first to learn all about the basics of hotel mismanagement
here to see the non-awardwinning video.]
My girlfriend and I walked to the police
station around the corner to launch an
A Muslim Malay policewoman with a headscarf came with
us to the hotel to see the security camera footage and hear
out all the stories.
Mgr and his Indian technical staff sidekick, known
here as Indosafe, were willing to accept the staff's
inconsistent stories because the logs downloaded from our
safe showed no entry between 10:06 and 10:11, the five
minutes when Enjoymalay was in our room as we were at
Indosafe showed me the downloaded logs on a palm pilot.
The night we checked in, there were a series of
entries written as so:
18 December 2010
PIN Number set
18 December 2010
18 December 2010
18 December 2010
On the morning we were robbed there was
only one entry:
19 December 2010
PIN code reset
I suggested the safe logs prior to
10:46:05 had been erased.
Where were the records of us opening the safe before
we went to breakfast?
Indosafe and Mgr insisted that erasing the logs was
You needed some master PIN, access to some server,
blah blah blah.
I went onto the internet as the police lady conducted her
'investigation' to see if I could dig up any solid technical
evidence about safe deposit log deletions but came up with
nothing. My girlfriend called her director of engineering in Thailand, but he
couldn't understand her request.
Eventually, she brought one relevant matter to
everyone's attention, so simple I wondered why I hadn't
thought of it.
Where on the logs for December 19 were
the three attempts I'd made to get into the safe before the
system locked me out, the entire reason we'd requested
Enjoymalay to return to our room after fixing the shower?
The staff couldn't change their story
on that one. my girlfriend had requested to Chybly at 10:40 AM that Enjomalay
return to the room to open our safe after we were locked out
of it. There was
security camera footage of her making that request as well
as security camera footage of Enjoymalay re-entering our
room a few minutes later with the safecracking equipment.
Mgr's reaction wasn't one of 'Ah hah.
Where are those logs?' but rather 'Let's not worry about
that. I'll call
the safe manufacturer tomorrow.'
His sidekick Indosafe agreed.
They could worry
about those technical matters later (= never), after we
checked out of the hotel.
I didn't let them off the hook.
I recommended all of us go to a hotel room that very
second in the presence of the police, try to enter a safe
three times with incorrect codes, get locked out of the
system, and then download the logs to see if the attempts
and lockout were recorded.
In this very simple experiment, each failed entry
did show up in the log and so did the final lockout.
Mgr's, Indosafe's, Indochubby's, Chybly's, and
Enjoymalay's last bit of proof that a robbery had never
happened crumbled in front of the police.
The logs had unquestionably been tampered with.
I surmise Enjomalay must not have been able to delete
only his unauthorized visit into our safe but been forced to
delete every single entry that day to cover his tracks,
including my three attempts to get into the safe around
10:35. My girlfriend
and I recalled something odd Enjomalay had asked us when he
was opening up the safe later with his safecracking gear.
'What's your combination?'
Almost a year ago in Macau, my girlfriend's son had
changed the combination to our room safe and forgotten the
number. We had
to call staff in to open it.
At no time did they ever ask or require our
combination to open it, for what good would that have done
when we'd forgotten the combination?
My guess: Enjomalay needed our combo to be able to erase the daily
You'd think that now, with the security
TV footage, the staff's ever changing stories, and the proof
of forged safe logs that Mgr would finally admit that
thieving did occur, chew out Enjoymalay and fire him, and
hand back our missing 300 ringgit with profuse apologies.
had to go back to the police station, and the policewoman
force Mgr to ring the head office in Penang.
As Mgr and his boss were speaking in Malay and I
couldn't hear the boss on the other end of the line, I
haven't an exact idea what was exchanged, but I can offer
you what I think is a pretty damned close simplified
I got a problem.
Some foreigners were robbed at the hotel.
They have a shitload of proof that Enjomalay broke
into their room and took 300 ringgit.
They're checking out early tomorrow morning.
What do I do?
Tell them we'll 'investigate' further.
I tried that.
I'm at the police station now.
They filed an
official police report.
Say nothing, admit nothing, apologize for nothing.
Tried that, too.
(croaks) I think the police expect me to . . . to
give the foreigners their money back.
police lady's glaring at me now.
What do I do?
All right, fine.
But it's not coming out of our pockets.
Squeeze the 300 ringgit out of Enjomalay and give it
to the foreigners.
Even though Enjomalay couldn't possibly have taken
the money, despite the security
camera footage of him entering their room, the forged safe
logs, his stories never being the same twice?
Better out of his wallet than ours.
If he doesn't produce the 300 ringgit, we'll dock it
out of his next paycheck.
If he complains about that, we'll investigate firing
Great idea, boss.
Even after the police said we were
going to get our 300 ringgit returned to us back at the
hotel, I didn't trust Mgr would follow through.
His story could change.
I requested that the monies be handed over to us in
the presence of the police.
The police assured us that Mgr would make good on his
word and at 11 PM, after grabbing dinner at one of the few
restaurants still open in town, Mgr did give us back 300 ringgit
at the hotel reception without uttering a single word.
I don't think Enjoymalay was given so much as a slap
on the wrist, and he continues to be employed at Century
Pines as of this writing.
I hadn't been all that surprised to see
Chybly and Indochubby hastily reinvent their stories to
cover for Enjoymalay's actions.
I never assumed the perpetrator had gone into the
guest rooms without assistance from fellow staff.
But I was surprised
to see the lengths Mgr went to defend his staffs'
My girlfriend felt Mgr couldn't accept the staff he
managed were dishonest.
I don't agree.
Mgr just didn't care.
He was phoning in his performance as manager, doing
the very, very minimum required of his job.
Reprimanding lying and thieving staff takes time and
energy Mgr didn't want to put in.
