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My summer of Hilton resorts in Turkey

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  • can

    Well, the bear market hit me hard. So we had to reduce our summer budget substantially, and we decided to go to Turkey. We stayed at Hilton Sarigerme/Dalaman before. This year we decided to add another Hilton group hotel to the mix. We decided on Doubletree Kemer. Good prices and a location we haven’t been before, with a lot to do around. We also added a two-night at a boutiquey hotel after Kemer. Felt like a good plan touring the country.

    We paid for Hilton Sarigerme with points. It was 80K per night with the usual bonus for a fifth day. We paid for DT Kemer cash.

    After spending an Amex BAPP companion voucher on a club-europe ticket [with mixed feelings of regret and of being ripped off], we got to Istanbul. After collecting the rental car, we drove to Sarigerme.

    Sarigerme resort is wonderful. If you have a small child it is even better.
    At checking, we didn’t get any recognition for being a Diamond. They offered us a restaurant coupon in one of their a la carte restaurants and got a small upgrade. Actually the room they gave us was pretty good – deluxe king with direct pool access and sea view. The hotel was full, but they had lake house suites. And I am sure the lake houses were not full, but we, as a diamond, were not upgraded to a lake house suite.

    As I said it is a wonderful resort with lots to offer. The staff was great, they never say no to anything you wish. The food was tasty and good quality with a wide variety for all kinds of diets.

    But it is a resort. It is big, crowded-ish.

    After a week of bliss at Sarigerme, we drove to DT Kemer.
    Things started to show even at checkin. I always think that us seasoned travellers can smell the trouble even at checkin.
    Nobody was there when we pull up the hotel to help with our luggage. I had to go in and wave at someone. The checkin was quick but there was absolutely no recognition or understanding of hilton status. They offered only a 20% off from water sports [jetski and the like]. No upgrade whatsoever. I managed to push for a view but it was the same room category.

    As a veggie, after day 2, I realised that apart from some cold buffet appetisers, I can only eat beans and rice. And it got really boring. I talked to the person in charge of the kitchen. He was trying to be helpful but his first question was “what would you like to eat?”. I found this question odd. It was a open buffet dinner with lots in offer and I was put in the spot to come up with a menu for myself. I thought this was their job to “offer” some food for me. I am no chef but I have a good understanding of veggie food. Looking around I felt like even the regular veggie curry with some protein, or veggie mince or veggie/tofu pad thai etc were not possible. Describing a veggie dish to a turkish chef felt odd. I tried to explain what would be not-so-boring and repetitive veggie dish. Well, the result was not ensuring. We kept eating rise and beans practically. And I had enough, wrote to hilton’s diamond line.

    The service in the open buffet restaurant was pretty awful as well. You have to wait for a long time for even water, they get your orders wrong [order an ice coffee, they bring you hot americano, order water for a family of three, they bring you one glass thinking that you ordered water just for yourself..], beer comes in a small glass etc. One day I had enough and raised my voice. Then things got escalated. The waiters were argumentative and confrontational. I didn’t take it lightly.
    I know they practically slave young kids as waiters at such resorts and I totally sympatise. But they looked miserable and did everything for not doing jobs. For that I have no sympathy for.

    Well, the security chef comes to our table when we were trying to finish our dinner.
    He practically said “I know you didn’t like this hotel, and you can leave if you don’t like it”. I was stunned practically. I was waiting for an apology for the awful service, yet got a threatening mafia-esque attitude. I understood that he referred to my complaint to hilton, and the way they handled it was to intimidate me. I had a 30 minute of an intense conversation with the dude with my 4-year old and wife next to me. I practically said ‘ask your staff why I got so upset before trying to kick me out’. And he said that they already tagged me and reporting to their manager about me every day. [that is a first!]. After the conversation ended, in the next couple of hours that night, I “bumped into” the security chef and their security team practically every half hour. Felt like James Bond.

    I decided not to leave, but fight. That is they charged my cart upfront at checking, and I knew that there is no way to get partial refund. Plus, I had a small boutiquey hotel lined up after this, with sold out rooms. So I had to find a hotel for 2 days. Looked like a hassle to make it even worse for us.
    And I just didn’t want to give in. And my kid loved the pool.

    Few other odd bits happened each day at the hotel: the AC grill fell off the room ceiling [if one of us was under it at that moment, I’d be writing this from an A&E room], our shower leaked to the restaurant downstairs [as a result few smelly boys came to our room twice with a pro-grade drainage machine and smelled the whole room], kids club was the worst I’ve ever seen, the beach was completely occupied by sun chairs with not much room left for anything else, the night entertainment looked like a stripclub and the disco music was very loud and on until midnight [not ideal if you have a small child]…

    The next day, I got curious and decided to search who owns this hotel. With the help of Google Translate and Linkedin I found out who the general manager is. I skimmed through his bio/cv. And I got shocked!

