Los Angeles, California
October 26, 2009
I won’t beat around the bush. When my husband informed me that his Australian hosts had reserved us a room at Perth’s Burswood Conference Center, I was impressed. I naturally assumed it was at their InterContinental Hotel, as that was what came up when I Googled Burswood Conference Center. But as we were finalizing our trip details, I discovered that the conference center has two hotels – the InterContinental AND a Holiday Inn. My husband clarified that we would be staying at the Holiday Inn. Not knowing anything about this property, my reaction was dictated by mere local, domestic knowledge of this hotel chain and I immediately felt my heart sink. I had already established an email relationship with the concierge desk at the InterContinental – having asked them numerous questions regarding day tours and dinner reservations. Learning that we were not even going to stay at that property posed more than a mild case of embarrassment and a considerable amount of disappointment. My husband, being the optimistic, low-key traveler that he is, said "it’ll all be fine." I, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.
The day we arrived in Perth was a gorgeous one. The weather was mild and the sun was shining – we could not have asked for better weather. Our host met us at Perth’s airport and drove us the short distance to our hotel. I braced myself and thought, "I guess we’ll just have to make the best of it." From the moment we stepped out of our car, and were greeted by a friendly and attentive bell staff, I thought to myself, "maybe this is going to work out after all." Their greeting was genuinely warm and our check-in was efficient. I noticed that the hotel maintained a full-service restaurant as well as their own concierge desk off of the main lobby. I would later put these services to the test. Our room was spacious and quite comfortable – matter of fact, I fell in love with the deep and roomy bathtub at first sight.
I have to say that my first impressions were good and my view of Holiday Inn was turning around right before my eyes. I do not know whether this brand is operated the same way in other countries as it is in the U.S.A., but I can say our country’s H.I.s could take a few lessons from the Perth Holiday Inn. Here is an example:
My husband and I always travel with our laptop, which happens to be an Apple MacBook Air. Naturally, I prefer to log my reviews online while on the road, since this is when my memory is freshest. I like to get on the computer at night so I can capture that as-it-happened feeling for the reader. Well, we quickly ran into a snag, as the hotel didn’t have a wireless connection but only a broadband cable connection. And, as our sleek MacBook Air only has one USB port and we had no connector for the hotel’s cable, we were sunk. I called the hotel’s concierge desk to request one. They didn’t have one in-house but said they would see what they could do. Within 15 minutes they called back and advised us they would purchase one for us to use on loan during our stay, and if we wished, we could buy it from them at check-out. NOW, THAT’S RESPONSIVENESS!
Their willingness was just as apparent when we asked subsequent questions about local transportation, driving directions and helpful maps or for help with future flight arrangements. They were always congenial when we departed the property in the morning and upon returning later in the day. My husband commented that it felt like we were getting 5-star service (more customary at properties such as The Ritz). It is certainly very rare to find this level of interest, much less, skill, at many domestic Holiday Inns. By now, I had definitely rethought my opinion of this establishment. Another example:
We noticed that the drain did not seem to work well for the shower in our bathroom. Each time my husband used it, the bathroom nearly flooded. We mentioned this to the front desk as we were concerned that either we were doing something wrong, or that there might be a plumbing problem that the hotel would want to be aware of. Nearly immediately, a stack of towels was delivered to our room. The front desk people admitted that there was an issue with the slope in the tile of our bathroom and made a suggestion to us to place a tightly rolled towel INSIDE the shower at the base of the door. Voilà, this recommendation virtually alleviated the flooding.
After our one week stay at the Holiday Inn Perth Burswood, I was quite prepared to not only revisit my initial impression of that property but quite willing to change it. I had been won over completely. On the day that we departed, I left a heartfelt thank you note with the Supervisor of the Concierge Desk, with whom we had become friendly, and our compliments with the front desk as we checked out. It was a little sad leaving our Perth "home-away-from-home" after our week-long stay, but I promised I would publish this to spread the word.
Note: If your budget allows for staying at the InterContinental Hotel, then it is a mere 2 minute walk away from the Holiday Inn at the Burswood Conference Center. Their Concierge Desk, through whom I had originally laid out our tour plans, are also highly professional and a dream to work with. Samuel Ballard, at their desk is skilled, knowledgeable and dependable.
TIP: For easy access from the Burswood Conference Center to the Central Business District (CBD), visitors can take a quick train ride (only 3 stops) or utilize the #37 Bus, which goes through downtown to King’s Park. Each of these modes can be reached within a short 5 minute walk of the Conference Center.
From journal Second Visit to Australia