Saturday, March 28, 2009

Burgos Blues

After finishing the last program and feeling SO ill, I was not sure about starting this one. I have no idea what happened my guess is food poisoning. Luckily, when I awoke the next day I felt considerably better, just a little “dodgy”.

This week’s program took place in Burgos. It’s a beautiful city in the north of Spain; and not too far from where I now live. However, like Salamanca the hotel is in the middle of the city and, in my opinion, far from suitable for the programs objective.
I believe the students learn more and quicker if they are really immersed in the sounds of the English language and not led astray by bars and other influences around them, all too tempting to drop back into Spanish!

Being in the middle of the city meant issues with people going out at night, everynight (however, to be fair, they were up the following morning to do the program), but it is a potential problem.
Also being a city people have friends and family who come to visit, when they are in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t happen.

The hotel as expected had lots of silly problems for us; no suitable music system, changing rooms frequently, changing of bedrooms, 500+ guests for a congress conference, extortionate internet access, not to mention the fact the food was awful (at least for the first few days).

At one point I thought we were going to have a mutiny on our hands, due to the bad food and service in the hotel. Really, I don’t understand how a hotel cannot get the simple things right?
You inform said hotel what our requirements are, advise them of any possible changes that may take place and you agree on the details ahead of time. This doesn’t seem to be happening which in itself, is creating further problems.

The program itself works, it really does; but the external issues are having a bigger and bigger affect on the program and it is being noticed by everyone, staff, anglo’s and of course the Spaniards. Someone needs to address this, BEFORE it’s too late.

This week’s level of English for the Spaniards was low and to me that came across very clear (especially after last weeks group) – the way it manifested itself was in frustration, confusion, tiredness, lack of involvement in the different activities and little socialising outside of their classmates. Really this is a wonderful opportunity that is to be savoured, where else in the world would you meet 15 English speakers who wanted to help you, speak to you, and about you (apart from an A.A. meeting).

The party (if you could call it that) took place in a bar close to the hotel, due to the congress conference, which again was just another issue, the hotel should have never agreed to take the group if they had prior engagements.

Several participants complained about being moved from venue to venue at the last minute, and of course the service and hotels location. I feel for them, they give up their time, travel here under their own steam and invest themselves in a product they may know very little about, I don’t want to start a week with problems as they carried throughout the week.
I want both Anglo’s and Spaniards to have the best time they can have and leave with only happy memories, not complaints and lingering issues. Can this be addressed of course, it takes some planning and communication; which is what our business is all about, afterall, so lets get it right: FIRST TIME, EVERY TIME!

The photos can be found here
Vaughan Town - Burgos - Program 145

Ps Pilar I’m sorry for being an OGRE! ;)


Xanadu said...

Judging from the pictures, it looks like a beautiful hotel, and a beautiful city. The architecture looks amazing. Loev it. Sorry it wasn't a great experience for you. Hugs.

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