StayCity Booking Service
by Ken Mossman
StayCity Booking Service
Against all my advice, my Chinese associate – who imposed themselves on my holiday to the Philippines and insisted on doing the bookings – used Booking.com, which dumped her on StayCity Booking Service for the accommodation in Cebu.
More Bookings.com later.
StayCity showed idyllic photos of a hotel reputedly in a developed area in Lapu-Lapu City – akin to Boracay. Urging her to pay immediately, the silly thing did a money transfer. Upon receiving the full payment minutes later, the agent then stated that is actually an apartment in the middle of nowhere; the nearest restaurant was 5km away. But it was a luxury apartment and a beautiful place – popular with Korean “couples”.
My associate immediately asked to cancel and re-book to something more suitable, but the agent insisted the cancellation fee was 100% despite only minutes having gone by.
Of course my associate was an idiot, but StayCity was extremely unethical, even fraudulent, and entirely dishonest.
Long story short, we arrived – after a hour taxi ride at the property – we were promised a pickup at the airport by StayCity that did not happen - and were shocked to see/hear/feel large scale construction taking place mere metres from the apartment.
In no way did the photos represent the bleak reality. The photos showed swaying palm trees along a pristine sandy beach. However, there are no palm tree lined beaches - only a rocky coastline.
I asked one long-time resident, and he stated that all the nice beaches were private. There was never a beach.
As to the would-be luxury apartment, it might be luxury for a resident of Smokey Mountain massive garbage dump in Manila, but it is just a plain middle-class pinoy studio apartment. Absolutely nothing luxury about it.
The TV is small, the pots and pans wobble around on the stove so cheap they have warped by past use, the bed sags, the shower floor heaves and creaks, the clothes washer floods the bathroom, the furniture is a mish-mash of IKEA rejects, the door to the veranda is heavy and forceful and has no stop so it unsafe to carry drinks outside, the fridge is the cheapest GE model possible and likewise the microwave – I presume it works. The kitchen counter is hobbit size. The air-con was the cheapest model possible, and made sitting on the out on the balcony akin to sitting beside a 747 on take-off. There is a fat book of rules which gleefully associate heavy fines with any breaking of the rules. I loved the one where there is a 1000 peso fine for hanging clothes to dry off the railing – there is no other place to dry clothes. No cleaning supplies except a button of a sponge and a mini-packet of dish soap. A broom is supplied to clean the floors, and the agent offered some rags to clean the floor. I kid you not.
Anything approaching a store is 20+ minutes by jeepney. Far too dangerous to walk down the road – there is no sidewalk or walkway of any kind.
As to the luxury facilities available, there is ‘gym’ with some free-weights and a few exercise machines, a ‘bar’ with a broken coffee machine. As well as a kiddies wading pool and a so-called pool; this is no deeper than 1.2m. And that is it, though you get to watch the construction workers. Oh I neglected to mention the large scale construction taking from just metres away – from 5am to 8pm, we were treated to a barrage of pile-drivers, grinding, hammering, and assorted audio inflictions. Plus the dust.
What about those Korean couples who enjoyed the place? Well, I surmised that it was more Korean men bringing their mistresses or “temporary” girlfriends for some romping. To my surprise the on-site agent confirmed my suspicions.
We did ask several times to be relocated which fell on deaf ears, until I asked for an OR Official Receipt, which they had the greatest trouble producing [two tries over 30 minutes produced a semblance of an OR – the threat of calling the PNPpolice seems to expedite matters].
So, in summary. AVOID STAYCITY.
And as I will next post….AVOID BOOKING.COM
They are total unethical and irresponsible ….guilty of fraudulent representation.