Conclusion To My Marriott Upgrade Denial & Room Invasion

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

Yesterday I wrote about my experiencing staying at a new Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, The Ben, where I had quite a check-in experience, followed by my room being invaded by two hotel employees and a little kid. If you haven’t checked out that post yet, make sure you read that first.

To briefly summarize:

  • I booked a king room and asked about upgrades, and was told none were available
  • I get to my room and discover it has two beds rather than a king bed
  • I go back down and suddenly a room upgrade is available
  • That “water view” room upgrade actually has an awful view
  • An hour after getting to my room, a maintenance person opens the door, and then brings in someone else and a little kid, who at this point is standing across from me while I’m sitting in bed on my laptop

Our upgraded “water view” room

How did the saga continue? I can only sum up the entire experience by saying that I felt like it was the premise of a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode, since in each episode the storyline basically goes full circle.

Let’s pick up where I left off in the last post.

Ford gets back…

Ford was out at lunch with his mom, while I was taking care of Winston. He showed up five minutes after our room invasion, and suffice to say he was confused as all hell by why there was a little kid standing in our room.

I quietly explained the situation to him, and said I’d take Winston on a walk and talk to the manager. He wanted to stay in the room to watch our bags.

My talk with the manager

I headed to the front desk with Winston.

“Hi, could I speak to the manager on duty?”
“Sure one moment. Is there anything we can help with?”
“Well… I mean… maintenance people are in my room without asking permission, saying they needed to fix the toilet, and there’s also a little girl in my room standing there looking at me while I’m sitting in bed. They didn’t even knock.”

Suffice to say she didn’t know what to say.

The very nice manager on duty showed up a minute later, and I explained the situation to her. I didn’t talk about the check-in experience, but basically just asked:

  • How the heck do people just barge into rooms without knocking? Why aren’t they looking to see if the room is occupied?
  • For the safety of the child and to protect guests, how on earth can they have any maintenance people bringing their kids to work? Like on what planet is it even remotely acceptable to bring a child into someone’s guest room?

Suffice to say she was shocked, and she’d take care of it right away.

Lobby at The Ben, an Autograph Collection property

I take Winston on a walk…

I was texting Ford throughout this, so I have exact timestamps for everything. My conversation with the manager was done at 3:10PM. I would have assumed that by 3:11PM the maintenance people would be out of our room. 😉

I took Winston on a walk, and after 10 minutes I texted Ford to ask if they were still there. He said they were. After another five minutes — at this point 15 minutes after I had talked to the manager on duty, when she said they’d be out of the room right away — Ford said they were still in the room.

Back to the manager we go…

At this point I asked for the manager once again.

“It has been 15 minutes and my husband says that they are still in our room, how is that still possible?”

She was surprised to hear this, and said she assumed they were done, but if they weren’t, they should be done within a few minutes.

At this point I explained my frustration with the entire situation. I explained to her that I realize the hotel is new and that this isn’t her fault, but how damn frustrating everything was.

I explained we booked a king room and were given a room with two beds, and weren’t even informed of it. I told her the front office associate’s ridiculous excuse for that. I told her how it’s ridiculous that the room we were then “upgraded” to, which was promoted as a water view room, had a horrible view.

She was incredibly professional, and acknowledged all of my points. She said I was right on all fronts, and she’d get it taken care of right away.

She asked if she could move us into a junior suite.

“It wasn’t supposed to be available, but one just became available.”

LOL, given the previous situation.

I said it was totally fine, we were only there for one night, I didn’t want anything other than just a smooth stay. I just wanted them out of our room.

She said she wanted to invite us back next time for free. I said that really wasn’t necessary, and I didn’t want that. She said “I won’t take no for an answer, I insist you are our guest next time.”

Anyway, I sat in the lobby for a while longer, and then 15 minutes later Ford told me they were still in the room. At this point I asked for the manager again.

“I really don’t understand, how is it that they are still in our room? It has now been 40 minutes since this mess started?”

She was absolutely shocked it was still going on…

On the one hand, she was incredibly responsive and sympathetic to the situation. At the same time I don’t understand why no one was actually managing this situation, and why it was still going on after 40 minutes.

Shouldn’t they have immediately sent someone up to the room to have this taken care of?

