Wanted: a camel ride from Doha to Italy

A Hotelier Middle East survey reveals some obscure guest requests and how staff deal with them

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By  Sarah Gain Published  October 3, 2006

A Hotelier Middle East survey of unusual guest requests has revealed that guest relations managers at the region’s five-star hotels really have their work cut out for them in meeting guest needs. Among the most unusual guest issues guest relations staff have had to deal with was a request for a camel ride from Doha to Italy and the re-wiring of a hotel suite with an internal surveillance system, for a business meeting with echoes of the Big Brother television series. “As a concierge we face lots of issues that need to be solved on daily basis. But the most unusual request was when one guest approached the concierge desk and requested to ride a camel and travel from Doha to Italy. So we asked him ‘What time would you like the camel to be ready at the hotel?’” Elie Saliba, head concierge, Four Seasons Hotel Doha,” told Hotelier Middle East. David Amador, executive floor manager, Grand Hyatt Dubai, revealed that he once had to help a suite guest install small cordless video cameras around the suite. The cameras were then linked to the guest’s laptop, and were used to record a business meeting, “for security purposes”, as the guest told Amador. Stolen hotel linen and intoxicated guests were also cited as being among some of the more extraordinary situations front line staff regularly attend to. “One very amusing incident that I can remember was when a guest had checked out and taken the entire bedding collection which included a duvet topper, mattress topper, 300-thread Frette sheets and pillow cases. When we approached the guest he was really surprised and displeased, as he assumed that he was entitled to keep the bedding collection as part of his giveaway amenity. Needless to say, he did not leave with the bedding collection,” said William Fokkenrood, “At Your Service” manager, Doha Marriott Hotel. Meanwhile, Indri Murtiandari, guest relations manager at the The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, once had to deal with two intoxicated male guests creating a fracas on the hotel’s private beach in the early hours of the morning. “Neither of them were wearing any clothes, so I was not able to approach them to get them out of the water. Luckily, I was accompanied by a male colleague who helped the guests out of the water and gave them some towels. After that, I was able to speak to them and escorted them back to their rooms,” she explained. “It was quite a funny situation, but also very dangerous as they were very intoxicated and there was no life guard at that time of night,” she added. For Ericson Adame, guest relations manager, Al Waha, Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Oman, it was the resort’s uncooperative ‘lazy river’ that led to his most bizarre guest complaint. “We had a family staying who found the resort’s lazy river not functioning due to bad weather the previous day. They expressed their disappointment, saying that they felt cheated as they were paying, but were not able to enjoy the full facilities of the resort. “In order to please the guests, I assured them that once the hotel’s lazy river was operating I would inform them so they could enjoy a full day to use the facilities of the resort, free of charge of course,” Adame said.

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