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Ani Villas Anguilla_An Overpriced Disaster

Ani Villas Anguilla_An Overpriced Disaster

Old Jul 6, 17, 6:57 am
  #1  
DSI
formerly declinespecificinformatiom
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Ani Villas Anguilla_An Overpriced Disaster

Dear Friends,

Here is my unfortunate one week stay at Ani Villas Anguilla.

Imagine feeling like you’re being held hostage while trying to catch a charter flight in order to catch your international flight, whereby a staff member, who you thought was the GM, is forcing you to sign and to agree to false charges in front of your son, your wife and your friends. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. You are blocked into driveway in your already late taxi worrying if you can make it to the airport. This is despite the fact that you had told them on several occasions to correct the charges and despite the fact that the stay was already paid in full and despite the fact that you said you would take it up with the CEO in a few days. This is Ani Villas Anguilla, and it was a disappointment of epic proportions.

For whatever reason, the GM decided not be the GM for the week but he instead tricked us by acting as a butler in plain sight while his responsibilities were given to a co-worker who was simply not up to the task by skill, training or temperament. The whole staff then worked in concert to hide that deception and very few of the promises and inclusions were provided and the service standards were not of a high standard. I felt duped, conned, swindled, scammed or whatever you might call it.

As a returning guest to the brand, and as someone who’s stayed at other ultra-luxury properties and numerous luxury hotels worldwide this was by far the worst treatment I have ever experienced or heard about from my many luxury-hotel/Amanjunkie friends.

Before booking Ani Anguilla, we had stayed at their ultra luxury Ani property in Sri Lanka, led by the excellent GM Yeshi Phuntsho, formerly from Amankora. His standards are high and I could tell that he was fond of Mr. Zecha and embodied classic Aman service. The COO, was a villa manager at Puri, and so I assumed that there would be high levels of personalized and anticipatory service that would go well beyond a pickup or return, where you are greeted with a refreshing drink and towels, but incredibly thoughtful gestures like cleaning shoes, unpacking, personalized notes and gifts. Except for gifts, none of this happened nor did all the “GM” even bother to learn our names; my friend’s wife was addressed as my wife (not the lady I was kissing mind you) and our children were left invisible. We were the only people at the property: four adults and three children. Three of the adults have one-syllable names and my wife a whopping two.

On arrival, after a four-hour flight a transfer, and a quick 8-minute plane hop, we got through customs and no one was there. After a few frantic minutes of looking, someone, who I thought was the GM based on earlier correspondence and communication, greeted us with, “Oh, you’re early.” No towels, no drinks, no snacks, no music and just one staff member. Not even a house car. We saw videos online of Ani Jeeps and we expected to be picked up in two of those but instead we got a taxi. The video is inaccurate--those vehicles do not exist. After exiting the taxi, the abrupt question was can you pay for the taxi now or should I bill it to your room? Note that the website states that round-trip airport transfers are included (http://www.anivillas.com/sites/defau..._FactSheet.pdf). Edit: since publishing this review, the PDF was updated to show that yoga and airport transfers are not included anymore. I didn’t I want to argue but needless to say, things aren’t super lux right now. Not surprisingly, other inclusions on this link such as: yoga, tennis lessons, personal training, children’s activity programs, cycling tour (I didn’t even see bicycles) either weren’t offered or were denied, and those inclusions were in large part of why we decided to go to Ani. Even the golf carts when we asked the “acting GM” were off limits when we said we wanted to explore the island a bit. So we thought we’d have the freedom to use the car on the website or the golf carts but were stuck to the taxi service. You see, dear readers, it’s not near the beach that’s on the videos! That beach really isn’t accessible so you need a taxi service, something I didn’t pick up on after watching the cleverly-edited video.

Once we arrived much of the staff were there to greet us, the music was playing and the drinks were flowing, so I put my mild criticisms to rest. It was only when things went bad that I started to reminisce on all of the problems and service failures.

Later the next day we had a fabulous beach BBQ where there was a tent, some superb lobster as well as a set up of beach chairs, paddleboards and corn hole. The only thing missing was music, and of course, a “GM” who is supposed to run point on everything. We really enjoyed it but when we requested another beach BBQ we all saw the eyes roll knowing that the staff did not want to. Nevertheless, we stood our ground and made that request after some pushback and enjoyed it once again.

