Why won’t Starwood let me change my reservation ?

Helga Esteb /
Helga Esteb /
Carol Pratt is stuck with three pre-paid nights at a Starwood Hotel. Even though she wants to move the reservation by a few days, the hotel won’t let her without losing all of her money. What’s going on?

Question: I made a pre-paid reservation at the W New York – Downtown. The rate description said it was non-refundable and a penalty would apply for changes. When I tried to change it to a few days later, I was told that the reservation was actually non-changeable, and that should I cancel it, I would lose the money and need to book three new nights.

I contacted the W hotel’s central line and pointed out that the rate description for non-refundable rates stated they were non-refundable and non-changeable. That’s not the same thing as “a penalty for changes,” which is the language in the terms for the rate I had booked.
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Almost lost my eye in Mykonos

Tomas' eye after the incident.
Tomas’ eye after the incident.
Watch where you’re going.

Maybe that’s all Orlan Boston and his fiancee, Tomas, needed to do in order to prevent the accident from happening. They were visiting a friend who was a guest of the Starwood Luxury Collection Santa Marina Hotel last August. After lunch, they headed upstairs to freshen up and order a taxi to the airport.

While Tomas looked down to see where he was stepping, he walked right into an Aloe-like plant with razor-sharp thorns that, Boston alleges, had been improperly pruned.
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Rental car damaged after being cut off by a resort van

When Chuck Berg tried to maneuver his way back to the Le Méridien in Phuket, Thailand, on a recent visit, he ran into a little problem: a rock on the side of the road, which dented the side of his rental car.

Berg thinks Le Méridien should cover the $175 deductible because the accident wouldn’t have happened without an unfortunate series of circumstances to which the resort’s employees contributed.

Today’s “can this trip be saved” case will force us to draw a line between a hotel’s liability and a guest’s personal responsibility. And I should warn you, this is not an easy one.
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Two years later, I still like Aloft a lot

One of the most popular posts of 2008 on this site was about my visit to the then-new Aloft hotel in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. In it, I detailed some of the cool amenities this Starwood concept offered.

So when Aloft suggested that we start our California tour back in Rancho I though: Why not?
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Good advice: Read every email twice before your first cup of coffee

Here’s a life lesson, courtesy of my friends at Starwood Hotels & Resorts: If you haven’t had your first cup of coffee in the morning, do yourself a favor and read every email twice.

In a pre-caffeinated state yesterday, I only skimmed Sandra St. Germain’s missive, which began,

I am writing to see what you suggest to resolve this before I am stranded in Egypt with my grandson and no hotel room.

I have been calling, several times, and even emailing as Le Méridien customer service representative told me to do, attaching a copy of my reservation, in an attempt to resolve the lost reservation issue.

Oh no! Grandmother. Stranded in Cairo. Needs help now.

I immediately went into rescue mode.
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You call that a Grand Deluxe Room? And about these pastries!

pastryLynn Kamimoto thought she was staying in a Grand Deluxe Room at The Fairfax at Embassy Row, Washington, D.C. She thought her stay included a full American Breakfast at the Jockey Club.

She thought wrong.

Kamimoto got a downgrade and missed a few meals, and the hotel didn’t seem to care about disappointing her. That’s when she called me.
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Starwood tweaks onerous cancellation policy after customers compare it to airlines

wWhen Stewart Sheinfeld redeemed 10,000 Starwood points for a night at the W Chicago Lakeshore, he found a strange new rule at the bottom of his confirmation. It said if he canceled his room after 6 p.m. on the day of his arrival, he wouldn’t just lose his points — he’d also have to pay $689.

“I was shocked,” he says.

Sheinfeld checked the W’s rates on its site, and found that they were $279. That meant instead of forfeiting his points for being a no-show, Starwood was threatening to charge him the rack rate — the hotel equivalent of sticker price — for the room.

“This makes the airlines’ rules look good,” he says.

Has Starwood lost touch with reality here?
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Repent, for the end is near! Hotel industry faces its doom

OK, maybe I’m overstating it by just a little. But pictures don’t lie.

This is Starwood’s stock price over the last three months. Pathetic.

Ditto for Marriott. If I were a shareholder, I’d be on the phone with my broker — three months ago.

These are InterContinental’s ADRs. Not a pretty picture.

Compare this to the Dow’s performance:

Our three bellwether lodging didn’t follow the Dow’s initial plunge, but caught up later. Their recovery is mimicking the Dow’s a little, but based on recent lodging industry forecasts, there’s no guarantee that will continue. Hotel stocks may still move down.

So what does this mean for you? Plenty.

All this talk about “rate integrity” you hear in the hotel industry – maintaining current room rates while offering other incentives such as extra room nights or free parking – is nonsense. Prices must come down.

It’s a buyer’s market, and good deals will come to hotel guests who wait.

So if you see a deal that’s too good to be true, just wait. In a few weeks, it may get even better.

But how does that explain my apocalyptic headline? Well, the hotel industry has taken advantage of you, the customer, for years. You’ve paid outrageous “resort” fees, parking fees and wildly overpriced rates to connect to a resort’s wireless network.

This is the hotel industry’s last, best opportunity to make it up to you, by giving you a room without any surprises.

It’s time for the hotel industry to repent. Because the end is here.