    Some years ago for my honeymoon, we had a stop at a fancy resort in Tekirova region. It was Amara Dolce Vita. Since then they changed their name for whatever reason.
    With my luck, I had a terrible food poisoning, couldn’t even leave the room for three days. My wife of 5 days complained to the management and their response was: Did you get a sample tested? [meaning if we got my stool sample tested by a lab to confirm it was food poisoning]. The answer was obviously no. I didn’t eat anywhere else but the hotel. But I noted their attitude of denying all responsibility. The same dude who managed Amara is now managing DT Kemer. To me this is too much of a coincidence.
    And I see the same “cutting the corners” and “denying all responsibility” attitude here as well.

    *

    If you are a couple with next to no expectations, this hotel can work. It is relatively affordable and you get what you pay for. In our case, we got even less than what we paid for and got pretty upset during our stay. My little kid liked the pool and was enjoying it, so I didn’t want to cut it short for him, too. And I know I just got unlucky in a lot of things here.

    Moreover, whilst researching for Hilton resorts in Turkey, I found out about DT Alacati. It had even worse google and trip advisor reviews. It seems that Hilton doesn’t do much to maintain any standards for DT resorts. The contrast between this DT and Hilton Sarigerme was huge.

    This was my adventure of Hilton resorts in Turkey.

    Carlos

    What a terrible episode. Do you have any experience of the other branch DoubleTree by Hilton Antalya City Centre?

    can

    No I didn’t stay there. I don’t think it is a resort

    The real Swiss Tony

    Ouch. Sounds grim. Hoping the Conrad Istanbul can manage better. But you drove from Istanbul to antalya with a 4yr old? That’s 9hrs or so, isn’t it? If so I assume you stayed near the airport on the first night? Amy recommendations??

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 9 months ago by .
    NorthernLass

    Reminds me of a holiday we had to Tunisia many years ago (one of our less successful Teletext deals!), among other indignities the security staff at the hotel entrance used to insist on searching your bags when you’d been out to make sure you weren’t sneaking in any outside F & B – even a bottle of water 😲

    meta

    Hope you complain to Hilton Diamond desk. I’d be surprised if they don’t give you a couple of Be my Guest certificates for nights anywhere in the world. I wouldn’t settle for only points refund. This warrants more than a refund.

    Don’t leave any further reviews anywhere else for now, but use it as a leverage to extract as high compensation as possible. If they refuse, then bit by bit start posting on every possible reviews site, then social media, etc.

    whuaremassive

    Thanks we are hoping to use our Hilton points at Sarigerme next year with our two kids, just waiting for BA flights to be released

    BuildBackBetter

    Mostly bad reviews from UK tourists on TA.

    can

    Ouch. Sounds grim. Hoping the Conrad Istanbul can manage better. But you drove from Istanbul to antalya with a 4yr old? That’s 9hrs or so, isn’t it? If so I assume you stayed near the airport on the first night? Amy recommendations??

    We initially planned to stay in Istanbul. Then changed our minds (too hot). Took a road trip of 3-4 hour drives each day. So the drive wasn’t one day

    can

    Hope you complain to Hilton Diamond desk. I’d be surprised if they don’t give you a couple of Be my Guest certificates for nights anywhere in the world. I wouldn’t settle for only points refund. This warrants more than a refund.

    Don’t leave any further reviews anywhere else for now, but use it as a leverage to extract as high compensation as possible. If they refuse, then bit by bit start posting on every possible reviews site, then social media, etc.

    You are right. I won’t post any online reviews and contacted the diamond desk already for a full refund. Who knows?!?

    can

    Ouch. Sounds grim. Hoping the Conrad Istanbul can manage better. But you drove from Istanbul to antalya with a 4yr old? That’s 9hrs or so, isn’t it? If so I assume you stayed near the airport on the first night? Amy recommendations??

    I missed the question here. IST airport is far from the city. There is no real airport hotel. So I have no real recommendation. I’d just drive 20min more (than the airport hotels by the old airport) to the city for a hotel.

    The real Swiss Tony

    Thanks

    We just have a forced overnight stop at Istanbul on the way back and will have spent 3 days in the city on the way out.

    can

    Thanks

    We just have a forced overnight stop at Istanbul on the way back and will have spent 3 days in the city on the way out.

    When I had researched Hiltons not far from the airport I’ve seen some that were very pricey. If I were you I’d try Hilton Bakirkoy (or something like that) or doubletree Esentepe. But I had a car.

    Last year my mom stayed at DT esentepe as gold and she was happy. I got her airport transfers both ways and it worked well.

    The real Swiss Tony

    Oh, i’m not wedded to staying in a Hilton, just wanted something very close to the airport and assumed that the OP had done that given the drive down south. Just want somewhere that we can get to & from with minimal hassle but without the expense of the Yotel, given the onward flight will be an 11am departure.

    FazzyBear

    Can – we just stayed at Hilton Dalaman. Was very good experience with 2 kids under 5. Service levels outstanding.

    Any other hotels in Turkey which would be worth our while in terms of kids experience, food and service?

    Only other hotel I have seen is Hilton Bodrum Doubletree which is also ultra all inclusive.

    can

    Can – we just stayed at Hilton Dalaman. Was very good experience with 2 kids under 5. Service levels outstanding.

