Vehicles drive pass by Hotel Metropole Hanoi which belongs to French luxury brand Sofitel
Hanoi has come in second among 100 cities for hotel quality in a recent survey, but skeptics say this does not warrant much jubilation as the listing does not reflect a real picture.
The study, done by travel search website Trivago, gathered visitors’ ratings and reviews from more than 140 accommodation booking sites for cities that have at least 135 hotels and 60 reviews on Trivago. It did not include TripAdvisor postings.
Hoang Thi Diep, deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the capital city deserves the rating as many new investments have been made to improve the service.
Diep said hotels in Vietnam are known for the best breakfast served among all hotels in Southeast Asia, as well as sophisticated and decorations and professional service at hotels from three stars.
She also said the fame is owed to many hotels run by foreign corporations in Vietnam.
Luu Duc Ke, director of Hanoitourist, the largest travel agent in northern Vietnam, is also among those feeling proud about the “achievement.”
Ke said the rating was “fair” and based on “objective comparison by those who have traveled a lot.”
He also remarked on Hanoi’s breakfast traditions, saying it was an “attraction” to visitors, with dishes made and served on orders.
“Our company has collected feedback from every tour and Hanoi is always ranked as ‘very good’.”
“This is really good news for Vietnam’s tourism industry.”
But many travel agents were not impressed by the ranking, saying they did not feel good about something that is not true.
Pham Quang Hung, director of the northern office of leading tourism company Vietravel, said: “The survey result is very good for the image of Vietnam’s tourism industry, but I personally think it does not reflect the whole reality.”
Hung said most hotels in Vietnam have not figured out the kind of services and products they want to or can offer, so the second rank sounds like fiction.
He said he believed the positive reviews and high ratings were made by rich tourists who stayed at luxury hotels and did not suffer from poor management or poorly trained staff.
The luxury hotels are usually owned by foreign corporations, so Hanoi should not feel so proud, Hung said.
He also said that Trivago and similar companies have been conducting similar surveys in order to lure hotels and tourism companies to place advertisements on their website.
He would feel better if the result came from a more independent agency, Hung said.
Tran The Dung, deputy director of The He Tre Company in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, was “not convinced” either, he told Tuoi Tre.
Dung said Hanoi downtown is crowded, and large vehicles are not allowed into several streets, so he has seen many tourists having to walk on the street dragging their suitcase a long way to reach their hotels.
He said these people would not give positive ratings about their accommodation.
Only a few five-star hotels in the outskirts areas have enough space to meet international facility standards, and those that have both quality facilities and staff are even fewer, Dung said.
He said Hanoi’s hotels are never favored by local tourists, even over other spots in the country.
The Trivago survey, which is done twice a year, named Dresden, Germany, the best city for hotel rooms, while London was marked as the worst in the list due to high prices and slow service.
A Reuters report quoted a Trivago spokeswoman as saying: “Users praised Dresden hotels for their value for money, while London hotels were criticized for their prices.
“In particular, reviewers felt the minibars were overpriced and breakfast service was both overpriced and disappointing, whilst hotels in Dresden were praised for their delicious and well-valued breakfasts.”
Hanoi was followed on the list by Tokyo, Chicago and Krakow of Poland, while Rio de Janiero, Copenhagen, Paris and Amsterdam joined London in the bottom five.
Vietnam earned nearly US$7 billion by receiving 6.8 million foreign tourists in 2012, according to figures released January 29 by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Around 3.5 million Vietnamese meanwhile spent more than $3.5 billion on traveling abroad.
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Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the February 1st edition of our print edition, Vietweek)