Actually, it should to every hotel guest.
Rachel Meredith’s account of her honeymoon reads like a script from a National Lampoon’s Vacation movie — minus the funny.
My wife had an unusual experience this morning,” writes reader Kent Schaum. “Kathy was awoken at 6 a.m. to a film crew filming an upcoming shoot-it-up thriller next door.”
Who needs an alarm clock when you can be woken by the sounds of explosions and gunfire?
Problem is, the Westin Philadelphia, where she was staying, promises guests they’ll be treated to “comfort and style” when they stay at the hotel. Its 294 guest rooms and 19 suites are, “all beautifully appointed with welcoming décor and revitalizing amenities. Our signature Heavenly Bed ensures a relaxing night’s sleep, and the Heavenly Bath is the perfect place to refresh.”
The rest wasn’t exactly heavenly, according to her husband.
With guns blazing and hard knocks on the door to ‘take 505′ as they yelled out. (She is in 507) this needlessly scared the crap out of her, not to mention interrupting what little sleep she could manage before important meetings all day.
Does the Westin owe her anything for the inconvenience?
Question: I recently found a $28 per night rate at the Westin Imagine in Orlando. I was amazed. I booked the room, and several days later I called the hotel to ensure that it was a legitimate rate. They confirmed this, so I booked nonrefundable airfare, and have been happily anticipating my getaway weekend ever since.
That is, until this past Monday morning, when I received an e-mail from the hotel’s director of revenue management saying that the rate was caused by a “keystroke error” during data entry. The actual rate was $289. The Westin offered a rate of $99 per night as an apology, but refused to honor the original rate.
I contacted Westin at the corporate level, and the hotel offered to waive its mandatory valet parking charge of $18 per night, but insisted it couldn’t honor the $28 rate. Then the manager of the hotel responded, offering to throw in an extra 5,000 loyalty points.
I’m writing because I don’t think I’m getting fair treatment by this Westin hotel. If there is anything you can do to help, I would be extremely appreciative. — Terry Capps, San Diego
Answer: If you book a rate that you know is an error, then you shouldn’t expect the hotel to honor the price. But $28 per night wasn’t an obvious “fat finger” rate, and the fact that Westin confirmed it certainly didn’t help.
If the hotel had offered rooms at $0, then this would be a different story. Actually, it wouldn’t be a story at all. If a business mistakenly prices something at a rate no reasonable customer believes is valid, it shouldn’t be required to honor that price. But you can find hotel rooms at $28 a night.
Question: My fiance and I booked our honeymoon at the Westin Aruba through a travel agent. At the time we made our reservations, we knew the hotel was undergoing some renovations in its lobby. I spoke with our agent, and e-mailed the hotel directly to find out if there would still be construction during our honeymoon several months later. I was emphatically told no, and even have an e-mail saying so from a Westin guest services manager.
Now, only a few weeks before the trip, I have been notified that the pool area of the hotel will be undergoing construction and will be unavailable to guests during our stay. The pool at a smaller, less expensive, hotel will be available for use. We have travel insurance, so we can get all of our money back, less the insurance fee of $258. But we’d still have to book another hotel at the last minute, at a much higher rate.
The Westin has apologized but has not offered any sort of discount or other compensation. Is there anything we can do, other than simply cancel our reservation? — Stefanie Rasimowicz, Princeton, N.J.
Answer: Westin should do more than apologize for the construction. After all, this is only the most important vacation of your life, and it ought to be perfect. Besides, it promised the construction would be done.
The hotel’s pool is one of its best amenities. It’s a free-form pool with three terraced spa tubs that extend 150 yards along the Caribbean. The hotel proudly displays pictures of the pool on its Website, but I could find no correspondingly prominent warnings that it would be unavailable.
No one is judging Westin for closing its pool. Hotels are in an almost constant state of renovation, and as anyone with a pool in the back yard can probably tell you, they require a lot of maintenance. The problem is that Westin wasn’t as upfront about the construction as they could be or as accommodating to your special needs.
Fortunately, you booked your honeymoon through a travel agent. A competent travel adviser should be able to fix a problem like this. After all, you’re paying the agent a booking fee in exchange for the expertise. The agent should, at least theoretically, be working for you.
I might have leaned on your travel agent a little more. When Westin’s “sorry” was unacceptable, your agent should have figured out a way of saving your honeymoon at no additional cost. Otherwise, you could have just booked your honeymoon online — which, by the way, I certainly do not recommend.
What else could Westin do? Under these circumstances, anything from upgrading your room to sending you to a comparable property without making you pay extra. Hotels often transfer guests — called “walking” in lodging industry parlance — to another property when they’re oversold.
I contacted Westin on your behalf. It offered you a $20 per day hotel credit and two drink tickets for the duration of your stay, as well as an upgrade to a suite. It also credited your rewards account with enough points for a one-night stay. A generous offer — but still, no pool. You canceled your reservation and rebooked at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino without having to pay more. Your honeymoon is saved.
By the way, as of Feb. 15, 2009, the pool was open again.