We move rooms

She went into the back room for a bit, and then emerged and said it’s apparently still going to be a while before the bathroom is fixed (again, we had no clue there was anything wrong with it to begin with), and she just wanted to move us to a junior suite. She said she’d go up to our room with us and show us to the new room.

At this point they had sent the little girl to go sit in the hallway in front of our room, and the manager’s reaction when she saw this was exactly what you’d expect, seeing a little kid sitting outside someone else’s guest room.

We were moved to a junior suite, which was nice.

Our junior suite, which miraculously became available

A few more amusing points:

  • She sent up a doggy robe and a dog bed; while the robe was too small for Winston, how cute that they have that
  • She sent up a bottle of wine and an apology note; I don’t drink pinot noir, though I appreciated that the note was addressed to “Mr. & Mr. Ben Schlappig”
  • Once we were settled into our new room we headed downstairs in the elevator, and one of the nice people working in the restaurant was also in the elevator, and when she found out we were staying in the hotel she said “oh are you absolutely loving your stay?” LOL!

Winter body Winston with his summer body robe

Apology wine

Bottom line

I don’t understand people who complain about the lack of upgrades at Marriott. All it takes to get an upgrade is being assigned the wrong room, then being assigned a room that isn’t what it’s advertised to be, then having your room invaded by a little girl and two maintenance people while they fix your toilet for an hour, then talking to a manager three times, and then a suite that was previously unavailable suddenly becomes available.

It really couldn’t be easier, when you think about it!

Comments
  1. I suspect if you do take the manager up on the offer to stay for free, you will conveniently be billed double the nightly rate, and they won’t have any idea how that could have happened. #Bonvoyed

  2. @Lucky, from your previous postings I gathered that you rather have double beds room than a king one due to sanitary reasons, as you explained. Did you change your preference?

  3. That is quite an unfortunate cascade of events. If I had paid for a water-view room and was allocated the one you were assigned I would be very unimpressed. Why wouldn’t the manager go to the room herself knowing then entered without knocking and with a child in tow? She should have prepared 2 key cards for the junior suite in the event it was needed, speak with maintenance directly and upon learning about the issue then present the offer of a junior suite upgrade and help you move rooms. Once you are settled, have the bar call your room and offer you 2 drinks of your choice on the house. Not too difficult really?

    I wonder how Marriott will respond to this trip report debacle.

  4. @ David — She was nice and had nothing to do with the situation, so I told her what she wanted to hear “yes, it’s lovely, thank you.”

  5. @ Kalboz — Yep, my preferences have indeed changed. That post was from many years ago, when I was single. Nowadays I always prefer a king bed, especially when I’m with Ford and Winston, since we all like our space (while being in the same bed).

  6. I suppose all those who claim you get special treatment because you’re a well known travel blogger will just have to STFU.

  7. Lucky, you say she was shocked they were still in the room 40 minutes after you first spoke with her, and she said she’d address the issue. That is not “incredibly responsive” on the past of the manager— it is grossly incompetent of her.

  8. LMAO at the upgrade recap in the last paragraph.

    I wish there was a way to hold properties to the B’voy upgrade policy. I am Titanium and have gotten some nice upgrades, but also been denied multiple times when there are suites and other nicer rooms available.

  9. I’m guessing nothing ever makes you happy. I spend 80 to 100 nights a year in Marriott and Hilton properties and have stood behind people just bitching about every little thing.

  10. I agree with your attitude on upgrades. It’s nice if I’m with a friend or family and we could use the extra space, but on most occasions I couldn’t care less. I care more about a clean room with some space for my bag, power outlets in useful spaces, and other amenities I will use. I also am completely indifferent to bring upgraded from a room with a crap view to a room with a slightly less crap view.

  11. The only important question is will Winston return?
    And finally a way to potentially get an upgrade as Bonvoy Ambassador complain to the manager that the stay sucks and see if they may be willing to actually upgrade an elite member
    Fantastic endorsement for Bonjoy recognition after spending 100 plus nights a year
    Makes me want to give them at least 200 revenue nights (roll eyes)
    Thanks for the entertaining story/shared experience! 🙂

  12. Revisions needed to make this a curb episode:

    – Run into Mocha Joe at some point.

    – Correct the manager when they say they are “shocked” this is still happening, and say something along the lines of “Puzzled, I think you’re puzzled. Shocked was two conversations ago, but now I think you’re puzzled. You’re puzzled at the situation, and – uh frankly – you’re puzzled with why it’s taking so long and why I’m still down here asking questions.”

