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Disappointed with KinderHotel...here's why (it's long)

(37 Posts)
NottsMum Wed 06-Sep-06 13:37:32

We've just returned from our week's holiday at the Sport Hotel after seeing the advert on Mumsnet and I thought others might be interested to hear how it was.

The hotel itself was fantastic, the food was fabulous and plentiful, the staff were extremely helpful and very friendly, the facilities were excellent and the scenery outstanding.

Here's the but. We chose to splash out on this hotel because of the promises of childcare provisions which would ensure our children "had a wonderful time" whilst DH and I had some quality time together. Unfortunately this was not the case. Although they had the facilities - 2 purpose built rooms with soft play and toys galore for the different age groups plus theatre and cinema and planned activities during each day, many of the staff were not able to converse in English and did not actively play with the children when they could see a child was bored or becoming upset. Consequently mine and my friends children who we went on this holiday with (we had two 2 years olds and two 5 year olds between us) found it very difficult to settle without us being there with them. In the older children's club we had to ask the staff a few times to speak in English as well as German when they were explaining something or giving instructions as all the english speaking children didn't know what was going to happen and this made our children nervous.

Normally our kids are all very independent and confident as they attend nursery or school and so are used to mixing with other children. Consequently, they were not able to enjoy the facilities available to them without having one of us present at all times which of course meant that both DH and I and our friends couldn't go on the hikes or use the other facilities as we'd planned as we basically had our children with us most of the day.

In the mini-club (0 to 3), although the staff seemed friendly enough, only one spoke english to a degree that the children could understand. This meant that when our children, and other english speaking children, were upset only one was able to speak to them in english. This resulted in the staff contacting the parents within a couple of minutes of a child becoming upset and more or less asking them to be taken out of the club. And on one day when we counted 17 children for two members of staff We didn't even bother trying to leave our children at the club that morning!
We did raise these issues with the person in charge of the children's clubs and she did make suggestions to the try to overcome the problems but we did notice throughout our stay on the few times that we did have our children in the club that both ours and other english speaking children felt left out a lot of the time.

We're all disappointed with how it turned out. Don't get me wrong, we had a great time but we all went with the belief that this hotel catered for English speaking families and had excellent childcare facilities which just wasn't the case.

Anyway, we're about to write to the owners of the hotel (it's part of a franchise) to see if they will offer us some sort of compensation in addition to highlighting the problems we experienced.

If any of you are interested I'll let you know what they say.

Marina Wed 06-Sep-06 13:45:17

I am sorry it was a disappointment Nottsmum.
I've noticed that they are promoting themselves heavily in the UK travel press lately so they are clearly after some British market share.
The mountain scenery, and as you say, the lavish prose about the childcare made me interested to find out more but I think they are out of our price range anyway.
Let us know what happens when you write.

MrsFogi Wed 06-Sep-06 13:58:24

You should post feedback on the TripAdvisor website.

LIZS Mon 11-Sep-06 11:32:53

Which hotel was it ? When you say it is part of a franchise it may simply be that hotels can suibscribe to being included in a particular listing or the right to use a brand name, rather than being centrally managed.

It is always going to be the case with locally run childcare (as opposed to UK companies like Esprit and Mark Warner who employ British trained staff) that English may not be readily spoken by all staff, although most European countries now teach English as a third language at least in schools, and the standards and ratios of staff to children may differ from those in UK, so expectations need to be adjusted accordingly. Larger resorts are more likely to attract those who are conversant with different languages to work there for a season so that may be worth bearing in mind for the future.

It is worth writing to them to point out that this may deter British families visiting, making recommendations to friends or returning themselves which is what their summer business tends to rely on. Do let us know what responmse you receive and perhaps do a review for MN on Holidays with Childcare.

NottsMum Thu 14-Sep-06 11:08:23

Hi Lizs

My DH penned the letter to them and sent it off this week. The hotel is called the "Sport Hotel" in Achensee which is in the Tyrol region.

I don't believe that we had expected too much from the hotel as I responded to the national UK adverts from which I received an English brochure which covered all of their hotels and then received a number of emails written in English. (Not perfect but perfectly comprehensible). They were clearly targeting the British market.

I know childcare standards will differ but honestly, there is a difference between childcare and neglect. [Sorry am not trying to sound rude but I am still seething about this incident] On the second day of our holiday, our 2 year old had only been in her club for a little while when DH was called because she was upset. When he got to the Mini-Club a couple of minutes later he found her crying and screaming, but instead of being comforted by one of the staff she was left lying in the middle of the floor crying and shouting for Mummy whilst the staff were walking round her attending to other children

How is that a caring child atmosphere?

Anyway, I agree with your point about it being a small resort and therefore not attracting people with other languages. In fact all of the staff were locals and virtually all of the people we spoke to spoke English - some good some only spoke a few words.

