Sheraton Paris Charles-de-Gaulle: COVID is a too easy excuse

We’ve told you about the Sheraton Roissy a number of times, as it has long been our favorite Roissy hotel, and its location remains unbeatable for those departing from terminal 2, especially on an early morning flight. A location that can help you overlook certain weaknesses until the day things start to go wrong.

This is the misfortune that befell me this summer when I was staying there as part of a gastronomic escapade that was supposed to take me to Bordeaux.

The journey program :

#TypeReview
1HotelSheraton Roissy CDG (here)
2FlightParis-Bordeaux – Air France – Economy
3Hotelthe Renaissance Bordeaux
4RestaurantLe Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay
5RestaurantLe Quatrième Mur (Bordeaux)
6FlightBordeaux-Paris – Air France – Economy

Booking

As usual I booked a standard room (Deluxe) on the Marriott app.

Location of the hotel

The Sheraton Roissy is located above the TGV station in Terminal 2. So you can enter directly from the airport without having to get out when you get off the plane or arrive by train or RER, and it also has its own access for added convenience when you arrive from outside and are dropped off by car.

A better location when departing from T2 is impossible.

Arrival at the hotel

For once I find a driver who knows exactly how to find the Sheraton’s (very poorly signposted) entrance when you arrive at Roissy. It saves me having to point it out to him, or having to be dropped off at a terminal and walk the rest of the way.

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Check-in

I walk into a lobby so empty it’s gloomy. While the French have largely resumed their travels this August, they have decided not to stop at the Sheraton CDG.

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All kidding aside, it’s paying the price for increasingly fierce competition in the airport area, for an obsolescence that’s less and less easy to hide, and for high rates, especially for the service on offer if the hotel’s location isn’t a key criterion.

So I go to the counter to check in.

Check-in

That’s when I should have realized that something was wrong and that this trip wasn’t going to be as smooth as the previous ones.

I’m greeted first, which is the minimum I can expect. So far, so good.

Having checked in online, I was immediately given my room key and asked to sign the arrival form. But there’s a protocol for welcoming elite customers (I’m Titanium) that’s been totally ignored.

“Thank you for your loyalty”? No.

“What additional benefit would you like between free breakfast or extra points”? No.

Automatic upgrade to the best available room, including suite? No. There have been times when I’ve not been upgraded to a suite because the hotel was full, which makes sense, but I’ve always had at least one executive room. Nothing. In an empty hotel it’s weird.

Let’s move on.

“For health reasons we are forced to close the gym“. One thing that gets on my nerves is when I’m not given the real reason for things. I’d have heard “given the context, we’re making savings as best we can”, but the “we’re being forced to” triggers my bullshit detector, a detector that’s about to be put to the test. By the way, the Moxy Roissy gym was operational at the same time.

“For health reasons, we are not allowed to open the lounge. The detector beeps. But to compensate, I’ll be given a voucher for a drink at the bar. Royal.

“Due to health restrictions we have to close the restaurant in the evening“. Beep again. Everyone knows that the virus doesn’t eat breakfast or lunch, but goes wild at dinnertime.

“However, you can dine at the bar. So it’s not affected by the mandatory evening closing?

“Or you can use room service. However, due to sanitary restrictions we are unable to serve you in your room and you will have to collect your meal from downstairs. If you wish to have your meal delivered to your room, you will be charged 7 euros”. So when you pay, there are no more restrictions? I don’t understand anything anymore. Or maybe I just understand too much.

“Tomorrow you can check out online. What time would you like to leave?”. Well, you’ll see when I check out on the mobile app. “Yes, but I need to know for the mobile check out”. And yet he looks a bit old for a trainee.

Anyway, I’m off to my room, gritting my teeth a bit.

The deluxe room

Before heading back to my room, I savor one of the few experiences of this stay that hasn’t deteriorated: the absolute silence that reigns on the floors, and the feeling of being in such a bubble of silence that if an atomic bomb exploded next door to the hotel, you wouldn’t hear a thing.

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There’s nothing new in the room, and we’re back to a product so familiar that it’s worn out.

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Well, I have the impression that the bed has been made in a hurry. Usually the TV is on with a welcome message, but here it’s off. As I turned it on, I realized that the music we’d been used to hearing on the home screen for centuries had changed, and so had the screen. It was about time.

I even got one of the only rooms that didn’t have a nice view of the runways.

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The furniture is damaged and worn, and really shows its age.

The bathroom is no better.

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What’s more, when I wanted to take a bath, I realized that the water pressure was even lower than usual and, what’s worse, the tap deliver cold water on 80% of its rotation and scalding water on the remaining 20%. There’s no such thing as lukewarm.

