Hotel Alternatives or Hostel Alternatives? Hotel Alternatives Scam

April 27, 2010 at 7:08 pm

After deciding to send my dad to Singapore for his liver surgery , we started looking for Service Apartment in Singapore.

We stumbled upon Hotel Alternatives website, and was attracted by its rates, its nice photos, its stated location (near to Orchard Road), and the ‘Service Apartment’ amenities they promoted, i.e. with kitchen and cooking facilities. We should have read the Tripadvisor reviews, and stopped ourselves, but then it was a very rush trip.

We made the bookings for these dates :

a) Mar 11th – 1 room, for my eldest sister and I; total paid S$140
b) Mar 18th – Mar 26th – 2 rooms, for my dad, my youngest sister and I; total paid $1800
c) Mar 19th – Mar 21st – 1 big room, for my brother and his family; total paid $410

All prepaid before our stay, via bank transfer or cash on delivery.

On March 11th, we drove down to Singapore after work. By the time we’d checked on dad (at the hospital) and reached the ‘hotel’, it was already 10:30pm. The ‘hotel’ is located at Lucky Towers on Grange Road. There’s no reception, and we were supposed to call the ‘ground manager’ to check in.

Ground manager assigned to us could not be reached. We had to call the ‘reservation manager’, who then assigned us another Ground manager. We then had to call the newly assigned ground manager (why can’t the reservation manager call the ground manager and instruct him to come??) and informed him we’re waiting to be checked in. All these ‘coordinations’, we had to do from the condo lobby, using our own mobile phones.

A big size man in shorts and flip flops arrived 10 minutes later, he’s Gerald the ground manager. He told us to follow him (actually, quite scary right? Luckily there were 2 of us).

We went up to 20th floor, and entered a condo unit. He took us to one of the rooms, and before he finished his sentence, “Your room is …” He closed back the door and told us, “Oh, not this one, lets go to another unit.” o.O”

We took the lift down, went to the other block, took the lift up again to the 20th floor. This time he showed us into the correct room.

By the time we put down our bags, it was more than 30mins since we arrived at Lucky Towers.

Room was spacious by Singapore standard, with 2 nice and comfy queen beds with thick linen. FULLSTOP. The rest of the furniture – very dated, and mismatch. The toilet has chipped tiles, old fittings, although it looked clean. The toiletries were probably stolen/taken by the owner from their stay in Sofitel , and looked like they have been repeatedly refilled.

We left our room to check out the other amenities.

This is actually a condo unit converted to about 6 rooms, all sharing a kitchen, and there’s also a common toilet outside. We didn’t see the living room. 3 of the other room doors were placed on walls which wasn’t solid (hollow when tap on, plywood maybe), so we assume whatever available space has been converted to rooms (this proof to be true in our later stay). The kitchen, which was one of the reason we booked this place post-ops, was a sorry state. Mismatched utensils, a couple of unwashed rice cookers, 2 pathetic hot plates, a fridge with half eaten food, and they called this fully equipped kitchen! There were also dirty dishes piled in the sink. No drinking water was provided.

There’s a foreigner outside of his room next to ours, ironing his clothes in the narrow corridor. There’s cigarette smell and loud Chinese (with Beijing accent) coming from another room facing ours.

This is a hotel or hostel? Don’t be fooled by the photos they posted on their website. The place is definitely not a boutique hotel nor a service apartment. It’s more like a hostel with comfy beds.

In the morning, we left by hanging our key behind the door. That’s no check out to be done.

On March 18th, after my dad was discharged from the hospital, we moved all our things to Lucky Towers for our week’s stay.

Upon arrival, we have to call the Ground Manager, Gerald, again, and this time he asked us to go straight to the condo unit, and the maid will show us in.

We booked and paid for the 2 Bedroom Luxury Apartment. We thought that’s what we’ll be getting. But, what we got was a condo unit’s living and dining room combined. 1 Bedroom was partitioned from the dining area, and another smaller bedroom a small corner of the living room. There’s a small living room in between these rooms with a two seater and a dining table. A toilet is shared between these rooms. All walls which are not the original condo structure are thin, and of course not sound proofed. The kitchenette, was just a table top with an electric cooker (those we normally use for steamboat). No sink whatsoever, so we ended up having to cook our meals in the shared kitchen. What con job is this? Luxury my butt!

