I think I might have to adjust my review of the Hilton in Brisbane.
Their breakfast is good – not excellent like I first suggested. I wrote that review after only one night and so hadn’t spent a week there with breakfasts.
The biggest problem has been service – what happens in normal hotels is that they ask for your room number when you go down for breakfast and check you off a list of guests – and at that point they know whether your breakfast is included in the room rate or not (admin prints of a list of guests and their breakfast status each morning). It’s a simple system and it works.
The Hilton don’t seem to understand how to do this. They ask for your room number when you go down for breakfast. Then I don’t know what they do with it – since they then insist on asking for it no less than 3 times throughout the course of your breakfast. I’ve been here since Saturday (that’s 5 breakfasts) and this morning they insisted that we sign something as well – a bill. But wait, our breakfast is included in the room rate !
All hotels in Australia that are on the IBM approved list have breakfast included in the room rate. This is a fundamental rule – we are not allowed to stay somewhere were breakfast is not included (unless there are simply no rooms available), and the expense claims department are quite strict on this – you usually have to go to great lengths to justify why you didn’t get breakfast (and hence are claiming a higher per diem rate).
So, I was a little disconcerted this morning when I checked the “express checkout” invoice and noticed they had charged us for breakfast. This isn’t exactly unusual – sometimes they just forget, and we have to remind them to remove those charges when we checkout (we never do an express checkout, always check out manually and double check exactly what they are going to charge you).
So when checking out we find that they insist breakfast is NOT included in the room rate. This, of course, is news to us – and a potentially expensive exercise, since a full hot buffet breakfast is about twice the amount of per diem we have allocated to us for breakfasts. So we argue the point, and they mention to us that there was an IBMer who had checked out earlier and they actually called IBM to check and was allegedly told that the Hilton in Brisbane was the only hotel in Australia in which breakfast was not included.
So after a bit of arguing, we negotiated them down to a charge of $15 each day for breakfast, which is about what our per diem allowance is – so at least we are not at a financial loss by this.
Naturally, as soon as I get to the training rooms and get online, I check the IBM hotel database and it clearly states that a continental breakfast is included in the room rate. *sigh*. Looks like we’re going to have an argument with the expenses department again.
Overall, I was annoyed with the level of service at the Hilton – they don’t seem to want to make your stay easy or pleasant. The only exception there would be the concierge – they were polite, helpful, prompt and always said hello when you walked past.
So I will be stongly recommending to my IBM colleagues that we stay away from the Hilton in Brisbane – the Sheraton and the Sebel Suites seem to give much better service and a much more comfortable hotel.