When I went to get a bottle of water, I realized that there wasn’t any. You’ll notice how worn out the furniture is (behind the sugar sticks).

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COVID effect here too? No: forgotten. Room service will come by an hour later and honestly say “we didn’t know this room was occupied, we dropped in by chance”.

On the other hand, COVID’s effect on the minibar: the virus likes sparkling water and beer.

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I was also going to complain about the lack of a bathrobe, but that’s normal: I’m in Deluxe, and bathrobes are only available from the Executive room.

I also find the Room Service menu. Well, what’s left of it, since the menu, which used to fit on several pages, now fits on an A4 sheet, and the offer has been divided by at least 5.

Please note the extra charge of 7 euros for room service. Unacceptable in this price range.

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So I decide to go and find some comfort at the bar. And I’m not out of the woods yet.

The Bar/restaurant

With the restaurants and lounge closed, the bar is naturally full!

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Eventually, I’ll intercept a table that becomes available. Table of 4. Too bad. I take what I can get.

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The waiter arrives quickly. I’m entitled to a beer or glass of wine with my voucher. How big is the beer? He tells me that since it’s not specified, there’s no reason not to take a 50 cl. Finally, someone who brings a smile to my face on this trip.

I look around: it’s Beirut. Many people have come to eat, but there are few tables at the right height for it, and many low ones. So you have to be prepared to break your back…or wait for a suitable table to become available.

And given that the tables in question are rather large and that there are a lot of single people, the use of the surface area is not at all optimal!

But what I’m looking at is the staff struggling. They are staffed like a bar service, with bar staff. They are asked to take over the restaurant’s clientele and run a catering service. At some point it’s bound to jam! But more on that later….

In the end, I decide to dine here, as it’s livelier than in my room, and although they have to manage everything in a hurry, I can see that the staff really go the extra mile for the customers while remaining attentive, which is no mean feat.

I take another beer while waiting for a table to become available, and fortunately it won’t be long.

For the record, I’ll be ordering a Vegetarian Poké Bowl and a Fish and Ships. Both will be well presented and very good.

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I’ll even add some cheese at the end.

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Given the context, the service will be remarkable. I’ll even be offered a glass of wine to make up for the wait between courses.

I have time to continue observing the room and what I see confirms what I said earlier. It’s as if the bar staff had been told to “do catering in a room not made for it and a team not made for it and get on with it”. They communicate a lot, are supportive and take excellent care of customers, apologizing in passing for the degraded experience. Bar service has nothing to do with restaurant service, which is more time-consuming and demanding, especially when you have to fetch the dishes from the restaurant kitchens on the other side of the lobby. At some point, no matter how hard you try, it just won’t work.

I hesitate between applauding them and feeling sorry for them. I should probably do both.

A trip to the toilet will show me that “when it won’t, it won’t”.

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We find time to chat at the end of the service and they confirm my intuition. They feel abandoned and left to their own devices by people who don’t give a second’s thought to what’s happening in the field. One of them has decided to give up the profession following the experience he has had since the hotel reopened.

And they don’t always have the good fortune to find understanding customers. This makes sense for the price of the room, and given that most other hotels at the time offered a level of service that was, if not normal, at least much less degraded.

When I went back to bed, my professional reflexes quickly took over. It’s always said that employees can’t be expected to go the extra mile for their customers if they feel slighted by their company. Here we have management who despise both customers and employees, but professional employees who do their utmost and suffer in silence. For how long?

Bottom line: a real fiasco

The conclusion is simple. There are two things I can’t stand in general.

The first is that they find false pretexts to explain what are nothing more than decisions they don’t take responsibility for. That the hotel decided to reopen with a deliberately degraded service to preserve its margin is something I can understand. The fact that I’m being given lame excuses, on the other hand, makes me feel like I’m being taken for a fool.

The second is to see employees abandoned and left to their own devices by an absent management disconnected from the field. That’s what I got. When I asked to speak to a manager, I was told “they’ve all left since 6pm”.

As a result, I’ve changed hotels for all my future bookings at Roissy. As I write this article (early September), service at the Sheraton Roissy CDG is still not back to normal, and for all the reasons given here, it’s no longer a hotel I’d recommend.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this experience, it’s that, barring real health constraints (imposed by law), either a hotel reopens completely or remains totally closed. The in-between is bad for the customer (especially when he’s being lied to about his motives), bad for the employees and ultimately very bad for the property.

Ah yes, one positive thing. Thanks to the entire Galaxy Bar team…you made my evening with your kindness and dedication.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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