We arrived at the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa at about 4 am local time. We checked in and hulled our bags to our room. My dad had arrived a few hours before so he was already checked into my parent’s room, sound asleep. Deciding that we needed to stay up awhile so we could adjust to the time change, my mom and I started to walk around the Movenpick property. We had decided a few months previous that we would most likely do our event at the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa. They had the largest meeting space and exhibition space of all the hotels on the Dead Sea. My mom and I had never been there before so we had decided to stay there while making all of the final arrangements so we could experience their service first hand. I am very picky about where I host an event because I want the attendees to feel comfortable and to get the most out of the money they spend.
I wasn’t too impressed by the Movenpick property. There was trash everywhere, dozens of feral cats and I felt like I might catch a disease swimming in their pools (you couldn’t see to the bottom of most of the pools). My first thought was that it was 5 am and I was in no position to jump to conclusions so quickly. They did have a lovely “beach” area and the views were fantastic. I also loved the -420 meters below sea level sign!
But we went back to our rooms to cool off (it was almost 105 F outside that day!) and I was again very disappointed. The rooms we had been put in were not very nice. The tiling in the bathroom was crumbling, there were bugs everywhere and I found a lizard scurrying around. Over all, I would compare the room to a low-end motel in the States. After a short nap, we met up with my dad and headed to breakfast. The food was decent and they did have some nice gluten free options available. We talked to my dad about his experience when he had checked in the night before. He had to wait in line to check in, at 11 pm, and once he did check in there was a problem with the Internet. He tried calling the front desk and was told someone would come fix it. An hour later, when no one had come to his room, he wandered to the lobby and asked for a manager. The manager told him that someone would come fix the Internet right away. It took another hour (a total of two hours for those of you not counting) for someone to come and fix the Internet. We had the same problem when our air conditioning wasn’t working. When the maintenance guys finally got to our room they actually told us that the air conditioning was working and we were wrong. When we insisted, they fiddled with the vents a little then left.
So we decided to check out, only 8 hours after we had checked in. We were done. There was a Marriott Resort next door and since my dad is a platinum rewards member, they were going to take very good care of us. When we did check out, no one batted an eye. No questions as to why we were leaving or wondering if we would be coming back for our site inspection the next day. We grabbed our bags and moved ourselves to the Marriott next door where they provided the top notch service Marriott is known for.
I want to point out that while it may seem ridiculous that I insisted on leaving the Movenpick because the service was sub par, I have some very legitimate reasons. To begin, Movenpick is a 5-star, very well established, European brand. This Movenpick had not been updated in decades and the service was not only lacking, it was blatantly absent. As I said before, I am very picky about the venues I use for events. When I have a CEO of a global company coming to stay at the hotel and attend a conference, I make sure there is a suite available and I want to know that they will be taken care of. I also want to make sure that the attendees staying in the lowest priced rooms are treated properly. Since we were put in the lowest priced room at the Movenpick, I knew I could not allow the next event to be at that hotel. There is also an expectation when doing a prearranged site inspection that the venue will try to show off to you so you will have your event there. I had arranged for our rooms through the event manager at the hotel so they knew we were coming. As I said before, no one even batted an eye when we left.
When we returned for the site inspection the next day, I was even more disappointed than the day before. Not only did the event manager have no idea that we had checked out, he didn’t know a lot of information about the property. When I asked about the capacity of the meeting space, his number was higher than the number on their website. He didn’t know if exhibition booths could be placed in front of doors (they were clearly marked as emergency exits, so that would have been a no). He even quoted the wrong number of available rooms the hotel had. When we were shown the suites in the hotel, I was again very disappointed. There was no way I was going to get a room block and host an event at this venue.
I was now lacking a venue and only had 4 days to find one.
Update: Since I published this post, I was contacted by Movenpick Hotels via Twitter. They were very apologetic and ensured me that I would hear from The Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea management. A few days later, I did hear from the General Manager of the resort and he was very apologetic. He assured us that steps were being taken to not only remedy what occurred during our stay but to also improve the hotel.