New Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour – review

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  MarcusGB 12 Nov 2017
at 00:43
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  • MarcusGB
    Participant

    This hotel has been open 3 weeks. Branded as a Sofitel, the furnishings are, the staff have a long way to go, and some fundamental flaws in its construction, in the rooms.
    Sadly, the newest Sofitel Brand in The World, and the only hotel in Sydney built in about 8 years.

    Booking early August pre-paid, on as a Platinum Club Accor member, i had a great message from The Manager Reservations, of a top floor NE facing view.
    what then was allocated was corner over the Expressway, 2/3rds up.
    Also confirmed the day before ( I added 4 nights to an existing 8 night stay),by another Reservations Manager for an upgrade to a Junior Suite.
    So, neither were allocated when i arrived 20 hours later!
    After asking and showing the email re the room allocated to me, i was switched to a Junior Suit 2/3rd way up. this lies over Darling Harbour, and a little more spacious than the Corner view Luxury room allocated wrongly. Reservations should be managing the allocation, and rooms should not be moved around when specifically promised, even 20 hrs before by email and a Reservation Manager!

    Staff are great in the Club Lounge, which is on 35, and a great spacious glass roof setting with tremendous views. It spans half a floor with a lot of capacity, maybe 200.
    However, it was SO crowded on friday and Saturday evenings, people were queueing to get in! Very clear, Too Many people having access, by booking a luxury room and adding Club access. This needs to be limited, and Urgently.
    Staff were overwhelmed by numbers, and people were just grabbing bottles themselves and taking them to the table!
    Not even just a glass or two but many more, as one person i heard say “its free lets drink as much as we can get”!!! It loses its feel when a Club is allowed by Management to operate in tihs way.
    This can in no way, be cost effective for the hotel either. No seats spare, people queuing, very unpleasant.
    Many people very annoyed, Accor Club Loyalty guests on a welcome letter stated “subject to availability”). That is Not The Accor groups Policy, nor in The Brand Management, This also need correction.
    However staff in the Club were very friendly, welcoming and when to a reasonable occupancy, not rushed of their feet. I felt very sorry for them, as they could not give the service they wanted, and which matches the Club feel.

    Club guests usually have welcoming gifts or a treat on arrival, and many hotels in addition in The Sofitel Brand Worldwide, leave something each evening. Nothing here!
    The Sofitel “My bed” is not stated nor pillow menu exsists, so this does not conform to Sofitel Brand standards.

    Fundamental flaws and Safety issues, in the rooms. Most lighting operated on one main switch, even lamps will not turn on neither would the coffee machine, unless all the lights are on!
    So, only two bedside lamps can create a low lighting eve affect, or everything is full on. The ambiance is not there. Evn low downwards lamps only work with the main switch!
    Curtains electrically open/close one was not working for main area, and could not be repaired! Closing curtains is not a problem, so OTT, but when they only half work, is shows faults. If you install it, it has to be working?
    All wired to one circuit, a basic common sense and vital part of creating an ambiance lost. Shower when used, flooded the bathroom floor each side- I s I -design, but angle of the floor was not right and drainage not functioning right. This is a common problem all guest in these rooms are complaining!
    This means a large bath towel to soak up the water spread across the access to it, which is one long bathroom with all situated along one area. Again, a fundamental flaw, and need urgent changes, but now fully finished, mean major works!
    Opportunity lost, basic common sense missed. It will be a Health & Safety Hazard, with water spreading to the sinks and toilet area, and indeed under the door to the room carpets. people will slip, and not their own fault.
    I was reliably informed “It is a problem in all the rooms that are suites, but it is too expensive now to change ! Management are doing nothing!. Everyone one is complaining”

    Well, negligent they will remain should anyone slip then…

    Housekeeping is also “hit and miss”. Making up a room is not complicated. Basic supplies of toiletries, extra personal items, are missed out each day, something is missing or not completed. Including tea coffee supplies. Alongside the really obvious making the bed, but leaving the pillows on the couch still! hoovered one day, not the next 2. Putting a new dressing gown when they take one away, proper number of towels,
    Again, perhaps a check list to help staff include all things, but Managers need to implement this as a Procedure, anew hotel / staff especially need this initial structure.

    Food in The hotel, breakfast is a huge dining area, so plenty of room for all. Good choices for all diets, and a “Gluten Free” area. Coffee throughout the hotel is a very bitter blend, sharp and all from machines. Flat white are not, with lots of foam, same with latte 1/4 of the cup is foam!
    Selections for Afternoon Tea (much quieter) in The Club Lounge, is excellent with fresh baked scones, fine teas, sandwiches and sweets. Room service foods are quite predictable from hotels around The World, no Fusion of cultures. they state a French and Australian mix, but it does not represent that. this needs to be more unique.