  13. Nice post. While quite the debacle, the manager’s apologetic response seemed over the top. Any chance she recognised you and went above and beyond to make up for it?

    I’m asking sincerely as I’ve had points credited, maybe drinks at the bar comped for a hotel failure but never suite upgrade, wine, apology note, and a next stay free guarantee…..

  14. @Lucky, Managers are usually transferred from other properties, like the Operational Manager in Element Chongli use to work for Sheraton Langfang, while stuff is usually locally hired and sometimes short-term for those seasonal hotels, so its usual staff are not trained, not managers as managers are usually just promotions and transfer, just like I have in Element CHongli, toilet towel even said Le Meriden and the paper said happy hour was free but the staff said it charges 38CNY and staff don’t know at CO whether this rate can earn SNPs.

  15. Ben – This is why your website is my favorite thing on the Internet. I absolutely love this story and the tone in which you told it. And really love the Winston pictures. I really appreciate that compared to some other travel websites, you really hold hotel chains accountable and give real, detailed examples of when they fail to meet the most basic expectations.

    And, totally agree with you on the upgrade nonsense since the merger – I am an SPG Lifetime Platinum / Bonvoy Titanium and I never get an upgrade anymore unless I apply an SNA.

    Your website is fantastic – thank you and keep it up!

  16. It’s not that unusual for hotel staff to enter a room. This can happen soon after you’ve checked in if the housekeeping staff were not made aware the room was taken. Or could be a supervisor checking the room is ready.

    Maintenance staff entering is also common, as people often report faults when they check out.

    And of course security staff can enter at any time for any or no reason.

    Best to use a “do not disturb” sign, but bear in mind that is only advisory.

  17. I am having a schadenfreude moment reading this while sipping complimentary brut in my corner suite at the Sofitel – a triple upgrade from what I booked.

  18. “I don’t drink pinot noir”

    Blasphemy. It’s fair to say “I don’t drink the swill that hotels offer complimentary” but categorically ruling out Pinot? A thing of beauty!

    On the other hand if you’d said you don’t drink Merlot… https://youtu.be/KXXDC5FarhE?t=30s

  19. Two stays in a row in a courtyard in Hillsboro OR staff entered my room mid stay with DND and threw out my stuff. Second time, my gf was with me and they threw out her stuff. The hilarious thing is they didn’t even clean the room but they left trash bags in there. I think they have special needs staff but not an excuse. 2 months tomorrow since the stay and they haven’t given me the points they promised. Every time I call the manager is “in a meeting” and I leave a voicemail with no response. Next call I will tell them I’m booking a meeting. I’m sure they will be magically available.

  20. Btw, I recently stayed at a Marriott property in San Francisco. Had reserved a one bedroom suite and was told ”you’ve been upgraded” at check-in, only to find out that my ”upgrade” was to a regular king room. Went down to the front desk again, this time told that all suites were overbooked. Asked to see a manager, who said ”oh, we actually do have a one bedroom suite” and moved me. Thanks for the upgrade.

  21. @Tom

    And don’t tell me, hang the ‘please no children to enter’ card too?

    Gimme a break, this is a cluster of a stay.

  22. You’ve captured the frustration I typically feel when dealing with most corporations. Customer service is simply a half hearted attempt at appeasement, hoping you will be quiet and go away. You’re experience here is definitely not an anomaly.

  23. I don’t think I’ve seen a post structured in this way for years here at OMAAT! Don’t worry, I’m loving it though!

  24. @Tom – it has been industry protocol/ best practice for all employees to knock on a guest room door any time the enter, regardless assumed/stated occupancy status. This was a serious offense as far back as 25 years ago when I worked in a back-water Hilton franchise.

  25. This is a ridiculous mess, which is a bit funny as I just hit send on a ‘we had a great stay, thank you’ email to the general manager of Essex House in New York. Sounds as though the manager was apologetic and eventually helpful, although instead of the free night at that specific property an extra 100,000 points to use elsewhere probably would have been preferred. Unfortunately status (or even getting the room you’ve reserved) means less and less these days.

  26. It’s gross that hotels let people bring their mutts in. Dogs don’t belong in hotels.
    I cringe at the thought of staying someplace after a dog has.
    If you can’t be with out your “precious” mutt, stay home!

