Sunday festivities on Family Beach in Libreville, Gabon winding down, I polished off a French trois fromages pizza at a beach shack and crossed the street back to the twin compound of the Radisson Blu Okoume Palace Libreville and Park Inn Libreville.
The hotels operate separately with shared entertainment and dining facilities. Each has a dedicated casual restaurant that hosts breakfast.
Great Club Carlson Gold welcome amenity, by the way.
I walked into the lobby and the glow of the lights told me I was in trouble. Sensitivity to bright or flashing light and aura, visual artifacts such as splotches and blind spots, are an early symptom of a migraine headache onset for me.
On the migraine spectrum I am lucky. I seldom get them more than once a year. They are debilitating, and the gastrointestinal distress I get is no fun. Many suffer much worse and much more often. My triggers are built up stress and exposure to lots of bright and flashing light.
Plenty of sunglasses and hats. Steady daily caffeine intake, with chocolate and Coke added when in the sun all day.
The looming river crossing from Gabon to Equatorial Guinea had me on edge. Infamously corrupt on both sides, some foreigners are turned away entirely. I already had re-done my trip because CEIBA of Equatorial Guinea had suddenly dropped its long running Wednesday service to Sao Tome. Now there was no viable back-up.
I popped 800 mg of Motrin and hugged the trash can as spittoon though the night. Good now that the flight changed for a day of rest.
Or so I thought. At 10 am the Radisson Blu erupted in a cacophony of repair works echoing in every direction. There were teams of people on floors 1-3 of the 6-floor building, and all the stairwells had converted to workrooms. I have never experienced such massive works in a hotel still operating. Each pounding, sanding and door-slamming ricocheted in my head.
I staggered down to the lobby and pleaded for help. I hadn’t been given the letter that these works would be daily from 10-4. Normally I would have been out and about and never noticed. This day I needed quiet.
While I question doing such major work while still hosting quests, the frontline staff were great. They took me up to the most remote rooms and waited with that expression, “will he be ok with…” boom, bang, thump. Sorry, won’t work today.
The adjoining Park Inn was sold out. Their front desk could force a room at a cash rate rate around US$400 but not able to book an award stay. There must have been a fix, instead it was made clear it was not going to happen.
I was still within cancellation for my reservation that night (my two nights were booked separate because of the flight issue). I found SPG had the Le Méridien Re-Ndama in town and the Radisson called them to ensure I could immediately check-in. Once confirmed and booked, Radisson sent me in their shuttle, a nice gesture to compensate for the airport pick-up no-show the day prior.
(Sidebar: why am I staying at points hotels instead of my typical $50 guest houses? Because in much of Central Africa those guest houses are $100 or more and terrible value. There is so little leisure travel in these countries that the value segment doesn’t exist.)
Radissons are loathe to offer compensation for anything and Club Carlson is useless on such matters, so I left, chalking it up to bad timing.
The fun continued with SPG. I explained my condition and wanted a quiet room.
510 is right over the traffic-choked main road through Libreville.
Back down the the lobby.
Beachside? (keep in mind this hotel is giant and not full) (and note that they have built a mezzanine beach so they don’t have to clean their real, trash-strewn beach)
“There is a room but AC has problem. Wait few minutes.”
726 is an oven in what appears to be disused wing, like the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang.
Windows sealed. I tried to sleep anyway. An hour later I had been basted and my thermometer popped. No follow-up from the front. I called and they offered to send a technician.
No, next room.
513 faces away from the road and has ventilation. It appears to have been fitted out in 1958.
2 pm and I finally get to take my nap. If I had just held out at the Radisson!
This one I did complain. I contacted SPG via twitter in the evening and in the morning I awoke to a message that I would be hearing from the hotel soon.
At 8:40 I received a call from the front desk, “What time are you checking out?”
I had to laugh. Get me back to $50 guest houses!
Postscript: when I humourosly told SPG the denouement they did not take it as funny as I. That night I got an apology email from the hotel, an offer to upgrade me to a suite should I ever return, and 5,000 SPG points (I had paid SPG Cash & Points 5,000 + $75), which is not clear if it will be coming now or for my next stay…points haven’t posted.