Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort – Attempting to redeem a free night

The main focus of our trip to Borneo was to spend time in the rainforest and not in resorts.  However, we thought after 6 nights at lodges in the middle of the rainforest we thought a little bit of luxury for 2 nights before we returned home would be nice.

There were several reasons we wanted to stay the the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabalu.  First, and most important was because they have an organ utan wildlife center on the premises which we wanted to visit.  The resort also receives good reviews online.  It’s part of the Shangri-La group of properties so it should be up to the global standard of other Shangri-La properties we’ve stayed at.  Finally, I had a free night from their Golden Circle Promotion.  This entitled me to a free night at this hotel… or so I thought.

Here is the 4 step process I had to go through to redeem the free night I was entitled to.

Step 1) The initial phone call (and what I hoped would be the only step in the process)

I called the reservation number to try and make a reservation for the 2 nights I wanted to stay at the resort.  I was told I couldn’t because the local hotel property wouldn’t accept the free night I had earned because it didn’t meet the terms and conditions of the offer.  I told them it did and to escalate the issue to a manager.  They did escalate it and I received an e-mail from the Golden Circle Center in Hong Kong the next day.

Step 2) I received the following mail from them

Please be informed that per this promotion terms and conditions, redemption must be made 3 days in advance online at or by phone at (60) 3 2052 3060 or email:  Free night redemptions are subject to availability at time of reservation.  Also, the following black-out dates, in addition to existing Golden Circle black-out dates, apply:

For all Hotels: 31 December 2009 and 1 January 2010
For all Resorts: 22 December 2009 to 1 January 2010 and 13 to 17 February 2010 (both dates inclusive)

Step 3) I sent the following reply

I understand all the terms you have listed below [in the e-mail] and what I want to do falls within these terms but for some reason the local hotel manager refuses to honor the terms of the promotion.  While the hotel may be running full there are rooms available on the 12th and 13th (Free night on the 12th and I’ll pay for the 13th).  Please see the attached screenshot.  Rooms are available in every category.

Item 14 in the terms and conditions states, Members can redeem the best available room at time of reservation except Premier Rooms or equivalent, Horizon/Traders Club Floors, Suites and Villas.” The best available room that isn’t a premier room or a suite is the “Garden Wing Deluxe Sea View Room”.  That is the room I should be allowed to book on the 12th… and pay for on the 13th.


Dear Mr. Busscher,

Thank you for your email of 5 November 2009

We are pleased to advise you that your redemption booking as well as your paid night booking has been made at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Kota Kinabalu as requested.  Booking confirmation has been sent by the hotel directly to you separately.  Should you have any queries, you may contact the hotel via email at or telephone at (60-88) 792888.

We look forward to welcoming you to Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts again, soon.

I shouldn’t have had to go through all of this but this is what the travel industry has come to.  They use promotions to draw in customers and then make it extremely difficult for all but the incredibly determined to redeem the promotions.

This should have raised a red flag that this Shangri-La Rasa Ria wasn’t up to the standard of the other hotels in the Shangri-La group.  I’ll post a review of the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort a litte later.

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