I will let you know what response we get and when I get more time I'll look at posting a review on the holidays with childcare section too.

NM

COD Mon 18-Sep-06 22:17:02

Message withdrawn

NottsMum Sun 08-Oct-06 22:54:54

I can't believe it, neither the hotel or head office have acknowledged our complaint , they have however, emailed us their winter offers!

MeAndMyBoy Sun 08-Oct-06 23:25:22

I've just spotted your thread NottsMum - that's disgraceful that they haven't acknowledged your complaint. Might be worth talking to trading standards and see what they suggest you do next? although there may be some knowledgeable MNers who can offer you some advice - just wanted to sympathise and share my at the lack of response.

Philomena Sun 08-Oct-06 23:36:09

I've read your thread with interest as I was seriously considering a trip to the Kinderhotel in Zell am See. My DS2B (am due in 4ish weeks) will be 10 months at time of travel. Am now thinking again....

Rookiemum Mon 09-Oct-06 09:08:59

Might be worth forwarding this thread to them. Do they know how many people use Mumsnet???

I bet that not one person that has read this thread would now think of using them for a holiday unless they address your issues in a constructive manner and make things better.

Fanny1 Sun 23-Mar-08 08:35:56

In defence of Kinderhotels where I spent a wonderful week with my husband and two small children in January this year. Although we stayed at a different location to the one you write about, the creche staff were not all fluent English speakers. However, their enthusiasm was second to none. Are all of you who are collectively whinging and supporting any claim on compensation utterly lacking in culture. Why cant you see it as an opportunity to immerse you children in an environment where they can learn something of a new language. The children probably cried because it was a new and different environment. It is normal. Perhaps you yourself could avoid the curse of the British and their linguistic laziness and buy a German phrase book and attempt to speak to the people there in their own language. Otherwise, perhaps you should stay within in your own shores!

PutThatInYourPipeandSmokeIt Wed 26-Mar-08 08:40:13

Fanny you are being ridiculous - it takes longer than a short holiday to functionally learn a new language and young children do not have the emotional maturity to deal with large crowds in an unfamiliar language in unfamiliar territory and with unfamiliar carers. Language is often the only thing that will enable them to enjoy unfamiliar facilities in an unfamiliar environment and country away from their friends and families. Do you remember being small at all? Do you remember your first day at nursery / primary school?

raisinbran Tue 15-Apr-08 20:46:24

I know how you feel, I stayed at the Beaches hotel in Jamaica and was pleased with most of the hotel apart from the child care. My kids are not shy and were used to nursery and afterschool camps but most of the kids camp staff were lazy and never followed the agenda of activities. In fairness they did provide us with a nanny for several hours a day but it wasn't the magical fun time I had envisaged for my boys.

I have had much more success on the cruise ships( Celebrity, Carnival and Royal Carribean). Everyone has a great time.

Bougie Fri 10-Apr-09 08:02:24

Kinderhotels are very expensive now that the euro has become so high. I don't know how much they are going to be looking to the UK market now, so it may not be worth their while to cater much for it.

Bougie Fri 10-Apr-09 08:14:58

Can anyone recommend a self catering place in the mountains which is safe for a 4 and 7 year old with playground, animals, heated fun pool (we go in May) or whatever? We want to spend time with them so don't need child care but on the other hand don't want to spend the ENTIRE holiday sitting watching them on the swings!

Kinderhotels would have been ideal except that they only do all-inclusive meals. Due to eating problems it's better for us to self cater - Kinderhotels food very nice but would hardly eat any of it!

Portoeufino Fri 10-Apr-09 08:33:49

Look at Familotels I think they have some apartment/self catering options as well as hotels.

Portoeufino Fri 10-Apr-09 08:46:37

Or Pierre et Vacances do kids clubs at some of their mountain resorts in the summer...www.pv-holidays.com We've stayed with them in the summer, and it was very well organised, but again you probably need to check the language issue. My dd is biligual fr/en so it wasn't a problem for us.

Amapoleon Fri 10-Apr-09 08:59:39

My friend had the same problem at one of their Austrian hotels last year.

Kiwinyc Fri 10-Apr-09 11:27:42

Ahhh this is interesting - thanks so much for posting NottsMum.

i have been wanting to try a Kinderhotel and have heard good things (I know someone that went to the one in Zell am See last Summer and had a great time but her children are older 5-7 and didn't really need the Kids Clubs except in the evenings so they could eat a meal on their own) but I was also concerned about the exact same things highlighted by NottsMum...

Hence we ended up booking with Esprit this summer at their Chalet in Kaprun. On the one hand it feels a bit lame not staying at a local hotel but on the other I wanted to make sure the Kids Club has staff ratio's we expect in the UK (I have a 3 & 6yo) and were guaranteed of no language difficulties. Two weeks with Esprit is also cheaper than staying at the Kinderhotel at Zell am See...! I expect the food and accomodation not to be as good but we'll still eat out to experience the local cuisine and we don't need anything more than somewhere fairly basic to stay.

it is disappointing to hear that they were unable to cater for a british family v. well though, although it seems some do it well and some don't.

