In December 2017 we paid a much-anticipated visit to Weligama Bay Marriott Resort and Spa in sunny Sri Lanka. The newly built five-star resort opened its doors for the first time just three months before our visit, so we were expecting an excellent experience. We arrived with high hopes for a luxurious break and were pleased to see such a beautiful property with lovely grounds.
During our check in the staff were pleasant, but we were surprised by the lack of welcome drinks and hot/cold towels provided after a long drive from Colombo. We were NEVER offered to be shown around the hotel facilities and were asked to locate and find our room by ourselves. Now that’s very unusual for a Marriott resort to hand over the keys and ask you to find your rooms yourself! Having stayed in their smaller resorts the check in service is far more superior. Our room was nice and spacious but was obviously missing a few basic essentials that you would expect at a five-star property. There were not enough towels, no shower caps and no pen or paper provided. We were pleased with the nice sea views from the room, we were located on the third floor and I suspect the views get better and better the higher up the floors you go.
After settling in to our room we decided to head to the spa for a relaxing massage after our journey, only to be told they were fully booked already. Determined not to let it darken our day, we went to the pool to relax and unwind. We arrived at the pool only to be disappointed yet again, this time by no sign of any staff to help with sunbeds and towels, and no free chairs anywhere to be seen. It seems the hotel’s occupancy is only at about 50%, so I would hate to imagine the chaos it would be if it were fully booked. For a newly opened resort, everything feels extremely inadequate and disappointing.
We continued to try and put the hotel’s shortfalls behind us. We had lunch in the Weligama kitchen which was absolutely delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetable green curry and noodles with a coconut and pineapple smoothie. If you are looking for somewhere for amazing food in southern Sri Lanka, I would definitely recommend paying the Weligama Kitchen a visit.
The resort is just a stone’s throw away from its own private beach, which is popular for both swimming and surfing. A lot of local residents have set up stalls outside selling local items and souvenirs.
For dinner we went to the hotel’s evening buffet, where the lack of service was glaringly obvious from the minute we walked in. We were seated and then left to our own devices to find and identify what the different foods were. As a vegetarian this was a real struggle and resulting in me having to find staff members to ask. They made it clear that they were getting annoyed with the continuous questions. However, Sandeep was amazing and the quality of the food could not be faulted. No foods were marked veg or non-veg. Having then visited hotels in Colombo the story was very different… Every dish was labelled with the name of the dish and a green dot for veg and red dot for non veg.
After dinner we decided to head to Tides for tea. We seated ourselves and waited to be served, after five minutes of waiting we went to find a server to ask for a menu. We then continued to have to get up to order our own drinks and finally to pay our bill, as no one ever came to the table to serve us. Perhaps this is normal for Tides, but it is not the norm in many other hotels and so not what we would expect from a five-star hotel. We visited Tides again for our second night, and this time found eight members of staff standing around and chatting and on their mobile phones, not one of them seemed happy to serve us and so we ended up walking out.
The obvious service issues continued over our next few days. Every evening at dinner staff members come around and ask for your room number, which gets very annoying and disturbs what should be a nice meal. There is clearly an issue with the number of sunbeds available, as we often found other guests sleeping on the floor on white towels. Around the poolside there are no staff members to serve drinks or take orders from the sun beds, this would be a welcome addition and is expected in a luxury resort. Staff are always on their mobile phones, giving the impression they don’t want to be there or help you in anyway, surely this should be prohibited during working hours? The poor room service resulted in us phoning reception on a daily basis to ask for towels and shower caps, I am sure they would see us ringing and be thinking ‘not them again!’. I have never before felt like such an inconvenience to hotel staff members, which is not the kind of feeling you expect when visiting a high-end resort.
In Sri-Lanka there is a law to not serve alcohol on 25th December, we understand and respect that, and so on Boxing Day we were very much looking forward to a nice glass of red. We had lovely Italian food on the 26th December, the food was once again amazing, but no sight of a glass of wine and the lack of service left us with no one obviously available to ask.
The spa is beautiful and serene. We were treated well by the spa staff and the treatments were thoroughly explained to us. We were offered a towel and some ginger tea which was lovely, before being brought to a large and calming therapy room with just the right level of lighting. I opted for a Thai Massage which was very good, the therapist used the perfect amount of pressure and was attentive in checking that the pressure was enjoyable throughout the treatment. I booked again for the next day and had a leg reflexology and head, back and shoulder massage. The treatment was consistent and again very good, I would highly recommend a visit to this spa.
When time came to check out, we were sat down and presented with our bill. It wasn’t too much of a surprise that there were mistakes, which when pointed out were swiftly correctly and a new bill was provided along with an apology. I opted to pay by credit card, and whilst this was being processed our server continued to answer the phone and have a conversation in a foreign language whilst we waited. My card was handed back, and we left without so much as a thank you for staying with us, let alone to be asked how our stay was. Our transit car arrived, and we identified our own luggage and loaded the car whilst the porters watched on. Although our trip was riddled with errors and customer service issues, there were a few members of staff who did stand out and make a difference to our stay. We would like to thank our waiters Udana and Kavinda, and the chef Raja Hedge.
Overall, our stay at Weligama Bay Marriott Resort and Spa was definitely an experience, just not the one we were hoping for. It is safe to say we will not be returning here again in a hurry.