  27. @Lucky

    “Winter body Winston with his summer body robe” LOL

    “I don’t drink pinot noir” I agree with @Gary Leff – Blasphemy!! I know you like NZ Sauvignon Blancs; NZ pinot noirs are also good. Perhaps you should start there? Pinots are versatile wines that are great on their own and pair well with a lot of foods.

    I think someone commented on your first post, but would you be eligible for the room type guarantee for your original room? Regardless, it’s a ridiculous situation from start to finish.

  28. I can see your point about them not knocking or checking if someone was staying there before entering, but to have a problem with the kid being there I think is quite inconsiderate of you.

    It’s really hard to find affordable childcare in this country, so many people are forced to bring their kids to work, and the least those of us who aren’t in their shoes can do is be empathetic with this and not raise an issue about kids being there.

  29. Well it wasn’t the end of the world. We just went to a timeshare in Orlando and of course the toilets decided to stop up. I called the desk and someone came within 25 minutes. Another time I was at a hotel that was advertising tell us the problem and will fix it and give you a baseball cap for free. Well I did get my baseball cap and I don’t remember if it was fixed.

  30. Got to feel sorry for the poor little girl. Must have been really awkward / horrible for her. Poor thing.

    Sounds like a terrible experience. Even Hilton aren’t that bad!

  31. I had something similar (tho not nearly as bad) happen recently at another Marriott property. Work trip, me and a coworker booked the same hotel, both last min bookings so all that were left were rooms with 2 beds, not a big deal i figured id ask about a king room on arrival but, who cares. I am Plat and my co-worker doesnt even have an Marriott account. We arrive and i asked about a room with a king bed, told nothing available, hotels totally full. Ok, it happens right? My coworker then checks in and is given a room with a king bed…wait what? didnt i just ask about that?

    It gets worse. He goes to his room, finds that the room wasnt made up yet, so they then upgrade him to a high floor water view with a king bed. So….not only did they lie about having any king beds, they lied about having any other room types at all. So….i know this is DYKWIA but….Plat elite guest gets no upgrades, while non member gets double upgraded? Marriott is getting worse and worse 🙁

  32. Visidigi/Scudder,

    I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying it happens. I even had staff burst in when my wife and I were, well, you know.

    If you spent one entire day in your hotel room instead of going out, you’d probably be shocked how many times staff go in there. My record was five in a day.

  33. The thought of sleeping under the blanket that a large hairy dog had stretched out on top of, would be enough to keep me away from many Marriotts. At least he’s not a cat, but I’m sure those are allowed also. When the front page is full of stories about disease spread from animals to humans, I believe in caution. The anti-vaxxers don’t draw the line at rabies shots, do they?

  34. @Bob Pope
    So you stay 80-100 nights? I guess you do not know what it is like for us who frequently stay at hotels. Think 200+

  35. @ Ross — The front page is full of stories about diseases spread from animals to humans? Can you point me to the front page stories about domesticated pets spreading diseases to humans, especially at hotels? And how do the statistics compare to humans spreading diseases to other humans?

  36. @ AndrewP — 100%, I feel horribly for her, and hopefully this wasn’t taken in any way as an attack on her. She did absolutely nothing wrong, and was put in a very uncomfortable situation.

  37. @ Ahmad — Affordable childcare is a huge problem, you’re absolutely right. But surely you don’t think bringing a child into someone’s hotel room while they’re sitting in bed without even informing them is an acceptable solution? This is no way the girl’s fault, of course, but surely this can’t be considered an acceptable solution.

  38. @ Tennen — I don’t think I would have been eligible for the room type guarantee since it’s not that they didn’t have my preferred bed type, it’s just that the room wasn’t cleaned yet. I think the guarantee only applies in situations where they can’t provide it even after check-in time.

  39. @ Gary Leff — Hah, totally fair, and that wasn’t my intention. To expand on that, I’m just not a red wine drinker. And if I’m going to drink a glass of red wine it’s going to be with a steak, and not in 80 degree weather in Florida without anything to eat.

    My bigger point — and ultimately this isn’t a big issue compared to everything else — is that hotel loyalty programs love talking about how they want to take guest recognition and loyalty and customization to the next level. My Ambassador is amazing with customizing welcome amenities, and he knows I like sauvignon blanc/don’t like red wine.

