News & Reviews News Dorsia’s Hall of Shame

In light of receiving my first-ever “take that goddamn review down, or I’ll stab you in the eye with a fork….please” request, I thought I would create a shrine for hotels trying to avoid scrutiny.  Surprisingly, it is quite a small list.  As you might imagine, my blog has ruffled a few feathers over the years.  Astonishingly, even my positive reviews have managed to piss hoteliers off.  Even the faintest whiff of criticism can sometimes send hoteliers into a bottomless pit of inescapable misery – much like what it feels like to stay in their properties.  Some people desperately missed out on a hug as a child.

I was recently interviewed for a magazine, where they asked what the problem is with the travel journalism industry.  I said (can I quote myself when it’s in another magazine?  Is that copyright infringement?) that it being so expensive to go to the top properties, no one wants to piss them off for fear of not being invited back, least of all if they’re a potential advertiser.  On top of that, most of the journalists are freelancers, so they don’t want to piss off the person signing their cheques.  Do people still sign cheques?  I assume the print industry, at least.

So it creates an endless cycle of everyone circle jerking each until that climax is sprayed all over your screen in words.  Words that say how fantastic everything is and are often devoid of any real insight.  And that is why, with this blog, for the first time in my life, I am popular.   Less so with hoteliers and certainly less with sales reps.  And even less so with women, but that’s just cos I have an ugly face.

Here’s the shit list of hotels that wish my mum swallowed some bleach when pregnant with me.

Soneva Jani

Sin: Offered a comp stay if I didn’t write my review.  

Oh, Soneva Jani, you magnificent turd.  After such a miserable stay, the GM handled it like a pro… telling us he was leaving in a few weeks.  Nice save.  He also said not to complain, as they would comp my stay to avoid bad publicity.  Luckily, god gave me a gift: terrible numeracy skills.  I went with the more expensive of the two options.

I’m also a petty man, so as I endured this experience, I recalled a thread on FlyerTalk where someone posted about their terrible Soneva Jani ordeal.  Within a few days, they deleted it and said everything was great.  It was like watching a conspiracy unfold in real-time.  Let’s recall how petty I am, though.  So I used every search engine I could find to get an archived copy of the post and eventually found it on Yandex, the Russian search engine.  Oh, how similar it was to my own experience.

I think they call this their “not me” movement, and it’s clearly their modus operandi.  Like the others on this list, I don’t have a problem with hotels seeking to avoid public criticism after they have sought to fix the problem.  If someone is deeply unhappy about how they were treated, the property has the right to try and make things better.  That was not the case here, it was being offered from fear, not service recovery.  I would love to sit in a finance meeting where they discuss their annual budget for paying people to shut up.

Sirai House

Sin: Banned me from visiting their property.  

After staying at the wonderful Sirai Beach and highly recommending it, Sirai did what any self-respecting organisation should do: banned me from going to their other property.  Apparently, Sirai House would not be for me, was their first response.  On pressing, they admitted that the owners have some very fragile egos.

The moment you decide to commercialise your home, you need to accept criticism.  If I rented my house out, I’d hope someone would shit all over it, and they would be most welcome, as they’d find themselves enjoying the pleasure of all my Japanese toilets.  But I’m not going to rent it out for one very good reason: I have a warrant to seize all my possessions due to accusations of running a nationwide, underground network, trading rare pencil sharpeners and eyebrows.


Sin: Asked for their review to be taken down.  Because…trees?   

Here’s the email.

Warm Greetings from Patina Maldives, Fari Islands.  I hope my email finds you in good health & high spirits.

I joined the team at Patina about a year ago and would love to introduce myself to you.  From 26th February till 29th February I am in London and it would be lovely to meet you in person.  I would be grateful if you could advise me of a suitable time.

Unfortunately, we lost two bookings due to your review and I was sad to see that you obviously did not enjoy your stay with us.  Therefore, I would love to welcome you back, so you can see how our beautiful resort matured.  We have a new GM, Sales Team & invested nearly 130k in additional plants 😉 Since I have joined, I have never received negative feedback and I would love to share some of our recent TripAdvisor reviews with you  As you can see the reviews are fantastic.  I would be grateful, if you could take your review down again.  Many thanks in advance for your consideration.

Let’s dissect this.

Firstly, I have no issue with someone wanting me to revisit.  None.  Good for you.  My experiences are my own; you could come the next day and have a wildly different experience.  Miavana was unprepared to open, and I shat all over them, but seven years later, I am planning to return with zero preconceived ideas.  Patina looked like a wasteland when it opened; maybe they managed to fix some of the issues.  I doubt it, as I really took issue with the rooms, crowdedness and facilities, so unless they rebuilt the island, it’s unlikely those are resolved.  But all we can say is maybe.

But let’s look at the defence.  I’m going to guess that 130k is USD, which, in the Maldives, after the mandatory sales taxes and service charges, equates to about three trees.  I’ve been to the Maldives and have the financial scars to prove it.  Then there’s this absurd notion that some people have that there has never been any negative feedback about their property.  That is simply not true, and if it is, it’s because you’re not bothering to listen.  Every place will have problems; every property I’ve ever been to could be better, and even my favourite properties, I get people telling me of their bad stays there.  Or Patina is right and is now the greatest resort in the entire world.  Also, isn’t the fact that she had to advertise they changed their GM a sign that I was right about some of the problems?

But there’s obviously the big one, and the reason this makes it here—the request to take the review down.  The email was oh-so-good up until that point.   I actually have some sympathy here, but not so much that they avoid the Hall of Shame.  I feel someone sent her into a gunfight whilst holding a potato.  Why would I take a review down because I looked at the notoriously fake TripAdvisor and concluded that my opinion is, therefore, void?  Asking me to return is one thing; asking me to take a review down is another.  I wrote back:

Your email was going so well until you became the first person ever to ask me to take down a review, having been writing them for over 10 years.  

That is a no.  

The email was polite and professional, and I was willing to give them a second chance, but not after asking me to take the review down.  For that, they get a small slice of notoriety.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 29th Jan '24

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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