I have always been a big train lover and when my friend Tim booked all four of us on the Amtrak from Oklahoma City down to Fort Worth overnight for my birthday I was excited! The run down on the train is typically FLAWLESS and is a great way to travel with teens and kids, as they can look out the huge windows and roam around the train a bit.
When we arrived at the hotel, we told the front desk we were early. My indication that this was NOT going to go as planned was when we approached the front desk at 1:00 p.m. and expected the check-in time to be 3:00 p.m. as the website advertised on the reservation confirmation I had in my hand. When I inquired the front desk clerk nastily answered, “Well, they are wrong”. No offer to get a room ready early, nothing. The front desk did however offer to “lock up” our things while we were out exploring Fort Worth waiting on a room. I was carrying my brand new 17″ laptop that they agreed to lock up in the hotel safe. I gave the front desk lady my laptop and we took off to go have lunch.
We then returned at 4:30 to get our rooms. I approached the front desk and in my horror I see my $1,200 laptop sitting on the front desk, all the way at the end where anyone could have simply walked off with it. Great. When we booked the rooms on-line I was SPECIFIC in wanting adjoining rooms so we could all hang around together during the day. I even called the hotel from the train on the way down to insure we were getting adjoining rooms and was assured by the hotel staff since we were arriving so early, adjoining rooms would be NO PROBLEM. The young man behind the counter almost laughed at me when i reminded him we are expecting adjoining rooms. I was informed that the hotel was “far too full” to find us adjoining rooms. Beautiful.
So, its my birthday. No adjoining rooms, my laptop was left on the front desk for any Tom, Dick or Harry to cart off, we have been treated less than stellar and this was advertised as a 4 star hotel the cost us $200.00 per night, per room!
We were finally given keys to the 2 rooms, No they were not adjoining. They weren’t even on the same floor!!! By this time I’m so aggravated and disgusted, my poor daughter and I just wanted to get to our rooms and lay down for a while. For $200.00 dollars a night it was nothing more than… a room and I was trying to keep my cool. Which was really difficult because the Air Conditioning in our room didn’t work! By the time the 3rd maintenance man had arrived to”change” out the air unit, it was 10:30 at night and I’d had enough. I went down to the front desk and asked them if they were going to refund us some of our money due to all the troubles. He looked at me like I was crazy and simply informed me that it was not “Hilton’s Policy” to refund us over a few “small” issues.
The room my friend and his son were staying in had basically no air conditioning either and it was 90 degrees out that day. So after pacing and fuming for 15 minutes I call HOTELS.COM. After explaining my tale of woe, they immediately escalated my claim to a supervisor who called me back within 10 minutes! They were wonderful and never treated me like I was unjustified in my frustration. They refunded my friends credit card $200.00 for one room and apologized for the trouble. We will NEVER stay there again but we will ALWAYS book with HOTELS.COM after they way we were helped.
After all this, I learned a few things I should definitely pass on….
TIP #1 – Booking your Hotel with an on-line booker like HOTELS.COM, TRAVELOCITY, PRICELINE Etc…
Why? Most of these on-line travel bookers have a guaranty that you typically would never get from a hotel or a travel agent. Most guaranty if you don’t get exactly what your promised, they refund your money. That’s exactly what they did. They even went as far as to offer to find us another hotel within walking distance but we were too tired and satisfied they had helped.
Tip #2 – Always have a “PLAN B”
Having an alternate plan if the hotel is overbooked, not anything what you expected or burned to the ground when you get there, always have a thought of where you might turn to if faced with a serious issue. Canceled and overbooked flights are a BIG Issue when traveling so ALWAYS be early for mass transportation, That way your chance of being “bumped” from your flight is FAR LESS a threat.
Tip #3 – Getting Local travel Guides
Calling the tourism board or chamber of commerce for the area your going to visit and requesting travel guides be mailed to you in advance is a great way to plan what you want to do and where you want to go!
Tip #4 – Good eats??
Having some sort of Internet access helps when finding a restaurant and my favorite site is www.urbanspoon.com. It has all the local places in the area your in and has user reviews and tips for dining out!