My husband, David, and I, Angela, decided to visit Panama. We invited several family members and friends. Our group consisted of seven (7) adults in four (4) rooms at the Holiday Inn Panama Canal. We
could have stayed anywhere in Panama City or Albrook but chose Holiday Inn Panama Canal because we are IHG Members. Being an IHG members and having stayed at other IHG Properties we knew we would be treated well. Unfortunately, while some things were good, there were several things that need to be addressed. I will start with the good and then explain the things that need to be fixed so that Customers and/or IHG Members feel welcomed and have an awesome experience, not just a good experience.
Our plan was to take experiences from this trip and plan another trip to Panama next year (2019) with a larger group. We already know that our group next year will need between 8-12 rooms. The issue for us is whether we want to stay at the Holiday Inn Panama Canal again or go to another hotel in the area. Right now we are not sure because of the negative things we experienced with some of the staff at Holiday Inn Panama Canal. So below you will find what is good with this IHG Property and what needs to be fixed with
recommendations for fixing the issue.
1) The location of the hotel is very nice. It is located by the front gate of Ciudad del Saber and it faces the Panama Canal, so you could have a view of the canal/Miraflores locks from your room. My group chose the opposite view, which was towards the Swimming pool.
2) Front Desk Receptionist that were outstanding: Anayansay was friendly, helpful, and accommodating. Thania and Arturo were helpful and accommodating as well. They looked professional and spoke English well enough to answer our questions to our satisfaction. Anayansay and Thania also acted as “concierge” for our excursions. However, they could not give us directions to most places we were going.
3) They have a restaurant on site and there is a restaurant right across the street.
4) Our Suite (611) was clean and the layout was nice. It has two closets. My husband used one for his clothes and shoes and I used the other one. The furniture looked dated but it was comfortable. I really liked that it was right by the elevator. Normally, I do not like being so close to the elevator but because of the room layout, we were not bothered by noise from the elevator.
5) The fact that they offer complimentary WI-FI is a pro. The performance of the Wi-FI is a con.
CONS: These things need to be improved or changed:
1) On Sunday, 26 August 2018, Manager Diana and Front Desk Receptionist Luz were both unprofessional. Four members of our group had purchased the breakfast for $12 per day/per room. The $12 included everyone in the room, whether it was one or two persons. When I tried to get that deal I was told by Luz very rudely that it is $12 per person/per day. I explained to her that first of all it should be free for IHG Members. We have never had to pay for breakfast at an IHG Property as IHG Members and we have been to several IHG Properties over the years. We went back and forth and Luz got louder and she looked toward Thania and she said “It is $12 per person/ not $12 per room. Diana overheard Luz being rude and she walked up and introduced herself as the Manager. I told her that I have medication that requires me to have food in my stomach when I take it or I will get sick. Furthermore, I do not normally eat breakfast, I just have a little bread to eat so that I can take my medicine. She reiterated that the breakfast would be $12 per person/per day for the remainder of my stay if she allows me to purchase it because the offer expired yesterday (Saturday 25 Aug 2018). Again, I asked about being an IHG Member and getting complimentary breakfast. She told me no and that I could go into the restaurant and purchase just bread. Luz was very rude and she owes me an apology. Additionally, she needs to go to Customer Service Training because at no time should she have raised her voice behind the Front desk toward a Customer or another Employee. Diana needs to go to Management training because she did not de-escalate the problem between Luz and myself. I decided to just walk away because I was getting nothing from these two, not even respect as a paying Customer and IHG Member.
Recommendation: Holiday Inn Panama Canal should include complimentary breakfast for IHG Members. I paid a lot for my room but I could not get a piece of bread for free? This is unacceptable and needs to be fixed. Another recommendation is that the Breakfast Buffet is offered as $12 per day/per room for NON-IHG members only. Most people will not eat $12 worth of food for breakfast.
2) The restaurant is only opened for breakfast and lunch. You have to go somewhere else for dinner. Additionally, the little coffee shop directly in front of the Check-in desk was closed most of the time. It was even closed a couple mornings. I thought this was weird because people love coffee in the mornings but the Coffee shop is closed. Recommendation: Coffee shop should be open all day from 6am-6pm. If there are no customers, then have the Cashier/person making coffee go work in the restaurant or possibly have front desk clerks work at the Coffee shop as well.
3) Even when the coffee shop was open the guy who makes the coffee spoke no English, not even a little bit. However, we were able to communicate what we wanted successfully. The problem was that he would take ALL the Spanish speaking customers first. It did not matter if English speaking customers were in line ahead of the other customers.
I do not think it was intentional but it is simple discrimination and is unacceptable.
Recommendation: Be fair. Help customers in line, in order whether they speak Spanish or not. DO NOT skip over a customer because you do not understand what they are saying. Call someone over from the Front desk to translate for you.
4) A couple of members of my group paid for a room with a view of the swimming pool (poolside). First there are NO poolside rooms. Second, the view of the pool was horrible. You had to physically look out your window and get on the tips of your toes to catch a glimpse of the pool. The room numbers were 211 and 217.
Recommendation: Stop advertising rooms as “Poolside or “View of Pool” if the view is not clear from the window.
5) The internet (Wi-Fi) was terrible. The internet code they give you was only good for two (2) devices and sometimes would not work. One day during our stay the internet was down most of the day. I was there 6 days and had to go to the front desk for an internet code 4 times. Recommendation: Get better Wi-Fi for the hotel. Also, one code should last for the entire stay of the customer. Customers should not have to keep going to the front desk for a Wi-Fi password.
6) Housekeeping could be better. Once day, my room was not cleaned until after 5:00pm. This also happened to another member of my group. There seemed to be a shortage of face towels/washcloths. Upon check-in, two of the four rooms of my group did not have face towels. One day, after my room was cleaned, I no longer had face towels. Recommendation: Have a sufficient supply of towels and washcloths for customers.
7) There is no Concierge at this hotel. We had several excursions while in Panama that included Balboa Rainforest Resort Aerial Tram, Chagres River Boat tour, Mi Pueblito visit, visit to Miraflores locks, Amador Causeway, Panama Viejo and Chiva Parrandera Party Bus. My husband was trying to get these tours set up and paid for by our group. Anayansay, Thania, and Arturo was very helpful in getting some of these tours done. Recommendation: Hire someone to work Concierge. Set up a Concierge desk or area where there are brochures of the different tours offered in Panama City.
8) We requested late check out because our flight was not until 7pm. We only wanted 1 extra hour. So that checkoput would be 1:00pm instead of 12 noon. We were given late checkout but the Front Desk Workers would not approve any other members of our group for late checkout. If we are all one group and we are riding to the airport together we should have all been able to get late checkout at 1:00pm. This just did not make sense. We are talking about a total of 4 rooms for late checkout. The rest of the group hung out in the lobby with their luggage until 1pm.
9) Finally, we did not get the Hotel Stay Survey that normally comes within a couple days of checking out. It has been a week now and all the other members of our group received the survey except us. Maybe it is coincidental that I have not received it but I think I may not have received it because I did tell Diana and Luz that I would be including our exchange about their “breakfast policy” in my survey.
It is my hope that you take these recommendations seriously because there are other Customers that would not take the time to make you aware of the things you do good and the things that they did not like. They just will not return. My hope is that we can return to Holiday Inn Panama Canal with a larger group and all the things that were not good are fixed by next year. [Less]