Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rydges Oasis Resort, Caloundra - part one

I haven't had a holiday with the kids since my marriage ended.
Money and time has been tight, and during holidays there have always been fabulous things like medical and dental visits, haircuts, and counselling to do. You know, all the usual school holiday fun and frivolity.
The kids are okay. Their Dad has taken them on holiday with his girlfriend and her family; but I've longed to have the opportunity to get away myself.
So recently, we were visiting the Sunshine Coast for a family thing, when I thought: "Bugger it! We're going to stay overnight."
And in that moment I decided to throw caution - and my budget - to the wind. Well a little!
I had a quick look at, before booking the only place that had a decent deal for one-night stays. (Has anyone else noticed that many of the deals for wotif and the like are now dependent on the number of nights booked? Just saying!)
And also: Next time, I'll check the hotel website first, because I ended up paying about $30 more than I would have paid if I'd gone to the hotel direct. Grrrr!
I love the Sunshine Coast, especially Caloundra, which was the destination for so many lovely holidays when I was a kid.
(Unfortunately most of those holidays also involved the six of us, plus dog, staying in a four-berth caravan and annex. Before there was air-conditioning. With one portable fan and no TV. My bed was the table, which Dad had to fold down every night, and then put back up in the morning. And to save on those scary middle of the night toilet visits, the girls got to wee in buckets overnight, which poor Dad had to empty out in the morning. Shudder! But fishing and swimming more than made up for the discomfort. And I did loads of lovely reading. Bless you Enid Blyton).
Anyway, I digress.
On this occasion, I booked a one bedroom 'suite' at the Rydges Oasis Resort. I put 'suite' in inverted commas, because the word always conjures up visions of indoor pools, heated spas, and private butlers to wait on me hand and foot. Rather than a slightly larger than usual hotel room, with, on this occasion, a kitchenette.  And no butler.
The suites have been given a makeover since my last visit, many moons ago, and it's comfortable and clean.
I thought I'd booked a room with a Queen bed and a single, but the single turned out to be a divan and a portacot.
We kept the portacot as a handy way to dry towels. And although Mr 9 started out sleeping on the couch, he crept into the queen bed with his sister and I in the wee hours. Queue Miss 7 sitting up in bed and crying hysterically: "Go away C. Get out C. Make C. get out!" (She had no memory of this the next day, so it may have been some kind of night terror. A stinky 9-year-old will do that to a girl ...)
When that was done, the pair of them managed to grab all the blankets and most of the bed space for themselves, leading to a cold, sleepless night perched on the edge of the bed for me.
Now, although the room was okay, there were quite a few niggles:
There was no light fixture on the outside light
The bin was broken
It was really noisy (there seemed to be a wedding party there, so that might not be the resort's fault, but you'd think if they book these parties in regularly, they could allocate part of the resort to non-partying guests). In particular the late hours - between about 10 pm and midnight - and the early hours - from around 6 am, were hideous, with groups of people shouting and talking outside our room. The bad manners extended to breakfast in the restaurant, with groups of people blocking the already tiny aisles and shouting and laughing so much that it was impossible to have a conversation with my children. No one did anything to pull them into line.
I tried to book the restaurant at reception, but was told I had to do this with them direct. And although I phoned them the minute we got into our room, at check-in time, they were booked out until 7.30 pm. A fact that I'm pretty sure our check-in dude should have been aware of.
This is a pet hate of mine. Most decent resorts, particularly those who market themselves at families, allocate a certain number of tables to in-house guests. It's just polite. I got the feeling that even if I'd try to book earlier, I wouldn't have been successful, because they didn't want to knock back a big group booking. Which might be okay in the short-term, but not for long-term, repeat business.
You see, 7.30 pm is bedtime for my kids, and to ask them to wait not just until then, but for the time it takes to dine in a restaurant (giving drink and food orders) when the kids are already tired? It's not going to happen. We ended up ordering in, but more on that later ...
I'm not completely mean. I would have let the kids stay up longer, since it was a special occasion, but they were both tired, hungry and cold.
Really cold.
Because even though the Sunshine State is warm in winter, the nights and mornings are cool. Our bedroom air-conditioner/heater wasn't working and we were freezing.
We phoned reception, who said there were quite a few rooms like that, and they would send someone over with an oil heater.
Someone did come over, but minus the oil heater. They had run out. They did bring three extra blankets, but come on ... I had cold kiddies, and they KNEW there was a problem ahead of time, but did nothing about it. That's a Tourism FAIL in my books.
We ran the reverse-cycle air-conditioner in the main room, but it didn't seem to help much, hence Mr 9 volunteering to take the (warm) couch before realising the bed was more comfy.
We would have been warmer at home.
Despite all this, we did enjoy our break away.
The huge plus for this resort is the spacious grounds, and the fact that all the activities are included. Including tennis (court, balls and racquets) and mini-golf (really just a few holes in the lawn, but the kids didn't care.)
And the lush grounds gives it a more luxurious feel, even though the service is really ordinary.
Stay tuned for the next instalment!
It may be winter and the pool was FREEZING, but we had to to ourselves
Missy braved the pool ...Oh my goodness it was cold.
The spa was warmer, but not hot ... and there were sharp things inside it on the floor, which made Miss 7's foot bleed. And brought on tears.
Thank Goodness I thought to bring some Cup-of-Soup while we waited for dinner...
The room was comfy enough, despite the portacot
The fruit trees were a nice touch. Miss 7 picks some lemons ....
Mini-golf. Really just putting, but still fun for kids.



