Friday, June 29, 2018

Staycation With Kids: Disappointed with Our Stay in Holiday Inn Resort, Penang

I try to write our experience as accurately as possible. I try to write both the good and the bad.  And I may be a little long winded. So please bear with me. ;)

During the Raya hols, we thought it would be fun to have a little staycation in Penang. I searched around as it was Raya and also school holidays and we were quite last minute, most hotels/resorts were full and also quite expensive.

In the end, we decided to try out Holiday Inn Resort in Penang.
It is not as famous as Golden Sands Resort or Hard Rock Hotel in Penang (I always wondered why not many people choose this resort), but I read some good blog reviews on it. And I also know that Holiday Inn is quite kid-friendly oriented so we thought to give it a try.

We checked-in on the eve of Hari Raya on the 14th June 2018. We booked for 3 days 2 night stay.
One good thing though was that they allowed us to check in although we arrived about an hour earlier at 1pm.

We were given 2 Kid Sets which has an activity book and a small box of colour pencils in a transparent pouch. Lovely touch indeed.

We got the keys to our room which we booked a Kid Suite at the Beach Wing. ( There was another Feringghi Tower opposite the road linked by a Pedestrian Overhead Bridge).

This was the entrance to our room.
It was spacious enough for our family. Furniture was a bit old but cleanliness and condition was decent.

The kids were thrilled to have their own bunk beds. Shern took the top bunk and Khye at the bottom.

Khye peering us from the top bunk. 

There was also a pull-out/trundle bed for an extra adult/kid. Kids exclaimed in delight when they saw the Playstation 3 (PS3)  in their "room"!
The TV was a little too near to their beds for my comfort but well, I guess you needed to be near enough to play video games? Maybe I was too used to having long cords/wireless remotes at home and the TV at home was much bigger.

Anyway, they were excited to load up the games for some finger exercises!


Meanwhile, let me show you our room with the King-sized bed. Decent sized.

Vern was the first one to climbed onto our bed. :)

We got to choose/personalized our pillow preferences (soft/firm) and we took firm pillows which we was quite happy with it. I hate those too-soft pillows haha. 

All 4 of them got cosy on our bed.

All Kid Suites at the Beach Wing has the Hill/roadside View which wasb't much of a view at all! But it was ok because we weren't there for the view.

And then things started to go downhill.
It took forever for the PS3 to load and after waiting for more than 1/2 hour, hubby decided to call for help. And also one of the remote seems not to be working.
The technician came and tried to fix the PS and exchanged a new remote for us.

Hubby also started complaining to the technician that some of the channels on our TV were so blur we weren't able to watch it at all. He said that it was due to the same cable used for the PS3 and our TV. Hubs told him it couldn't be because other channels are clear and fine and only some. He shrugged and said he will get someone else to come.

He never came back. After that we decided to go out of our room to explore the resort. Hubs made a call and told the person that we will be out of the room and to ask the technician to come while we were out so that hopefully by the time we came back, it would be all fixed.
But guess what? Nobody came and the tv was not fixed.
We gave up and didn't bother calling them again!

When we went out to explore the hotel, kids were pleased to see 2 Playlabs.

One was dedicated to the younger ones like Vern and was was a much smaller Playlab.

There were some toadstools meant to be used as a reading area with some pillows and fairy lights inside.

And another 2 reading nooks on the trunks of the trees. 


There was a small selection of kids picture books and a large selection of Enid Blyton's books which I found it weird because this Playlab was meant to be for toddlers.
Anyway, maybe this would let the older kids enjoy some books at the reading nooks.

In the middle of it all was a big structure of stairs and a kiddy slide. 
Vern was kinda happy climbing up on it. 

There were only a few toys in there.
Namely Dominoes, some wooden train tracks and some baby blocks. That was about all. 

It may seemed like a big space the way I described it but it was actually a really small Playlab.
On the left were the toadstools.

