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A room with a view . . . but not much else

Published 1 August 2004
News Review
577th article

Michael Winner and Geraldine Lynton-Edwards at the Hacienda (Jeremy Marsh)

It's not often my airport pick-up time is mentioned in five different letters. But it was, for reasons I won't go into, regarding my visit to the Hacienda hotel in Ibiza.

Missives went to and from the owner, Alvar Lipszyc, the marketing co ordinator, Olivier Chaffard, and the reception manager, Eduardo Manero.

The car was requested for 12.30pm. When the private jet touched down at 1pm a very efficient Ibiza airport girl called through to be told no car was there.

As we drove from plane to terminal, she reported the hotel saying it was "on the way". I was about to take a taxi when, at 1.13pm, the car arrived.

If a hotel can't send a car to an airport on time (and I could easily have landed much earlier) then you can expect further problems.

I was shown to a room that could kindly be described as horrible, ill-decorated and impractical. There was no bath, just two tiny cubicles each with a shower - one produced steam - and a wash basin. There was a single toilet.

The decor was Indian. A hard wooden bench faced the television. There was a wood frame covered with ropes, on top of which lay sequined cushions. The small cupboards were so close to the bed that their doors scraped it. There was an electronic safe but no instruction on how to use it.

Outside was a lovely view of high rocks falling to a bay. Also a whirlpool bath. Many of the wooden tiles you walked on to get in or out were not fixed and overlapped the steps. So they hinged forward, dropping you onto the hard balcony. Very dangerous.

By the swimming pool were four pillars with dried palm fronds circling out from the top for shade. One pillar had half its fronds missing, another had none at all.

The matting that lay on arched ironwork to cover diners by the rail had large gaps, so the sun beat down on guests. An elderly lady complained the rail that was to prevent her from falling onto the cliffs below was wobbly. At breakfast the tablecloth billowed over the butter and dishes as there was no clip to hold it.

When I was driven to the Malibu seaside restaurant for a wedding, the driver ignored the large sign with an arrow pointing there, turned left and stopped in a vast empty car park that was nothing to do with anything.

When Olivier Choffard drove me to the airport he twice missed the turning to the terminal, then realised he was going to the wrong terminal anyway and missed the turn to the front of the private jet area.

A guest told me the concierge had recommended him two separate restaurants for lunch and, when he got there, both times they were closed. Another guest said the same happened to him regarding dinner.

Yet another guest said, "I'm in property, they need a maintenance man here. The walls are full of finger marks, there's a lot of scuffing all around."

To put it mildly, the Hacienda is a poorly run hotel. When I was there the owner-managers, Alvar and Sabine Lypszyc, were absent. Alvar is responsible for the cluttered, messy decoration, ranging from Indian artefacts to pathetic modern murals. "He's an artist," said Olivier Choffard reverently.

If he's an artist, I'm an astronaut.

It cost £795 per night, just for the room. To add insult to insult I'd requested the best and largest accommodation. When I came down from my ridiculous quarters after 10 minutes settling in the receptionist asked, "Did you like the room?" "It's small," I said. "We can move you to a bigger one," she volunteered.

As I ate lunch Mr Choffard offered the same. "If you had a bigger room, why didn't you put me there instead of where I am now?" I asked. As it was only one night I couldn't be bothered to change.

Good things about the Hacienda include a spectacular hilltop view. The lunch service was excellent, the restaurant manager, Jorge Monte, charming and efficient.

The food was good. We had a freebie of tomato ice-cream, then prawns in a rum sauce, then a superb tiny seafood salad. This was while they slaved over a hot paella. When it arrived it was highly commendable.

The Spanish aren't great at desserts, but my apricot and yoghurt tart with almond ice-cream was passable. The triumph was Hierbas Ibicencas, a liqueur of local herbs. I took a bottle home. Breakfast was all right. I asked for the bacon to be crisp but it wasn't.

Overall the Hacienda is bizarre. Nowhere near the standard of hotels I usually visit. You have been warned.

Winner's letters

After paying £220 for an excellent dinner for two at Petrus I asked if I might have a copy of the menu. I was informed, rather loftily, this would cost a further £10. I declined and won't return. Is this common practice now?
Deryck Solomon, Warwickshire.

I also suffered at the hands of the receptionist at the Belvedere (Winner's Dinners, July 18). On a sunny Saturday we hoped to eat on the terrace. We were told in a very unfriendly manner that it was closed - because there had been a party on the Friday night!
Michael Halliwell, Hampshire

I was in the queue in my local Halifax building society. When it became my turn to be served I was confronted by a large cardboard cut-out of Michael Winner advertising car insurance and dressed as a fairy. The chap next to me said, "Who's that ugly old bird meant to be?" I replied, "That's not an ugly old bird. That's an ugly old Michael Winner."
Thomas Kennedy, Lancashire

I wish there'd been one of Michael Winner's camera-toting companions around when he was "somnambulant" on his sun lounger at the Splendido in Portofino (Winner's Dinners, July 25). Sleepwalking on one of those contraptions is a feat of co-ordination for anyone. Though on second thoughts I suppose not for someone who thinks he can walk on water.
Jo Cole, Hertfordshire

Mr Winner should visit the Ponda Rosa restaurant near Ryde. Four of us were greeted with "Have you booked?" on entering an empty restaurant. A friend's "dressed crab salad" arrived devoid of dressing. When she asked for some the reply came "We haven't got any." Asked if they had olive oil and vinegar the response was "No." When we asked for cutlery to eat our meal with the waiter said, "Oh, I forgot." I ordered "pork chops and seasonal vegetables". A bowl of chips arrived, no veg. When I asked they said, "Oh, do you want vegetables?" Customer service is alive and well on the Isle of Wight!
Gareth Owen Buckinghamshire

I ordered a pre-dinner margarita in Villa Cipriani next door to and owned by Reid's Palace hotel in Madeira. The wine waiter hadn't heard of it but said he'd make it if I told him what went into it!
Lenny Gold, London.

* Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1ST or e-mail michael.winner@sunday-times.co.uk