Did not find expected amenities on Easter Island

By Charles M. Hayes
This item appears on page 24 of the June 2013 issue.
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I was planning a trip to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) on my own and did some research on various websites. I finally decided to use the reviews on Hotels.com to choose a place to stay and settled on the Inaki Uhi (Atamu Tekena St., Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui; phone +56 32 2551160 or 2100231). I stayed there July 18-25, 2012, having booked my reservation about two months earlier.

The hotel’s reviews all were good, and the description of the property on Hotels.com showed several amenities that fit my wishes perfectly, including that there was a snack bar, that breakfast was available for a surcharge and that there was limited room service available. 

Upon arrival, I found that none of those statements were true. 

In addition, a plastic glass in my bathroom was dirty when I arrived and was never cleaned during my stay. 

A large window in my room that could have once been a patio door was cracked, with a piece of tape holding the glass together. 

There was no heat at all, yet it got into the 50s at night in July, and it was windy at times. There was an extra blanket, but the room was cold, since the windows weren’t airtight.

After returning home, I tried emailing Hotels.com about the discrepancies between the online description and my experience but got no response. I tried to initiate a “chat” via their website, but, from the responses I got, it seemed that I must have been talking to a computer and not a live person. 

I posted my own review about the Inaki Uhi on Hotels.com. The owner’s response to it ignored the issues I raised; he just wondered why he was getting a negative review.

Aside from the hotel, my visit to Easter Island, in general, was the worst travel experience I have ever had, out of 17 or 18 countries. Although the moai are nice, I felt that, as a whole, Easter Island was overrated. I had wanted to go there for 30 years. I stayed for a week and was glad to leave. I felt that a 3-day visit would have been plenty.

When our plane first arrived, at around 5 a.m., passengers had to wait at a covered walkway outside the terminal building for the better part of an hour with no explanation at all. It was windy and cool. Officials came out a couple of times and ran drug-sniffing dogs past us, then went back in. Finally, we were allowed in and went through Customs, etc.

A rental car cost $78-$83 a day, but I found no insurance available on the island, so renting a car was a gamble. 

I ate in various restaurants in town, and the food was expensive. For example, one cup of coffee and one slice of pie cost the Chilean peso equivalent of $8.31. One scrambled egg, one piece of toast, three tomato slices, one piece of cheese and a glass of juice cost $13.84 plus tip (which was asked for). A meal of two very small chicken breasts, a scoop of rice, four or five green beans, one roll and two cans of Coke cost $34.30.  

The only public bathrooms that I saw were one in the national park and one at the beach, and they each cost $1.03 to use. 

There were stray dogs (and their droppings) all over. 

I found the people to be rude. I even had trouble changing my money from pesos back to dollars when I went to the bank before my departure. I was told they would buy dollars but not sell them.

One good thing was I had entered via Lima, Peru, so I avoided the visitor’s fee that travelers coming in from Santiago, Chile, have to pay (about $160 for Americans).

CHARLES M. HAYES

Toledo, OH

 

ITN emailed copies of Mr. Hayes’ letter to two addresses of Expedia.com (including expediapr@hlgrp.com), which is the parent company of Hotels.com, and to the owner of the Inaki Uhi (paatan@entelchile.net), also sending an update to Mr. Hayes. The hotel owner sent the following reply on Nov. 18.

 

Thanks for letting me know about this situation. My parents and I own this small hotel on Easter Island. We are well known for providing the best service possible on the island; 99.9% of my reviews on TripAdvisor.com are great. All my guests leave as friends. I look after them, I pick them up at the airport with flower necklaces, and I organize their stays by offering tours. 

Mr. Hayes never complained while he was here. On the contrary, he left apparently very happy. He wanted to exchange some pesos to dollars and the bank would not do it, but I contacted my bank executive and she did it for him at a great rate. He was, indeed, very thankful for that, so it was a big surprise to see his bad review. 

On my webpage, I do not say I have a bistro or a bar, but on the Hotels.com description of my hotel it did say so. I had contacted Hotels.com several times to change this information, and they assured me that it would change.

We did offer breakfast in the past, if requested. In 2012 we were unable to do so. We plan to start offering breakfast again in January 2013. 

The crack on a window was a temporary fix while we were waiting for the glass to arrive. We are on a very remote island, and things are not easy to acquire. Sometimes we have to wait for a while for a ship with cargo.

I love getting comments on our hotel because they help us improve our service. Most comments tell me that we are doing a great job. Most people who visit seem to enjoy every little thing about Easter Island. It is a very beautiful and mystical place. 

ALVARO ATAN, Inaki Uhi, Rapa Nui

On Nov. 20, Mr. Hayes wrote to ITN, “The same day I got your letter, I received a phone call from Taylor Cole of Hotels.com. She asked me for my confirmation number, which I no longer had. I also spoke to her about having directly paid the Inaki Uhi, as that is what I was directed to do from the Hotels.com website. She said that that is done in some cases. 

“I told her that the only thing I wanted was to have the information on a property to be correct and that what was listed for the Inaki Uhi was far from it. She said they only list what is given to them from a property.”

When ITN checked on Jan. 14, 2013, the description of the Inaki Uhi had been corrected.

ITN did not get a reply from Hotels.com initially, not until after mailing a letter to them directly (10440 North Central Expressway, Ste. 400, Dallas, TX 75231) on Jan. 17. 