The maid, an Indonesian probably hired as a domestic helper, was still cleaning the apartment, even though we arrived at 2pm, the official check in time.

Half way through, she was called by Gerald to clean up another unit as there was another family who just ‘checked in’. We voiced out our dissatisfaction. To please both sides (as she was being called repeatedly by Gerald to finish the job in the other apartment too), she was switching locations every 15mins. More than an hour later, she finally finished cleaning our place.

The girls arrived with Daddy in the evening. Daddy wasn’t happy with the place at all. He was to sleep in the smaller room alone, and his bed, sandwiched between thin walls, was located next to the noisy aircon compressors. Girls slept with me on a King bed in the same room as my sister and dad who shared another king bed. Jelly slept at a single bed which was located outside of our room.

Nobody slept well when we were there. Daddy claimed his room was too noisy. Our room did not have any aircon, and we had to leave the door opened to catch some of the cool air from the centralized aircon in the living room.

The following day when we woke up to use the common kitchen to make breakfast, we saw a Caucasian man sound asleep on a sofa at the corridor right outside the kitchen, he was fully clothed and has his shoes on. He didn’t stir at all the whole time, and was still sleeping even when we left late morning to go out . I wonder if this is the cheapest bed offered by Hotel Alternatives, of if this guy sneaked in for a free night sleep? And if he could sneak in, what kind of security does this place offer?

The girls’ favourite pastime in the apartment besides watching whatever TV program that was on, was to check on the walls, “This one bluff one.” When they knocked on a plywood wall. “This one real one” when they knocked on a solid wall.

The place is only cleaned every 3 days. It was done by the same Indonesian maid we met on the first day.

If all these are not bad enough, just wait till you hear the last part.

Originally, our plan was to stay till Mar 26th, a week post ops as advised by the hospital. However, dad was recovering so well, that he got the doctor’s permission to leave Sun, Mar 21st when he did his check up on Sat, Mar 20th. We quickly called the hotel office and also informed the ground manager we’d checked out on Mar 22nd; as we paid full in cash, we requested for a refund for 3 nights amounting to S$810. They told us refund is not their policy, but we could try calling the billing department on Mon, Mar 22nd.

My dad left with my brother and his family on Sun, March 21st. Leaving our family behind, as we have made plans to stay till Mon, March 22nd.

On Mon, 22nd, we called all the phone numbers available for Hotel Alternatives, the only person who answered our call said he’s not authorized to do a refund; the rest of the numbers we called, no one bothered answering the calls. We wrote in as well, but no one replied our mails.

We pursued the matter even after we arrived back in KL.

It’s already end of April, in total we’d sent 9 emails, and got only 2 replies. 1 to state that our mail has been forwarded to the billing department, and another to tell us there’s no refund policy. We even wrote to their Regional Manager, Isa Bella Lin, and requested for vouchers for future stay, she just ignored our emails.

The hotel claimed they are a LVMH Couture Company (the company that is responsible for Louis Vuitton and all luxurious goods). I don’t believe this. Firstly, why would they want to associate themselves with a hotel where rooms are partitioned out of condo units? Secondly, I don’t believe a company like LVMH would handle our appeal so unprofessionally.

We also found this, and this, when we goggled further into Hotel Alternatives, LVMH, Isa Bella Lin.

These 2 sites are associated with Isa Bella Lin who’s the regional manager for hotel alternatives.

So beware, if you ever consider booking a room Hotel Alternatives. The rooms are not luxurious! It’s not a Boutique Hotel! The location is not convenient! (unless you called a 15mins uphill downhill walk to get to Orchard Road convenient). The place is run by a group of very unprofessional people who ignores you when they see trouble!

Head on to YMCA, YWCA for better quality and cleaner rooms, more professional and efficient service, which is located not far from Orchard.

My only regret is, I didn’t take any photos of the place at all to show you what the rooms, kitchen, actually look like.

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