I’m sitting on Virgin Airlines flight 312 from LAX to MCO after an insanely productive weekend in Los Angeles. Seriously insanely totally mega productive.
It was great.
The low point, though, is sticking in my brain and annoying the hell out of me – so here I am writing about it.
This trip was my first time staying at a Crowne Plaza Hotel. I’m willing to be that it also my last time staying at a Crown Plaza Hotel after the consistently failed service I received from that one hotel. Here’s the skinny:
I got in town last Thursday night and, after a short business dinner, checked into the Crowne Plaza Anaheim. I self parked in a spot on the side of the building, walked in, checked in, and went to sleep. I had to be up at 5:30 AM for 8:00 AM meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Friday was filled with back to back meetings peppered with some locally touristy goodness. I was all over the place, and the evening was topped off with my driving to Los Angeles to have dinner with a friend and his wife and then driving BACK to Anaheim to meet my fellow work makes for a midnight showing of The Avengers because… you know. We’re geeks.
I got back to the hotel at 3:30 AM in the morning which, to my body, felt like 6:30 AM (YAY TIME ZONES.) I drove the rental car along the side of the hotel and discovered that their parking extended WAY back away from the hotel itself. It was literally almost a block away and I couldn’t find a spot. Thus I assumed I had gotten lucky my first night and realized I should just valet the car going forward. No worries.
Or it SHOULD have been “no worries.”
I pulled the car back around to the front and got out. There was no one at the valet stand, so I walked into the lobby to find someone to assist me.
There was no one there, either. I wandered around for a minute and finally hovered around the registration counter on the verge of calling out to see if anyone there. A young man in glasses finally appeared and asked if he could help me.
“Yes,” I said. “I’d like to valet my car.”
He explained that valet was closed. At this point I was beginning to get a little agitated. His next comments completed my journey to “a lot” agitated.
After he told me that valet was closed, he informed me that was still a way to valet my car (implying he would be more than happy to charge me.) He himself couldn’t park the car, but *I* could park it in valet myself and leave him the keys.
Seriously? The hotel wanted to charge me $16 to let me park my own car in a valet space since they had no space in their own parking lot? I was fuming but not showing it. I merely told the guy at the counter that I would pass and got back in the car determined to find a spot.
I did – in the parking lot for the hotel next door on the opposite side of the hotel along another road away from the Crowne Plaza. Thus I trekked my ass across a long empty parking lot at 4:00 in the morning while exhausted and just “done” with it all.
I posted the following on Twitter when I got back to my room:
(1/4) Hey @CrownePlaza Anaheim: this was my first stay at a #CrownPlaza resort & it will also be my LAST. Tried to valet…
(2/4) park when I got back from a movie, but the front desk guy said he couldn’t drive my car – but would charge me valet fees…
(3/4) to move the cones & let me park it myself. Went to park in general parking instead: no spaces. None…
(4/4) So I had to park in the lot of the hotel next door. Seriously. @CrownePlaza #Service #FAIL
I went to bed. Annoyed.
The next morning I saw this post on Twitter from InternContinental Hotels Group (@IHGCare)
@TomCroom Pls let Duty Manager know or DM details(confirm #,hotel,dates)or email address on profile.We’ll respond.@Crowneplaza ^am
I sent my name, room number, and cell phone number to them via Twitter. Afterwards, I walked down to the lobby ready to start my day and decided to pass the word along to the Duty Manager as advised.
Or, I tried to pass the word along.
When I got to the counter and asked to speak to the manager, the young lady pointed out a woman to her right on the phone. I decided to wait for a moment and, while standing there, the valet employee for the hotel was also trying to talk to her about someone out front waiting for their car. The employee mentioned the make of the car and the last name Perez and I interjected, “are you talking about Marc Perez?”
The employee said yes and asked if I knew him. “Yes, we’re both staying here while working together.” The valet pointed out that Marc (and Ann Marie) were sitting out front.
Since the manager was STILL on the phone, I walked out to say good morning and discuss our day since we were all heading to the same place. Marc looked annoyed and explained that they had waiting there for a while for the valet to get their car and (as a result) they were starting to run late for errands that needed running before our mutual noon meeting. At that point, I saw that hotel staff as a lost cause and opted to just leave without waiting for the manager to get off the phone.
Saturday was ANOTHER crazy busy day and I rolled back in the Crowne Plaza Anaheim’s hotel about 11:30 PM. This time there was a valet there and he took my keys. I walked upstairs to chat with Marc for an hour then went to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep before having to get up and drive to the airport.
During the day, I had received a message via Twitter from the Intercontinental Hotels Group:
Hotel Mngr. Brenda will be in contact with you today to discuss the situation. Sorry for the inconvenience. ^bj
When I got to my room, I saw the light flashing on the telephone there. My assumption was that, since I never got a phone call on my cell, I must have a message from “Brenda.” I picked up the phone to retrieve the messages and pressed the red button (as instructed by the words printed next to the flashing light.) Nothing. I tried messing around with it for a few minutes. Still nothing.
I went over to the other phone in my room. It was a simple model, but still had a flashing light on it. I looked it over and found no button for retrieving the messages.
I was dumbfounded.
Thus, I hopped in the elevator and headed down to the lobby to ask for help. The person working the registration desk? That’s right. The same guy in glasses from the night before. I explained that the phone in my room wasn’t working and that I had a message light. My hopes were that 1.) he have someone come fix the phone or 2.) he just retrieve the message.
Neither of these were the case.
“Um,” he said profoundly. “I think you can check the voicemail by dialing 5656 on the phone.”
Close enough. I went upstairs to my room and tried this with the smaller handset. It told me I had no messages.
The light kept flashing.
I tried to dial it on the larger phone on the hotel room’s desk. It didn’t work because it didn’t use touch tone dialing. The phone operated on the old click system used to electronically replicate a rotary phone.
NOTE: Many of my younger readers will have no idea what I’m talking about here. That fact alone questions WHY this technology is set up in an allegedly modern hotel.
I gave up. I couldn’t get the messages. It was frustrating as hell.
The next morning (this morning) I was up an moving at 5:00 AM and down in the lobby ready to hit the road by 5:30 AM. I walked out front and looked for the valet who was NOWHERE to be found.
I wandered back into the lobby and walked up to the registration desk. A hotel employee came out from a back room and greeted me. I asked him where the valet was and he informed me that the valet wasn’t available. I explained that I needed my car that was parked in valet and the employee told me I could just go get it since the valet parking lot was “right there.” He grabbed my keys for me and I walked out.
“Right there” it seems means duck under the construction to go get your car:
(Mine is the bright green one.)
I ducked under the yellow tape, traversed the little construction zine, got in and left… or I tried. There was a series of cones and rusty valet sign blocking the way. Thus, I had to stop, get out, and grab the dirty grimy metal object and haul it out of the way to I could leave.
My hands were disgusting afterwards making a perfect symbolic moment of how this hotel had me feel.
I am posting this and passing the tale on to Intercontinental Hotels Group because (I would hope) this isn’t the standard for their hotels. Or maybe it is. Either way, it would take some sort of small miracle for me to ever consider staying at another IHG property based on my first exposure to their brand.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to relax and continue to enjoy my Virgin flight home since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their brand.