    The hotel lobby areas are pristine and contemporary in design and very pleasant layout, plenty of staff around to assist and welcome and guide. All were very welcoming and naturally friendly. Security is good, and lifts need the room key card to access. Furnishings in the rooms, corridors and lifts, are contemporary, luxurious, well thought through, and a theme of water sand earth colours run throughout the hotel.
    This is excellent, great new feel but also well designed and thoughtful themes. The hotel is well insulated and rooms quiet, and no noise from outside, but avoid the expressway sie (South facing, as there is noise here. The back 1/4 of the rooms have no views but other buildings. these would fit the basic room categories.

    So why such basics as shower flow, health & safety, lighting circuits, lounge numbers is operationally so poor and missed?
    This he Senior Managers need to address. 25% of ratings / reviews are Average or below! Not a good start for a brand new hotel, these are no just new opening issues,, they are common sense basics, and guests are noticing them.

    I have no doubt this will improve, but with the basics not being attended to on the final build, and policies simply not put in place, it does not conform to “Brand standards” of Accor, or Sofitel at this stage. There are fundamental problems in Every room i am told, with the building and showers flooding out. the IS a Health & Safety issue, and foolish not to have picked up. Slip Accidents are going to happen, and insurers will NOT cover repeated claims, when there are faults not rectified by Management!

    These are so vital that the General Manager needs to address these, they will not go away. They are issues picked up by many people i have talked too, staff and guests.
    Staff are working hard, but finding these problems themselves and hearing it from guests, team issues will improve. Accepting the handover of a building with each room having electronic and bathroom safety issues, is foolish, and shows no overall oversight by Senior Management.
    i have opened new buildings in my area of work as a Director, and these issues should have been easily notice, corrected, and there is a Handover time of 3 months, where Builders must rectify such faults.
    So, why not?

    Pricing is ion the top end for Sydney, better with offers or sales through Accor, or an agent but range from £195-£450 a night! Their are certain aspects that are 5 star, but with these faults and service / Management issues, it does not reflect the standard expected for this price.

    I am very disappointed. The newest Sofitel in The World, Purpose built also. The newest hotel by 8 years in Sydney, and such flaws. Staff cannot work with, and guests cannot function, with these basic issues not addressed. An the Staff teams i have met are doing their best and excellent.
    I can only state what i have observed, been told, shown, and my experience and that of other guests and staff.
    I hope this detailed review is helpful to others. Equally, if you see the same issues, you need also to bring this to the attention of others, In the Hotel, and on reviews, for the good of all of us.
    Thank you for reading this detailed long review.


    Frederic
    Participant

    Marcus, for somebody looking for every possible “flaw” i must say that your English is far from being flawless !! …


    capetonianm
    Participant

    Marcus, for somebody looking for every possible “flaw” i must say that your English is far from being flawless !! …

    Marcus has given a good, lengthy, useful and detailed report on a hotel which clearly lacks proper overall management input and foresight. He may have written it on a phone or tablet or somewhere else under less than ideal conditions and to pick on a couple of rather minor errors is unjustified. Maybe you didn’t mean it the way it comes across, in which case I apologise in advance.

    Back to topic, I have stayed in Sofitels in Lisbon and Miami and after those two dire experiences, I now go out of my way to avoid the brand. That said, we often eat at the one at LGW N as the restaurants there are far better than anything else in or near the airport – not hard to achieve admittedly.


    Brett
    Participant

    I share the views MarcusGB has expressed having stayed at the hotel last week and was underwhelmed although, the Club Lounge was impressive and was, thankfully, not crowded.

    Have enjoyed staying at Heathrow Sofitel and the Hanoi Sofitel but was very surprised by signs of weak management in a flagship hotel- no milk in room, no safe in room despite having advised on booking there was a safe, lack of responsiveness to complaints, lack of interest from duty manager to complaints. Usually, from my experience, hotel brands tend to put a strong team in place when opening a hotel but clearly not in this case.
    Certainly would not recommend the hotel.


    MarcusGB
    Participant

    I apologise for the typographical errors, something that some years ago, was the issue that was hurled around as ammunition.
    Very unpleasant bullying and simply irrelevant comments that are best left back there, and concentrate on everyone making a contribution.
    I certainly was rushed, but wanting to make the observations, also as BT are to review this in the next weeks.

    My comments also on TripAdvisor.com in a review, have been well received as open, honest, observational, and constructive.
    Through open feedback to the Staff teams i met whilst here, I know this has gone through the various groups internally.

    I was grateful to Greg Brady, the General Manager, taking the time today to come and talk with me about the feedback, and issues held in common with other guests. It was a great insight to learn of the balances with owners, Builders, Accor, and his role and putting together the feedback from guests.
    It appears to me, many operational issues are in hand and will in time settle.
    Construction issues take longer and if incorrect have a handover time when they can be adjusted by the Builders, and not at anyone else’s expense. Without pointing these out, they will become the fault and cost of investors and Accor and Operational teams.

    As a result, i certainly can feedback, that the issues have been openly and honestly accepted, some known of, others not.
    Change and the coming together of such a new huge project, can indeed only happen as a “Partnership” of guests and staff work together, to tailor the hotel. These are not easy or quick issues as in the Building itself, but there is time to adjust and have them corrected, given time.

