My Worst Starwood Stay. Ever.

The one disappointing part of my recent trip to Israel, was my stay at the Le Meridien David, Dead Sea. It was, in fact, the worst stay in the nine years I’ve been a member.

A little context — I enjoy good service and hotel surroundings and I seek out top hotel status because it helps increase the likelihood I will experience these things during my stay. That said, I understand I live in the real world and don’t penalize hotels for average service and accommodations. I also have different expectations for a Comfort Inn vs an Aman property.

That’s why I was so excited to see there was a Le Meridien at the Dead Sea, which was sure to be better than the nearby Crowne Plaza. Unfortunately the Le Meridien, which is a category 1 going for 2,000 points a night, did not have rooms available on points, and I wound up having to book a room category up. The sea-view deluxe rooms were pricing at $470+, but I was able to cash in 1,000 points to get 50% off the rack rate, bringing it down to $240, which was still a little pricey for me.

Slightly cheaper rates came up in the days following, but since I couldn’t guarantee my room choice of two beds, I decided not to risk it.

When I checked in around 3:30 PM, I was told the hotel was sold out and no upgrades were available. Bummer, but I understood. What I didn’t understand was how, though I made my reservation almost a month in advance (not the night before), they not only couldn’t put me on a Starwood Preferred Guest floor, but they couldn’t even give me the room type I had booked.

As much as I might like any friends I travel with, I prefer my own bed (unless having a King means a great upgrade) and having to share was something I’d paid more to avoid! I know the hotel was sold out, but had that many Platinums checked in before me?

That was just one disappointment. The condition of the room was poor. The room I was given was not only in need of renovation, but appeared to be missing furniture. There was this huge space between the bed and the window where a couch or some seating clearly belonged.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea King Sea View Room

At least the view was good!

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Sea View

The bathroom door and frame were warped from moisture and peeling flakes of paint. One corner of the shower had mud left from the previous occupant and there were several long black hairs in the bathtub.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea King Deluxe Bathroom
Le Meridien David Dead Sea Shower

The internet, something I count on to work remotely while on the road, did not work at any point, though we both spent several hours trying. When we were lucky enough to get the slow connection to finally load a log in page we were told our access code was invalid, despite having it verified/refreshed by the front desk 3 separate times throughout our stay.

When we finally gave up on the first attempts to get internet, we headed to the club lounge to get a bottle of water before dinner. Except the door was closed, despite there being 10 minutes til the 6PM closing time. When a staff member came out, they refused to let us in, despite the fact other guests were still in the lounge.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Club Lounge

We did manage to get into the lounge the next day, and it wound up being one of the few things about the hotel I really liked. It looked out towards the sea and had plenty of seating. While we were there around noon, they had a tasty selection of pastries and complimentary drinks, including beer and wine.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Club Lounge Pastries

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Club Lounge Cake

One of the smallest issues, but one of the things that affected me the most, was the welcome amenity. At check-in no mention was made of my status until I asked to make sure my number was on my reservation. At that point I was offered the Platinum amenity of points, breakfast, or a local welcome basket. After hearing a detailed description of the AHAVA Dead Sea products in the basket, I chose that!

When it hadn’t arrived 3 hours later, I went down to the front desk to ask. I was assured it would be sent up later that evening after 7PM. When it hadn’t arrived by morning I asked again and was told that they didn’t have any made up and weren’t sure if they would, but I should check back before leaving. I was clearly disappointed and they offered free breakfast in addition to the basket.

Wasn’t very hungry so it was a little bit wasted on me, but it was a fun opportunity to try authentic Israeli breakfast items.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Breakfast Buffet Options
Le Meridien David Dead Sea Breakfast

Since they had told me there was a chance the baskets would be in stock later, I inquired at check-out. The attendant made a phone call and asked me to wait. While I was waiting, she discussed the situation (in Hebrew but motioning towards me) with the person who I had talked to earlier in the morning. After about 10 minutes, she called down again. Then told me not to leave and disappeared. A few minutes later she was back, holding a large bottle of water.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Platinum Welcome Amenity

She declared, while the other person looked on, that the bottle of water was the only welcome gift they offered Platinums. I would have been disappointed, but completely understood if she said they didn’t have any baskets and they were sorry. But to lie to my face, and in front of someone who had told me a different story, was the final straw.

