Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stardate 60048.66 - Hotels Just Suck

I am really not an old man. Cheryl says I am turning into a cranky old man who complains about things all the time and writes cranky letters. I say that I have reached a point in my life where I have traveled enough so that I know what I want and I speak up when something is wrong.

I don’t think it is too much to ask to have a problem-free check-in and stay at a hotel. But people are just incompetent. For example, I just stayed Monday night at the Ritz, and even there they forgot that my corporate rate included club access and had to call me to come back to the lobby so my room key could be encoded to provide club access. I would expect that at the Ritz of all places, they would have the check-in process down pat.

This trip to McLean the Ritz did not have our lower corporate rate available, so I am staying at the Marriott Courtyard. This is a hotel that opened about 4 years or so ago, and I stayed here shortly after they opened. I had a litany of complaints on that trip, but the three biggest were that they put me in a smoking room instead of non-smoking, the hallways were about 450 degrees centigrade, and they didn’t have their snack area opened yet – even though the books in the room touted their snack bar. I went to the lobby and asked where the snack bar was, and they told me, “Oh, that’s not open yet.” They didn’t seem to think that advertising a service that wasn’t open was a problem. Just freak’n tell me at check-in. I stayed at the Doubletree last week, and they shut down their Honors club and didn’t mention that at check-in, even though I am a Hilton Honors Gold member.

Anyway, after the Courtyard experience, I wrote a letter to the manager that was not acknowledged in any way. So I declared this Courtyard a “no-fly zone” and never stayed here again.

But I have gotten so mad at the Doubletree recently that I decided to try the Courtyard again. After all, it had been 4 years so they had to have improved, correct? Well, so far I give them a “C”. When I checked in I was assigned a room on the 6th floor. When I got to the 6th floor, the smell of fresh varnish overwhelmed me. Apparently they were re-varnishing all the room doors on 6. And warily eyeing the “wet paint” sign on the door I tried to get into my assigned room but the key didn’t work. So back down to the lobby.

Turns out they are varnishing on 5 and 6 and the people at the front desk didn’t know that. That type of situation is just poor management. Don’t put guests onto a floor with the smell of varnish. How difficult is that? They did resolve the issue by moving me to the top floor, and my key worked this time. We’ll see if the hotel service improves any over the next few days.



BullBunky said...

I've been trying to think of a GREAT business hotel experience. Many hotels are OK, but in the end they are just places to sleep. So I agree that its really the places that make it easy on you and don't take you for granted.

I agree that the Doubletree in McLean just doesn't get it...the wireless access mess they have is reason enough. Its still better than the Doubletree in San Diego where my coworker found a "toy" that had fallen between the bed and the nightstand. A free cookie doesn't make up for THAT!

To try and make travel more bearable, I tried some different places recently. The W in San Diego. A nice Hilton in LA. The Westin in Seattle. Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. They were all....fine. Nothing special.

The search continues.

CAPT_Sawyer said...

I think one of the best places I stayed at, that treated me very well, was the Grand Hyatt in Seoul, Korea. Of course, I was on the club floor, so that made it even nicer.

BullBunky said...

The club level at the Hilton in Rome is VERY nice. And a corner room in the Rainbow Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (sweet cross breezes) is hard to beat. But it doesn't hurt that these hotels are in Rome and Hawaii :)

JamesF said...

I like Super 8.

BullBunky said...

I bet the Super 8 gives you free sticky buns, or something like that!

CAPT_Sawyer said...

Screw the sticky buns!

I want a painless check-in/out procedure, a room that I can relax in, and yes, I want to be treated well. I want nice furniture and a TV with a clear picture free of static, and an overall pleasent experience. And I'm amazed at how few places can provide this basic list.

The extras (club access, robes in the room, mints on the pillow) are nice too, but not required.

andy said...

I like the Best Western in Key West, where you have F-16s flying overhead from the Naval Air Station at 0500.