    There’s clearly a failure with the system if that’s not somehow noted in my profile and easily accessible. That should be easy enough for them to figure out.

  40. Ben as well as most readers overlook that this is an independent hotel, not a hard Marriott brand and not managed by Marriott. Autograph Collection has very low standards. Moreover, the vast majority of Marriott’s properties across all brands are NOT managed by Marriott. This is what happens when thousands of hotels are operated by third parties.

  41. Thanks for taking the time to share this very amusing story.

    If this was on thepointsguy it would also be pushing both Marriott credit cards.

  42. Sorry for your experience, but that was one hilarious closing paragraph in your post. A great was to wrap up a very grating experience!

  43. Mate it seems you have shown some great restraint. If this had happened to me I would have gone nuts. Not only would I have demanded a mega bagful of points but expected the upgrade etc. No excuse is good enough in my view in this case.

  44. Going to be in West Palm Beach this coming weekend and planning on staying at the Residence Inn there. But the Ben had intrigued me, especially since I have a 50K Amex Bonvoy Brilliant free night to burn.

    So after all this, I’m curious about whether you think the hotel would be worth staying at if it irons out all of the problems you identified in the stay. In other words, are the rooms and other physical attributes of the hotel quite nice, location good, service (to the extent you experienced it in any other ways than what you described) good, etc?

    Could be that given the nature of your stay, the answer is simply “No!” But I’m still curious

  45. I’m sure you could have traded the Pinot for a white…but the story is hilarious. That sound is pretty decent BTW. A little under $30 retail.

  46. Ben,

    Are you going to call Marriott Corporate or shall I… Grossly unprofessional.

    @ Ahmad, What if was not sitting on his bed? What if he was doing whatever he has the right to do in privacy ( adult stuff) and the little girl walks in… Not cool on her Father’s part…. Honestly – he should be fired… All the training in the world doesn’t fix stupid…

    Ron R

  47. Never be alone with a strange child. Innocent people get accused of being inappropriate with children. The child was lucky it was you who took charge of her but it could just have easily been a pedophile. You dodged a bullet but so did that child.

  48. A truly disastrous experience, to be sure. Of course, the salient point that any experienced traveler had to recognize but which is glossed over entirely: “Well, today I checked into The Ben, a new Marriott Autograph Collection property in West Palm Beach…It literally opened just a couple of days ago.” Anyone who stays at a newly opened or reopened hotel and isn’t expecting bumps and bruises is a fool. Ben should have known better, too. New hotels always have staff service issues, always have room coordination issues, always have computer glitches, always have maintenance issues, always have food delivery and preparation issues, always have staff newly trained who don’t know the proper procedures, etc. So while it was disastrous, it also isn’t entirely to be unexpected. Come on, now. If we want to assault Marriott for an obviously poorly opened brand new independent hotel, let’s also assault the choice to stay at a brand new hotel and somehow expect a good service experience. Reality check time.

  49. hmm…… maybe you should release the inner b!tch occasionally (you do have one, right?) and go psycho in situations like this. It would be invaluable training for the new manager (she should thank you!) and you’ll feel great having let go your usual passive-aggressive approach to problems.
    We would all enjoy reading about it too!

  50. @ Bob Hope…. your unhelpful comment to Ben’s amusing post, is exactly why the the big hotel chains get away the stuff they do . Go away.

  51. @Ahmed – while I agree Ben was looking at the child from his own perspective at being stared at by said child, he does say “For the safety of the child”.

    I’d agree that I’d have sympathy for bringing a child to work but entering unannounced with her and leaving her unsupervised in the bedroom with a stranger doesn’t seem like a safe thing by US standards, even if a parent is just in the bathroom. If it were my male partner texting me about this situation, I’d probably ask him to move to the lobby to work for a while or push a bit for a room replacement under the guise of “so they can resolve the issue with the bathroom in due pace”.

    I’m a woman and usually vacate my room when there is maintenance or cleaning and would definitely do so if someone entered unannounced. I wonder if the manager would have proceeded the same if it was a female customer. Perhaps you and Ford can discuss if using the security latch and deadbolt would be prudent for your privacy. I know you were expecting him to come back but he could probably text/call you when arriving or have a special knock so you can unlock from the inside.