This was the middle tree climbing/slide structure.
See how near was that to the toadstools?

And on the right was the reading nook/table corner.
In front of the bean bags on the right side of this photo (not shown in the photo) was a big Projector screen where it was on kiddy shows on Youtube. It was a few hours long youtube video where no one was interested in. And the audio was so soft it was almost on mute.

This Playlab was so small they only allowed one parent to accompany inside. And with my 3 kids there and another 2 more other kids, the place felt crowded already.
And they all were not supposed to run or make loud noises. My kids were trying to play catch around the tree structure but the Indian lady who manage the place told the kids to be quiet and told them no running. 
I was thinking what kind of Kid's Club was that if they were not allowed to make some noises. 

Without anything much to do there after awhile, I saw these Art Stands at the corner of the Playlab. So I asked my kids if they wanted to do some drawing.
The Indian lady said "sorry, they can't draw at this Playlab. Only at the other Playlab" (which I found out later that the other Playlab do not have these Art Stands!)
I then asked her if cannot use it here, why were they being places here. She did not answer me.

She also kept trying to tell me to go to the other Playlab which she said is much bigger. 

By the way, the lady's face was not very friendly and obviously not fond of kids. 
They did not try to talk/engage with any of the kids at all. She was just standing near the door the whole time. And her face was obviously annoyed our kids were there. 

I felt so unwelcomed by her attitude. I was disappointed as other hotels'  Kids Club we'd beeen has staff which are friendly and full of smiles and engaging. She was just the opposite. 
We left after about 1/2 hour. 

We walked across the Pedestrian Overhead Bridge to check out the other Playlab.
Kids happy just walking across the bridge.

This Playlab was meant for older kids but definitely too kiddy for Shern either. 
It was bigger and was about I would say slightly double the size of the earlier Playlab. There were 2 staffs manning it. Their faces at least were more friendly although they did not interact with the kids. They were merely just talking to each other the whole time I was there. 

Vern liked to run up the playhouse and slid down into the ball pit. 
Shern and Khye did that for a while and after a few rounds got bored. 

There was an interesting interactive racing game on the floor where you use your hand to spin the wheel to move your car. It was not very senstitive and so it was a little bit frustrating for the kids to spin it.

The tv there was on youtube channel just like the other Playlab and no one seemed to be watching it at all. 

A digital drawing board here. 

I read in blogs that there were activities planned like Art & Craft etc in the Kids Club and so I asked about it. I enquired about that and they said that was last time  and now there were no more activites. What a bummer! 

Only certain activities planned and they pointed me the signboard places outside the Playlab.
It read 2.30pm Carom sessions at the lobby, and 4.30pm Kite-Making at the pool front. 

So while waiting for 2.30pm, my 2 elder kids went to play some Pool table/table tennis just outside the playlab. 

Verrn tried his hand poking the balls too. ;)
The middle table which was another game was spoilt. :(

There was only 1 video game console with 2 remotes nearby and kids need to queue quite long to play it. Shern did not have the chance to play it until the following morning.
And Khye got tired of waiting he watched Disney Channel on the tv nearby.

Then at 2.30pm, kids were excited to try the Carom game and we rushed over to the lobby. When we reached the lobby, we couldn't find anybody there with the Carom board or any crowd at all.
So we asked the lobby check in counter staff on where is it. Maybe we were in the wrong place.

This was when it got to my nerves. 

She gave a phone call to the person and spoke in Bahasa:
"Eh, mana ni Carom session? Guest tanya" (Eh, where is the Carom session? Guest is asking)

She then turned to me and told me there would be no carom session that day. I asked her back why not since it was in the notice being displayed. 
"Guest nampak notice ada Carom session." (Guest saw the notice stating there is a Carom session)

She then said, "Oh, it has finished as it started at 2pm"
I told her no as the notice stated 2.30pm and it was only 2.35pm then.
"She then asked me if it is ok if they bring out the Carom board and we played by ourselves"

I was almost fuming then as I needed to be firm then only they brought out the Carom board for us. 
I had no choice but to agree. Better to let the kids play than nothing. I didn't want them to be disappointed since they were excited to learn to play Carom. 

