Dear Holiday Inn Madison West,
I stayed at your hotel a few weeks ago. My card was double charged for my reservation. It took multiple phone calls and 3 weeks to receive a refund. When we arrived on Friday night, our room reservation was messed up, and we had to go back to the front desk to fix it, then change rooms — which involved hauling 4 children and their grandparents, the crap load of stuff you bring with you when traveling with children, and our snowboard gear, up and down the elevator (we were on the 4th floor). We ended up late to dinner and my kids (after rushing through dinner) were able to use the waterpark (the reason we booked your hotel) for only a few minutes before bed. The front desk gave us a voucher for 2 free alcoholic drinks at the hotel restaurant for the inconvenience in addition to the 4 other free alcoholic drink vouchers that came with our rooms. The infant I’m nursing really appreciates free booze and how did you know my husband likes to get sloshed in front of my parents when we’re traveling with 4 children for athletic events? It’s like you’re mind readers. At bedtime, when I tried to use the extra blanket from the closet for the pull out couch, I noticed the blanket was covered in pubic hair. I was tired of straightening out things with the staff at that point, and we just wanted to go to sleep, so my 7 year-old put one of our 6 month old’s baby blankets on his legs and an extra sweatshirt on his top half.
It gets better.
Saturday evening, a stranger walked into our room. Apparently, he had PURCHASED our room and his key card let him in. That was awkward. A stranger walking into our hotel room. It was a good thing we were just eating pizza and watching TV with our kids. We could have been changing. We could have been having sex. We could have been dancing around in our underwear. Or had all our stuff stolen. I thought about it, and I would rather have my stuff stolen, including my beloved snowboard gear, than have a stranger walk in on me while I’m having sex. Staying at your hotel causes a person to contemplate things like this.
After our room was sold to someone else while we were in it, our own key cards stopped working, so I made another trip to the front desk (from the 4th floor) to get a working key card and to make sure our room would not be sold to anyone else. Before I left the room to do this, the phone rang. I thought it was the front desk calling to apologize (as they had surely learned of the situation by now from the poor guy that had purchased our room… that poor guy. I mean, your hotel sold US the wrong rooms the night before, but I now felt fortunate that we had not been sold any occupied rooms in which people may have been having sex). “HELLO!!!” I yelled into the phone. It was not the front desk. It was my 12 year-old’s best friend’s parents calling to ask if our kids wanted to go swimming. I am quite sure my 12 year-old’s best friend’s parents now wonder if his mother has an anger management problem that causes her to scream hello into the phone when she answers.
Fortunately, I was able to obtain another working key card (two actually!) for our room. And we were given a voucher for free breakfast the following morning. Most hotels have continental breakfasts (but not yours).
Sunday morning, our children went to breakfast without shoes (they were planning to swim after). We were told that our children needed shoes before they would be allowed to have breakfast. I went back up to the 4th floor — two kids in tow — to get shoes for them. My husband waited downstairs. My key card wouldn’t open our door so he waited for awhile. In fact, I think he started wondering if Dennis Hopper had blown the elevator cables and his wife and kids were hostages. He was additionally thrilled when I had to call him to also come up to the 4th floor (with infant carrier on one arm, toddler on the other) to let us into our room. I was pleasantly surprised that one of your key cards worked when it was supposed to and we were able to retrieve their shoes. Our kids missed half of their swimming time before check out, but we did get a free breakfast.
My son dropped his IPOD in the hotel room while we were packing our things to leave. Five minutes later, he went back up to the room to check for it and it was nowhere to be found. (Our room could have been resold and the guest thought it came with a free IPOD.)
We were late to the snow hill, where one of our kids was competing, and by that time my husband was so frustrated he drove back to Iowa with 3 of our kids and I stayed with the one who was competing. (We were supposed to spend the day at the snow hill as a family.)
I had planned to chalk our stay up to bad luck. I understand that mistakes happen, and it is not my intention to get any of your employees in trouble (they were all very nice, and employees follow the policies a corporation sets). But then you emailed me asking how my stay was. I didn’t want to think about my stay so I ignored your email. But then you emailed me again. So here it is…
I cannot believe I paid nearly $400 dollars for that experience. Had I pitched a tent and snuggled up in a thermal sleeping bag at the bottom of our snow hill destination in subzero temperatures, I would have had a better experience. I can understand why you give out all those free drinks. It would be bad for business if your guests were in a state of mind to remember their experiences at your hotel. My kids love the waterpark in your hotel and were really excited to stay there, and I REALLY wanted to like your hotel because we come to Madison a lot for snowboarding, so I am really sorry to say that I would have to be on some kind of hallucinogenic drugs to book another stay at your hotel. It would be really nice if your hotel cared about making things right with their guests, and I’m a forgiving person, so I might even come back if you did… but it seems like free beer coupons are supposed to fix things?
I clicked on the feedback link you emailed me and wrote an entire page of feedback. Then my response was deleted and I was kicked out of your system before submitting it, which was upsetting. I spent a lot of time explaining these things in detail in case your hotel wants to fix them for other people. But don’t worry, I took the time to rewrite it, and just in case it gets deleted again, I’m going to save it on my blog so I have a backup copy.
Update — Upon learning of my experience, the hotel refunded my money and I was given a voucher to stay free for a night in the future.