By now, you might have seen the account of a Grand Park Orchard hotel staycation-goer who waited for over four hours for his check-in during his stay.
One guest wrote that some had to wait for more than seven hours, with hotel management nowhere to be seen.
Another guest at Grand Park Orchard told Mothership that she started queuing at 3pm (the check-in time) but the hotel General Manager only came five hours later to give the fuming guests three options:
- A 100 per cent refund
- A free upgrade for their next stay with an extended 4pm check-out
- Continue waiting and get a late 6pm check-out and a 50 per cent discount on dining at the hotel
She added that she only managed to check in at 9:30pm. Many guests chose the first option, but a number also went for the third option because they had already been queuing for so long, the reader said.
It seems like this isn't an isolated incident.
Many staycation-goers across Singapore are reporting similar issues with waiting times at different hotels, although none seemed as severe as the situation reported at Grand Park Orchard.
35-year-old Singaporean Mr Loh told Mothership that he too experienced a long check-in wait at Hilton Singapore.
Loh, who had a Hilton Gold Member booking for a staycation, reached the hotel at 12pm to try and secure an early check-in. He could not.
Even at 3pm, the official check in time, he still could not get a room.
Loh was left waiting all the way until 5pm as the apologetic counter staff assured him repeatedly that they were trying to find a room for him.
He also recounted how a fellow hotel guest in the queue kicked up a fuss and badgered the beleaguered staff: "Are you a five-star hotel?!"
To appease its waiting guests, Hilton offered them cakes and drinks at the hotel restaurant.
Over at The Milelion Telegram group, we saw reports of long waiting times at Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview, Grand Hyatt, and Pan Pacific as well.
On Trip Advisor, a business traveller also gave a one-star review about the "very long queue" at Pan Pacific Singapore (he wrote it while he was queueing, by the way), where there were only two staff manning the reception counter during a recent stay.
"I love Pan Pacific hotel but this experience is bad."
Similarly, Four Points by Sheraton, Riverview received feedback about long waiting times on Trip Advisor.
One man called his check-in experience "abysmal" because he and his wife, who was not well, had to endure a two-hour wait on December 5.
Another Four Points by Sheraton guest who posted a review on December 6 said that their check-in took three hours.
"I had to wait over 3 hours to check in. Luckily, after standing in line for an hour, one of the staff had the sense to invite guests to the Four Points Eatery for a drink while waiting their turn. If only I was given this option earlier. It was certainly not fun standing in the queue for an hour."
These are just two of the multiple Trip Advisor December 2020 reviews blasting Four Points by Sheraton, Riverview for their long check-in times.
Increase in short-term bookings, smaller staff strength
The long check-in waiting times reported across so many hotels is likely the result of a confluence of events.
Hotels would typically experience more staycation bookings during the weekends and December school term break. Staycation bookings are more often than not one to two nights long, meaning a higher turnaround for hotels.
Hotels now are also operating with smaller staff strength in part due to cost-cutting measures and job redesign (a response to the pandemic-induced downturn) and in part because many of their foreign employees aren't yet able to return to Singapore.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts, which manages Copthorne King's Hotel Singapore, M Social Singapore, Orchard Hotel Singapore, and Studio M Hotel Singapore among others, recently axed 159 jobs, mostly foreigners.
Raffles Hotel trimmed its workforce by 15 per cent — again, mostly foreigners — in June this year as well.
Separately, being certified SG Clean means that hotels have to implement more stringent and frequent cleaning (link opens a PDF file) of common areas and rooms, like disinfecting frequently-touched areas. The higher turnover also means more cleaning for staff who need to ensure that rooms are cleaned for the next guests.
Hotels also need to allocate manpower to conduct temperature checks and ensure SafeEntry check-ins.
Families doing staycations also have to fill in mandatory health declaration forms for each family member, which evidently takes up time during the check-in process.
Grand Park Orchard: Implemented staggered check-in times, queue management system
In response to queries from Mothership, Grand Park Orchard said that it is "deeply apologetic for the inconvenience caused" and it has implemented staggered check-in timings and a queue management system.
You can read its full statement here:
Pan Pacific: Looking to introduce queue management system and mobile check-in
Pan Pacific Singapore's General Manager, Kurt Wehinger said to Mothership that the hotel actually had four counters with eight reception associates assisting with check-in. However, because arrivals came in at the same time, the checking-in process took longer than expected.
Here is Pan Pacific Singapore's full statement:
“Pan Pacific Singapore regrets that our guests were inconvenienced during check-in. We had four counters with eight reception associates assisting with check-in but as the arrivals came in at the same time, it took much longer than expected and for that we sincerely apologize.
We have and will continue to offer staggered check-in for the weekends and look into introducing Q-matic system, an instant queue management system as well as a mobile check-in solution.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to do our utmost best to serve our guests to ensure an enjoyable staycation for all.”
Four Points by Sheraton: Staggered check-ins starting from 8am
Felix Yeo, the General Manager of Four Points by Sheraton, Riverview told Mothership that following the reports of extended waiting times, the hotel implemented staggered check-ins starting from 8am, as well as arrangements for guests willing to check in after 3pm.
Here is the hotel's full statement:
"We are aware of the recent reports in connection with the extended waiting times for guests checking in to Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview over the weekend.
Following this, we have taken the necessary measures and adjusted our operations accordingly. We have prepared staggered check-ins starting from 8am, and for guests willing to check in after 3pm, we will extend late check out accordingly. We have further set up more check in counters, totalling to seven, which has drastically reduced the wait time for this weekend.
The safety and well-being of our guests is of paramount importance to us and we continue to follow the guidelines of the authorities and the local health department on appropriate hygiene standards during this busy period.
We appreciate our guests’ patience and understanding as we work through this and apologize for the inconvenience this may cause."
Try using apps to check in, book weekday staycations
If you are booking a staycation in December, here are a couple of tips to make your check-in more of a pleasant experience and less of a nightmare.
The plus side of online and in-app check-ins is that they are contactless and you don't have to waste time unnecessarily queueing in a hotel lobby. You might still need to wait, but you'll be notified in-app when your room is ready.
You can also consider booking a staycation on weekdays instead of the weekend, when hotels typically have fewer bookings.
If staycations are not your thing, here are other activities you can do with your SingapoRediscovers vouchers
Top images courtesy of Mr Loh and Kife Wee/Facebook.
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