Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hotel of Horrors

This week we went on a business trip with Daddy. Yep, the 3 kids and I hopped into Daddy's work SUV and headed up to Bloomington, MN for 2 days of swimming at Holiday Inn express,and shopping and fun at the Mall of America.

When we checked in at the hotel Monday afternoon (7/5), everything seemed fine. We got up to the room, unloaded all the food and drinks I had brought for the kids, and then I went into the bathroom. I noticed there was no soap, so I sent Chris down for some. Much to our surprise, we were advised there was no soap, and no shampoo in the entire hotel. Somehow they had "run out" and their order "Had not arrived prior to the holiday weekend". Now I ask you, who's fault is this? Is it OUR fault? A family of 5 who had just traveled over 350miles and 6.5 hours in a car together and desperately ALL needed showers!? I called the Holiday Inn Express 800 number and complained. I could not believe (Because I spent several years working in hotels) that this had been allowed to happen. there was also no manager on duty because they had all gone out of town for the holiday and left the front desk staff with zero chain of command, and zero way to purchase soap and shampoo for the hotel. We were told by the Guest Services to purchase soap at a nearby store and we would be reimbursed when the manager returned Tuesday.

Monday night we went out to eat at a nearby hotel (Because this hotel also does not have a restaurant attached to it, or within walking distance) which was just great, I love getting 3 kids back into the car after they've traveled 6.5 hours in said car earlier in the day. We ate well, came back, showered, and dressed for the night. Unfortunately, our A/C went off sometime in the middle of the night, and the toilet decided it was going to start dripping and running about every 20 minutes - guess who was up almost all night? Yeah, Me. It was a total nightmare.

Tuesday AM the A/C had come back on, and I fed the kids breakfast in the room, then we headed down to the pool. The pool was freezing cold. It was so cold, Ruthie's lips were turning blue, and her teeth were chattering so loudly I could hear her across the room. She got out frequently to warm up, but Charlie decided he didn't care and toughed it out. Lily wasn't having it at all and was content to be wrapped in several towels and sit on a chair to watch her brother and sissy swimming.

Tuesday afternoon, we headed up to our room to get showered (Because I don't believe you should ever go into a public pool without an after-shower) and prepare lunch. I had Ruthie in the shower, and Charlie on the pot when the unthinkable happened - The power went out. Not only did the light go off out in the room, it was completely, utterly dark in the bathroom. Charlie immediately flipped out. I struggled to keep Ruthie calm so I cold rinse her as Charlie screamed and wailed about being afraid in the hotel in the dark. Also, since the power was out, so was the A/C - it was about 89* outside at this point. I quickly got Ruthie out and threw Charlie in just as the hotel water pressure went down to almost nothing. The shower sputtered and spit hot then cold water at Charlie until I finally decided to improvise and fill the ice bucket with water from the sink (Which was unaffected, so the shower head had to be broken). Lily was the worst, she thrashed, bit, and screamed for the entire 5 minutes of her shower. I got them all dressed, then I quickly jumped in for the oddest shower of my life - sputtering showerhead and all. I decided that the kids would have to eat the Lunchables I brought them since there was no power to make the easy mac. We also decided that since it was nearing 80* in our room that it would probably be cooler downstairs. As we made our way into the dining area we could hear people that must have gotten stuck in the elevators. This scared Charlie almost to death. The kids ate their lunch, and I listened to the front desk staff talking about how the power went off frequently.About 10 minutes later the power came back on. It had been off for just over an hour.By the time we made it up to our room, and everyone ate their easy mac I was finally able to prepare, we noticed the A/C still had not come on. I went down to the desk to complain about the A/C and noticed the pool was closed for dangerous chemicals...there goes my plan of taking them swimming in the freezing pool instead of sweating in the room with no TV! I asked if the kids would be able to ride the mall shuttle and when it would come. I was told the shuttle left at the top of every hour. TOP meaning 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 etc... right?

At 3:40 we prepared to go downstairs to wait for the shuttle. Chris had called to say he was on his way back, but we were going to go ahead and head to the mall and have him meet up with us after he was showered and changed. I looked out the window to check if he'd arrived to see the shuttle loaded and leaving the parking lot at 3:42 - so much for that. We waited for Chris and traveled to the mall together.