Because of the nature of a private villa there is really no accountability and if the staff are unhappy, especially the “GM”, who is chiding you for your music or forgetting your names, there’s really no recourse. So if you have a complaint about the “GM” and their lack of implementing high standards there’s nothing you can really do. Even the few times I did, for example, asking for massages that were promised in writing to us by the CEO, they were denied without apology. Even when we asked hot tub to be fixed children were blamed. And so on. And so on. And so on.

On the last night, after we were asked by the “GM” to sign a bill for incidentals things went really south. I explained multiple times that the bill was wrong and asked for it to be corrected, but was met by a new request to sign this bill, like I was buying a used car or something, every time I could turn my head. Immediately thereafter the staff simply looked like they wanted to leave and that they all wanted us out of the house. It was uncomfortable and depressing, and we all guessed that the “GM” spread some rumor to the staff about not paying (please remember that we paid for the entire stay three months before we arrived) and that they were not to provide us service. So that evening, after looking at a dirty pool I was denied a request to have it cleaned and when we made drink requests the staff simply left. There would be no service whatsoever.

The property needs refurbishment and there are some design flaws. For example, the pool is too angular at the entrance and they don’t have anything to cover the corners sticking out (we asked) to protect children. The recessed lights look like they’ve been yanked out several times, as they aren’t flush with the ceiling but dangling a little, surrounded by shoddy drywall. The shower never worked in the master BR, and the hot tub stopped working midweek. Many of the speakers were blown so the sound quality was dismal. Not even the blackout shades worked well, nor are they in all the master bedrooms. Typical luxury touches, like cold towels, offering activities and ideas, cold drinks, and requests on our stay list, personalized service, just weren’t offered either.

Overall, because we were with friends we made it enjoyable and we made the most of it. But if I did it over again, we would have avoided the problems, the disappointment and the cost by staying elsewhere. Executive management did refund almost two nights (after some back and forth) recognizing that the stay was not even close to their normal standard and likely the worst stay they’ve ever delivered to guests. But even the service recovery was actually another disappointment—a joke if you will, considering the cost of this place—as other luxury brands would have been much more generous in the event of a total meltdown and the GM going AWOL. I also wondered how much the staff got along, as there seemed to be some arguing and dislike for the acting “GM” at the time. Obviously that was AWKWARD for guests.

There were so many other things that went wrong, like our “complimentary” massages being denied, not getting food requests, no kids activities, lack of luxury service, no tennis lessons, but the topper was really our last night. I could go on, but you, dear reader, get the gist. After I had requested that our bill be corrected, the staff all started looking away from us and just left, not even trying to fix the hot tub after we asked, clean the very dirty pool after we asked or to prepare us drinks. Even the tennis court the last day had trash blowing all over, and anytime we went to the tennis court none of the staff would come or even show any interest in what we were doing.

The next morning was uncomfortable and we left after basically being blocked in. That and the fact that they didn’t deliver on their service offerings or even remember our names is what I remember most vividly about this supposedly ultra-luxury property.

-DSI

Edit: I contacted executive management about the stay. The first "recover" was that I'd get a good deal on their dr property. I followed up with further complaint and was offered .7 nights. I followed up again and was offered 1.4 nights with firmness.

Then after feedback from members on this forum and others, including virtuoso ta's, industry heavyweights/publishers, executive leadership in major luxury brands, I followed up with a request for a refund with the CEO and coo but was ultimately ignored for two and a half weeks before chinmoylad stepped in. They wanted to respond, it appears, because he had sent them business in the past.

I published a negative review on tripadvisor and rather than respond, four glowing reviews were immediately posted by fake accounts. Any sentient reader will notice the lack of response to criticism, the dubious posting dates and the new accounts making those postings and conclude that they are mere shills. Furthermore it illustrates the scarlet thread of duplicity.

I then received a response which still didn't really address my concerns and included a manipulative attempt to play us off the the other by citing her note in the guestbook (nice detective work!). However, the context of the note was thus: My wife was handed the book and felt pressured to write something, and because our friend's wife was watching her write and we were already mortified and embarrassed we kept it positive for her sake. Not anis. We didn't want them to further feel that their time and money were further wasted. The same reason I didn't complain the entire time; if it were us, we would have left and stayed elsewhere midweek but alas, traveling with friends requires extra diplomacy.

It was then said that we were given approximately 2 nights, and when I looked at the calilcaltor is was just under 1.41 nights.

Let's also add in one more fun issue: the security guard was leering at our friends for extended time after we had gone to bed and they decided to skinny dip. She did not feel safe after that.

