Not too long ago, thanks to my training, I had the fine privilege of getting a flight down to Labuan. Flights down to Labuan are pretty constant, thanks to its reputation as a ‘business’ island.
MAS gets its 737s to fly down there on a regular basis, several times a day I think, if I’m not mistaken. Seats are a little tight in there, but I guess that’s normal and maybe I feel that way because I haven’t been on an airplane for a long time now.
Anyhow, as Labuan’s a pretty small place, the island’s main hotels are very close to where the airport is. A casual drive, would take less than 10 minutes, five if you race there. My stay would be at Waterfront Labuan.
As you enter, you get a true feel of the place. Its generally rather quiet, not that much of the hustle and bustle you would expect of a top class hotel in the capital city, which I suppose would be a welcome change for business travellers. The lobby itself is pretty huge although I can’t say they’ve utilised the space well. In my five days there, I don’t think I’ve seen more than 5 people in the lobby at one time.
Waterfront Labuan Lobby & Reception
Since this is a blog, for the benefit of those reading, I’m going to make this entry in the form of a review. It’ll be split into four sections, (1) accommodation, (2) dining, (3) other facilities and (4) review conclusion. Each section will be evaluated according to three main criteria, facility, service and value.
This is the room I was booked into:
As you can probably see, its a rather decent place, and it really needs to be, seeing that you or your company will have to cough up more than RM 300 per night.
1A. Facility (3.5/5)
The beds are generally fine, and you can find an extra pillow in the closet if you need one, there’s only one though.
The coffee table is a generally weird addition to the room. Its because frankly, the coffee table’s a bit too short and hard to reach, pretty much defeating its purpose.
As with most hotels, as you walk in, the closet’s right there next to the mini-fridge and some tea/coffee making utility. Pleasantly, the closet has five built in hangars.
There’s a small safe within the closet for your use, although I’m not sure what you’re going to store in it, since even a football won’t fit in there. Some people might say it could be used to keep things like documents and passports safe, but people carry them around all the time. Nonetheless, its a facility provided free for guests use.
The mini bar on the other hand, is a tad bit larger than the safe. Its stocked with soft drinks and beer. There’s good space for guests to keep anything they need cold. It was more than enough to house the chocolates I bought from Labuan, so I think it’s not lacking in terms of space.
Now as far as entertainment is concerned, the room has one flat Sony Bravia television, which I thought was pretty good.
The channels the hotel subscribes to are as follows:
The television itself was just fine, but its reception for the few Astro channels the hotel subscribes to left a lot to be desired:
For the normal Malaysian that subscribes to Astro, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to see the above phenomenon in your home if it was raining. The thing is was that it was bright and sunny outside when I saw this screen.
Later on, images would come on and off the screen, and even when it did, the image wasn’t great either with slightly fuzzy lines across the screen.
In house communication is all though the room phone, which for some reason sometimes has some sort of static while you’re listening. Voices aren’t exactly crisp and at times you wonder if you’re listening to a phone conversation or radio communication from a war movie.
The hotel provides free Wi-Fi internet access for all rooms, which I believe is a change from previous policy because the in-room brochures indicate a charging fee for internet access. Its a welcome facility, however, the connection wasn’t great in my room, so I had choppy internet. The funny thing was that the the wireless router was right outside my room.
Luckily, I brought along my Celcom broadband USB dongle with me and it worked wonders. One thing good about staying within the Waterfront area is that reception for Celcom broadband is excellent. Actually, less than a few hundred metres away from the hotel is a huge billboard that says, ‘This is Celcom Territory’. It really is. Still, that’s a minus point for the Waterfront. How can third party facilities be better than in house?
Well, the bathroom tells a better story and its just as well since its way more important than if you have or don’t have internet access in your hotel room.
The shower’s decent, the water pressure isn’t very strong, but just nice. Getting hot water’s pretty instant, so another plus point there. However, when showering, I found that water can still leak out onto the bathroom floor if your shower head’s pointed anywhere near the point where the glass door meets the other glass pane. Its not the biggest concern, but some may care about it. The bathroom also has a bathtub, but I can’t say much about that since I didn’t use it.
Shower gel, shampoo, body lotion, body soap, cotton buds and shower cap are all provided.
