Dear Manager of the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort,
Recently my husband and I came to stay at your resort. We were aware of your ongoing renovations, but we had been informed that since it was a big resort, the matter wouldn’t really affect us. We ended up upgrading to one of the new rooms and paid for the privilege.
Our holiday was meant for R&R. The biggest decisions we wanted to make were, do we go to the beach or to the pool, and what will we be having for lunch/dinner? I had been filled with excitement and apprehension coming to your resort. Yes, I am a fussy traveller who wants and expects to have an incredible experience. Why pay good money to go on holidays to a lesser standard? I guess I also had faith in the Sheraton name.
Everyone who welcomed us when we arrived was lovely. Since our room was not ready, we changed and headed to the pool area. We did ignore the fit out throughout the reception area with its opulent and outdated 80s style since we knew it was all being renovated, though we weren’t sure why it had taken so long to make these changes.
Even on holidays I don’t take off my customer service expert hat. For me it’s all about the overall experience. Even if a company is renovating, all the staff and management should go out of their way to give the customer exceptional service. As the days progressed, I observed many areas where improvements were needed as the Sheraton standard was not met.
- Staff should be attentive around the pool, offering to take orders for food and drink whilst guests are lounging on the chairs. Humans are inherently lazy, so if someone comes around asking whether you would like food or drink, we suddenly become thirsty and hungry (so much money being left on the table).
- Coconut trees are all over the beach. Why not sell coconut milk/water in the coconut shell? You can even add alcohol at an extra cost.
- Plastic throwaway cups around the pool are cheap. Why not have nice plastic cups to serve your $16 cocktails?
- At the end of the day, the chairs around the pool should be set up in some sort of order as specified by the Sheraton standard, not in some random fashion as the guests had left them.
- All staff should be properly trained in table setting and serving. Because we decided to sit outside for breakfast every day, our table still needed to be set properly with salt & pepper shakers and knives and forks set in place, not just dumped on the table.
- New seat cushions on the beach chairs around the pool would be nice to replace the torn ones.
- Lanterns around the pool should be lit at night. It adds such a romantic feel.
- Set yourself apart from the rest of the hotel operators on the four-mile stretch of beach and put beach chairs on the beach. You promote this, so why not capitalise on it?
I could keep going. These renovations have been a long time coming. With challenging times, unhappy customers, bad reviews, and a hotel under renovation, your staff does not fit Sheraton’s high standards. The staff was not rude, and if you asked them to get something done, they would oblige. However, certainty and passion were lacking. It must be difficult for the staff not to give their guests the experience they deserve, though they can. Too near enough is not good enough; the attention to detail was missing.
A few staff members did stand out and obviously took pride in their work. It is time for management to be out and about, talking to the guests, ensuring them that the hotel is running at the highest standards as a Sheraton should. All staff must be trained in every aspect of service to give the guests the most memorable experience.
I am sure once your hotel is renovated, it will be back to its former glory. I look forward to that day. Always remember: it’s the little things that make the difference when it comes to customer service.
The lesson for the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort and all businesses is that it’s the small things that matter – the attention to detail. It is at the most challenging times that management needs to be visible to offer support to the staff, to ensure the standards are being met and exceeded, and to seek new ways to improve and do things better. Never take the customer for granted, in any circumstance.