Its even more disappointing that Beaches didn't deliver on good Kids Clubs! Beaches are a dream holiday of mine since staying at a Sandal's Resort but they're far too expensive for a normal family holiday!

Kiwinyc Fri 10-Apr-09 11:27:43

Ahhh this is interesting - thanks so much for posting NottsMum.

i have been wanting to try a Kinderhotel and have heard good things (I know someone that went to the one in Zell am See last Summer and had a great time but her children are older 5-7 and didn't really need the Kids Clubs except in the evenings so they could eat a meal on their own) but I was also concerned about the exact same things highlighted by NottsMum...

Hence we ended up booking with Esprit this summer at their Chalet in Kaprun. On the one hand it feels a bit lame not staying at a local hotel but on the other I wanted to make sure the Kids Club has staff ratio's we expect in the UK (I have a 3 & 6yo) and were guaranteed of no language difficulties. Two weeks with Esprit is also cheaper than staying at the Kinderhotel at Zell am See...! I expect the food and accomodation not to be as good but we'll still eat out to experience the local cuisine and we don't need anything more than somewhere fairly basic to stay.

it is disappointing to hear that they were unable to cater for a british family v. well though, although it seems some do it well and some don't.

Its even more disappointing that Beaches didn't deliver on good Kids Clubs! Beaches are a dream holiday of mine since staying at a Sandal's Resort but they're far too expensive for a normal family holiday!

Bougie Fri 10-Apr-09 18:39:10

I've looked at Kaprun, looks lovely.... only thing is the kids really like playgrounds, slides, etc. and it is helpful if it rains to have indoor play. Is there anything like that at Kaprun or is it really better for older kids?

LIZS Fri 10-Apr-09 18:50:29

Bear in mind op is several years old ! Things may have changed since.

Bougie I think you'll find it hard to get a family complex purely for self catering but we have stayed at the Kidshotel in Lugano where you can have a kitchenette in the apartment and others offer b and b or half board terms too. Saas Fee has a great indoor pool, as do many large resorts, but weather in the mountains can be variable in May and not all lifts and mountain cafes will be open for the season yet.

Kiwinyc Fri 10-Apr-09 19:08:04

oops serves me right for not looking at the dates on the thread..! I think though, that there may be quite a bit of variation between all the different hotels.

Bougie - if you do Esprit you get free entry to the 'Optimum' Leisure Center in Kaprun which is a short walk apparently - there's a big heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool there which looks ok. We will have a rental car and plan to do lots of day trips around the area on the days the Kids Club isn't on so if it rains we'll be out and about. I think there might be a playground over in Zell am See if theres nothing in Kaprun. On the days the Kids Club runs (its alternate days 4 days a week) they have a dedicated Club Room in the Chalet where they can do indoor activities. Also it is fully catered - but being a Chalet holiday they say they can offer more flexibility regarding special diets.

However Esprits summer season doesn't start until late June I think, I think most mountain programmes are not until then because the weather in May is still a bit dodgy. If you want self-catering with some childcare you could try the two Simply Travel resorts where they offer a creche but these are beach holidays on Lekfas and Crete.

sachertorte Mon 20-Apr-09 19:32:17

I feel I have to defend Kinderhotels. Each hotel is run independently, so you can´t compare one to the other. I´ve stayed in a few and they were basically family run businesses. I presume they pay to have the Kinderhotel name.

Childcare facilities ime were excellent. My babies had basically one to one care, 3 + in a group situation. I´ve never had cause for complaint in nearly 5 years.

I wouldn´t automatically blame a language barrier on problems with young children. Ime this is not necessarily important at all. I have been tempted into booking with Esprit, MW, etc. on occassion, just to be in an English speaking environment, but price wise they are not at all competitive (perhaps this has changed this year with exchange rate). In the past and based on reviews I´ve read, the British companies seemed to offer poor quality accommodation and hit and miss catering.

Bougie, have a look at tiscover.at or approach Austrian tourist board directly for assistance. We´ve stayed in plenty of self-catering accommodation places for as low as c ? 35 night for quality 2 bed accommodation with option of breakfast delivered to your kitchen. If you´re prepared to be in the countryside it can be surprisingly cheap.

sachertorte Mon 20-Apr-09 19:35:55

Also lots of Austrian chalet hotels tend to have a playroom, great if your kids are old enough to enjoy a bit space on their own but you don´t want them too far.

One cheap appart hotel we stayed in, doesn´t tick all your boxes Bougie and I wouldn´t like to take half board (food poor by Austrian standards) was www.talhof.com/en
We got a huge 2 bed appartment with breakfast for not so much. The views were spectacular.

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