In the past week I have stayed at the Genting hotel twice, for two very similar functions. Both times there was a group of colleagues who needed a meeting room for the day, followed by dinner and an overnight stay. Both times we ended up using the exact same meeting room.
The Genting Hotel is a large hotel next to the NEC in Birmingham. I’ve stayed in that area before, in a different hotel, and the amount of grief I received for booking somewhere with a buffet dinner meant that I was forced to look for somewhere else. This hotel was recommended by a colleague who came along to both of the events I had organised.
The Booking Process
Due to the nature of the bookings, I had to do it via email and phone rather than online. This was absolutely fine and I was being looked after by someone who was very accommodating to my last minute changes and extra people. My emails were answered very promptly, by the same person (despite using a generic Genting email address). Nothing seemed to be too much trouble.
The two events, whilst being very similar, had rather different levels of service. Upon arrival to the first event, myself and all of my colleagues had been pre-checked in so all we had to do when we arrived was give our name and company. We signed an arrival form and were then handed our room keys. All before 1030am. It was remarkable, and I was very pleased that I had the opportunity to drop my bag off in my room before our meetings started. Along with my room key, I was also handed a letter explaining that I had been pre-checked in, and some important information was listed. I went along to the meeting room very happy and impressed.
The second event was quite different. There was no arrival form, and our rooms were not ready. We were marginally earlier this time, and I assumed that the ability to check us all in early was down to whether there were enough rooms available. This was completely understandable, and I went to the meeting room with my bag, with the information that my room would be ready by 3pm at the latest. This is the scheduled check-in time so I had absolutely no qualms about this whatsoever. However, when I got my room key, I was handed the same check-in letter as I had received the previous time, telling me that I had been pre-checked in even though I hadn’t.
The Meeting Room
For the first event, I wasn’t the first to arrive, and so when I walked through the door, one of the Execs started reeling off a whole load of information about the lunch form, the planned fire drill, etc etc. He had clearly been given an informative brief when he arrived which I was quite impressed with.
The room was laid out in a pretty normal way, there was a notepad and pen and two bottles of water at each place, and a coffee machine in the corner. Some pastries had been put on the table at the end of the room, along with some yogurts. However, there were no spoons so we had to use the ones meant for the hot drinks. All in all, it was a pretty decent layout and I didn’t have any complaints.
For the second event, as I mentioned, we had the exact same meeting room. However, it had not been set out for the number of people we had coming. There were only 5 places instead of 8. There had been a couple of last minute additions, but that was also the case with the first event so somehow this time there had been less communication between teams. The breakfast pastries were brought in a little later by someone who placed them on the table at the end of the room, and walked out without removing the cling film. We also had no yogurts this time around.
At the first event, we had all filled out the lunch form to pre-select our choices. This seemed quite an efficient way of doing it. We all trooped down to the main restaurant just after 12.30 and within 5 minutes of sitting down, our food began to come out. I was super impressed. We had allowed only one hour for lunch and it looked like we would be finished well within that time, which is a rarity when there are lots of people.
The food was sublime. Everyone commented, not just how good it was, but how well it was presented. As well as our main courses, we were served a selection of sides which were all simply delicious. I was truly amazed at the standard and quality of the lunch.
At the second event the restaurant seemed a little busier and so our food took a little longer to come out. It was just as tasty and equally well presented. We had not one single complaint about lunch whatsoever. It was superb.
At the first event, we went back to the meeting room after lunch and I was a little surprised to see that our glasses and empty bottles were everywhere. The leftover pastries and yogurts were still on the table at the end of the room. We were also running out of cups at this point so I had to call down to reception for more. It turned out that there were some spare ones in the cupboard (had I looked!) and also some extra water. I did, however, have to ask for the coffee machine to be refilled. I was a little disappointed that I had needed to ask for this, but I was still happy from lunch so didn’t really think too much of it.
A little later in the afternoon someone came along with a plate of scones. They were brought in and put on the table at the end of the room. The cling film was left on and the staff member left without taking any empty plates or cups which were right next to where the scones were placed.
