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For stylish Melbourne, the Crown Metropol delivers the goods … well nearly!

April 7, 2014 Headline News, Hotel News No Comments Email Email

Crown Metropol entranceLocated just one block from the Yarra River at 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, in Melbourne, the Crown Metropol is one of the three superb Crown properties in Melbourne, including the Crown Towers their flagship hotel and the Crown Promenade, all located around the Crown Entertainment and Casino complex, just 25 minutes from Melbourne’s airport and a ten minute walk from the CBD and Flinders Street train station.

The Crown Metropol is without doubt a very smart, contemporary style hotel, with the highlight not only being the superb range of rooms and suites, but the absolutely stunning rooftop swimming pool and spa complex, which has to arguably be the best in Australia … you have to check it out and the Sky Lounge, both with amazing views right across Melbourne and Port Philip Bay

Crown Metropol lobbyThe Crown Metropl really does have a great contemporary feel to it, probably best suited to business people going to conferences and meetings in Melbourne, although when I was there, there seemed to be a number families on weekend breaks, with the kids enjoying the rooftop pool in particular.

As we have come to expect with hotels of this high standard, the Crown Metropol offers a 24 hour front desk, a range of bars and lounges, with many more in the Crown complex nearby, a business centre, concierge, extensive conference and meeting facilities, a gym and fitness room, ice machines on guest floors, interconnecting rooms for families, non-smoking floors, 24 hr room service and wheel chair accessible rooms.

While I would wholeheartedly recommend the Crown Metropol as a great, stylish and very convenient place to stay in Melbourne, there are a few very silly things some of which are easily addressed, that prevent it being the great hotel it should be.

The first is that while the rooms are all very well equipped, only their top end Loft and Apartment offerings have a bath, with all other rooms having what they describe as an “oversized shower”.  Strange for hotel of this status, but not something I expect they can do much about, although there is enough room in the bathrooms for a bath!

Crown Metropol PoolThe second is the Crown Metropol offers a special additional package called  Sky Lounge Package, I think for around $60 a day, through which the web sites says, guests can chose to include Level 28 access in their accommodation package, with the following complimentary services: dedicated check in/out in the hotel lobby, breakfast for two at 28 between 6:30 and 10:30am Monday to Friday and between 07:00 to 11:00am Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, complimentary tea, coffee and soft drink until 7:00pm daily and pre-dinner drinks between 5:30 and 7:00pm.

Please believe me, the setting is superb on Level 28 and the breakfast is also superb, but virtually every evening, the Sky Lounge and also sometimes the Sky Bar is rented out for private parties, so guests and even those that have bought the Sky Lounge Package cannot use the Sky Lounge, being relegated to somewhere else in the hotel, with one evening the lobby are of the conference area and sometimes to the regular first floor bar Mr Hives!  Not very good at all and something that needs addressing.

My third and final, but probably most significant gripe is that on February 15 2014, yes only a few weeks ago, I wrote an article titled Leading Aussie hotel group listens to their clients … free WiFi at all Crown Hotels.

Please feel free to click on it and read what it said, because it was based on a media release sent to me by Crown’s PR people … and they are actually very good … saying that Crown now provided free WiFi, with the release saying there were no special sign ups, restrictions or club memberships required, with free WiFi now available to Crown’s visitors across all five properties, Crown Towers, Metropol Melbourne, Metropol Perth, Promenade Melbourne and Promenade Perth

I extoled the virtues of this initiative in my article, as those of us that travel globally know that Australia lags far behind in this space, but when I arrived at Crown Metropol I found a rather different picture!

The reason is that, yes they do provide free WiFi, but as the very small print on the Crown Metropol web site says and the media release did not say, “Crown Metropol now offers complimentary Wi-Fi, ideal for general internet browsing, and checking emails.”  Adding, “A premium service is available for $30 per day.”

The release was very clear though in that it said, “Free WiFi was available for all guests nationwide with no strings attached, from December 21, 2013”, rather in contrast to what the web site said and my experience at Crown Metropol.

Now I don’t know about you, but free WiFi means free WiFi, not a very basic browsing only version with very strict limitations for accessing emails, Skype etc.

I asked for clarification and was told that there are actually three categories of WiFi at all Crown properties, not it appears just Crown Metropol, with only the very basic one free, with a download limit of only 512 kbit, an upload limit of 256 kbit, a private IP address setting which means you can do little else than browse and a limit of 100 emails [around 30 mins of emails for me!].

The non-free options that the media release omitted to mention are Premium High Speed at $30 a day, but with a 4 mbit download and 4 bit upload limit, a private IP restriction and only 100 emails a day and Premium High Speed Public IP option, which offers the same as Premium High Speed at $30 a day with a routable IP address.

Amazingly on all, the settings prevented using Outlook for outgoing emails – it appears they are afraid of you spamming when you are in your hotel room, mind you I fixed the Outlook issue by working out who their ISP was, calling them and managing to get the outgoing smtp address and changing my settings!

So, come on Crown, the words “spoiling the ship for a hap’eth of tar” come to mind, as you have a superb hotel, but by not providing across the board, free, unrestricted WiFi gives the impression you are living in the past and trying to squeeze as much cash as you can out of your guests.

Free WiFi or any free internet access today is comparable to having water and electricity in your room, so perhaps Crown it is time you gave your “free WiFi policy second thought and oh, please do not ask your PR people to issue misleading releases again as it damages your reputation and theirs and above all for us, ours!

John Alwyn-Jones, Special Correspondent.

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