During the booking process, the gentleman I spoke to knew that I was looking for a hot tub getaway with my boyfriend. I was originally looking to stay at the Cornwall site, but had my heart set upon the hot tub facility, which was unavailable there at the time. As this was the (quote) "deal breaker", we agreed to book at the Devon site called Blossom Hill Park.
It was the first getaway I had ever planned by myself and I didn’t properly research the area. I naturally assumed that there would at least be a few local things to enjoy, but this did not appear to be the case once we had arrived.
I don’t know why the park is situated in Dunkeswell. It says it’s a “Nature lover’s paradise”, but it appears to be located right in the middle of a housing estate. There were very few local places to get food, which was a big disappointment and the Indian restaurant that I was told about on a phone call with park office & found advertised in the welcome pack, was closed for refurbishment.
As we had arrived at the park quite late after a 6 hour long drive down, we decided to see if we could order food for delivery, but the only restaurant we could find on popular websites such as Just Eat said that they didn’t deliver to Dunkeswell. So, we went and bought some food from the local shop to cook, but this also turned out to be a disaster.
Unless you want to spend an entirely overpriced holiday looking at the nearby houses, this park has absolutely nothing to offer and is very far from what I would regard as any kind of “paradise”.
After we had purchased some ingredients to cook, we went to the lodge kitchen to find that most of the utensils, pots and pans had not been cleaned properly and we hadn’t been provided with any washing up liquid for us to be able to do this ourselves. We had to resort to using the complimentary shower supplies to have somewhat “clean” tools to cook with. I’m sure you can understand that knowing the risk of possible bacterial contamination from this, eating didn’t feel at all hygienic, which given the cost of 3 days to stay here was absolutely appalling. Even the glasses we wanted to use for the wine we had purchased weren’t properly cleaned, which left us wondering what on earth I had paid for? A basic requirement for any accommodation should be that everything is properly cleaned, not rushed, and if it has to be rushed to make sure that a sufficient number of staff have been employed to ensure this has been done correctly!
Despite this initial blip to the start of our stay, I wanted to make sure we could enjoy the rest of it fully. So, we went to have an evening dip in the hot tub. However, it would be far more realistic to state that we tried to have an evening dip in the hot tub as the water remained cold regardless of the fact we had turned it up to the maximum temperature. I was getting quite irritated at this point as the trip had cost me the majority of my savings and we couldn’t even enjoy a romantic evening as planned because my “deal breaker” like everything else thus far had been below what I would even call acceptable.
The next morning, we went to the park office to enquire about why the hot tub was not increasing in temperature. The lady we spoke to came to the lodge to have a look at it and said she would get maintenance to check it out, then give me a call once it had been fixed. By 4pm I had still not received an update so I called her myself. She hadn’t even checked with maintenance about the status of the hot tub. When she did call me back, she said it wasn’t working. I proceeded to explain that the hot tub was the entire reason I had booked the holiday, but she got immediately defensive and said “We can’t help it when the hot tubs break.” I’m sorry?! On what planet is this an appropriate response? I work in customer service myself and if it was a reverse situation I would have immediately jumped to apologise and see what I could do fix it. This was not the response received. In fact, it wasn’t until I called the main office and was put through to a manager/team lead in customer relations that she agreed that I should have been offered not only to be moved straight away, but also upgraded to a better lodge at no extra cost because with it only being a 3 night stay, I had lost a third of the time spent, therefore a third of the money spent as a result of this situation.
Eventually the main office said that they had spoken to the lady in the park office and that they were going to prepare another lodge for us to be moved to. This, however, was not without argument because by the time we had got to this, I had already been told that it was too late for another lodge to be prepared and for us to be moved as it was almost 6pm.
Again, I find this to be a completely unacceptable response because we had made the park staff aware of the problem that morning. Therefore, they had plenty of time to be able to come up with an appropriate solution.
By the time the move had been agreed, they had only agreed to move us to a lodge the same as the one we were in and not the upgrade that I had already been told would be the right response to my dissatisfaction. The reason for this is that there were no clean signature lodges available. I would like to highlight at this point that the park was dead with very few guests. I don’t understand how this is possible unless the park’s cleanliness level is a complete abomination. Does the Blossom Hill park just allow rubbish and dirt in the lodges to fester until they receive a new booking? That's vile, especially after having to eat from pots and pans that we had to clean ourselves with mere body wash/shampoo.
However, by the point a move had been agreed, the senior staff member of that customer relations department who mentioned the upgrade was no longer there. I was connected to someone called Nicky. I cannot even begin to express how outrageous I found her response to be.
She was very defensive to the point that I consider to be rude. It was repeated on the call by her that evening over and over again “We are doing everything we can to accommodate you” and a series of seemingly insincere apologies as a result of the irritation and attitude on her side. She also kept repeating that the call was being recorded. I did not ask for this information and see no reason why she felt the need to repeat this. It sounded like she was trying to imply that she had somehow covered her own back and would be able to prove it - as if to show that I was being unreasonable. She also kept saying that the way I was feeling was just my "opinion". This is really inconsiderate given that at that moment in time I was relying on that department to try and help me. It made me feel insulted. I definitely was not made to feel that she or the park staff member were doing everything they could to accommodate me.
I work in a call centre and I always strongly believe in respecting people in the same role because I recognise it can be tough, especially when you’re handling complaints.
I do not know if complaints are received a lot and if they are whether the repetition had caused this advisor to become emotionally jaded, but I feel like there’s a lot more she could have suggested to help me. I know it’s in employee instinct to protect the organisation you work for, but there was a serious lack of empathy for my situation and how I was feeling. I will admit I got annoyed and threatened to write negative reviews online. Instead of getting the intended reaction, which was for her to try and do more to help me, I was met with what sounded like a challenge where she told me to do it and said that she would comment on it – something that I absolutely did not appreciate!
Now, I’ve been on a number of review websites for Dream Lodge and can see many online comments being created by someone called Nicky. I don’t know if this is the same person I was speaking to on the phone, but I find it to be a complete and utter joke that in one of the comments I read it was stated “we pride ourselves in excellent customer service.” Is that so? If it is then I don’t see any reason why I should have been made to feel the way I did by the Dream Lodge customer service team. I was in tears when I put down the phone to that call and I couldn’t even open the door to the park staff member because I was a mess – my partner had to do it. The fact that I had spent all of my savings on this trip and I didn’t even begin to get the experience I was led to believe I would have was horrible.
In the end, I concluded that I couldn’t stay. The park staff and customer service advisor had left me feeling like such a pain to them for having to deal with me and my complaint that I felt sick staying there. It made me feel unwelcome. My partner ended up being irritated and disappointed with me for spending my money on this trip and I was only offered a £15.00 reimbursement for the night without the hot tub. The difference between this lodge and the lower grade lodge was more than £15.00, but because we had a washing machine and other amenities, this was all they could offer. We didn’t even use these. Despite the company working this out from a theoretical monetary point of view, from an experience point of view, what I got was absolutely not what I paid for and I was left regretting booking a holiday with Dream Lodge entirely. This is a real shame. There was no real empathy from The Dream Lodge Group whatsoever.
Now, I sent a formal complaint email to them on 17/10/2018, but still am yet to receive a response nearly 2 months later. - Not only this, but I can't find a copy of their T&Cs anywhere.
All I have left to say is that if you're thinking of booking a trip with Dream Lodge, DON'T! Find a different company that will truly deliver when they claim to care about customer experience.