This has just come to my attention that the number 1 rated hotel in Beijing is… Drum roll please…
A frigging Holiday Inn!
Yes, they do have true 5 star hotels in Beijing.
Granted Holiday Inns do get a worse rep in the U.S. than in many other places around the world. Don’t think it is because we are more pampered here: it is true that Holiday Inns outside of the U.S. seem to be a bit more than meeting your daily bare necessities. But, Number 1 out of 1,168 hotels reviewed on TripAdvisor??!!
Apparently, it is also the Winner of Traveler’s Choice for Best Bargain/Best In Top 25 Cities.
Morevoer, the spread of the ratings are quite convincing: of 165 reviews, 127 rated the hotel as a 5 overall, 28 – 4, 5 – 3, and 5 – 2. Not too shabby. So there does not seem to be any major argument against this hotel’s #1 standing.
But still, a Holiday Inn? So naturally, I am intrigued. Wouldn’t you? Especially since many, and I mean MANY, of the reviews specifically mentioned the one employee, Storm, in their titles. This Storm is the most famous in Beijing next to Sand Storm, as far as Western tourists are concerned, it seems. And he is much much much beloved. Some choice examples of the review titles: “Loved Storm”, “One word: Storm”, “Storm makes it great”, “Wonderful Hotel, Wonderful Storm”… You get the idea. Even some travel blogs gave Storm honorable mentions. This one employee basically single-handedly made the Holiday Inn Central Plaza in Beijing a gem, stand out amongst all the other similar surrounding hotels. (Sort of like how HoJo Annheim has become a legend and best-kept secret amongst all the Disneyland aficionados…) Storm has taken on almost a legendary status judging by the reviews I had time to go through. It is amazing what this guy would go through in the name of Customer Service.
Unfortunately, I cannot find a picture of him online. Is he even real? Maybe this is one of the biggest Internet hoaxes: that Storm is actually a fictional character? Maybe Holiday Inn Beijing has employed many Customer Service “handlers of white people” and they all call themselves Storm? Somebody needs to profile this man named Storm! I need to know that he has been recognized and appreciated for all those extra steps (literally in many stories) that he took for the guests staying at the hotel. Somebody needs to call InterContinental Hotels Group and confirm that they do take notice of the employee who was cited as THE best feature of the hotel.
Barring the not-yet-written profile/interview, I wonder whether I need to travel to Beijing so I can confirm that Storm is not a high-tech robot designed to carry out the most mind-boggling, highest standard, Customer Service, ever experienced by Western tourists.