Actually, the final straw was then getting stuck for 30 minutes trying to leave the hotel because several tour buses were stuck in the entryway. The parking attendants had allowed guests to park illegally and the massive vehicles couldn’t navigate past them.

Le Meridien David Dead Sea Blocked Entrance

I understand problems can come up and don’t expect things to be 100% right, but at no point during my stay did I feel like a valued guest. In fact, most of time I kept thinking about how I’d wasted my money and it would have been better to stay at the Crowne Plaza. Not to mention apologizing to my friend for the experience!

Had this happened at a lesser star hotel or had it not been a $500 room, it wouldn’t have seemed as bad. This stay shook my faith in Starwood brand standards. A a Le Meridien is supposed to be nice, right? I’m also questioning the value of my platinum membership. I’ve reached out to Starwood last week with my feedback and a request to help fix such a terrible stay, so will post an update when they respond.

Oh, and neither my stay, nor any points for spend, have posted two weeks later.

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discuss this post

  • Thanks for writing about it. I had always considered it on future stays – just because it was such a good points deal! Now, I know why it is so few points, thanks for trying it out for me! :)

  • Sorry to hear about your stay. My wife is from Israel and while most of their service industries are horrible compared to the US, this hotel is by far the worst. That being said, we do stay there regularly on points since we just need a bed to sleep in and don’t need/want any of the hotel’s amenities. I would have thought you’d have done some Flyertalk/ TripAdvisor research in advance. You’ll find your experience is quite common.

    • Keri Anderson

      Once I got back I saw all the reviews. My friend, also a platinum, had stayed there several times before and had a fine experience, so I didn’t research.

  • Wow, that brought back some bad memories of my stay at St Regis Beijing. Missing furniture as well, aside from other service related things. Sorry you had to go through that, I hope they do something about it!

  • We stayed there a couple of years ago. Their secret is that because Starwood puts them in the lowest tier, they rarely allow points reservations because they don’t get enough money for it. But Starwood has a last available room guarantee, so you need to work your way through customer service and have them force the reservation — that’s what we had to do, and did successfully when we went.
    I was worried about all of the bad reviews and went with low expectations that were exceeded. The dinner buffet is extensive and pretty good. The location is great and we really liked the pool area. For 2,000 points/night, no complaints at all. If I were paying $450, would have expected more. And I agree about the parking lot – an absolute zoo.

  • jimltravels

    I’ve stayed at this hotel a few times. You have to know when you go there that this is an anomaly in the starwood chain. Every experience at this hotel is unique. They have been on the verge of leaving spg a few times and eventually will. A friend was at this hotel on Dec 31 when they were supposed to not be an spg the next day. Ther managed to remain a spg. This is one of the hotels where YMMV is the mantra and you just have to go with the flow. At 2000 points a night, it is a deal! A category 1 that goes for 400-500 a night. Fattel, who owns this hotel and some of the other spgs in Israel will pull out of SPG asw they have with some of their other Israel properties. Despite the anomalies, enjoy the location, the great beach, and if you can get it for points, how cheap it can be. Their poor computer system actually worked to my advantage last time. :)
    I like this hotel, but don’t expect what you normally get at a Le Meridian

  • Andrew

    This reinforces my biggest gripe with SPG – the chain is very inconsistent and lack of “corporate force”, i.e. a lot of “leeway” in how individual properties work-around SPG program – I had my fair share of disappointments with them. I’m glad I’m getting SPG Gold from AMEX, so it doesn’t cost much effort. Hyatt, especially outside of US, feels much more consistently good (may be it’s my luck so far), so I make sure to re-qualify Diamond.

  • put the name of the hotel in google and add tripadvisor…if it has 3 out of 5 on tripadvisor avoid it…this is basic stuff.

 
 

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