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Operational Incompetence at the Villa Santi Resort & Spa

Phespirit reports - April 2007

In a country whose people are among the poorest in all southeast Asia, it might seem insensitive or crass to complain about the service standards in a four star luxury resort and spa. That such elitist establishments even exist must surely rankle with the local populations in whose midst they appear, and for whom they are utterly inaccessible unless it is to perform menial tasks for spoiled foreigners. On his travels abroad, Phespirit never pursues luxury for its own sake. As long as he has a place to eat, sleep and wash without risk to his person or his possessions, then he is content. When he visited Laos, however, the choice of hotels was out of his hands. Accordingly, he found himself booked into the Villa Santi Resort & Spa in Luang Prabang - a resort with clear pretensions to the highest international standards of luxury. And so it is, therefore, that Phespirit now proceeds with his diatribe.

Built in splendid isolation about five kilometres outside Luang Prabang, the resort's location is not ideal. By contrast, in appearance - its overall layout and design - the resort is first class. The architect and grounds keepers are to be afforded great credit. Accommodation is arranged in tastefully discrete blocks, each containing eight spacious suites with balconies overlooking exquisitely landscaped gardens. When Phespirit arrived, a man was devoting his complete concentration to trimming a hedge with tiny clippers. Superficially everything was perfect. Operationally, however, Phespirit was to find that almost every aspect of service that required human thought or care was a shambles.

Management incompetence

Facilities incompetence

Kitchen incompetence

Reception incompetence

Most of the grumbles above would not be worth a mention on their own, but when brought together they paint a picture of organisational and operational incompetence that, if nothing else, provided sufficient motivation for Phespirit to write this diatribe. Something he's never done before. And he hasn't even started on the short mosquito net, and what could well have been flecks of dried blood on his shower curtain .....

Phespirit thoroughly enjoyed visiting Luang Prabang. He would love to return there some day, and he would strongly commend both the city of Luang Prabang and the whole country of Laos to anyone planning a tour around southeast Asia. Just be aware if considering a stay at the Villa Santi Resort & Spa. Luxury isn't everything.

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