And if he fired employees, he'd have to screen the
hiring of new ones to replace them.
Too much bloody work, isn't it?
The Sitting-On-Your-Ass form of management is less
stressful and it pays the same.
The hotel's decline would've started
out with light bulbs in the hallways not getting replaced,
then sheeting not being stringently changed, and Mgr or his
predecessor never calling the staff on it.
At some point in the decline, staff realized they
could get away with literal robbery and started walking into
rooms, the security camera be damned.
We were not the first guests at Century Pines to be
robbed by Enjomalay and company, only the first to catch
And we will not be the last.
I expect Enjoymalay and his cronies have been pulling
these scams for years and will continue to ply this
lucrative side trade for years to come on unsuspecting
guests who may never realize they've been robbed.
Enjoymalay made sure to only take a percentage of the
most numerous notes found in the wallet.
He left untouched the $100 note in my girlfriend's wallet and
the four 1,000 baht (over $130) in mine.
We would've been sure to notice those missing.
The passports, the computer, even the credit cards -- he didn't bother with those.
Had he, his scam would've been uncovered long ago.
Businesses are initially formed in the
images of their creators and later, their managers.
It's top down, not bottom up.
Mgr didn't care because those above him didn't care.
And those below Mgr (Chybly, Indochubby, and
Enjomalay) didn't care because Mgr didn't care.
Enjomalay had no reason not to thieve.
His continued employment at Century Pines after the
presentation of overwhelming proof of guilt shows that there
was no downside to his actions.
Their risk of getting caught proved to be absurdly
low and the punishment nonexistent.
I've been robbed at hotels before,
years ago, but these were no-star budget establishments.
Why do people pay more to stay in multi-starred
luxury (comfort), service, and security, none of which
Century Pines possesses. A hotel can have swank grounds and
fine buildings, but if they're not maintained, it feels
worse than a one-star hotel impeccably managed.
Service doesn't depend upon how many staff there are
standing around reception asking, 'How can I help you?'
Great service can rest on a single person who
actually provides the help.
Closed circuit TV cameras and room safes only mean as
much as the hotel installing them.
Their mere existence on the premises means nothing on
its own. A hotel
is only as good as its willingness to back up the implicit
promise of taking care of its guests.
Century Pines took care of us all right, but in the
same way a typical used car salesman takes care of his
Century Pines 'Resort' was a lesson in
hotel mismanagement, a great case study for those keen on a
career in the hotel world, an observational checklist on
what not to do.
A weekend here getting robbed could be worth six months at a
mega-expensive hotel school in Switzerland.
Look what I learned, enough for me to apply for a
general manager position at another subpar hotel:
in a hotel is all about the total experience.
Good hotels know this.
Getting robbed at a hotel is never pleasant, but crap
happens, and hotels have to deal with it.
The best way is to resolve the problem as quickly as
possible to the customer's satisfaction so as to not upset
his overall hotel experience.
The amount we were robbed was less than $100.
Initially, Mgr may have doubted our story.
Plenty a guest must say they've been robbed when
they've misplaced their money.
But after he saw Enjoymalay enter our room
unauthorized on the security camera footage and heard his
staffs' side of the story not making sense in light
of other facts presented, the most sensible thing he
could've done was just give us back RM300 as quickly as
possible with an apology and assurance that he would deal
with the matter on his end.
We would've left the hotel with a good impression,
that they honored their promise to their customers.
No one faults an iPod for breaking a month after
purchase, but they would fault Apple for not honoring the
Keep guests away from the
I asked my girlfriend how her hotel would've handled
a similar robbery.
She said the hotel personnel and hotel personnel
alone would view the security camera footage and assess
whether a wrong had been committed.
With security camera
footage proving unequivocally that staff went into a guest's
room without permission, the hotel would've refunded the
stolen amount to the guest and comped their entire stay,
while never admitting to the guest exactly what happened.
The guest doesn't actually care about the
technicalities of the robbery.
He just wants the wrong corrected.
Mgr brought us right into the center of the problem.
He made us confront the very thieves who robbed us
and, then, to our faces, showed he didn't trust us.
Rotten apples spoil the
rest of the barrel.
If there's a problem, any problem, it has to be dealt
There's a criminological theory known as the broken
Leaving broken windows unrepaired sends a message to others
that there's no law and order in this neighborhood, leading
to further vandalism and crime.
Who knows how many
crooks or thieves now roam the halls of Century Pines
Resort? I can
name at least two.
The thief count would've started with one.
When s/he got away with it and Mgr looked the other
way, refused to deal with it, or was so dense he really
didn't know about it, that sent a message to other staff
members that anything goes.
word travels fast.
Mgr was warned in advance that my girlfriend was a
hotelier and that I ran one of the most brilliant,
trendsetting web sites the world has yet experienced.
Well, I didn't quite put it that way.
Everyone threatens to bad mouth a business when
situations don't go their way.
It's become a hollow threat, and I believe that most
scathing reviews published on the internet read like
baseless claims and do little to alter a business' future
when a legitimate claim surfaces, and the word gets out, a
business will be harmed.
I don't feel guilty trashing Century Pines.
I gave Mgr fair warning, and that's when he dared me
to go to the police to officially complain.
No decent manager would have baited a customer to go
to the police to save the hotel less than $100.
Century Pines Resort offers advanced
courses in hotel mismanagement.
Just visit their web site, not listed here to protect
readers, and book a smelly deluxe garden room.
Stuff your wallet with tons of ringgit and let the
unwitting lessons begin.
Enjoymalay, Indochubby, and Chybly may be retired on
a Caribbean island by the time you visit.
New professors will have filled their positions to
teach you how they can take you to the cleaners as they
leave unwashed sheets on your beds.