Better to make guests happy and recover superbly when that doesn't work, as any luxury brand knows. In this case the recovery was insufficient, and in my opinion, disingenuous.

Last edited by DSI; Jul 29, 17 at 11:54 am
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Old Jul 6, 17, 7:25 am
  #2  
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Yikes, that does sound like a disaster, and, frankly, is depressing to read.

To me, it seems that the USP of an ultra-private property like this is that your vacation is done entirely on your terms. That appears to be far, far from what you experienced. Sorry that you had such a poor stay. Hopefully Ani management takes notice and action.

Thanks for sharing your story!
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:21 am
  #3  
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My morning coffee took a left turn when I read this!

Would have thought Ani A was a sure thing, in terms of service and hard products.

Sorry for the terrible experience but thank you for posting this as it will encourage me to shy away from suggesting it to my clients that may have had an interest in visiting. I get people make mistakes but when the staff to guest ratio is this high, how is that even possible? If each staff simply and only monitor 2 responsibilities all would have been on point. At least you'd think. I'll keep sending clients to FS in Anguilla for now.
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:39 am
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I am sorry for your bad experience.

Personally, I would have been particularly disappointed about the beach situation. Great beaches would be for me a key reason to visit Anguilla, and having to take a taxi to go to the beach is really not luxury at all. The website shows that the villas are located on a bluff, but from the video it appears that there is a beach very close by (the villas are even visible in the background). Also it explicitly states that there are two all-terrain golf carts available to explore nearby beaches. And a beach butler on any of Anguilla's beaches (how is that supposed to work? the butler shares the taxi ride?).

While I like discreet/"confidential" places, your experience shows the downside. I could not find many Ani Anguilla reviews online apart from yours (and apart from what seems to be paid PR - Tripadvisor has 15 reviews, most a bit fishy if you ask me). So we can only guess for how long they have been able to get away with this. Simply bad service is one thing, but denying what is explicitly included is something completely different.

Last edited by kamel123; Jul 6, 17 at 8:44 am
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:41 am
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Appalling. Really... they should not only refund you the entire stay but somehow compensate you for your wasted time and disappointment. The GM's behavior is not only odd, but bordering criminal.

Is this a sign we should rely on trusted brands? I thought they would be an reliable option and the prices seem OK for the size of the property, but your stay was anything but OK... very amateurish and unprofessional. I don't even know how to explain the GM's fraudulent behavior, did they explain? Anything?

I fear that along with the staff involved, the property's location has to do with the problems. While O&O in the Caribbean isn't that bad, their beach villas also suffer service problems at triple the price tag.

Glad you named the property in the title for SEO reasons... Buyer beware.
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:45 am
  #6  
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@DSI ...the management should have recovered from this by not only comp the stay but to @scented 's point, make up for time lost.

They should have offered to pay for two nights on a future stay at Iniala
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by kamel123 View Post

While I like discreet/"confidential" places, your experience shows the downside. I could not find many Ani Anguilla reviews online apart from yours (and apart from what seems to be paid PR - Tripadvisor has 15 reviews, most a bit fishy if you ask me). So we can only guess for how long they have been able to get away with this. Simply bad service is one thing, but denying what is explicitly included is something completely different.
Many of the reviewers only have 1 or 2 other reviews online, some even none. Fraud.

What has 'corporate' answered to your complaint? Any answers, aside from the 2 night refund offer and typical brand nonsense?
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Old Jul 6, 17, 9:01 am
  #8  
DSI
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The service recovery went this way:

1. I was highly disappointed with the stay, response: "I'll give you a good deal in the DR when it opens."
2. I was highly, highly disappointed in the stay, response: "I'll comp 85% of a room night."
3. I was highly, highly, highly disappointed in the stay and I don't think I've been clear: "we'll double that comp (from the owner)."

The owner apparently heard of these events and was the founder of Jane Street Capital. I believe that he made a mint by buying way out of the money puts before the financial meltdown, so he was able to mint money while I and the rest of the world lost their shirts. Some 10 years later I lost my time and money again!

I was so upset the last night I couldn't sleep at all, and subsequently got a sore throat that spread to an ear and sinus infection that I'm still battling a week and a half later.

Last edited by DSI; Jul 6, 17 at 9:09 am
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Old Jul 6, 17, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by DSI View Post
The service recovery went this way:

1. I was highly disappointed with the stay, response: "I'll give you a good deal in the DR when it opens."
2. I was highly, highly disappointed in the stay, response: "I'll comp 85% of a room night."
3. I was highly, highly, highly disappointed in the stay and I don't think I've been clear: "we'll double that comp (from the owner)."