  52. Ben, sorry to hear about your experience, it truly was comedy of errors at best.

    However, I think you may have run across an increasingly common way of simply denying upgrades in the US that I too have experienced several times in the last several months whether checking in around check in time or late at night. When checking in the app shows several standard suites available and frequently a variety of room types, but am not offered one. When I ask the desk clerk, they reply either that the hotel is “fully booked” that night or that their “system shows no suites are available” and it must be a “system error”. Sometimes they will go in the back to ask the manager and the suites disappear from the app and at other times they remain available on the app and web site (I check the web when I connect to the internet in the room). And of course, if higher level suites are available they will not go beyond the rules and upgrade to one of those.

    As this has occurred several times under virtually identical circumstances I am sensing it is becoming a relatively wide spread way of denying upgrades. Whether Marriott knows or cares about this practice, who knows?

  53. Yikes. That Marriott Lobby reminds me why I never stay at Marriott. The room is also gruesome.
    Funny blog NTL.

  54. I wonder if Marriott will need to start loving its customers that little bit more with the current cliff that the travel industry is facing with Covid-19. Already hitting hard in many countries including New Zealand and Australia. Maybe thats wishful thinking.

  55. I have a contact from the Marriott Executive Liaison team if you need it. I am tired of Marriott. You shouldnt have taken her offer for a free stay and instead get a full refund and use your money elsewhere. I am sorry but hotel manager do not understand we stay in a hotel to take the stress away and have a pleasant stay? Most of the time I dont want a suite upgrade or free wine or free breakfast, I just want a regular smooth stay for what I paid for!!! Not even counting your elite status!

  56. @CoolHandLuke
    I recommend caution. Behaving in a way that someone might interpret as presenting a danger to others might end up with Police involvement. Police would more than likely take the side of the establishment at first blush.

  57. I am not sure with regard to electronic locks but Hotels used to have a way to lock doors so nobody could enter without security using their key. We found this trick in a Hotel in a non secure area, we kept double locking the door and needing help to open, LOL.
    When we checked out they were going to change the lock because it kept ‘double locking”, we fessed up and admitted we were doing it.

  58. @Bill while I personally am prepared for issues with brand new hotels, they don’t ALWAYS have issues:
    Good hotel brands have dedicated launch teams to avoid this kind of experiences.
    I stayed at a new, upscale IHG property and they opened in stages, starting with a few rooms, increasing to full capacity over several months to make sure they can provide seamless experiences… rather than throwing the doors open and not being able to cope ..
    I stayed at a midscale Accor hotel and the complete management staff was on the floor, making sure things went smoothly, rather than hiding in their office like the nice, but ineffective manager in Ben’s story…
    Hilarious story and thanks for calling out Marriott – they deserve it and need to do better…

  59. It took one bad Bonvoy experiment for me (albeit not as bad as that) and I’m officially a Hyatt elite. I’m done with Marriott and quite honestly don’t even want to redeem my points. They are the worst. I knew this would happen when they bought SPG

  60. I know for sure that hotels hide rooms for either revenue purposes or just plain bastardry. I suspect that this is not necessarily the fault of reception, but management rules. But it is counter-productive. I call it the cake shop principle. A baker has twenty buns, all different sizes. If you give every customer the smallest bun first, then every customer feels ripped off. If you give each one the biggest one left, then you have 20 happy customers. Same 20 odd sized buns, but completely opposite levels of satisfaction.

  61. I stayed at a Homewood days after it soft opened. I found the manager to be incredibly experienced. It turned out he worked for a regional lodging group that owned and operated about 100 doors of different brands. He was rotated and sent to open new properties, usually staying there 3 to 4 months.