Taylor Cole then called ITN, saying that she had discussed the matter with Mr. Hayes and also that Hotels.com had worked with the property owner to get the hotel’s information on their website corrected. She stated that there is a webpage where property owners are to submit information about their hotels and that they had been trying to get the owner of the Inaki Uhi to use that. She added that, thanks to Mr. Hayes’ bringing the matter to their attention, they finally were able to get the info correctly updated.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I was planning a trip to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) on my own and did some research on various websites. I finally decided to use the reviews on Hotels.com to choose a place to stay and settled on the Inaki Uhi (Atamu Tekena St., Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui; phone +56 32 2551160 or 2100231). I stayed there July 18-25, 2012, having booked my reservation about two months earlier.

The hotel’s reviews all were good, and the description of the property on Hotels.com showed several amenities that fit my wishes perfectly, including that there was a snack bar, that breakfast was available for a surcharge and that there was limited room service available. 

Upon arrival, I found that none of those statements were true. 

In addition, a plastic glass in my bathroom was dirty when I arrived and was never cleaned during my stay. 

A large window in my room that could have once been a patio door was cracked, with a piece of tape holding the glass together. 

There was no heat at all, yet it got into the 50s at night in July, and it was windy at times. There was an extra blanket, but the room was cold, since the windows weren’t airtight.

After returning home, I tried emailing Hotels.com about the discrepancies between the online description and my experience but got no response. I tried to initiate a “chat” via their website, but, from the responses I got, it seemed that I must have been talking to a computer and not a live person. 

I posted my own review about the Inaki Uhi on Hotels.com. The owner’s response to it ignored the issues I raised; he just wondered why he was getting a negative review.

Aside from the hotel, my visit to Easter Island, in general, was the worst travel experience I have ever had, out of 17 or 18 countries. Although the moai are nice, I felt that, as a whole, Easter Island was overrated. I had wanted to go there for 30 years. I stayed for a week and was glad to leave. I felt that a 3-day visit would have been plenty.

When our plane first arrived, at around 5 a.m., passengers had to wait at a covered walkway outside the terminal building for the better part of an hour with no explanation at all. It was windy and cool. Officials came out a couple of times and ran drug-sniffing dogs past us, then went back in. Finally, we were allowed in and went through Customs, etc.

A rental car cost $78-$83 a day, but I found no insurance available on the island, so renting a car was a gamble. 

I ate in various restaurants in town, and the food was expensive. For example, one cup of coffee and one slice of pie cost the Chilean peso equivalent of $8.31. One scrambled egg, one piece of toast, three tomato slices, one piece of cheese and a glass of juice cost $13.84 plus tip (which was asked for). A meal of two very small chicken breasts, a scoop of rice, four or five green beans, one roll and two cans of Coke cost $34.30.  

The only public bathrooms that I saw were one in the national park and one at the beach, and they each cost $1.03 to use. 

There were stray dogs (and their droppings) all over. 

I found the people to be rude. I even had trouble changing my money from pesos back to dollars when I went to the bank before my departure. I was told they would buy dollars but not sell them.

One good thing was I had entered via Lima, Peru, so I avoided the visitor’s fee that travelers coming in from Santiago, Chile, have to pay (about $160 for Americans).

CHARLES M. HAYES

Toledo, OH

 

ITN emailed copies of Mr. Hayes’ letter to two addresses of Expedia.com (including expediapr@hlgrp.com), which is the parent company of Hotels.com, and to the owner of the Inaki Uhi (paatan@entelchile.net), also sending an update to Mr. Hayes. The hotel owner sent the following reply on Nov. 18.

 

Thanks for letting me know about this situation. My parents and I own this small hotel on Easter Island. We are well known for providing the best service possible on the island; 99.9% of my reviews on TripAdvisor.com are great. All my guests leave as friends. I look after them, I pick them up at the airport with flower necklaces, and I organize their stays by offering tours. 

Mr. Hayes never complained while he was here. On the contrary, he left apparently very happy. He wanted to exchange some pesos to dollars and the bank would not do it, but I contacted my bank executive and she did it for him at a great rate. He was, indeed, very thankful for that, so it was a big surprise to see his bad review. 

On my webpage, I do not say I have a bistro or a bar, but on the Hotels.com description of my hotel it did say so. I had contacted Hotels.com several times to change this information, and they assured me that it would change.

We did offer breakfast in the past, if requested. In 2012 we were unable to do so. We plan to start offering breakfast again in January 2013. 

The crack on a window was a temporary fix while we were waiting for the glass to arrive. We are on a very remote island, and things are not easy to acquire. Sometimes we have to wait for a while for a ship with cargo.

I love getting comments on our hotel because they help us improve our service. Most comments tell me that we are doing a great job. Most people who visit seem to enjoy every little thing about Easter Island. It is a very beautiful and mystical place. 

ALVARO ATAN, Inaki Uhi, Rapa Nui

On Nov. 20, Mr. Hayes wrote to ITN, “The same day I got your letter, I received a phone call from Taylor Cole of Hotels.com. She asked me for my confirmation number, which I no longer had. I also spoke to her about having directly paid the Inaki Uhi, as that is what I was directed to do from the Hotels.com website. She said that that is done in some cases. 

“I told her that the only thing I wanted was to have the information on a property to be correct and that what was listed for the Inaki Uhi was far from it. She said they only list what is given to them from a property.”

When ITN checked on Jan. 14, 2013, the description of the Inaki Uhi had been corrected.

ITN did not get a reply from Hotels.com initially, not until after mailing a letter to them directly (10440 North Central Expressway, Ste. 400, Dallas, TX 75231) on Jan. 17. 

Taylor Cole then called ITN, saying that she had discussed the matter with Mr. Hayes and also that Hotels.com had worked with the property owner to get the hotel’s information on their website corrected. She stated that there is a webpage where property owners are to submit information about their hotels and that they had been trying to get the owner of the Inaki Uhi to use that. She added that, thanks to Mr. Hayes’ bringing the matter to their attention, they finally were able to get the info correctly updated.