NEWS

Holidaymakers find vacations marred by disappointing service

If vacationers were asked to grade the services they receive during their holidays, a lot of hotels would lose their stars and quite a few people in the tourism sector would find themselves looking for another job. Businessman Ilias Mavroudis visited Myconos for a few days’ vacation, having booked «a package tour, including air tickets and a room at a four-star hotel» through a travel agent. The hotel demanded full payment well in advance of his arrival. «If they are so strict, I thought it must be exceptional. Far from it, the hotel bore no relation to four-star accommodation, as the room was not comfortable and had not received the most basic upkeep. It seemed to have been left in the same state as when the hotel was first built. The hair dryer didn’t work, the lights were falling out of their sockets, the windows creaked, the remote control for the television set was broken, and the breakfast buffet was less than average. Although I realized I’d been ripped off, I didn’t make a fuss because I didn’t want to ruin my vacation.» The most annoying part of Fay Vadola’s vacation was her experience at a luxury restaurant at the Sani Resort in Halkidiki. «I couldn’t believe that at one of the best restaurants in Halkidiki, where everyone is impressed by the food, that the service would be unacceptable, to say the least. The foreign waitresses made an effort to communicate, to bring the right order, but the Greek ones had a air of ‘We’re doing you a favor just talking to you.’ They had such an attitude, and were so snobbish that all the customers at the restaurant talked about it.» Aliki Sotiradou, 25, recounted a similar experience to Kathimerini. She had traveled to Lasithi, on Crete, where she stayed at one of the most expensive hotels. «It feels pretty strange to be at a luxury hotel and encounter the sour, unfriendly attitude of the waiters, and on top of that to have to wait ages to get a coffee.» «It’s hard to believe that such a big hotel could proffer such bad service,» said Sotiriadou, adding that exorbitant taxi fares had been another black mark on her holiday in Crete. Extortionate prices, even as early as June, were what bothered Melina Georgouli, who recently visited Santorini. «It’s crazy to pay 60 euros for one serving of lamb chops and two salads. As for the hotels, some are really amazing, very beautiful and, of course, unaffordable. Any rented rooms or hotel rooms that cost less than 150 euros a night are of doubtful quality.» The problems that arise during Greek summer holidays are largely due to a failure to plan ahead, according to Anna Anifanti, general manager of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA). «As choices lessen, so prices rise, and those who choose to travel in high season, from July 15 to August 15, are more likely to fall prey to exploitation,» she explained. «From the records of complaints made to the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), we know that what upsets people most are high prices that bear no relation to the quality of services, and the behavior of taxi drivers. The worst of all, when it happens – fortunately not often – is when hotels cancel bookings because they are overbooked and send customers to another hotel.»