Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review of the Kanuni Kervensaray Hotel, Cesme Turkey

After a booking at a nearby hotel had to be changed due to some local difficulties I was offered a move to the Kanuni Kervensaray Hotel, Cesme Turkey during the last week in April 2011. The hotel is unique in the area, not newly built but the shell of an original Ottoman caravanserai building completely reconstructed. It looks inward to a courtyard with pool and the brochure shows the suites and better rooms decorated in a style of sumptuous Ottoman excess, (cue fantasy of belly dancers and concubines feeding you pomegranate). Like my fantasy though my stay here was unfulfilling. The concept is full of eastern promise but a successful hotel is more then a building and my stay had a series of setbacks which though not serious individually add up to more than the sum of the parts.

An important factor for anyone thinking of travelling to this region is that the season doesn't start to get going until Mayday. This became apparent on walking through the impressive entrance archway with its beautifully painted ceiling. The swimming pool was empty and a couple of handymen were tinkering with the underwater lighting system. No hope of a swim then. The traditional architectural style dictates that the window looks inwards onto the inner courtyard with its access balcony but this means that the window is small to deter passers by from looking in and the overall effect is rather claustrophobic.. The redevelopment of the old structure presented the puzzle of how to fit in the ensuite bathrooms into the bedrooms with their arched ceilings. The solution is a large box construction which combines bathroom with wardrobe and mini bar. My room failed to fulfil the expectations generated by the brochure, a sultan might perhaps have allotted it to one of the lesser Eunuchs. It was typical of the larger standard rooms but did not seem to be as generously proportioned as those featured in the brochure's “creative” photography. To sum up the style: Travel Lodge meets the Alhambra.

Unfortunately after a winter of closure my room had developed a rather stale smell which seems to come from a growth of mould under the sink The porous nature of the natural stone mosaic tiling, (which does look very nice), is unfortunately a ideal habitat for the dreaded damp shower mould spores and needs more than the cursory daily clean by the room maids. A start of the season deep clean of each bathroom might prevent this problem. Another issue I found was that the boiler was not turned up enough to provide hot water on my arrival. The storage tank is a large one and it took a day to get up to full temperature.

One curious feature, again due to poor organization during the seasonal start up is that for the first two nights of my stay the bed was made up without an upper sheet. I must admit that I thought it strange that my cover was rather thick (which I assumed was some Ottoman eccentricity of decor) but I realized when I saw other rooms being made up with quilts, (missing from my room), that I had actually been using just a white coverlet. Another failure of the hotel to come out of hibernation was in forgetting to clean and change any of the rooms until after my return at 1800hrs to find the bed unmade. This prompted a frenzy of room cleaning which would have been comical to see if not for my severely tried patience. The staff however continued to walk past a box of rubbish including soiled bathroom tissue which had been sitting on one of the tables outside a room for at least a day and a half..

As the Mayday weekend approached I watched the hotel falling into shape. The pool was filled, and comfortable chairs put out in the courtyard and on Saturday night I returned to find the courtyard bustling with a group of about fifty young ladies and a long table being set out for dinner. The hen party, I think, were a college reunion and the party was in full swing at ten and only half way through their meal when I returned from my dinner in town. All were reminiscing at full volume with a few Efes beers inside them and with a live guitarist for accompaniment the noise echoed around the courtyard putting paid to any idea of having a quiet read of my book before retiring. At 2320 the girls went off for the next part of their evening leaving only the clattering of crockery from the staff clearing away to break the peace then silence until their return at 0230.

History repeated itself on my last night when I returned to again find my room still being cleaned and made up at just after 1700 with an assurance from the manageress that this is “normal”. If so this is a particularly unfortunate policy as the hotel has no comfortable inside lounge, and guests returning to the hotel in the afternoon expecting to have a comfortable relax on the sofas outside the rooms have the prospect of having staff working cleaning and ferrying linen through their lounge area.

In fairness I must say that all the junior staff were most pleasant, polite and helpful and that any problems are due to the managers failure to understand what running a high class hotel is about which is attention to detail. Perhaps things are different in high season. I am not optimistic as I get a feeling that there is a sense complacency in the management. The promotion of the hotel may lead clients to believe that they will be visiting the equivalent of a Spanish Poussada or a French Relais de Silence. Not so I fear. If the Sultan who built the caravanserai came back I think he would be wielding his scimitar!