Hôtel Bon-Port in Montreux, Switzerland, molests cars!

On my winter vacation (2 weeks mandatory time off!), we went to the Alps, staying in a few different cities in France and Switzerland. I’ll post more later on some of the things we saw during our trip, but here I wanted to rant a bit about a terrible experience we had at Montreux’s Hôtel Bon-Port.

Minor stuff

We stayed at the Hôtel Bon-Port for four nights, taking day trips around the area. The hotel was relatively cheap and it seemed to be in a decent location. There were some minor issues that I’ll describe first and then a major problem with poor management and customer service that I’ll get to below. The room was mediocre and small. The safe in our room never did work, even though the manager said he was going to fix it. There was no free WiFi. For some reason they made the circa-2000 decision to instead provide a PC for guests by the lobby, and charge 5CHF per half-hour for WiFi in the room. Trust me when I say that providing a computer will never be as cheap for a hotel as just providing free WiFi and it will also mean a significantly worse experience for guests. Most people who need internet have their own devices, so it just doesn’t make sense to do it this way. I used their computer a couple times and it was laggy because of all the software on there. Notably, somebody had installed some sort of internationalization app for one of the Asian languages that I believe was causing problems. Also, even before getting to the stuff below, I knew the manager didn’t really understand hospitality after I heard him yell at some guests for ringing the bell at the desk more than once.

Major stuff

Now to the real issue that brings Hôtel Bon-Port down from a mediocre three stars to a pitiful zero stars: Parking in Switzerland is terrible. I’ll try to post on this in more detail, but basically Swiss cities don’t seem to want visitors because they provide basically no overnight parking spots. This hotel offers underground parking for 15 CHF per night. This seemed like a decent deal considering that there were no other options closer than a 10 minute bus ride. Plus the car would be indoors. We had just paid a bunch of money to get it detailed (washed, waxed, etc.) right before our trip, so it was fairly clean. We thought if we kept it in the garage it could stay that way and be safe from damage.

On our last night we came in late after driving in a bit of snow coming down the mountain. When we got back, only one spot was available, plus another easier spot that said “no parking” but which we knew from previous nights people were sometimes allowed to use. To make my life easier, we chose the no parking spot and gave the keys to the manager in case he needed to move it, as we had also done previously.

Our car after a night at Hôtel Bon-Port our car next to a concrete wall at Hôtel Bon-Port

The next morning, we came down and found the car moved (which was fine) to the other parking spot. We noticed right away that it was a terrible parking job. He had parked it next to a concrete wall such that we had to put it in neutral and push it out before I could get in. If he had pulled it forward just a few more centimeters, it would have been no problem. Before attempting to move it though, we noticed a large white streak across the side of the car. The streak was about one meter long and we really didn’t know what had happened. We immediately informed the employee at the desk and she called the manager. I spoke to him for about 20 seconds before he actually yelled at me and accused me of accusing him of things. I told him very clearly that I wasn’t accusing him of anything, but that I was paying him 15 CHF for parking and I want to know why my car has a big streak on the side. We had no idea at that point what exactly had happened and we were mostly trying to ensure that the paint hadn’t been damaged. It was dark down in the garage and we had not yet pulled it out.

After we got it out of the garage and into the light, we pieced together what had happened. After his awful parking job, he exited the car through the driver’s door and squeezed himself (he’s a big guy) between the car and the wall. He must have rubbed himself all over the car when doing this, rubbing whatever salt residue and dirt there was into the paint. We didn’t find any scratches that we could positively link to this, but any time you do such things it is bad for the paint/wax in the long term. The girl working at the desk agreed that this is probably what happened and she told us that he would email us later in the day. Now it is 5 days later and he didn’t contact us. We see that he billed us the full amount for parking that night, even though our car looked terrible until we got back home and gave it a wash.

Stay away from Hôtel Bon-Port!

Note that I have no general problem with giving my keys to somebody. I used to be a valet at a resort in Scottsdale, so I have parked a lot of very expensive cars (Porsche, Rolls Royce, etc). I took pride in it and I took good care of the cars I drove. So I am fine with somebody else moving my car, but that comes with responsibility. There is no excuse for rubbing oneself all over a customer’s paint job. There is also no excuse for the manager of a hotel to be mad when he is asked to talk to upset customers. The correct move would have been to not charge us for the final night of parking, but this manager was not a big enough man to swallow his pride and admit that he may have accidentally caused this issue. He needs to realize that Hôtel Bon-Port is not a panini joint.

Please don’t stay at Hôtel Bon-Port. I’m sure many people have no problems there, but the moment you do have a problem, the manager yells at you instead of solving it.

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