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Reviewed December 26, 2017

We stayed 1 night on the Christmas dinner package arriving 25th December this year and leaving morning of the 26th Dec. My partner made the booking a few months ago.

Before I begin, it's worth noting I spent 12 years rather in the fast lane in the tourism sector dealing with the travel arrangements for very large groups and with a similar range of clientele and I have extensive experience of management of creating a happy experience for travellers, learning from many mistakes and indeed managing expectations, dealing with grievances etc. I also had extensive experience of seating management, supply of fine dining and indeed have managed quality hotels for large groups on weekend breaks. Indeed we also spent 15 days on a cruise ship 3 years ago at Christmas which was largely to a high standard on the catering side.

The booking for this year we made has come off the back of a period of great family anguish and tragedy and we wanted to create a special experience especially for our 20 month old daughter given the hotel is said to be family friendly and given that being at home at such times of year can be a little daunting and overshadowed with sorrow lately.

I will aim to cover the end to end experience of the booking including anything good and indeed anything bad. Whilst the reasons for our review will become clear it is perhaps true to say that this hotel has very mixed reviews and it may offer some guests the experience they hope for, but do consider which box you fit into before booking.

BOOKING:
This was fraught will communication issues as the agent handling the booking struggled to verbally communicate with my partner. Despite this we managed to get our room and spaces reserved although it was unclear what the exact dining arrangements for Christmas dinner were by the end of the call but given my dietary requirements we were told we would be contacted with menu details. We now know there was supposed to be an email detailing the itinerary of the Christmas dinner sent by email but indeed there had been no such and staff had not taken all our details (including email it seemed).

ARRANGEMENTS:
Unclear as to exactly when dinner was available and how that tied in with check-in and having both been busy throughout late November and December we double checked what we should do with reception on Sunday 24th December as we were able to set off for Dublin any time on Christmas day as we were driving (from South Wexford) but had no other commitments had we needed an early departure. We were told Christmas dinner was on between 1pm and 7pm (no mention of there only being one sitting or that everybody had a specific arrival time). First check-in for your room (if only staying on the 25th) was 2pm.

ARRIVAL:
We delayed setting off until 12pm as we did not know that we were supposed to arrive earlier for the meal and had thought if we ate at say 2.30pm that would be alright given the manner in which we were communicated to the day before. This was as we had wanted to put all the bags in our room and freshen up ready for dinner (as you would want to in our situation after a bit of a drive) and not have to unload the car after dinner in the rainy dark car park.

Wrong... We were greeted by a pleasant enough lady at reception who told us dinner has long since started and everyone will be somewhere between starter and main course by now. This panicked us into throwing everything into the room quickly and rushing to find the dining room.

ARRIVAL AT THE DINING ROOM:
By this point our young child was starting to get a little distressed by all the rushing around and confusion (she has a few minor special needs that can make things like this become traumatic but is usually OK if things go relatively smoothly).

We waited a few minutes near the door of the dining room and a long faced (busy) waitress asked for our details and told us the meal was well underway and she could not find us on our her list. She was turning us away and told us to seek the manager. Our daughter fell into a meltdown tantrum as she could not understand why we were being sent packing from a room with lots of people having fun and eating food (including children) - it's like giving her a candy bar then grabbing it off her in her eyes.

We did express anger regarding the situation at this member of staff but had to go down to reception to ask for the duty manager, where we were told we should expect a one hour wait to see the manager to resolve the matter.

Not sure what to expect or if we would get the table that was paid for we suggested to the receptionist the hotel may as well refund us and we would check out as we only booked the room to sample the Christmas package and the night's stay without what was paid for was not going to be adequate or for any other real purpose.

This was met with refusal and with the mention of refunds and checking out the manager was got a little quicker and she persuaded us (reluctantly) to stay and promised she would rectify the meal service. Our reservation regarding all of that though was that instead of simply holding their hands up (on behalf of the hotel) all 3 staff who had been involved by this point (including the manager) started off in an argumentative fashion all instead pointing the finger at who they felt was responsible or at fault, when the first priority was to quickly rectify the problem given there were distressed guests and a young child unable to understand what was happening who was crying her eyes out in a public lounge. In fact before the manager helped us she had suggested we received an email with the arrangements in advance (impossible if the hotel had not asked for an email address) and also a reception staff member had told you that you couldn't check in until after 2pm but the dinner was on between a 6-hour period finishing as late as 7pm (just imagine we arrived at say 5pm!).

THE CHRISTMAS DINNER:
It was within a lounge normally hosting weddings etc bustling with guests/music and we took a table eventually just before 3pm (having just passed an angry woman on the walk up to it who was taking issue about the service time on her starter and telling us we weren't missing anything).

Overall visual presentation of all the starters and main courses we had seen was of a good standard, although the food itself would be a matter of taste for each diner.

A platter of left over stuff from the starters and bowls of soup were brought over to us. The manager who had assisted us occasionally returned to the area to check we were OK and getting the stuff we were meant to receive. The platter was predominantly not vegetarian and the kitchen had not understood the request regarding doing a small caesar salad without the bacon and chicken, but it was a struggle to communicate with the waiters serving our table as their language was a little patchy.

The meat options looked suitable for the occasion although main course portions were very modest (as is sometimes the way on this kind of service) and with multiple courses available that probably suited many diners anyhow.

There was what looked like a vegetarian option listed, but as is a common failure in the catering trade internationally it was advertised with Italian parmesan cheese, which is made with the fat off dead calves (and never vegetarian contrary to many common catering blunders involving cheeses). I therefore had the advertised rissotto (as Christmas dinner main course!) without the offending cheese in question added and was certainly content with the taste of the dish even if it would seem strange to many folk as a Christmas option.

