised that in fact all of the rooms are non-smoking.
If you’re a “clean freak” there’s a good chance you will be disappointed by the state of the bathrooms and if our room was any indication, the kitchen floor as parts of which made sticking sounds underfoot. We were told that the bathrooms were all due to be upgraded and from the descriptions we received they sound as if they will be stunning.
As mentioned earlier it wasn’t all bad. Highlights for us were:
Both the food and service we received on our first night was outstanding. Do not pass up the opportunity to sample the Hot Chocolate Soufflé served with vanilla bean ice cream and pedro ximinez as it is truly divine.
The Grand Hotel Signature Cocktail
This is a delightfully refreshing and zesty thirst quencher. With apple and citrus flavours it is perfect after a long day shopping or sight seeing in the city. The Bar staff will also make cocktails at your request should you prefer something not featured on the menu.
The Guided Tour
We were enthusiastically guided through all areas of the Grand Hotel by our friendly Duty Manager Laura. Her passion for the hotel and the sheer magnificence and history of the building at large were a real pleasure to experience.
We don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that the staff were difficult in any way. They just seemed inadequately trained and at times way out of their depth. In the end it is management not the staff who need to be held accountable. Well done to the staff for doing an exceptional job under the circumstances.
Following our experiences we invited Accor to comment. Their official response was as follows:
Please be assured we have taken your comments very seriously. Our business relies on constructive guest feedback such as yours.
Accor expects the highest level of quality at the properties within the MGallery label and as such I am sorry that you were disappointed with various aspects of your stay and that we clearly fell short of providing you with an M Gallery experience. We are addressing all of the areas you have outlined and I can assure you that your comments will allow us to improve the experience for all our future guests.
I sincerely hope we will be given the opportunity of welcoming you back to Grand Hotel Melbourne in the future, and that we will have the opportunity to extend to you the high level of service we strive to offer all of our guests and to experience the full MGallery experience.
For more information visit www.mgallery.com/gb/home/index.shtml