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Santorini Museum Spa Hotel Review: Our accidental blog house in Greece


Real World Santorini : The blog house
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Can a honeymoon in Santorini exist for solo travelers?

Due to the fact I’m both, blogging and YouTubing, the responsibilities of “traveling as a travel blogger” feel more weighted.   I’m traveling for myself, but I’m also cognizant of my global audience and the fact, I’ll ultimately be sharing my travel experiences, both good and bad.

I have to be honest in my reviews, even if I’m getting a complimentary stay.

Sometimes, honesty ain’t easy.

Where to stay solo in Santorini?

cave hostel in Fira was penciled into my itinerary plans, along with a hostel with an outdoor camping area. Both were unique, budget-friendly possibilities to offer soloists, who didn’t want to take the giant splurge. At the last-minute however, I decided I wanted to stay at a hotel.

Truth is, it made for a better story.

Known as a  honeymooners island, I wanted to prove that solo travelers can experience the romance of Santorini too… alone.

It was to be a solo honeymoon on this glamorous Aegean island. Due to the fact I was arriving off-peak, I’d be trading tourist crowds for more quiet time to myself.  Basking in the sun, while sipping some tea with a caldera view overlooking the volcano in Fira, or looking out from my hostel deck on a calm, quiet night, under a lovely full moon.  Maybe I’d meet and chat with a John Stamos look-alike named Dimitris.   At least that’s the how the YouTube storyboard went.

But it didn’t happen that way.

In some regards, I should be thankful of that.

(Okay, not about the part of not meeting the John Stamos look-alike though! I’m still very very upset about that.)

John Stamos

Greek dreamboat, John Stamos, *sigh*. One can dream, right?

Real World Santorini : The blog house

A fellow blogger recommended Santorini Resorts, a company with hotel properties and open to working with bloggers. Luckily, they were open to a last-minute review stay.

I don’t do a lot of comped hotel review stays, because it’s a lot of work .  But working with travel businesses helps build my blog resume. It also helps me extend my travel budget, while opening me to write about vacation options I might never think to try.

Travel Bloggers

The job of travel blogging is travel mixed with work

But nice photos have to be taken before I can unfurl my bags and mess bed covers, I have to test hotel facilities to see how it applies to my audience and then I document my stay in it.  It can feel like the work of a secret shopper with the exception, the hotel knows you’re there to review them.

If I decide to do a video for my YouTube channel, it’s definitely work and an investment on my part!  As a freelance professional in video production, I make 2-3x times the cost of a hotel stay, just for shooting video.

My “shared” bed.

The shared living room

bathroom

Bathroom

The night before my arrival, Santorini Resorts booked me in to a (Best Western) Museum Spa Wellness Hotel Santorini in Oia.

The pros:

I got a free pickup from the ferry dock, the location was great, the suite was spacious and the caldera view was exquisite! They accommodated me with less than a week’s notice too. The breakfasts were wonderful and they had free WiFi. It is a lovely hotel.

BUT …

There’s a couple of giant twists I didn’t figure on and it was too late to rebook myself.

Little did I know that I was about to enter my own version of MTV’s Real World.  Watch the video at the top of this post, so I don’t have to rehash the story…

 

Real world, real reviews

I don’t enjoy giving negative reviews.

If possible, I  research a hotel or business before accepting to review it, because a review is always an investment on my part.  Like most travelers, I like to avoid bad travel experiences, in general and like most travel bloggers, I’d like to be able to recommend good services, which encourage positive relations. So I actually considered not writing this post at all; and yet,… I promised an honest review.

 I expect hotel stays to be exceptional.  Exceptional service is what travelers pay for. That is what sets glam and luxury hotels apart from guesthouses and hostels. For resort spa hotels or five star ones, a nice room or lovely breakfast is not enough… it’s merely a given. My belief is that however expensive it is, is how expensive it ought to make its guests feel. For me, it’s about whether a hotel will take that extra step to accommodate guests and their needs.  Is the service of exceptional quality?

I didn’t experience that with this hotel.