Other amenities are also available, but at a cost:
1B. Service (3/5)
As with all hotels, guests have the option of putting up the door sign that will let the cleaners know if the room needs to be done up or left alone. If used or missing, the cleaners will replenish the toiletries mentioned earlier, laundry bags and also the mineral water bottles that are also free of charge for guests use. The cleaner I met was generally nice, so I’ll give Waterfront a plus point on that.
1C. Value (2.5/5)
Before I get into my valuation of the room as a whole, here’s how the management charges for it, I’m not sure if the rates are changed, but the in-room brochure shows:
Frankly, after reviewing some of the in-room facilities, I’m not sure even RM 300 would be a fair rate for a single room, let alone RM 390.
For that kind of rate, in-room facilities should be top notch, and the poor television reception and internet connectivity discredit the hotel. I guess it would also be interesting to mention that for rooms with a charge of RM 390 per night, I find it rather stingy of the hotel not to provide simple things like bedroom slippers without charge.
However, one thing the Waterfront Labuan has going for it is that the rooms are pretty big, which in the end has the bigger say on the going rate I suppose.
2A. Facility (3/5)
It’s a little chilly when you walk in, which made me regret walking in for breakfast in a jersey-type shirt the other day. The Spinnaker is also probably the first restaurant in a four star rated hotel I’ve seen that uses plastic place mats. It looks nice really, but when you feel it, you do wonder if the four star rating really is fair for the Waterfront.
Other than that though, I have no complaints about the place. Its well lit, furniture very decent and comfortable enough.
2B. Service (4/5)
The waiters are quite pleasant, and there’re none of those stereotypical waiter types that act all uppity and whatnot.
I ordered room service twice when I didn’t want to leave the room, and my food came within 30 minutes on both occasions.
2C. Value (2/5)
First thing’s first, breakfast is free all the time throughout your stay. However, I was on my own, I wouldn’t know how many coupons the hotel would allocate for families staying there.
As you’d probably guess, breakfast is served buffet style. The variety isn’t large, but it gets by. There’s a selection of Malaysian or continental foods for breakfast. There’re also fruits and plenty of tea and coffee.
I wouldn’t know about lunch, but I’ve had dinner over at the in-house restaurant named the Spinnaker. You can order a la carte, or pick a semi-buffet option (Mondays & Tuesdays), where you order one main course, but its free flowing as far as appetizers and dessert is concerned.
One thing I have to say about the food, is that its mediocre at best. The food is edible, but frankly nothing I’ve tried has justified any of the high menu prices. While everyone accepts hotel food is expensive, mediocre meals at premium prices are not acceptable.
3. Other Facilities
There’s a swimming pool and a small gym within the premises. The gym has some basic weight lifting equipment and one or two treadmills, but that’s about it. The swimming pool on the other hand is actually quite spacious, and there’re a couple of hoops so you can play water netball if you like.
Just opposite the reception in the lobby is the business centre, which is basically the hotel’s cyber cafe with printing facilities.
The facility has a total of four computer and one printer. The good news is that there are no fees for using the computers or its internet access, but there are charges for printing.
Their PCs boast some good basic productivity tools. The first would be OpenOffice.org 3.3, which is probably the best free alternative to Microsoft Office applications. They also have Adobe Reader X, media player classic and HD VDeck. HD VDeck is probably the most unique of the lot because the software allows you to record your voice. While I doubt anybody would record a statement at the facility, its a good option to have.
Finally, upon request, there are shuttles to transport guests to the airport from the hotel. No charge is levied for this service which is great. If guests call for a taxi, you’d expect RM 12.00 to be take from their pockets just like that.
4. Review Conclusion
4A. Facility (3/5)
The infrastructure is all there, but management and utilisation of facilities can be improved. Just about everything in the rooms are in
good shape, so there’s not much to complain about. Guests won’t get the feel of a pampered experience during their stay, but one of some good decent rest.
4B. Service (3/5)
The staff at reception are well informed and restaurant staff are courteous, which are big plus points.
4C. Value (2.5/5)
As highlighted before, there are several shortcomings with regards to in-room facilities, dining and so forth. High room rates need to be justified with exceptional service and facilities and the current situation does not give a strong argument for it.
Whatever it is, the Waterfront will always be a decent place to stay. One just has to realise that other than the bed and shower, not too much else should be expected of it.