Spent a pleasant Sunday at a wedding in Torquay, the Barceló Imperial Hotel to be precise. It’s described as four stars and, to be fair, the bedrooms and function rooms are lovely, as with most places it’s let down by its staff, more specifically the bar staff. (Okay the full English breakfast should more accurately have been described as a two-thirds one, but you can’t have everything.)
On the plus side their English was reasonable, it’s getting harder and harder in England to find hotel staff whose English can cope with anything other than the very basics, heaven help you if you want anything other than a standard type of drink.
Firstly they are incapable of holding more than one thought in their heads. You order a couple of pints and they ask you if you want anything else. Once you’ve told them about the gin and tonic with lime but without ice they’ve forgotten what the second pint was and just dropped a mini-glacier into the gin and added lemon.
Secondly they don’t have simple customer skills. When I arrive at a bar and they’re fiddling with something I’m happy to wait, personally I think that stocking shelves can wait but as I said, it’s one thought at a time. What they should do though is acknowledge your presence and say something along the lines of be with you in a minute. Instead you’re completely ignored and you just wonder if you’ve succumbed to the invisible customer syndrome again. They also can’t keep track of who’s arrived at the bar first so there’s inevitably resentful customers fuming about being ignored for the third time.
Thirdly they have no initiative. When they see they’re low on something they don’t do anything until they have to. Yesterday I ordered a rum and coke and mentioned as they poured that it was the last measure in the bottle, hoping they’d take a hint – no chance. Instead of ordering or fetching a new one when there was a lull, and there was one during the buffet, they just stand there watching the tumbleweed drift by. Then when I came up later and asked for another they were too busy to get a new bottle. That’s what happens when sales don’t directly affect your pay as it would with a traditional pub landlord.
Anyway, having got that off my chest, here’s my nomination for the Plain English gobbledygook award. It was in the lift and explained what to do if the lift broke down, I’m sure most non-native English speaking people would struggle to understand it, so that’s most of the hotel staff then. If you can't read it states:
The operation of the alarm button will automatically effect a vocal link with the communication centre of Schindler.
In other words: Press the button to ask for help. Perhaps the person at Schindler’s, the lift company, who wrote it wasn’t a native English speaker either.
Finally congratulations to Lisa and Al, hope you enjoy your exotic honeymoon destination.