Breakfast Area

santorini breakfast

 

Additional cons (aside from those mentioned in my video):

The receptionist was abrasive, cold and rude.  Not only did she scold me like a child over YouTubing her in my experience, but then she insulted my ‘older’ age next to the twenty-something travel bloggers they roomed me with (I found it amazing how her memory grasped my birth date upon check-in)!   The bathroom had a hand shower, which splashed water over the floor and which I had to squat in so I could free both hands for scrubbing. There was no maid service and three people in a suite can get messy  (I actually had to request maid service so I could photograph the suite as if it were new).  Lastly, there was no “museum”, let alone “spa” to make you understand the name and if there was, no one told you about it.

Although I made the best of the situation– as I always do — and I had an awesome time with my new blog friends, whom I met at the TBEX conference, I can’t excuse the overall hostel-like treatment I got.   As a guest , I should not have to assume a “flexible position” for a hotel stay and as a reviewer, I shouldn’t be asked to review a meal that everyone’s already dipped forks into (a rough analogy).  It lacks professionalism, respect and I was not cool with that.

Thanks for the stay, Museum Spa Wellness Hotel Santorini, but there was no honeymoon in Santorini for this solo (and much ‘older‘) travel blogger.

Note:  I received a two night complimentary stay at Museum Spa Wellness Hotel Santorini, but all my opinions are my own.

19 Comments

  1. Man that must have been a big shock rocking up to Santorini to discover that you have to share a bed with someone you have never met before…

  2. Jim Brantley says:

    I’m not sure I would have been as nice as you were. I think my stay would have ended at the front desk and my review would have been scathing. But I’m not a travel blogger; and I’m certainly not as tolerant as you. Well written piece, and your professionalism is to be commended.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Jim : I think when you’re reviewing a complementary stay and you’re doing it as a travel blogger, there’s a lot of mixed feelings. And personally, I’m always a little slow to react to personal affront. This definite taught me a lesson of having stricter parameters.

  3. Honesty is the best policy!! at least your roommates seem like they were really nice people!!

  4. gayatrikale says:

    I am glad that I came across your blog on travel chronicles. It takes a lot to be that honest, specially when you are given a complimentary stay by the hotel. I admire your courage for the same. I happen to be one of them. 🙂 I am glad you ain’t one of the many who write and promote just for free stays. Being true to the readers is a prime responsibility of a blogger

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @gayatrikale: I feel the same! Although I understand how challenging it is for those bloggers too. It’s never easy to give less than stellar reviews on a comped stay. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

  5. niesha says:

    That is deplorable. How do they expect to get good reviews pulling stunts like this?

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Neisha: All my thought could grasp was maybe it was confusion or carelessness?

  6. travelnwrite says:

    A valuable lesson learned, it sounds like. In the future when seeking ‘comp-ed’ rooms, you may want to ask the policies for accommodating travel bloggers prior to accepting the offer. (I certainly will!) I doubt if they would have asked Rick Steves and Paul Theroux to share a room. . .sigh.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @travelinwrite: My thoughts exactly! Good lesson and it made me look at how some businesses might work with bloggers but also see them in a beggarly light? That’s the only explanation for that treatment.

  7. You should have stayed at Caveland. I really loved my stay there! Ugh I can’t imagine sharing a bed. I would have asked for a mattress And slept on the floor LOL

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Aleah: Yeah, that’s ultimately what I felt too. I had fun with the other bloggers so I can’t fully regret my stay, but I was really seeking a bit of what you experienced in inward silence.

  8. What a nightmare, I would have been so embarrassed in all those situations, especially the food review from a part eaten meal! Well done for sustaining all of that!

  9. KT says:

    Thanks for the honest review, Christine. I feel like I just saw bigfoot riding a unicorn. A completely honest review on a complimentary stay by a travel blogger. This definitely lends credence to your blog!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @KT: I like that “bigfoot riding a unicorn”. lol. Well, it was a challenging decision. Thanks for commenting. =)

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @KT: ” I just saw bigfoot riding a unicorn”… I love that. =D

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