What makes a hotel exceptional? Amenities, location, standards of service, yes. For budget, even mid-range hotels I don’t really expect much just clean facilities as well as courteous service. So I was pleasantly surprised (scratch that! I am so grateful and impressed) when I experienced a hotel service way beyond what was expected from a budget hotel. Every time, I look back on this experience I want to bawl my eyes out.
Last year, I blogged about getting robbed and losing my passport and valuables in Ho Chi Minh.I booked Hotel Bloom Saigon for the short trip with Sreisaat. I love its location, right smack in a street few hundred yards away from Benh Than Market. It was also an easy walk to every place we wanted to go to. Rate was also acceptable, about $32 for a deluxe room. Rooms were clean, pretty average when it comes to decor. Buffet breakfast was good, two thumbs up for the coffee. All in all, it was a great place for a short shopping trip.
Our two day trip turned into a nightmarish experience and I ended up waiting more than 10 days to get my exit visa, and flying back to the Philippines to get new passport which took nearly 2 months! I didn’t have any money with me except what my friend can lend me and what my family could wire thru western union.
What stands out in my mind though, was the kindness and consideration the Hotel Bloom Saigon gave us. The moment I was robbed (happened near the hotel) and got back, their staff gave me a drink and immediately contacted the police. Once I was calm enough, they gave us the address of the nearest police station to make a report. And going beyond what they needed to do, they sent a staff (Jenny) to follow us to help with translation. She stayed with us until past midnight and I am extremely grateful for that. They also managed to get the police report at a ungodly hour of 2 am.
Their help didn’t stop there, they also helped me with photocopies and printing out docs at no cost. And when our hotel stay was over and they were already fully booked, the manager, knowing how much we were budgeting our leftover money, sent a staff to different hotels near the area to negotiate a discounted rate for us. Upon learning that the 2nd hotel did not offer free breakfast, he handed over his business card to us and told us to come to the hotel the next day and we could get free breakfast.
My friend and I were a bit reticent to get our breakfast there knowing we were not paying guests, but swallowing our pride, we went the next day. When we got to the restaurant, to our surprise, the restaurant manager was smiling and simply said he was expecting us. Can you imagine how that made us feel? When you have almost nothing, I was definitely feeling like a beggar and you get treated with that level of kindness…it makes me believe that there is really a lot of good in the world no matter how down in the dumps you are.
And their help did not just happen to me. While I was processing my travel document at the consulate, I met a lady there in a similar predicament. For some reason, I found myself handing her the hotel calling card. And that night she was supposed to fly out to Manila but they denied her boarding for the lack of exit visa. It was past midnight and she had nowhere to go. She ended up going to Bloom though the hotel that time was fully booked, upon hearing what happened to her and her mentioning me, the hotel staff, arranged for a hotel for her at a discounted price and arranged transpo for her. The moment I dropped by the next day they called my new friend and arranged for me to join her at the other hotel.
I ended up booking the remainder of my Saigon stay in their hotel while waiting for my exit visa to be released. And why not? I felt safe and cared for there. They never made us feel like an annoyance. There was even a time, I’ve been so depressed when there was a ‘problem’ with the exit visa and seeing that, the front desk manager just quietly gave me a voucher for free massage at their spa and told me, please relax, we hope it will be okay soon.
So yes, I had a nightmarish travel experience in Ho Chi Minh, but I also met some really amazing Vietnamese people. My husband’s colleagues who went out of their way to help me with my exit visa, the Bloom Hotel staff, even the receptionist of the hotel next door who spent over 4 hours talking to us, sharing the best places to eat authentic Vietnamese food. I wil never forget them and hope that one day, they would be the receiving end of their good deeds. I might have been traumatized by the robbery but what left a lasting impression was the kindness these people have given us.
If you’re on the lookout for a hotel in Ho Chi Minh, affordable and somewhere in District 1, walking distance to markets, I even walked daily to Notre Dame Cathedral and Post Office, check them out.
Bloom Saigon Hotel
27-29 Truong Dinh St.,
Ben Thanh Ward, Dist 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Tel: 08.38 2222 55 – Fax: 08.38 222 555