Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's the Little Things That Will Make Me Stop Traveling


I am a longtime traveler.  I don't travel lightly.  I usually have at least three cases plus three carryons of photographic gear and computer stuff.  Here's a typical hotel stay that any other longtime traveler can understand. 

 I generally like Hampton Inns, because you almost always get a clean room, clean sheets, a good firm bed, and friendly, professional service at the front desk at a decent price.  But the older the property, the more problems; and Hilton, who owns Hampton Inns, is hellbent on making life harder for all travelers other than their elite travelers.  

So, first night at the first Hampton Inn in Orlando.  Here's the scenario: 

You’re tired.  You’ve had a long flight with a screaming baby in the seat behind you.  The baby not only screams, but his brother is directly behind you, kicking your seat the entire trip.  He is impervious to glares and entreaties to the harassed mother does not solve the problem.

You take multiple shuttle buses, wrestling your three giant cases of photo gear and books on each bus, to finally get a rental car.  You make your way to the hotel.  You are very, very tired and do not look forward to wrestling all your gear from the car through the parking lot to the hotel and then to your room.  The room is old, and the air conditioning doesn't work well.  I try all night to sleep in a room that is about 76 degrees and humid.   After a bad night of sleep due to the ill-functioning air conditioning in my top-floor room, I asked to change to a room that had a better air conditioner.  The hotel clerk changed me to another room on the third floor.  
The new room, on the third floor, did not reek of cigarette smoke like my other room, but I soon encountered problems. The room was hot when I arrived.  The air conditioning unit had a sign with large letters that said “THIS UNIT IS CONTROLLED BY WALL THERMOSTAT  I searched and searched for a wall thermostat with no luck.  I finally asked a hotel staff person passing by to show me where the thermostat was.  He instantly reached for the controls underneath the sign to turn the air conditioning down to a lower temperature.  When I asked him why there was a sign on the A/C unit saying "DO NOT TOUCH", he said that some rooms had thermostats, and some did not. 


The ice machine on the third floor did not work.  I tried it several times.  It made nice loud humming engine sounds like it was working, but it never would give up any ice.  I had to trek down the stairs in my bare feet to the second floor, not a huge deal, but kind of nasty when I stepped into the puddle of old soda by the second floor ice machine.  

The TV in my "newer" room was incredibly old, a real relic.  I show a picture of the remote, which is made of metal.  It was so old and overused that the paint had been rubbed off by all the hands that had held it.  The TV was so old that the picture itself would not even fill the entire screen.  Only 50 percent of the TV screen area was filled by the actual TV picture.  I could barely see the picture, and the picture itself was unfocused and unsharp, kind of like watching a small old crappy minature TV from the 1970s.  The sound was so bad as to be unintelligible; I gave up trying to hear the audio.  I attach a photograph of the TV showing how small the picture was in the TV screen; and I attach a photograph of the remote, showing how ancient and worn it was. 

The refrigerator was a pain in the butt.  I put a can of soda in the door, but I discovered that every time I opened the door, the can would come shooting out.  It turns out that the refrigerator door was missing the small bar  that normally holds cans and bottles in place in the door. 

These are all little things.  But it is the little things that drive you crazy when you are traveling.  When you’ve arrived at your hotel after a long flight, you just want a hotel clerk that will check you in quickly; you want a room that is cool enough to sleep in and where you can control the temperature; you want a hotel where the management is thoughtful enough to schedule its elevator maintenance during non-busy hours; and you want a hotel that advertises a swimming pool -- to actually have a  swimming pool that you can use.  I can understand if a swimming pool is undergoing maintenance, but in such a case, give me the correct information so I don’t have to undertake a hike to another hotel only to find that hotel’s pool is closed also!  And making sure that your ice machines work helps also. 

The hotel I chose, the Hampton Inn Orlando Convention Center, was old and creaky, was  full up with large groups of screaming high schoolers and busloads of senior citizens; and its management either does not care or is not careful about things like scheduling elevator and pool maintenance at the best (less busy) times.  I moved to another hotel. 

Did I say that the little things about the Hampton Inns will drive me crazy? I changed hotels to the Hampton Inn at the Gateway Center near the airport.  This is a brand new building and the room and furnishings were great.  It had nearly none of the problems of the other hotel.  But, still, here’s the scenario:

You find the hotel.  You see a parking space near to the hotel entrance!  Finally, something has gone easy today.  You nose in, only to see the sign: nope, this is a handicapped space.  OK, you are used to that.  Oh, you see another space near the front of the hotel!  You cruise over there, nose in, only to see another sign: THIS SPACE RESERVED FOR HYBRID VEHICLES ONLY.  Arrgh!  You back out, see yet another space within reasonable walking distance of the hotel entrance, get your car there, enter the space, get out, and then you notice the sign for this space: THIS SPACE RESERVED FOR HILTON DIAMOND MEMBERS ONLY.”  You scream silently (or if you are in your car, loudly” to no one in particular, but really, at this petty crap designed to fool and irritate you by Hilton’s Hampton Inn executives.  You leave your car in the Diamond Member space, because you’ll be damned if you are going to move again.




One final note, Hampton Inn: If you allow a guest a late checkout, then don’t lock him out of the outer doors after he swims at noon, causing him to wait outside the outer door from the pool, pounding on the door for 15 minutes, and finally making him hike all the way around to the hotel entrance in his bare feet, swimsuit, and towel.  And then when you give him a replacement key, how about making sure that it works so he doesn’t have to walk up to his room in his bare fee, swimsuit, and wet towel, only to find out that he can't get into his room because you programmed the key incorrectly?!  Then he has to go back down to the front desk, still wet, still in his swim suit and towel, and ask for another key to be issued.  All because he went swimming at 12:14pm, your checkout time is 12 noon, but you promised him a late checkout at 2pm.  Then he has to go back up to his room, likely waiting for the elevator for 10 minutes since you've scheduled maintenance on two of the three elevators at the busiest time of the day.   Why cancel his room card when he is at your pool, after you’ve promised him that he can check out at 2pm?  Do you think that this would be somewhat aggravating? 

1 comment:

total12 said...

The small bar that normally holds cans and bottles in place in the door.pool maintenance nj