Never trust the concierge

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Never trust the concierge

OK maybe that’s an overstatement, but I recently finished a stay at the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi and had a story to share.  The Ritz is right across the street from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, has breathtaking views of the Mosque, and is 30k points per night. While we were staying at the hotel the cash rate would have been $300+. It’s showing it’s age in places and could use a facelift, but considering you can sign up for a Marriott personal and business card right now and get 180k points…I thought it a steal. One little bump in the road occurred when I called to make reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Emirates Palace. See In order to enter the Emirates Palace you need a restaurant reservation, stay at the hotel, or schedule a tour ( more on this later).

I’d contacted the Emirates Palace 2 days prior to our preferred Afternoon Tea and they’d requested I fill out a credit card form to hold the reservation

I don’t really like doing this, plus we were out and about a lot in Dubai with very slow internet. They emailed twice and I ultimately didn’t send the form in and we lost our held reservation at 4pm. I know, I know. But, I really wasn’t too worried because how many people could possibly be going to Afternoon Tea on a random Monday, AND I figured the Ritz Carlton Concierge could lock us a reservation.

The Ritz Concierge told me no such reservations could be made until 6:30pm.

Tea stops at 6…

When I asked him about it he told me that we could just do a la carte at that time. I didn’t want A la Carte and neither did my parents who were asleep when all this was happening. At this point I was kicking myself for not just sending in the credit card form. I also suspected something wasn’t quite right, and maybe the Emirates Palace was mad at me for not responding to their credit card email and blocking anyone with my last name from making a reservation…Paranoid, right?

Then I discovered that the Emirate Palace does tours for 100AED. Then we could at least see the place and stop by the cafe for a TWG tea and a scone.

I called the Emirates Palace for a tour.

Sold out for a week. Crap.

I called the Ritz Concierge asking for help maybe squeezing us in.

Sorry sir, they don’t do tours anymore…

Wait, what?! I just spoke to them on the phone and they said they did…maybe this concierge is trying to keep us and our spend on site.

I hung up and skyped the Emirates Palace myself about Afternoon Tea.

“Yes, I’m inquiring about Afternoon Tea for 3.”

– We have availability at 4pm sir…

“We will take it…”

Then I gave them a different last name and they never asked for a credit card.

Two lessons I learned. If in doubt, call yourself. The 2nd…I’m mad I didn’t know about the Emirates Palace Tour ahead of time because it’d be awesome. They tour the Suites and everything! I’ll try and sweet talk my way in 😉

  • As a funny aside…I went to my parents room in the morning. Mom asked if tea could be comved from 4 to 2. HAHAHA after all that! Called over – 2 pm tea was no problem.

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  • […] Never trust the concierge. – Use the concierge, but always do a little fact-finding on your own to ensure you’re getting a good deal. […]

  • MarkM April 25, 2017

    To see Emirates Palace, you don’t need reservation or buy tour – just walk in. I walked in as a casual tourist last year to just look around. Took pictures of the public areas, including the gold bar vending machine.

    • Miles April 25, 2017

      MarkM – that seems to be consistent with what we did as well. I visited in 2015 and they were strict about access, and when I inquired with our concierge he lead us astray again. We would have done the tea either way, but in the end you’re right. I think access is more liberal.

  • Jason April 25, 2017

    Wow… really bad service.
    Here is one strange thing that I have encountered overseas: poor service from concierges in Asia.
    I stay at 5 star hotels when traveling in Asia, and am surprised at the poor service I get from the concierge at the Four Seasons Hong Kong, Four Seasons Singapore, Intercontinental Hong Kong etc. They seem to have an attitude problem, unlike everyone else at the hotel who are very nice and helpful.
    Here are 2 examples:
    Four Seasons Hong Kong: Can you recommend a good book store? Um…no but may be if you go to the Times Square Mall they might have one. What??? I found them on my own.
    Four Seasons Singapore: Can you recommend some tours?, but here is a flyer from a company that has some tours. What??? I know for a fact that there are many Singapore Tour options.
    It seems like many concierge’s are arrogant people who think they are above the guests.
    By the way, I always approach with a smile and am friendly and respectful when asking for help.

    • Miles April 25, 2017

      Jason – that’s ridiculous and seems to be a problem in a lot of high end places regardless of the hotel industry. Clerks, etc wielding the reputation and status of a brand or wealthy clientele and turn their noses up at normal people. Snootiness is the fastest way to me never engaging with a brand again. Meh!

  • PK April 25, 2017

    Hi Miles, I recollect visiting Emirates Palace about 10 months ago sans tour or dining reservation and being allowed to walk in to take a look. They didn’t have stringent rules like Burj Al Arab in Dubai where the above pre requisites hold good. Have they changed their rules recently?

    • Miles April 25, 2017

      Hey PK – after we visited this time, you’re right. I think you could go in without reservation, etc. I’d actually visited the EP in mid 2015 and they were strict about entrance, but maybe it just depends. I inquired with our concierge about access without reservations and he said you couldn’t. I should add this to the post.

  • John the Wanderer April 25, 2017

    I am really surprised they didn’t help in any way. Do you think it could be a language barrier issue? Or was this tea service not at one of their partners where they receive an incentive for driving traffic? Perhaps they wanted you to book a different afternoon tea?

    • Miles April 26, 2017

      John – Not sure. There were a few different instances at the hotel where communication failed. We were informed at check-in that they were giving us free breakfast. It’s not a perk guaranteed, but we were happy that they were doing it. However, when we arrived to breakfast the next morning we were informed that it wasn’t a perk of our room. We waited and waited. 10-15 minutes sitting at a table to be informed that they would “discount” a portion. They wouldn’t clarify the “discount” but assured us it would be taken care of at check-out. What?! I went to the front desk and sorted it out, ultimately getting it comped, but it was another blemish on the stay.

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