Tangerine Hotels Didn’t Like Their Review.

An alien dessert at the buffet.

Tangerine Hotels wrote a response to our Halcyon Hotel Days (published in Echelon magazine). They seem to be attacking our writer (Savan) personally while confirming their high prices and poor service, but judge for yourself.

Here’s the original article. Their concerns seem to be 1) that we didn’t visit the hotel 2) that the writer had a deceitful and alcoholic childhood and 3) that he’s racist. We’d counter that 1) we did 2) what? and 3) mentioning different nationalities isn’t racist. Anyways, enjoy the letters back and forth:

Letter From Tangerine Beach Hotels PLC

Our attention has been drawn to the above mentioned article in your publication. We thank you for featuring our hotel, a 170-room beach property with a loyal customer base built over 30 years and comparing it with a much smaller and brand-new elsewhere along the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. However, while we do not challenge the writer’s opinion of his experience at our hotel, we wish to point out a factual error and other issues and hope you will publish a clarification.

1) Your writer has set out to critique the Tangerine, mainly over the buffet lunch. However, we are constrained to question the bona fides of the writer who claimst that our buffet is “”expensive at 2,600 nett.”” Our buffet is priced at Rs. 2,750 nett. It is possible that your writer had a buffet in Kalutara at Rs. 2,600, but certainly not at our hotel. We expect a food/travel writer to get the basics right or else we have to question his or her credibility.

2) Even if the writer had in fact gone to the Tangerine and made a genuine mistake on the price of the buffet, we regret that we were unable to re-create the writer’s expectations of being able to use a day-room to stash “”booze bought at supermarket prices and smuggled into the hotel.”” The introduction to said article suggests that the writer was hoping to relive a childhood memory of deceit and dishonesty by undermining the revenue of the hotel. We are sorry we were unable to allow that.

3) We are very disturbed by the racist innuendo of your writer in referring to some of our Central Asian guests. We totally reject racial discrimination and do no welcome guests who insult others. We are proud that our hotel can be a hell for racial bigots even when they are disguised as travel writers.

We would appreciate the publication of this letter in your next issue in the interest of fairness and balanced journalism.

Yours faithfully,

Manjula Rajapakshe
Food And Beverage Executive

Our Response

To the Management, Tangerine Hotels

We are very disappointed by your response to our piece on the Tangerine Beach Hotel at Kalutara. Rather than make an effort to either apologize or defend the standard of food and service offered by your hotel you attack a piece of honest and independent writing.

Firstly you point on that your buffet costs Rs 2750 rather Rs 2600 we believe our piece was accurate but will take your word for it. Still, you’re effectively pointing out that your buffet is even worse value than we’ve made it out to be. What was awful at Rs 2600 only gets worse at 2750. Thank you though for your honesty.

Your second point regarding our descriptions of visits during our childhoods in the early 90’s is incoherent. These were the routines of our parents and grandparents and this was simply a piece of nostalgic description. On this visit we made no attempt to book day rooms or consume any booze of any kind. We ordered two cokes at the bar and your staff effectively failed to serve us.

As for what you call racial innuendo actually our point was to do with geography – Kazakhstan is perhaps the most landlocked county in the world – it’s thousands of miles from the sea and in winter temperatures fall well below freezing. So our point was that Kazakh visitors are likely to be less discerning about beaches and resorts than locals. Still, to an extent, we accept your argument. No one, not Kazakhs, Germans, Sri Lankans or anyone else should have to endure the poor service levels we did on our visit to Tangerine.

Ultimately we paid the full price for our day at the hotel, arrived with only fond memories of the place, left disappointed and tried to convey the extent of this disappointment in writing. We drew attention to the poor food, the sullen service, the quality of towels ,the faded fittings- you haven’t defended any of these so appear to have accepted that this is indeed the case. This is really a shame because we’ve been visiting the Tangerine for decades (as we point out) and believe it has lot of potential. We suggest you take the Jetwing Lagoon as an example- while you claim it’s a small boutique it too was originally a 70s era resort and at end of the day use of the pool + buffet there is cheaper there than at the Tangerine. So from the perspective of a day trip for Colombo residents (which was the purpose of the review) we found absolutely no reason to visit Tangerine over the Jetwing Lagoon – even your letter seems to concede this point.

What Now?

Anyways, read the original article for what the fuss was all about. I’d note that the management’s response doesn’t really address the point that their hotel is overpriced and impersonal. We don’t really recommend the Tangerine.

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