A man then came and brought the Carom board out. To be fair, he did try to explain to the boys on roughly how to play. After that he left. So we played by ourselves.

At 4.30pm, we then went to the Poolside to enquire about the Kite-Making session.
One guy at the Towel Stand told us to wait there as his colleague was the one doing it. We waited outside at the lounge was really hot at that time at 2.30pm. We waited for like 15 minutes and no one came to tell us anything. I went to enquire again and they said oh "It is in the Kid's Playlab".
I wasn't pleased then as we were waiting for so long outside when the weather was so hot! 

Anyway, we walked the kids to the Playlab nearby and the man was walking out with some materials and told us it would not be in the Playlab but outside at the Lobby area. *fuming indeed*
And needless to say, he wasn't very pleased that there are guests asking to do this. It was like he was forced to do it. 

Look at the sweat dripping down my kids' faces. 

I was looking at the materials and was surprised to see lantern paper being used. But then I just kept quiet. 

He showed the kids a demo mini kite and told them he would only be showing them how to make a kite and they don't get to make one.

I said I read in one of the blogs that they are making a REAL kite, not a demo mini one. He just shrugged and said that he would only be making a demo mini kite.

Look at the crosspiece of the kite. It should be bent and not straight like a cross. 
And can lantern paper be used for making kites?

Anyway the material used and the way he made the kite was questionable. But you know what was the worst part?
He made the whole kite without saying a single word to the kids.
Imagine him sitting down there making a kite and kids just sat there watching the whole time with no explanation at all! Of course my kids and two other kids there were bored. Even I was bored!

Almost the end of it, hubby told us to just leave because he said watching a Youtube on how to make a kite would be more beneficial than watching him making it wrongly and also without any explanation.

We were all very disappointed with both the Carom sessions and Kite Making sessions which were supposed to be the highlight of the day! Very frustrating with the service and attitude of the staff as well.

We then took the pool/beach area to check it out.
The resort was beautiful with its many palm trees.

Kids with us. 

The pool was really small in size.
The Kids pool was ridiculously small for a Resort. (I forgot to take a photo). 
I think it was only 10 feet x 10 feet or 12 feet x 12 feet. There were already like 10 kids in it already and no way can fit another 3 kids of mine. 

As for the adult pool was also really ridiculous.
The adult pool wasn't big for a start and it was divided into 3 parts. 
The smallest part on the left was 3 feet deep. The middle slightly bigger part was 4 feet deep and the biggest part of the pool was 2 meters deep which was really deep for kids to be in.
Image result for holiday inn resort penang pool
Image Source: Google Images

I mean, who needs a 2 meters deep pool at a resort? Especially in a supposedly kid-friendly resort?
Needless to say, most of the families were crowded at the 2 shallow ends, with practically no one at the deep end.
So it was really really crowded in an already small sized adult pool.

After awhile. I asked the kids to be up and we went to the beach. 
Just before we walked down to the beach, there was a sign which read "You are not walking outside the property of Holiday Inn Resort" so I would say that it is a public beach and not under Holiday Inn Resorts.

Kids had a lovely time as usual at the beach.
Shern & Khye enjoyed sitting at the edge of the sea and let the waves lapped up onto them. They did that for almost the whole 2 hrs we were at the beach. 

Vern on the other hand enjoyed building sandcastles and scooping the sand. 
He always enjoys sand time as his teacher in the playschool told us he plays at the sandpit area every day in school! 


The sand stretch was not really very wide, maybe due to high tide at that time. And there were operators which allow people to ride on horses and ponies for a fee. We saw 3 horses, a pony and even a camel. And they were walking ride next to us where we were seated on the sand.
It was actually really dangerous as if the animals started galloping or something, we would all be trampled on!

