A nightmarish experience– Thank God it has ended

We were on a road trip from Lucknow to Rajasthan. In our onward journey, we had dropped the idea of night halt at Agra (and going by the experience we had, I am thankful we dropped it). But in our return journey, we had decided to halt at Agra. The plan was to reach Agra by around 1.00 -2.00 pm and then post check in, freshen up and visit the Sikandara Complex, next day do an early check out, visit Taj Mahal (on my son’s request who had been to the Taj complex when he was very small) and then proceed towards Lucknow.

 

The criterion for searching a hotel in Agra was – a) It should be near to Taj complex b) decent hotel with parking space c) in our budget. Using a site called FindMystay.com, we had zeroed in on Hotel Dasaprakasha. The price being offered on the website was way too attractive. As the site was new, and we had never tried it, I sent an email to the hotel directly to inform them and confirm the rates before booking (as we had seen a lot of reviews of the same property and many others in Agra where they had refused bookings from Oyo etc.). Our doubt was not unwarranted, the hotel replied back saying that they don’t know how FMS can offer such rates, they had already informed FMS of their revised rates. They offered us higher rates for the same room. I had even shared the rate quotes which had been offered by FMS, still the hotel was pretty adamant on the new rate. Then after a lot of discussions (nearly 5 phone calls, 10 emails), the reservation person who was interacting with me (Mr. Akram Khan) said verbally that fine we could do the booking with FMS and he would honour it. We were now very doubtful and thus decided to drop booking Dasaprakasha.

 

We then checked out a couple of more hotels and based on the feedback, finally zeroed in Treebo Rigel Inn Agra, which was located on Shamsbad Road. We checked out the location and it was quite suitable to our needs. We did the booking through MakeMyTrip and got a good rate (that’s what we had thought) and that too with pay at hotel option (though I gave my credit card details). The ease of booking, the Treebo website which talked about assured essentials, clean and fresh room etc. eased our mind.

 

We reached Agra by around 1.00 pm. Location wise it’s not very easy to locate, though it’s located on the main road. The property is surrounded by market complex, apartments, an empty garage/dumping ground and it’s on a busy location. The signage is visible only on the hotel and not anywhere else, not even near the gate/or on the property outer walls. We used GPS to locate the same (not much issue in terms of location).  The property is small in size (no issues with that). We couldn’t see any parking space but the guard informed us that we could park in the small porch area, which could hold two small vehicles along with a couple of two wheelers. The only thing which troubled us that the entry was at an incline with an odd elevation angle. The road in front of the property was a very busy road and even when we driving the vehicle (almost like climbing uphill), people kept on moving past. There was no support from anyone in the hotel to ensure that the vehicle is safely parked.

 

The hotel reception and lobby were dimly lit. The person at the front desk initiated the check in process and checked with us if we had made payments. We informed that our voucher clearly says pay at hotel, to which he informed that yes he knows that. (if he knew why was he asking?). We were asked to make payments, we were slightly surprised (when do you pay at check-in), but then didn’t mind as the booking was through a reliable source. We gave our credit card to make the payments, to which we were informed that the card machine is not functional (Line chaloo nahin hai). We said that we would move out in the city after some time, so we would take out cash and then provide them with same when we come back. They looked puzzled but then agreed (strange because our entire luggage would have been in their custody, MMT had my card details). The room was allotted to us on 3rd floor – 309. The front desk personnel kept on asking for someone from room service to come and pick our luggage, no one turned up for a long time and then finally one person came. The lobby area has an elevator, but we were informed that it’s non functional. The room was on the same level where they had their restaurant/dining area. This was the last room in the corridor. Look wise the room was clean, large with a glass washroom. The room had two windows on the rear with blinds which were not sufficient to keep off the light and heat. The Air Conditioner was thus not very effective. The view from these windows was not at all good. There was no drinking water in the room. We asked the person who had brought our luggage for water and he brought a jug of water, on checking with him we were informed that this was RO water. There was constant welding sound coming along with the welding smell. My spouse went out to check what it was and found that the welding was being done in the hotel premises only (rear part where they had the kitchen). The kitchen area was lying open and there were some monkeys playing around.

 

Within 15-20 minutes, we freshened up and decided to go to Sikandara complex. It was really difficult to drive down the incline, vehicle on reverse, the busy road with constant vehicle flow, no support from the hotel to ensure smooth drive down (in fact I helped my spouse to reverse the vehicle).