Afterward there was a large range of cakes and mince pies in a buffet style (although not all suitable for vegetarians and no labelling or advice available) and some still remained available until we had ended the main course.

Sadly the tea and coffee had run out and it took 30 minutes to replenish at the end of the service.

I must admit that due to my own past experience of this kind of catering in both hotels and other environments I was not as disappointed as I probably should be, as I now only expect things to be how things were and if its any better then its a bonus (but it is nice to be surprised sometimes especially when something costs so much).

I might add, we noted 2 other families having a later starting Christmas dinner even than us so we mustn't have been the only ones suffering from a communication issue with arrangements?

THE ROOM:
The room was clean, to a decent standard and probably about what we expected (for the adults), although the common issue was with the travel cot which like a cheaper hotel we recently stayed at does not have a soft mattress bottom like our daughter is used to. It was very firm. The only solution (we learnt from the last time) was to cushion the bottom with our quilt and request a spare one for our bed.

After around 30 minutes a gentleman off reception who couldn't understand the request properly (in true Basil Fawlty style) arrived with another cot under his hand. He had thought the word "quilt" meant "cot". We had to show him the quilt as he still did not manage to understand the request a second time. He brought a spare quilt shortly after that.

EVENING FOOD PROVISIONS:
Our Christmas dinner ended shortly after 4.30pm so on enquiry we had asked if any snacks/food at all were available after that time (in case any of us became hungry before bed). We were told there was nothing at all. On asking what we would do if we needed something (short of finding a shop open on Christmas day) we were offered more cakes before leaving the dining area. We did not get as hungry in the end due to the finish time being later but had our start time been on schedule at 1pm I fear we may have not felt as cheerful. I suppose one would expect even a limited sandwich/snack option after hours even if the usual full meals were finished much earlier on Christmas day. Had we had that information in advance we would have probably packed a few snacks in our bags just in case. Food for thought perhaps?

BREAKFAST:
I'm not used to getting a cooked breakfast and usually make do with cereals and occasionally toast at home, but that is all I landed up having the following morning in the hotel. The small mostly unstaffed buffet had a small range of hot breakfast items but sadly the guests and small number of serving utensils between them had meant too much cross contamination (used tongs were piled on top of each other) and the prospect of juices of the bacon and sausages etc flavouring the hash browns etc. This wouldn't bother every person who doesn't eat meat but in most establishments I have used these days there is better management of utensils (certainly where supervision exists) and separate ones for each food type (also note food allergy risks should mean that is good practice too).

My partner advised me that the bacon was dried out too although I can only go on how it looked.

One other important note is that the chairs in the breakfast area had too many rips and blemishes for a high quality establishment which I am sure management are well aware of by now and I would say they need either recovering or replacing where applicable.

STAFF:
Additionally to those comments already made above we observed that staff struggled to keep up at times during the Christmas dinner service, although trying hard I am sure (forgetting an odd request that was made and having to be reminded or situations self remedied) and a few of them did not seem cheerful, positive or festive. It's hard to make comments such as this without feeling mean, knowing that all of them are working, and it was Christmas but this is not a cheap hotel or a budget cafe and unfortunately with that comes certain requirements, especially when guests are paying a lot of money to try and have a happy and memorable experience.

The cost for our package was about 237 Euros and so based on the above points, both good and bad, this did not represent great value for money. Whilst we understand more than most the costs and challenges involved in delivering this kind of service we feel that on this occasion it came with too much stress and we wasted our money and will probably avoid risking a similar experience at any hotel in future years and just spend a fraction at home instead and use hotels for overnight purposes only going forward.

We were told we would hear from the hotel by Wednesday this week as we advised the manager on the 25th (before the dinner) we need to deal with the booking issues, and of course there were other matters additional to the arrival ones I have outlined for the benefit of other guests and in the hope that the hotel can improve on some things for future guests, even if we don't opt to stay again.

Stayed: December 2017, travelled with family
1  Thank KRM47827
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 17, 2017 via mobile

What a disappointment. The band were brutal. Weren't suitable for a Christmas party at all. At least the dj saved the night with his good variety of music to suit all ages. Food was ok but a buffet style is not what i expected after paying 50e for a self service meal. Having to que with about 100 people or more is not fun with 2 chefs serving at the carvey. Dinner took far too long and there was no atmosphere at all. Toilets were a disgrace with only 2 toilets with toilet roll in them.

Stayed: December 2017, travelled with friends
Thank JenDDublint
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 16, 2017 via mobile

Room was nice but it was to hot. Opened the window but the road was very noisy. Breakfast was cold no clean cups until I asked. Girl on the reception desk was very nice and helpful . Bar next door was nice and it was not to expensive

Stayed: December 2017, travelled solo
Thank bqwerty2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 10, 2017 via mobile

Pleasantly surprised room 308 large king size bed and single
Old style but clean and tidy.
Shower room could do with a working fan.Nice shower and supplied soaps and shampoos old style.
Beds very comfortable and supporting pillows
36 inch Television works but needs a new controller .
Very spacious and large double glazed windows 3rd floor.

Stayed: December 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Patrick M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed November 27, 2017 via mobile

Had a 3 nights stay on reading the reviews was not looking forward to staying here we arrived at 10 am and was inpressed with reception area and welcome from reception room was clean and bedding clean had shower bath clean towels the only fault was no double glazing and you could here traffic on very busy road day and night can't comment on food as didn't eat there went to dublin tram out side shopping center good sevices 7 euro return place called brey nice seaside place

Stayed: November 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank lynneemrrson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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