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Insel Fehmarn Hotel in Samoa relays a story of a Samoan family by way of Fehmarn Island off of mainland Germany.
The hotel offers 54 spacious air conditions rooms with international amenities.
Well known for its 'home away from home' atmosphere, the hotel conveniently feature full kitchenettes in all room categories: - ' Garden View', 'Superior', 'Executive', 'Premier', and finally the 'Admiral' suite for the extravagant and pampered.
For the business traveler and holidaymaker, this hotel is perfect and provides for usual guest needs.
Enjoying private balconies and ensuites, our spacious self-contained rooms are serviced daily with tea amenities.
All rooms contain air conditions, ceiling fans, hot/cold water, IDD telephones, televisions with a free in-house movie channel, and room service to complete a comfortable package for all travelers.
The inter-connective doors expand room facilities to accommodate families and groups.
It is said that you can judge a man by the cut of his cloth; by the same token you can tell a lot about a hotel from the state of the bathroom.A nice clean, well appointed bathroom says a lot about a hotel.
It may not be the first thing you notice about a hotel, but if something is wrong with the bathroom then every fault becomes blindingly obvious.
We had booked to stay at the Insel Fehmarn Hotel in Apia, on our recent holiday to Samoa. On our arrival we found a shower without a shower curtain, and a non-slip bath mat that was so stained it should have been bleached or better still, thrown out months ago and replaced with one that was clean and unstained.
There was an odd coloured spot on the bathroom wall - I wasn't sure if this was blood, faecal matter or something else. I really didn't want to examine it too closely. The sink, which had a lip at the front of the basin was black and mouldy underneath and had probably never been cleaned since the day it was installed (and that was ignoring the crack at the bottom of the sink).
The shower although mostly clean had visible spots of mould in the silicone seal that was there to seal the gap between the glass shower panel and the glazed tile surface We noticed that despite housekeeping 'cleaning' the room every day, the shower or toilet wasn't necessarily cleaned every day. Even something as simple as toilet paper was lacking. One had to ask more than once for a roll to be delivered to the room.
The kitchens were basic. Being part of a large party of visitors we had the opportunity to visit a number of rooms. One would have thought that if they had a basic kitchen then perhaps they might supply a plug for the sink, some dishwashing liquid, a sponge and a tea towel rather than having to rely on the chamber maid's daily clean.
These items had to be requested from housekeeping, and to be fair, when the request came through, the items did arrive (except a plug for the sink) so we were able to clean mould from a plate that hadn't been washed properly by the cleaners. But these are simple things one would expect as standard if the hotel is supplying kitchen facilities for the guests. Although some rooms had a microwave, this did not seem to be standard throughout the hotel.
The room itself looked tidy and well appointed. The curtains and bedspread matched along with other fabric furnishings and looked tidy. A quick look behind one of the beds closest to a wall revealed that the whole room had not been completely swept in a while with dust hair and dead flies present, just the main floor area just the main floor area was swept daily.
My daughter pointed out a dead cockroach in the bedroom which for the sake of interest I left where it was found. It was two days before the cleaner found it and removed it. The air-conditioner unit worked well in our room, but for two of our party, the air-conditioner wasn't working and they had to be relocated to different rooms.
The communal areas such as the stairs and walkways between the rooms were extremely slippery when wet. One cannot help the rain, but since most people are wearing jandals on holiday, some improvement to the walkways to make them less slippery would make the hotel more pleasant to walk around whilst on a wet day.
There was a convenience store in the hotel but it appeared that it was opened at the hotel's convenience and not for the guests. I'm not sure I ever saw it open .
As for the pool, it was plainly obvious from the number of insects and the murky look of it, that it had perhaps not been cleaned for a while.
The staff were variable. Some were extremely helpful, especially the kitchen and waiting staff who were the most pleasant, friendly and most helpful people we dealt with. Some of the reception staff were very helpful too (I must make mention of Christine, the man on reception (I apologise I forgot his name) and Herman the doorman being particularly helpful and pleasant).
The others seemed to be just plain disorganised and unhelpful. Even on checking out they could not get the bills right. Initially we were told we had a late check-out as part of our stay but, on checking out we found SAT$100 added to each room as a late check-out fee. There were other items added to the bill as well - SAT$30 for wireless internet access - none of us had a computer with us, let alone anything that could use wireless connections. There were phone bills and a restaurant bill from the previous tenant of that room added to our bill. Admittedly these charges were waived, but this was after some discussion and with one of the staff at reception.
The final nail in the coffin for Insel Fehmarn was theft of a necklace belonging to one of our party. It was left accidentally on the desk in one of the rooms, tangled with a bracelet. The thief had kindly untangled the more valuable necklace from the bracelet and walked away with it. The hotel tried to blame it on one of the party - the one who bought it as a present in the first place.
Would I stay there again? Maybe. But more out of morbid curiosity to see if they have lifted their standards. It wouldn't take much effort to turn this hotel into something worth staying at. A cleaning checklist for starters - this would ensure that all rooms are cleaned to the same standard. Perhaps the senior housekeeper to do spot checks on the empty rooms prior to occupation. Lessons on courteousness for some of the staff would be very welcome. One expects the surly waiter in France, but not surly hotel staff in Apia.
All in all, Insel was certainly an 'experience' that was 'more than just a curious name' and one we will have to think long and hard about whether to repeat - in the near future anyway. My wife sums it up well - "next time we stay at Aggies"
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"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self respect springs."
Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'