At the second event, pre-empting the mess that we could come back to after lunch, I called down to reception before we went for lunch to ask if someone could clear the room while we were in the restaurant. I was told that someone would come up. However, when we got back to the room after lunch, no one had been. I popped down to see if our rooms were ready, and while I was there I had to ask if they could send someone up. Someone eventually came up. They told me that I should have looked in the cupboard for more water (which I had done already, given the information I had received at the previous event). The staff member laid out some more cups, but instead of putting them with saucers, he put them with plates. So I had to swap them round so that we wouldn’t have to eat from saucers later on.
The same person came back a little later with our scones but came with only 5. Despite already seeing that there were more than 5 people in the meeting room, there had been no initiative to bring a few more. So we asked for more, and also asked for the coffee machine to be filled up with water. Those two requests took more than 20 minutes which was quite disappointing.
Dinner at the Genting was a la carte, and I don’t have any complaints for either events. I was genuinely shocked at the hotel’s ability to offer an a la carte menu for the 13 people we had at the first event. I have always had to book set menus for groups of around 6 or more, so this was a nice surprise. And it didn’t take an age for the food to come out either! When it did arrive, as with lunch, it was superb. The wine list was short but very good. And the restaurant had a nice atmosphere to it. There was a nice view over the lake.
The room was lovely. There was a fridge, which was great. Both rooms I stayed in were virtually identical, except that one had a walk-in shower and the other had a shower over a bath.
What I found most useful, however, was the availability of sockets. I once stayed in a hotel where I had to crawl under the desk and unplug the only lamp in the room so that I could charge my phone. The rooms at the Genting not only had a socket next to the bed, but they also had an HDMI socket on the wall next to the desk so that I could plug my laptop into the TV screen. I didn’t have the required cables to try this out (or the technical skills if I’m honest!). However, after a conversation with my partner, I was made aware that this could have been especially useful were I to need to practice a presentation. Or if I needed to stream something.
Also a very big plus was that the wi-fi was available in the bedrooms. So many places I’ve stayed only provided free wi-fi in the general areas like bar, so to have it in the bedrooms was great.
The breakfast selection was excellent, and I enjoyed some lovely smoked salmon on both of my visits. However, I wasn’t offered a hot drink with my breakfast on either visits which was slightly disappointing. Also, they had the radio on in the restaurant which I felt wasn’t really appropriate, or fitting with the hotel feel. Overall I was satisfied with the breakfast.
While in the meeting room, if anyone wanted to use the bathroom, we were given a key to a nearby bedroom so we could use the one in there. This was a little weird, although it was close by so not wholly inconvenient.
The sky bar is wonderful, with a great atmosphere. The service, whilst very friendly, was quite slow even though we were the only group in there. It was a little disappointing that we weren’t able to pass our bar bill down to the restaurant, but perhaps I’ve just been spoiled in London restaurants who do this without batting an eyelid.
I really wanted to try out the gym but on the day our meeting finished a little earlier, I was conveying my disappointment to the manager so ended up not having time. Especially as my room was so far away from the lift that when I finally made it back I really couldn’t be bothered to go all the way back down again. So that was partly laziness on my part!
Overall, I was very disappointed with the level of service during the day, especially on my second visit. To the point that I expressed my disappointment to the on-duty manager at the time who very kindly offered some drinks with our dinner. However, at the time of publishing this article, I have not received any form of communication from the Genting hotel. I was hoping to have received something to advise what might be done about the points I raised. Specifically around the clearing of the room at lunchtime, and leaving yogurts in the room without a fridge quite literally all day. My second stay was approximately one week ago.
It would have been so easy for the Genting Hotel to have made this an overwhelmingly great experience, but the accumulation of minor failures meant that I left feeling disappointed.
However, the food at the Robata restaurant was well beyond my expectations and I would go back just for that. The food provided in the meeting rooms was average at best.
For an internal meeting room venue, it’s fine. It’s a very good location and met all of our requirements. If you were hosting a meeting with clients you wanted to impress, I probably wouldn’t recommend it unless your meeting was being held in the restaurant.
I would definitely go back if it were for a personal trip. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here if I were attending an event at the NEC or Genting Arena.