    So to Greg’s credit, i think he was open, listening and will act on the feedback.
    Even though my write up was not correctly typographically perfect, it got through, was welcomed, and may be an honest observation, that makes things better for others in the future.

    Not many comments on BT that in all the aspects of Travel & Business, our views are heard, changes happen, and all within 48 hrs?!


    Tom Otley
    Keymaster

    Thank you for the review and comments – it may be a bit longer than a few weeks before we go and review it, so it’s good to get first impressions.

    In fact, we try and wait a little before reviewing new htoels, partly because they very rarely open completely on the first day, but instead have what they call a “soft opengin”, often floor by floor, adding in restaurants as they go, and finally finishing with the spa sometimes 12 months after opeeing, and also because it takes time for staff to settle down. Not always, but often.

    Lastly I don’t like staying in new hotels immediately after opening because the systems are still being tweaked and I’ve found that there’s a high likelihood of the fire alarm going off in the night because it is over sensitive. It happened to me several times in new htoels, so since then I’ve steered clear for the first few months. Nothing like standing outside the hotel in your pyjamas to put a damper on a hotel stay


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    @MarcusGB – so in total you are staying in the hotel for 12 nights??

    You do not mention your specific room rate but advise the standard rates range from £150 – £450 per night which you also confirm is on the top end for Sydney. Your stay has thus far not met your expectations and you have managed to speak to the GM who agrees “the issues have been openly and honestly accepted, some known of, others not..”

    My curiosity is getting the better of me, why have you decided to remain in the hotel. Surely the hotel will honour a refund for you to move to another hotel…


    MarcusGB
    Participant

    Hi All.

    Martyn -, I was due to stay here for 8 nights which were booked back in August.
    On my way, the stay with Family friends i changed, as one had to be admitted to Hospital. this was due to complications following knee surgery.
    So with just 24 hrs notice, i Urgently booked the first 4 nights as i arrived in Sydney.
    The 8 night booking, yes i am into now, so the two different bookings do add up to the 12 nights.

    i am also aware clearly hotels have lots to finalise and sort in the first weeks and months to bring together, much like the areas i Manage as a Director in Healthcare Services. But some of these are Building and handover issues, not just operational, which can be brought together over time.

    I am pleased that in meeting with the G M, that these are major works, some of which he was aware of others not, so the contribution was well and openly accepted. The Staff teams can find solutions and be enabled as the GM is now aware.
    EG, Overcrowding in The Club Lounge, caused by rooms being sold “with Club access” in addition to the at times 100 Platinum guests staying. They have the Club as their loyalty for membership. These have been reduced now significantly to Suites only, and Platinum members.

    Design and building issues are in the Handover period with the Builders, but some of the issues raised, they were not so aware of, and are now being included. These will have to be rectified, and not at the cost of the investor or Operational Management of Accor. They are listening here, but very complicated as the Investor, Construction and Designs Companies, and Accor Branding, are all being brought together by the Operational side of the GM.

    Hope that clarifies a few points i have made.
    Happy to update after the end of my original booking of 8 nights, making the total 12.


    Frederic
    Participant

    This reply has been reported for inappropriate content.

    Well Marcus I can see that you have no sense of humor but a very high opinion of yourself … too bad I thought that Brits had still the ability of laughing at themselves, unfortunately I was wrong, so long


    MarcusGB
    Participant

    Many small aspects that were raised with the GM, he was not aware of.
    He also held a Staff conference yesterday, for all staff to bring forward the problems they were having from all levels of the hotel.
    This brought forwards many guests feedback, as well as the staff going into the rooms, seeing the problems, that perhsp Managers could not.

    The overcrowding in The Lounge will taper off now, as forwards bookings will not have a Club Lounge access option. Suites will continue too, as will Platinum members. Staff were also stressed at the overwhelming numbers when i chatted to them, so they feel more positive also now.
    So this has been raised, listened too, acted upon. it is starting to take effect more these last days.
    The “responsible Drinking” message, so prevalent in Australia these last years, is also being implemented, with a menu card, and access to alcohol via the staff service only.
    Designs and building faults, and being addressed with the Owner, and Builders, and the GM. the GM, went to see some of the areas we had discussed for himself.
    These are being phased in, and as a result, 80% occupancy will be the maximum for some months, when these can take place.
    This has meant a serious sacrifice of revenue, as they are 100% occupancy at weekends.

    Many other smaller issues, and the staff are getting feedback through their Managers to alter working patterns, many of which they themselves did not feel were meeting the grade.

    It is quickly getting to be The most prominent, and fashionable hotel to stay in Sydney, especially with its unique position and views, and being new, purpose built. The PM was here a few nights ago, and a few Business and Community VIP’s for Sydney have visited, one of which i invited informally for drinks who met the GM. It is becoming well know, and talked of.
    So, as i have previously outlined, for a new Sofitel, a Flagship for The Brand Worldwide, the new purpose built, it is great to see The Community of the Accor loyalty club, & other guests, to be contributing to the shaping of this hotel.

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