Went to Crystal River for the manatees. Quality Inn, Econolodge – saw all sorts of motels on way to the State Park. ‘Be fine getting a room here later this evening,’ we thought.
Sumptuous local mega-double-wedding had left not a room to be had in Crystal River that weekend. Not-so ‘kindly’ (with retrospect) Crystal River motel receptionist booked us a room in nearby Bella Oasis in Homosassa, 10-odd miles south.
Bella Oasis looked like a normal hotel as we checked in. ‘Hotel and Spa’, says the sign. ‘Ooh. Maybe looks a bit expensive for us’ I even thought, as we arrived.
Godawful rooms. Filthy dirty: could deal with mass accumulations of dust and spider-webs down the backs of the furniture; ‘off-season,’ we thought, ‘probably shouldn’t have looked down there in the first place, but only wanted to find a plug to put the lap-top in’. Thought the sloping ceiling was a bit.....disproportionately high and poorly-lit and weird looking but that’s architecture for you isn’t it? Could deal with ‘for show only’ coffee machine (jug wrong size – flooded). Brown stains on wall round rubbish bin - ‘probably just coffee residue and splashes,’ I said, ‘that could happen in the best of places,’ I said. Accepted shabby room carpet as standard – ‘it’s only for one night anyway,’ we thought. Issue of the ‘fridge that didn’t work - similarly. Bed divan-base had no valance, and carried a colourful accumulation of many varied and diverse-looking stains. ‘Ah well. We should be able to avoid touching that part,’ we agreed. That hair we found on the bed linen – well at least it wasn’t short ‘n curlies, and that probably just fell off the cleaner when she was changing the sheets, didn’t it? As for those large and obvious stains on the curtains – well, we could always wash our hands after closing them.
And then we saw the poo on the toilet seat.
Dried-on poo. On the toilet seat.
Not much poo, admittedly, so we tried squirting it with one of the many little bottles of antibacterial hand-sanitizer I always carry when we go on holiday, and attempted to scrub it off with a thick wad of loo roll.
Lavished more alcohol gel onto the dried-on poo again – and please bear in mind this is us, the paying customers, the hotel guests if you please, dealing with someone else’s human excrement here - and scrubbed harder and harder.
Still nothing happened.
I wonder, were they – I mean the hotel management - expecting me to try and get my fingernails right in under it?
Now this was only a speck, but it was clearly poo: the faecal dried-on residue - human excrement, quite frankly, left there by some unhygenic stranger / previous guest.
Persistent poo leavings. Dried, apparently irrevocably, onto the 'spa' hotel's toilet seat.
Now, I ask you. I’ve stayed in some real dives; some of them British Travelodges, a benchmark for roadside squalor up and down this proud nation of ours, and also places in developing countries where you never expect much and they don’t even HAVE toilet seats - but this – and I’m happy in many ways to be able to report that I’m a mature, and dare-I-say-it, well-travelled woman, but I can’t recall ever before having encountered something like this.
Dried-on poo in places around hotel bathrooms that are NOT on the toilet seat, yes (ah, yes! Lovely Auckland, it’s like Britain was in the 1970s). But not in a place where the cleaning staff, if they were anyway near to being half-way competent, should have been checking for and then cleaning off poo residues in the first place.
So, to cut a long story short-ish we called down to the Bella Oasis reception to report our little problem.
Time passes; about 15 to 20 minutes of it. The little ‘uns – because it’s well past 9.30 in the evening by now, what with all this attempted cleaning off of stranger’s poo and flapping about – are getting restive.
We call back to reception. She ‘has had to check with the hotel manager’ the girl says. Then she comes up - wants to have a look at the poo! – making me wonder if the nature of what it actually is has been called into doubt. We show her it, along with the alcohol hand-sanitizer and a demonstration of the heroic scrubbing movements we used to try and dislodge the residue. But she seems to readily agree that the material is, indeed, what we said it was all along - namely, poo.
The receptionist moves us to what she says will be a ‘much cleaner room.’
This room looks much like the last one, but faces the landscaped area of the hotel, rather than the parking lot (the garden turns out to have blindingly bright floodlights, at night, and so we have to touch yet more stain-bearing hotel curtains, yet again). It is noticeably cleaner however, with a coffee machine and fridge that both work. Someone has been attempting to update the fixtures and fittings by gilding them with spray-paint and a faux verdegris finish - potentially misguided in design terms, but probably on the whole a good sign. But there seems to be a small amount of something worrying-looking that once was a pale-coloured fluid, that’s been smeared onto and left to dry out on the wooden headboard of my bed. I swabbed down with some precautionary wet-wipes on all the exposed surfaces on the night-stand and headboard of our first, poo-on-the-toilet-seat room (and the wipes came away grey with dirt) but was too tired to get round to doing the same in our 'upgrade. So I don’t notice this dried-on stuff until it's too late: I say ‘too late’ as I’ve been using my own pillow at the hotel due to ongoing neck-problems, and find that it may now be contaminated by somebody else’s.....something else (ah well. I have some of that special hospital detergent that kills all germs dead and can always try to disinfect it after I get home).
We find that this new, improved, 'much cleaner' room also has sliding floor-length French windows like the last one, but the ones in this room cannot be locked as the catch is broken. This makes us a bit nervous about sleeping there all night - one tries, but can never quite entirely forget about Norman Bates, when staying at independently-run motels in the United States - but my partner eventually manages to wedge the opening shut. There’s a handy fallen curtain-pole they’ve clearly been using for this. Not state-of-the-art, exactly, but it serves its purpose.
I fall asleep hoping the stuff on the headboard of my bed is just dried-on mayonnaise or something else innocuous but just as unlikely, but realize this is probably just wishful thinking on my part. The best that can be said is at least there is no poo visible on this room’s toilet seat.
I can’t comment on the many communal facilities such as the swimming pool, landscaped grounds, complimentary breakfast, probable ‘spa,’ or the Karaoke bar at the Bella Oasis, because we checked out from the hotel pretty much at first light, in search of an early-opening pharmacy at which to buy quantities of strong disinfectant. I would never stay here again as I thought the rooms were unacceptable. Filthy.
Needless to say, I plan never to return.
The only reason I’ve given this awful, poorly-maintained hotel two stars instead of the one it surely deserves is that the receptionist who checked us in and dealt with ‘our’ subsequent poo-related problem was an absolute charmer, a lovely, friendly, helpful and welcoming credit to the place, who was – the poor thing - on duty late on a Saturday night and then terribly early the following Sunday morning too. There is nothing, basically, wrong with Bella Oasis that better management, a good deep-clean, and some much-needed refurbishment couldn’t sort out. I think that this could be a really nice hotel if all the cleaning and maintenance staff were as competent about their jobs as that receptionist who dealt with us is, in regards of hers’.
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- Also Known As:
- Bella Oasis Homosassa
- Bella Oasis Hotel And Spa