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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Promotional Mini-vacation

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

First off, let me tell you that I am not rich, but I am not cheap either. I have traveled all over the world and stayed in some of the nicer hotels available and Iíve stayed in some dumps as well.

Once on a trip with my family back from Washington D.C. we stopped in New Orleans and the only motel we could find available rented rooms by the hour so you have an idea of what this place was like. On the other hand Iíve stay at the Waldorf and the Plaza in New York, the Ritz in Paris and five star hotels in London.

Generally you expect better service and treatment for the expensive hotels. As they sayÖ ďYou pays your money and you takes your chances.Ē What you donít expect is to pay through the nose and then get below average service and treatment.

Such was our plight last week. My wife signed us up for a promotional five day, four night mini-vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We got a good deal on the room, from a large well known hotel chain, with an additional $100 gift card. So far, so good.

We arrive in Denver, and then have to take a four hour shuttle ride to get to the hotel. No big deal. Our room is at the end of the hall next to the maidís chamber, but on a promotional trip, I donít expect to get a choice suite or the best location in the house. I do expect a clean room with regular service. Out of the three full days we were there, our room was cleaned once. We did get clean towels each day, but thatís it. The shower was moldy and the carpet was stained, but I can live with that if the room is cleaned, which it wasnít.

On our first full day there (Friday) we call down in the morning for room service since we had gotten in so late the night before. No answer. Finally the front desk answers and tells us the restaurant is too busy to take any more orders, and they will tell them to call us back within the hour. No call. We get dressed. I call housekeeping to tell them that we would like our room cleaned early since we planed to read, relax and sleep. We donít ski.

I tell the maids in the hall also to clean the room. We go off to breakfast. Two scrambled eggs and a box of Cheerios for each of us for breakfastÖ$42.86.

We go back upstairs, room isnít clean. I ask the maids again and call housekeeping again. At noon we go back downstairs to another restaurant, hamburger and a salad...$55.00. Back upstairs, no luck. My wife gets sick from the hamburger and goes to sleep. About 5pm, the maid wants in to clean, and we take the towels and tell her to forget it. I call the manager who assures me that the room will be cleaned the next morning between 9am and 10am.

The next morning (Saturday) we go into town for breakfast, do some shopping and sight seeing and return about 1pm. No maid service. Call the manager, but he doesnít work on Saturdays so his assistant has the maids come over and clean while we go sit in the lobby for an hour.

In the meantime, I keep getting calls from the guy who handed me the $100 gift card. It seems I am supposed to sit down for some tour of their new condo sites and real estate offers. There is nothing on any of the letters concerning the gift card that ties the gift card into any type of real estate offer.

Saturday evening, my wife is feeling better but not up to going out for dinner. We order a ham and cheese sandwich and some quesadias and two cans of sodaÖ.this time the charge is $61.38. Now I donít mind paying big prices for good food, but a greasy ham and cheese sandwich, with a handful of chips and a pickle slice is hardly gourmet food. This is one star food or what you get at truck stops. No, thatís wrong Iíve had better food than this at truck stops. We turn on the television for the first time and want to watch a movie, but the TV is broken. They send a guy up to fix it, nice guy, takes him over an hour, now we can watch movies, but the reception is too bad to really see anything and itís now too late and weíve lost interest. I write a complaint letter to the home office of the hotel chain.

Sunday we abandoned the idea of getting any decent food in this place. Once again, we trudge out of the hotel after asking the maids and housekeeping to please clean our room. Once again we return and once again the room has not been cleaned. We give up on the idea of this ever being done. I leave a wake up call for 5am as we have to take the shuttle back to Denver at 6.

About 9pm, I get a call from a nice lady who says she has gotten a call from their corporate office about my complaint letter. She wants to know what she can do to make our stay more enjoyable. Since we are going to bed and have to get up in 8 hours to leave for home, there isnít much she can do outside of teleporting us back home, which I donít think she can do anytime soon.

Thinking that there isnít anything else this place can do to screw up, I set my alarm clock on my cell phone, just in case they donít make the wake up call. Sure enough someone had forgotten to reset their clocks for the change over to daylight saving time and they didnít call until we were walking out the door. The perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

Never again will we stay at any of these hotels from hell. More stress than I needed. The house never looked so goodÖ

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

March 13, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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