    Any other hotels in Turkey which would be worth our while in terms of kids experience, food and service?

    Only other hotel I have seen is Hilton Bodrum Doubletree which is also ultra all inclusive.

    I agree. Dalaman is amazing.

    How was DT Bodrum resort? I haven’t stayed there?

    I stayed in few resorts in Turkey. And the Dalaman Hilton is the only one I’d recommend.

    ankomonkey

    I was seriously considering the DT Kemer, so good to read this feedback. I read on FT just a couple of days ago that a Hampton near IST Airport is taking reservations from December. It will be a good option near the airport if it is reasonably priced.

    Pinocent

    Stayed at DT Kemer last September, I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

    The alcohol isn’t great, the buffet is repeatable, the lunch vans are okay but the wait time is annoying.

    They have an a la carte restaurant which changes menu on certain evenings. We booked the ‘steakhouse’ night. 4pm on the day, they send me an email to say, ‘We’ve changed the menu to Mediterranean’… That menu was trash, so I complained, they bought back the steak menu just for us. All I can say is, what an awful dinner!

    The car park is an absolute mystery as well. They block cars in using valet parking, but it becomes an absolute nightmare to get out.

    Overall, I’d say avoid DT Kemer.

    Carlos

    Hopefully the DT City Centre is better. Booked 7 nights soon

    can

    About two weeks after I sent my initial complaint to Hilton I finally got an answer.
    They offered nothing.
    “Sorry about your frustration, we are not able to offer any compensation. Here is the hotel manager’s email”.

    Pretty annoying but the fight continues.

    Pangolin

    About two weeks after I sent my initial complaint to Hilton I finally got an answer.
    They offered nothing.
    “Sorry about your frustration, we are not able to offer any compensation. Here is the hotel manager’s email”.

    Pretty annoying but the fight continues.

    Wow.. what a stinker of a place!

    can

    Now they got back to me and offered 25k HH points only!
    I feel like I’m doing something wrong to be offered such little compensation. Any ideas?

    Peter K

    To be honest, it doesn’t sound like you’ll get much more.

    I’ve complained about the hardness of a bed at a Doubletree in the UK before (it had a topper on as standard (not protector, an actual cushioning topper) and even with an extra one I couldn’t sleep properly) and only for 10k Hilton for 2 nights from the manager.

    Maybe someone else could give better advice, but maybe chalk it down to experience 🤷🏻‍♂️

    JDB

    Now they got back to me and offered 25k HH points only!
    I feel like I’m doing something wrong to be offered such little compensation. Any ideas?

    I would write to Hilton again saying that their cursory response and derisory offer both unacceptable, as is their characterisation of your complaint as “frustration”. It was much more serious and needs to be properly addressed. No guest should be treated as you were and you will surely not be the only people to suffer under this manager. This is why you are addressing to the people below.

    I think you may need to set out the issues you experienced in a slightly different way and break down the issues into a list of individual cold, clinical/objective facts – ie that the hotel fell far short of DT brand standards that any customer could reasonably expect in both the hard product and service, such that your stay was ruined and should be refunded in full. Mention the good stays at other DTs and positive brand elements that have led to expectations. Look again carefully at website vs what you actually got and lack of loyalty recognition. I think you need to be a little careful about the arguments you had with staff as it’s all quite difficult to prove. However, the fact that they advised they had ‘tagged’ you and were ‘spying’ on you is not only very sinister but a gross violation of your right to privacy; does Hilton not care about that? The fact they don’t properly cater for vegetarians is a fairly basic thing these days (they’ve probably never heard of Ottolenghi, a big champion of Turkish vegetarian food) for both religious and dietary reasons and a global brand must allow for this. If there is any basis on which you have been discriminated against on one of the protected characteristics in UK law, raise that; it will concern Hilton greatly. You need to press all these buttons where they apply.

    From what you have said, the hotel has a serious maintenance problem and management problem that leads to unprofessional, poorly trained staff who don’t care and for an international brand, they seem to have a problem with international guests.

    Send the complaint to: ceo at hilton dot com, Christopher dot Nassetta (he is the CEO) and Kristen dot Hernandez head of customer care.

    P.S. next time don’t hang around for the fight! Leave, insist on money back, if not fight for it later. We’ve done it a few times, the relief is huge and anywhere you find will feel better. It’s a reason for paying on a credit card rather than Curve/Chase etc.

    can

    Thanks @JDB you are completely right.

    I thought I gave them cold and itemised facts. I also CCd hilton ceo and head of doubletree. I have a feeling that they treat me as a person who made up a story to get some points.
    And you are right it is impossible for me to prove the argument and intimidation.

    Last but not least, it was an odd psychology: I was literally a victim of bullying and felt powerless. I Thought of leaving but couldn’t use my seasoned traveller power to find a solution at that moment.
    I simply sat by the pool and waited my time to leave the hotel.

    And that’s why I brought it up here. So it won’t happen to others.

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