Lauren said...

Can you take some friendly, constructive criticism? (And then delete this comment, please, so I don't sound like such a school marm.)

If you add an extra space after each paragraph, your posts will be easier to read.

Your writing style is very witty, but especially with your longer posts, the lack of white space makes my eyes tired.

(Oh, and I worked in graphic design and desktop publishing before I chose to stay home, so I may be biased in favour of the humble white space...)

Hope you can take this the right way...!


Bronnie Marquardt said...

Don't be silly, I love your feedback! I am completely untalented when it comes to anything much to do with computers or design. I need all the help I can get and very much appreciate you taking the time to comment. I can type/write but I don't know how to make it look pretty. I'll keep that in mind, I also think I use too many photos sometimes!

Bronnie Marquardt said...

PS Lauren, I won't delete your comment unless you particularly want me too I said I appreciate you taking the time to help!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sounds like quite an eventful holiday! Inconsiderate guests are very annoying aren't they, especially if you've gone away to relax! The sharp things on the bottom of the spa sound very dangerous! :o I hope she is ok :)

Motorbikes_Lady said...

I'm sorry you had a bad experience with wotif we used them to book the hoilday unit in Penrith we stayed in when we went to see nana for them 4 days.

Plus we also used them last year to book the motel at Ipswich we stayed at on my Birthday.

We can't rate wotif highly enough both times we have used them they have been great.

Bronnie Marquardt said...

Yes, we've had some hit and misses with wotif in recent times. Some places are great, but others are not so great. It's usually because the hotels/resorts describe themselves rather generously and charge accordingly - but when you arrive, things are not as they should be. On the worst occasion, a 'luxurious two-bedroom family apartment' was a tiny unit with no air-conditioning except in the main bedroom, and no dining table. (Bit hard when you have kids and Queensland in summer is HOT). The microwave did not work, the pool was frequently shut for maintenance and the mini-golf was regularly littered with used condoms. We complained to both the management - no joy - and wotif (repeatedly on wotif's part) and had no reply. Also I find if you book with wotif and have to cancel for some reason, you have to pay a cancellation fee - fair enough. But if you book direct with the hotel/resort they will often allow you to transfer the booking to another date without any penalty. I'll be more wary in future.
Despite all that, this resort is still a good spot for a holiday particularly if you can get a good deal. I'd just make sure to lay in more food and drink supplies next time.

Bronnie Marquardt said...

Oh and did I mention at that resort, they advertised a kitchen? But when you got there, it was a kitchenette and we were advised that if we used the stove or toaster, it might set off the fire alarms, and if that happened we would have to pay the call-out fee for the fire brigade (which I think was $200). We did use the toaster ... I mean we have kids right ... but had to leave the doors open and wave papers under the fire alarm so it didn't go off! I mean why advertise a kitchen if you can't use it! Argh ...

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