Tuesday evening when we returned from the mall and a delicious dinner at The Rainforest cafe, we noticed it was very hot and humid in our room. The towels from swimming earlier and contributed to the humidity, but the A/c was once again not working. I went down to the desk to see the same poor guy that was there earlier in a long sleeved dress shirt, long pants, and I would venture to guess an undershirt too drenched in sweat and looking like he could faint. I asked about the A/C and was told "We have been having problems with it all weekend going on and off, the guy was just here, it's fixed now" - Then I got $4 in quarters for the dryer so I could dry the swimsuits and towels and not have to travel with wet ones for 6.5 hours in a cramped, tiny SUV.I also made a note that the pool was re-opened and full of other guests, I guess their rooms were hot too. Luckily, the dryer worked like a charm on one 40-minute $2.75 cycle. Charlie went with me to the front desk where I bought all of the kids ice cream (Because our room was still SWELTERING) and to fetch the towels. He carried the ice cream. All night the A/C would try to kick on and then would quit. The room was unbearably hot and the toilet running didn't help. All I wanted to do was get out of there!

Wednesday morning we packed up, loaded the kids, and Chris went to check out. He spoke to the manager who offered him $10 of the $20.65 we had to spend at Wal-Mart on soap - Chris told her "No way" and she ended up taking $19.45 off the bill. Which is RIDICULOUS when their HOSPITALITY POLICY states that if you are unhappy with your stay that you won't be charged for it if they don't make it right. Well, they never gave us soap or shampoo, they never fixed the toilet, or the A/C, and I was very unhappy! We also encountered a road problem, Minnesota apprently did not want us to leave as the ramp to I-94 was closed with no posted detour. Great! We ended up getting our GPS's out (mine is on my phone) to find an alternate route. We caught every single light for miles, and if you have ever traveled with a child that gets carsick you know what that means - Vomit. We had to pull over and clean up Ruthie and then proceed onto the expressway miles, and about 35 minutes out of our way. By now Chris and I were both cranky and just wanted to get HOME.

Wednesday night, about 5:00PM and submitted another complaint to Holiday Inn Express. I told them how unsatisfied we were and that Chris who had stayed there numerous times in the past for business said he'd "Rather sleep in my car than ever stay here again". The manager was rude, un-apologetic, and all around poorly equipped to do her job, and I told them that also. After working in that industry as front desk, and moving up to sales management I can tell you that the old saying "The Customer Is Always Right" rings true. You should do everything in your power to ensure that customers are satisfied because you never know how many people they know - especially with the INTERNET and all. I also posted on every travel site I could my review of the hotel.

Thursday morning I received a call from the General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Bloomington, MN. He received a copy of my complaint and was very apologetic for both the shortcomings of his hotel supplies, and his staff. He also wanted us to know that $19.45 had been taken off the bill (Which is less than we paid, and oh, by the way, they took our receipt from Wal Mart) - which we already knew. He said that he hopes we will stay there again (NEVER, EVER AGAIN, we've already decided that) and that they'd like to see us again in the future (YEAH, RIGHT - he sounded really enthused here).

All in all, it was great being together as a family, even if we stayed in the WORST HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS - EVER! We were together, and we had some fun times. The kids can't wait to go back to Minnesota and go to the aquarium...I might need a Valium. We're going to try either the big Holiday Inn or the Radisson next time - IF there's a next time!

*Also, since this is a business trip, and a lot of times early-check-out fees apply, we could not up and leave the hotel without paying for the night somewhere else out of pocket which was the whole point of going with Daddy on a BUSINESS trip in the first place. Nobody at the HIE offered for us to check out and be refunded that first night, or we would have...again, had a manager been on duty, we would have left.

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1 comment:

  1. I just can't believe all this. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. What a nightmare. You should have been reimbursed for your whole stay if you ask me. How about that rude manager? That is something that really puts me off. Next time you come back to Minnesota I hope you have a better experience. It's really very nice here.