And of course there were many jet skis, banana boat rides and parachuting in the sea. Some Jet Skis even rode too near to my comfort.
I needed to keep a sharp eye on my kids the whole time. So it was not a really relaxing time for us parents on the beach!

This I admit is not Holiday Inn Resort's problem as the beach is considered a public beach therefore they could not stop the illegal operators from operating. 

After 2 hours at the beach, we went to the nearby KFC for dinner.
And to tell the truth, after the horrendous service and attitude of the staff at Holiday Inn Resort, we were really thankful as the staff at KFC was really courteous and friendly. 

They accommodated our requests for 7 chicken thighs and even went out of their way to help hubby bring the trays up to the 2nd floor.
And as the place were not full, the staff was friendly and talked to my kids and all. It was really such a pleasant surprise to see the service of a KFC restaurant topping a supposedly kid-friendly resort.

Went back to the hotel to sleep at night. And to our horror, our dissatisfaction was not over yet.

When we checked in, the room was freezing cold and we saw this sign at the aircond switch where it told us not to turn off the aircond or turn the temperature above 25 degrees Celcius.
We were ok that the aircond was at around 12 degree Celcius in the hot afternoon, but not ok for it to be so freezing cold at night. 
So since the room was already really cold due to the aircond on the whole day, I turned it to about 18-19 degree Celcius for the night. 

Guess what? When I woke up to pee in the middle of the night, I almost slipped as the whole tiled floor on the hallway to the bathroom was very wet. It was really so wet even the thick pool towel was damp when I layed the towel across so that my kids and hubby won't slip and fall down on their way to the toilet.

It was crazy! I did not even turn the temperature above 25 degree Celcius. And even if I did, whoever says that the aircond can't be turned above that? 
The aircond in my house is always at 26 degree Celcius. And my tiled floor is not wet at all. It was not due to Malaysia being a humid country.
There is something wrong with your aircond piping or floor tiles. 
Really terrible and so dangerous!

So the following day, we had the hotel breakfast (Buffet breakfast was decent. Nothing to shout about and nothing to complain also! :) ) and then we requested for them to cut our stay one day shorter.
We told them of our dissatisfaction and they agreed to refund us for our paid second night there.

We were lucky we are from Penang and we did not need to search for a hotel at the last minute. We just went back to our Home Sweet Home the following night. 

There were also some minor things like the Room Service trays (2 trays with plates and bowls and utensils) put on the floor opposite our room was not cleared when we checked in until we came back from KFC at night. The trays with food and soup on the trays were left there for the whole day and probably the whole night too! This leads to food smell on the hallway which was not really pleasant when we walked past to get to our room. 

I would say that overall it was such a disappointment to experience Holiday Inn Resort Penang this way. Holiday Inn prided itself as a kid-friendly hotel/resort and yet the staff service and attitude showed otherwise.
And now I understand why Holiday Inn Resort Penang is not among the top choices for kid-friendly hotels in Penang (as compared to Hard Rock Hotel, Golden Sands Resort etc). 

I initially wanted to book Holiday Inn Resort in Bali for our next holiday but I guess I am now scared of the Holiday Inn experience. So unless something changes, I guess I would not book another Holiday Inn stay or recommend it to any of our friends.  

I hope the management read this experience of ours and improve their staff attitude and service. 

And I hope other people won't be "duped" like us and have too high expectations from Holiday Inn Resort Penang.

To sum this, Vern showed the emotion of ours best below:
Left: Happy and excited upon reaching the resort.
Right: Very disappointed with the service and attitude of the overall resort experience.  

Click to read our experience staying with Marriott Phuket Beach Resort
Click to read our experience staying with Lone Pine Hotel

***Please take note that this post is NOT sponsored. I paid for the hotel stay with my own money. All text and opinions are of my own and represents my honest opinion of the product(s)/service(s).

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