HILTON

What’s with the duck?

If you stay at enough Homewood Suites properties, you’ll eventually wonder about the duck.

Images of waterfowl are everywhere: on the signage, on guest directories, even the napkins. I haven’t seen a hotel this branded since I stayed at Disneyworld.
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Sorry, your room is non-refundable — did we neglect to mention that?

Norman and Mary Lou Vitrano are by their own admission not Internet-savvy, which is why they phoned the Doubletree Beach Resort Tampa Bay/North Redington Beach to make their room reservations last August. When the couple’s plans changed and they tried to cancel their reservation, a hotel representative informed them their room was completely non-refundable.

There’s just one little problem: No one had told the Vitranos that the room was non-refundable. “We wouldn’t have made the reservations under those conditions,” says Norman Vitrano.

And here’s where the story takes a strange twist.
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Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the … ouch! What was that?

Bedbugs.

Just the mention of these tiny, bloodsucking insects is enough to send a veteran road warrior packing. But what does a hotel owe you if you’ve been ravaged by a swarm of Cimex lectularius during your stay?

No, that’s not an academic question.

I wish it was. So does Hilton. So does Diane Lapin, who claims she had visitors during her recent two-night stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Burlingame, Calif. Hers was room 323, but for hundreds of bedbugs, it was more like a dining room, she says.
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Is Hilton HHonors’ “No Blackout Dates” pledge a lie?

Nate Bear has been a Hilton frequent guest for more than a decade, having earned Gold VIP status during hundreds of hotel stays. One of the benefits he likes the most is Hilton’s No Blackout Dates rule that seems pretty straightforward: “If there’s a standard room available at any Hilton Family hotel or resort worldwide, you can redeem points for it. No exceptions, no fine print. It’s that simple.”

But is it really?

“Apparently there are exceptions and fine print,” he told me. “In other words, it’s not that simple, despite the clear wording.”
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A quiet weekend in Pensacola Beach, Fla.

Here’s the view that greeted us when we checked into the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front yesterday afternoon.

Beautiful? Yes. But it’s also 40 degrees, not counting the wind chill factor.

Maybe that’s why there’s no one here. But you know us — we’re contrarian travelers. We go where no one else does. And when no one else does.
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Hilton exec overrules “customer service” department, helps guest

vbGot a problem with Hilton? You might get help. Then again, you might not.

Ever since the Blackstone Group’s $26 billion buyout of Hilton in 2007, getting good customer service has been a hit-or-miss proposition. Some cases are resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Others aren’t.

I used to know most of Hilton’s executives, thanks to a first-rate corporate communications team. They made sure the channels of communication were always open between Hilton and any potential customer-service problems, much to their credit. Today, I have a queue of unsolved cases.

Is Hilton a lost cause?
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