MARRIOTT

Beware of travel industry doublespeak

It’s for your own good.

Travelers are hearing these words more often than ever, and they are being applied to increasingly unwelcome scenarios. The latest example: being unable to access WiFi in your hotel without incurring an added charge. In August, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Marriott filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking the government for permission to block wireless devices in hotels.
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What does Marriott owe me for a reflagging nightmare?

Olly/Shutterstock
Olly/Shutterstock
When Donna Larkin booked a room at the Hotel Ashbourne Marriott near Dublin last year, she had no way of knowing it was about to change owners. Or that some of the information on the hotel’s former website was less than accurate.

But that’s exactly what happened when she and her family arrived in Ireland for a two-week visit. The hotel was no longer a Marriott and it wasn’t as close to Dublin as promised. And that’s not all.

“Upon arrival at the hotel, we were informed that the hotel was not 10 minutes from Dublin but 40 minutes from Dublin,” she says. “It was not near any public transportation and it did not have rooms that would accommodate our party as requested on our reservation. Of course, we were told that no room was guaranteed, even though we booked well over two months in advance so that our party could be accommodated in a comfortable manner.”
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Help! I’ve been ‘walked’ to a motel

Question: I made a reservation at a Fairfield Inn in Philadelphia earlier this year. I prepaid for two nights and received a confirmation.

The day before I left — six months after I made the reservation — I got an email from a manager at the Fairfield, saying that they were moving us to another hotel due to a “situation beyond our control.” It turns out there was a convention in town, and my room had been given to a platinum customer.

Fairfield promised to move me to a hotel with the same amenities. I was further told that a Fairfield Inn could cancel confirmed reservations any time in order to book platinum customers.

The motel they moved us to was inferior by any standards. No complimentary breakfast, no airport shuttle (we nearly missed our outgoing flight), farther from the airport, smell of paint as they were under construction, and no working phones in the room.

I have written to Marriott, which owns Fairfield Inn, and the Pennsylvania attorney general, as well as the manager of the property. I have only received an email thanking me for writing them.

I would like a refund of our stay at the hotel. Can you help? — Karen Johnson, Gering, Neb.

Answer: You were “walked” to another hotel, which is a fairly common practice in the hotel industry. Hotels sometimes accept more reservations than they can accommodate, anticipating that some guests will cancel. But on a busy weekend or holiday, when everyone shows up, a property has to turn guests away.
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