Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Al Majlis @ Mina Al Salam: "Dude! Where's my iftar?"

"Booking under the name of ..." said my friend to the receptionist at the glamorous Al Majlis Ramadan Tent at Mina Al Salam Hotel in Dubai. "Certainly Sir, party of 7, right? Someone will escort you to your table" responded the nice lady who somehow managed to juggle similar responses to the hungry mob arriving a few minutes before Iftar.

The last time my high-school friends and I got together was exactly 1 year ago at this same tent and this is why we thought it would be nice to make it an annual ritual so that we always stay in touch and know what's going on in each other's lives.

Al Majlis at Mina Al Salam
To my friend's and my surprise, the table we were directed to had 5 seats only; so naturally, we pointed out to our guide that this table is certainly not ours! We explained why and she told us that she will double check with the reception and get back to us. After waiting for 10 minutes, I decided to follow her to try to speed things up especially because the Maghreb prayer was about to be called for and most of our group had already arrived.

Call me pessimistic, but somehow as expected, the lady who supposedly was checking for us what the problem is was no where to be sighted. I decided to play it cool and ignore the beast that was roaring in my stomach and play a little sketch on the receptionist.

"How may I assist you, sir?" asked the nice lady. "The booking under the name of ..., for how many people was it made?" I innocently inquired. "Says here it was made for 7 people, is everything alright?" asked the receptionist. So I explained to her calmly what the situation was and I think she was more surprised than I was as she instantly called up the manager responsible for our section, told him off, and asked him to rectify the situation immediately as it seems they were supposed to join 2 tables together. I thanked her and walked back to our table assuming things were taken care of; and boy was I wrong!

I find the section manager just standing there next to our table looking at it cluelessly so I ask him if he is going to bring us the other table the receptionist told me about. He looks at me, still with his puzzled look, and tells me "we're fully booked!". I nearly crack up at the response as I was in disbelief of what I just heard so I explained to him that our booking is for 7 people whereas our table was only setup for 5! He takes a look around for a moment and then tells me "well all the other tables were given away". Obviously at this moment, I give him my serious look (the one that particularly says "beware my wrath")  and I ask him "and how is this our problem exactly?". He obviously seemed not to like my response but probably, as trained, he tells me that he needs to go back to the receptionist to double-check how many are indeed booked for our table. I absolutely loathed the implication he made that I somehow was lying about the actual number of people we booked for so in a more frustrated voice now, I agree for him to go and check!

The Maghreb prayer is called for by this time and we are still at our dilemma: 7 people, 5 seats! And as I see the masses attacking the buffet, I head back to the receptionist and find the section manager and asked him if he had double-checked what he needed to confirm. He tells me yes he did, that our reservation is for 7 but unfortunately, they are fully booked. This is when I start getting more angry and again ask him how is that any of our problem especially since we have booked well in advance and have received a confirmation on the booking. With the lack of even a courtesy apology from him for the evident dissatisfaction we were at, we argue about the issue more and more until a lady manager (who seemed to be more senior than the gentlemen I was dealing with) gets involved.

"What's wrong?" she asks and in an angry and completely dissatisfied tone I explain to her everything that happened. Surprisingly, she asks me to not shout when I know that I was not! Before I knew it, I found myself getting engaged with her in a conversation on how there is a difference between an angry voice and shouting and that if I was shouting, I would of been making a scene already. Funny that you'd expect hospitality staff to know this as part of their training but what was more funny to me is that she starts telling me that she is like me and that she can shout louder than me! When she realized the awkwardness of her actions and words, she finally slipped in a statement saying "everything will be sorted, that's why I am here". "Yah, that's why you are here and it's been 15 minutes passed iftar already and we still have no solution", I thought to myself.

Anyways, thankfully and after a short 25-30 minutes of going through this tragedy; our beloved hero gets his table for 7 and all his friends gathered and dined happily. The End.

I WISH! At around 9.00pm, and even though it was very clear that we still have not finished our teas and coffees; the section manager comes over to our table and asks us to vacate it as Suhoor is about to commence and our table is booked for another group! After 3 hasty reminders, one being shortly after the other, we gulped down whatever that was remaining from our drinks, paid the bill, and left the tent.

Usually, I favor Jumeirah Group outlets to any other hospitality brand names and was even planning on hosting a few other group iftars at Al Majlis in Mina Al Salam; however, that's not going to happen now especially with what had happened! You know, what's funny is that if this would of happened at TGIF's, the manager of the restaurant would of passed by our table, repeatedly apologized for all the mix up and perhaps even offered complimentary meals. I guess its too much to expect from a 5-star award winning hospitality brand name; silly me!

And the search for that perfect Ramadan experience yet continues....


  1. Very unfortunate that they operate with the " if you dont like it beat it "mentality... wish your post gets picked up by a senior exec in Jumairah Group, maybe then the stick will shake!!

  2. Well I tweeted about it as well and tagged the Jumeirah twitter account; lets see what happens as I aim only to improve customer service!

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  4. once, i went with friends to one of Mina Al Salam Ramadan terraces (as I remember, it was in 2005 or 2006 so Ramadan used to be in winter so the seating was outside on the beach, opposite Burj Al Arab). We booked a table for around 6 persons. When we arrived, we were nicely walked to our table. After a while, a friend of us apologized and she couldn't make it. An east european manager came to us and asked why one of the seats was vacant and we told her that this person had apologized. She rudely said: "you have to pay for this seat", and then I tried to explain for her one more time that this person didn't come, but she insisted that we were forced to pay for that vacant seat. Then I said: "whose rule is this?". she loudly replied: "Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid's rule!!!!". We ignored her and of course didn't pay for the vacant seat but since that moment I always try to avoid going to places run by Jumeirah International!!!

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