It’s King’s Day tomorrow here in the Netherlands, one of only a handful of national holidays, and to take advantage of an extended weekend, Teko and I took Monday off and spent a night down south, given current regulations, as south as it was acceptably possible. The last time we took such a getaway was in December so it was time for another mini-break, get a respite from the irregular drilling and renovation works that seemed to go on intermittently in our apartment building, and for the first time this year take advantage of the hotel benefit I get from work. The sun shone brightly by the time we reached South Limburg, a refreshing turnaround from the cloudy morning we left behind in Amsterdam, and found true springtime weather with temps in the teens. The two and a half hour drive was uneventful and after finding parking and maneuvering past day visitors to the nearby park, it was time to find out what Winselerhof had for us ahead.
The reception was a light-filled but sparse room, no fresh flowers anywhere, and a sad arrangement of dried plants and cotton-filled branches that bordered the queueing area. We could barely hear, much less understand, the check-in staff as they talked over one another – despite no one else being in the room, it was difficult to communicate that our room wasn’t ready (another 30 minutes, they said) and if we wanted dinner we would have to choose what to order then and there, all of which made Teko feel instantly harassed and stressed, which of course had an effect on me as well. Not the best start to a relaxing stay.
I quickly noticed the receptionist’s lack of eye-to-eye contact with me when we were checking in, something I used to just brush off until recently but now tend to react to more and more – another sign of a possibly low standard we should’ve been prepared for beforehand.
We decided to walk the grounds to pass the time until the room became ready and decided to test the reactions from housekeeping staff we met along the way. I smiled each time they passed and was happy to report they responded back in similar fashion. Once we went back to reception to get our keys, however, there was no offer to bring our bags to the room nor a more personal way to direct us to where it was, much less a smile to wave us on our way and wish us a pleasant stay. A general lack of enthusiasm in the front office was pervasive, and it was a shame to see this from a so-called Small Luxury Hotel property. Oh, well.
Outside of the apparent low service level, the finer points seemed to be missing as well – no USB plugs nor a mini-ref in the room, only the most basic cable TV options, and noticeably for me, no (spring) flowers anywhere (except on the one cherry tree in the estate). The four-star experience evidently took the day off that day.
Despite many things found lacking, after all these months it was great to have the luxury of professionally-prepared food for dinner in an intimate space set up in our room. It almost felt like being in an actual restaurant. The pillows they gave us were substantial and above par, and sleep came rather easily and was satisfying. The elaborate breakfast the next morning, highlighted with sparkling wine, was likewise a treat.
Coupled with a beautifully sunny, spring morning, it wasn’t a bad way to start a week.