 

We came back in the evening at around 7.15 pm and paid the amount to the reception person. The vehicle was parked the same way as earlier.

 

Behind the door there was a card which informed us of the facilities we were supposed to be provided in a Treebo property and in case of any issues we were asked to either contact the front desk or on a mobile number. We were supposed to be given complimentary bottle of mineral water but had not been provided for. We informed the front desk that we had not been provided with water. He assured us that it would be taken care of immediately. Yes within a few minutes one of the housekeeping personnel came in. Instead of giving the complimentary bottle, he tried to convince us that that the water they had provided was better. On seeing us not relenting, he handed over the bottles (one complimentary and two were paid)

 

We were tired after the long road trips we had undertaken and were planning to retire early for the night. Suddenly, there was a lot of noise from the corridor. There were sounds of kids crying/shouting, loud banging of the doors and so on. Twice someone banged loudly on our door, on checking with the reception we were informed that a group has checked in. And most of the rooms on all the floors had been occupied by them (seeing the way the group was behaving it seemed that they had got rooms at real cheap rate). We decided to call it a day, assuring ourselves that for a night halt this is not a bad location. But the nightmare had just begun.

 

 

At 10.30 pm, we got a call from the reception asking us to move our car to a different area (another parking area nearby). My husband informed that we are very tired and if this could be avoided. The guy on phone was rude and told him that no you have to move because the group has a bigger vehicle. (They obviously knew about the group, so why weren’t we told about the other parking space when we were parking in the evening). My husband agreed to park the vehicle in the place they were suggesting – he opened the door and what a view we had – the door of the room in front was fully open and there were two stark naked men roaming around (they were part of the group which had many ladies and children too). It was pretty embarrassing but the men were not bothered and neither were the ladies in the room. Anyway the vehicle was parked in a different location. We tried to sleep, the banging happened again and finally we had to shout at the kids to stop banging.

 

At the time of check-in we were informed that the breakfast is served in the Dining area from 7.00 am – 10.00 am. Based on this we had planned that we would check-out maximum by 8.00 am post our breakfast (we were on CP). We were ready by 7.00 am, all our bags packed. We went to dining hall only to realise that there were no signs of breakfast, the dining area was not even ready, there was no one in that area. My husband and son went to reception area to check out about breakfast – the reply was classic – “Breakfast, That is to be served at 7.00 am”, “It’s already 7.15 am”, “What oh its 7.00 am already?” (there was a watch right behind the front desk, where the person was standing). “Don’t worry sir, we would serve breakfast in your room”. They came back. We waited for next 20 minutes, no one came to inform about the status of the breakfast. We checked out the dining area, this time there were 2-3 men in towel sitting and having their tea (they were part of the group). The corridor was dirty and filled with water now, as the room occupants were moving from one room to other completely wet. We checked at the reception again and were informed that the breakfast would be served in our room and someone would come and take our order. We waited again, now our patience had given up. We called up on the mobile number which had been provided and formally registered our complaint.

 

Thankfully after around 10 minutes this time there was someone from room service to take our order from the prefixed menu they had, which technically was to be served in the dining hall. We requested for bread toast and omelette (2) and aloo parantha (1). After 20 minutes the breakfast finally arrived. This was a different attendant and was highly apologetic. We rushed through our breakfast, as we were already behind our planned schedule. Just after that we informed the front desk about our check out and requested someone to be sent to collect our luggage. Now things were moving faster. Magically the attendant appeared to collect our luggage, my husband went to bring our vehicle from the additional parking area. The condition of the corridor was very messy, the guests in the other rooms (the group) were not bothered about any other guests. They were behaving as if they were staying in a local dharamshala, noisy, rowdy and ill mannered.

 

The scenario at the front desk was completely changed now. Everyone was apologising and asking us to formally lodge a complaint about services (which we had already done) with Treebo headquarters.

 

We checked out and were happy that the nightmare had finally ended.

Treebo Rigel Agra is a big no no.

The property does have potential for people like us who would like to do just a night halt and location wise would be good if one is coming from the to be inaugurated Lucknow Agra Expressway (we were one of the few lucky ones who could do a small stretch on that). But only if they do a complete overhauling of their services and also ensure that the team at the property (especially attendants) are professionally trained to handle guest.

 

This experience spoiled our entire trip. We had seen excellent hospitality at various non-chain/individually managed properties in other cities in our trip and the experience with Treebo Rigel left a lot to be desired.

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