The owner apparently heard of these events and was the founder of Jane Street Capital. I believe that he made a mint by buying way out of the money puts before the financial meltdown, so he was able to mint money while I and the rest of the world lost their shirts. Some 10 years later I lost my time and money again!

I was so upset the last night I couldn't sleep at all, and subsequently got a sore throat that spread to an ear and sinus infection that I'm still battling a week and a half later.
Hope you have a very speedy recovery...

I have heard of Mr Reynolds yes... very philanthropic person..
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Old Jul 6, 17, 11:41 am
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Wow. Appalling...except that it did happen in the almost always subpar service region of the Caribbean, where I believe this sort of thing is more likely. But I absolutely feel for you, DSI...and the bait and switch and nonsense that you obviously endured. I'm so sorry you had to ensure this nonsense.

Ani corporate owes you a complete refund. Period. The villa is not beachfront as advertised; that is fraud. Amenities that were advertised were not made available; that also is fraud. The GM was not available. That is unacceptable and ridiculous. Promises were constantly not kept. Service obviously was atrocious. This place is an utter hole of B.S.

You really need to demand Ani refund you the cost of your entire stay. Or at least half of your entire stay. (Your two nights didn't seem to be a proper half?) They need to be punished. You were punished by their lies, deceipt, and fraud. I'd open a complaint with whatever Anguilla tourism ministry might exist, too--just to embarrass them. Only when they realize the extent of their failure will they ever be willing to accept responsibility for that failure with a proper refund. Expecting a corporate entity to do so on its own is never going to properly make you whole.

IMO this horrible experience reflects that the entire Caribbean region can often over-promise and yet so consistently under-deliver. Buyers beware.

Last edited by bhrubin; Jul 6, 17 at 12:17 pm
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Old Jul 6, 17, 12:02 pm
  #11  
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@DSI get better soon friend. What an ordeal!

I don't know who is winning the race to the luxury bottom - this place or Six Senses. I would have lost it when they effectively held your family and friends hostage in the driveway. I don't know how you kept your cool DSI and good on you, sir.

The GM pretending to be the help is totally messed up. He's got issues and any company allowing that to happen is a disgrace.
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Old Jul 6, 17, 12:25 pm
  #12  
DSI
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Hi Bhrubin,

It never advertised itself as beachfront per se, but beach access. The video shows a spectacular beach, where we thought was the close access (why else show it and not the Maldives?!), but that beach is completely inaccessible. Only by a boat. You can't walk down there, period. The "beach access" is to two of the worst beaches, one that is rough and tiny and one that is part of a restaurant full of rocks. We went to the latter for a day and the beach butler service consisted of no one, just a towel, drink and a few grilled cheeses, dropped off.

Not too far from Ani is Shoal Bay which is phenomenal. We wanted to take the cart there and were told no. You must get a taxi, and who knows, maybe there's a kick-back? I know how to drive a golf cart; we had one (now we have a lifted kawasaki mule) at our house, and I'm a 15 handicap, so I'm adept at driving all over the course chasing after my terrible shots.

The wine selection was thus: one red and one white wine. I specifically requested high quality cocktails beforehand several times, only to see that the advertised alcohol inclusions weren't there and that making things with fresh, interesting, ingredients would not work at all. So we settled for rum punch. Some punch and some low end rum.

I honestly expected a full refund for the ordeal. If Ani ultimately offers that I think it would be a sign that they are willing to work harder for future guests.

Macmyday: You've been to the Ani Thailand, and it was sadly at my recommendation. Henceforth I may just have to stick to the tried and true.

Last edited by DSI; Jul 6, 17 at 12:57 pm
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Old Jul 6, 17, 2:44 pm
  #13  
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Thanks DSI for your honest and insightful review. Overall pretty sad what you received.

This property is one to be avoided, especially after reading which problems you encountered while staying with them.

In my mind this shows that money can buy a lot, but not everything it seems.

Cheers & Safe Travels. ^
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:24 pm
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Man, what a disaster indeed. Cringeworthy to read, and good for you for not blowing a complete gasket. Others make a good point - while private, exclusive villas may be a fantastic option, especially for larger parties - a lack of reviews and viability is tough. I suppose that is an advantage to services like Inspirato.
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Old Jul 6, 17, 8:53 pm
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Thanks for the honest review. Sounds like an absolute disaster - I think you were extremely calm for the situation to be honest!
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