  62. We had a bad experience with a non-corporate Marriott a couple of years ago. My husband traveled exclusively using Marriott Hotels. We went back home to see his family for what would be his final trip home. He called ahead and asked if they had a wheelchair available and was told yes. When we arrived it was not an adult sized wheelchair. He was not comfortable in it at all. He asked is this all you have and was told yes. He asked for the manager. He complained to her. He suggested she try to sit in it. Her response was I do not need one. This Marriott had just been remodeled. We called and asked for a stool or chair for the shower. He was able to get in the shower but needed to rest once in there. They didn’t have anything. We were able to obtain a different wheelchair from a relative’s friend. We went to a family gathering. We returned to the hotel and the maintenance man was in the wheelchair making fun of my husband not being able to sit in it in the lobby with the front desk clerk. They think they were funny making fun of a dying man. I could feel my blood start to boil. My brother-in-law took my husband a retired combat army officer veteran of almost 40 years upstairs. He returned to those idiots and told them he should kick their a—- for their behavior. I went down and asked for the owners business card. The next day we moved to a Hyatt. I have about 2 million Marriott reward points from husband but that experience left a bad taste in my mouth. The owner did nothing and neither did corporate Marriott.
    I will say we had one of our best experiences at the Bonn Marriott World Conference Center in Germany. The staff there could not have been nicer or more helpful. If all staff could be like them, I would stay with Marriott. But sadly they are not.

  63. @Alex, regarding your speculations that Lucky was recognized and the apologetic response was over-the-top: I don’t think so, based on a recent experience at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. There was a convention going on and a room two doors down was having a loud party with dozens of folks inside, which didn’t bother us. After I went to sleep the party apparently spilled into the hallway (isn’t that what always happens with dozens of folks in a room?) My wife called a brief noise complaint — she wasn’t angry or particularly complain-ey at all – and someone came up and swiftly shut up the partygoers. The next day, someone from the Hyatt front desk called us to apologize, and later on someone slipped a handwritten apology note under our door. This all seemed incredibly professional if a bit unnecessary: we were just happy and gratified that Hyatt had dealt so quickly and effectively with the noisy party outside of our door.

    One time, the Hyatt on the Bund in Shanghai made a mistake where two confirmed suite certificates were accidentally deducted from my account; the manager wrote an apologetic note and offered me something like 130,000 Hyatt points as apology. (I turned him down, saying it was way way too much compensation, and asked him instead to simply apply the upgrade to a future stay, which we eventually did.) The Hyatt on the Bund in Shanghai has also delivered me fancy cake in my room on my birthday with a note handwritten in chocolate on white chocolate “paper”, and sent up wine when my wife arrived mid-stay.

    We are good customers to Hyatt but we certainly don’t have the online presence that Lucky does: I think for some organizations, it’s just built into their corporate DNA to continually try to be customer-focused, particularly in case of errors resulting in bad guest experience. Based on the odyssey Lucky describes here, it would appear that’s really not the case for Marriott’s franchised hotels.

  64. Hi Ben, I stumble into this post by pure coincidence. I’m a front desk manager in one of Marriott’s managed hotels in a big city. I do agree with you that is has become harder to get any upgrades with the merge of Marriott and Starwood. With the merge of two programs, it has created so many higher tier members that they have to create new ones. We used to get 10-15 platinum members in a day, with the merge, we get close to 20+ and a handful of ambassador guests and lifetime members and sometimes a super VIP. I’m sorry about your experience with the property, one thing that comes to my mind is that since the property was new, a lot of the employees are probably not fully versed with the hospitality industry. As for room upgrades, Marriott is putting more stress on executive leaders regarding revenue, all they care about is revenue. We are always compared with other similar properties regarding revenue. So a lot of the times, if you do see a suite online, revenue team and executive leaders want is to keep it available as long as possible to see if we can sell it. But also it could be that when you asked about the suite at check-in, the room maybe was still occupied, or it was not clean yet and was finished become available during the interaction.
    Or another thing I can think is that the front desk agents get an incentive when they upsell a lower status member to the next room category. But I do agree that it has become harder to get an upgrade. And thanks for being one of the nicer and understanding Ambassador members

  65. Skipped all the comments, as is my policy.

    So grateful for your tact in the elevator @Ben. Classy, good man.

    “Mr. & Mr. Ben Schlappig” => She’s a gem!

    I love happy, hilarious endings.

  66. I have come to the conclusion that all of these reward programs and credit cards, etc. are becoming a nuisance. Yes, there could be perks but all of these come at a price. I used to be a rewards connoisseur but within the last 2 years, I have really gotten to a point where I think cash rewards is the best choice. Amex, every year start to suck more, you pay the high membership fees and then they turn around and remove the best features to replace with stuff you can’t really use or need.

    I have status with pretty much all the chains Hilton and Marriott most of my upgrades came in free 50 cent water bottles are an additional points. Not much of upgrades. The only nice upgrade I received was just the other day when I stayed at the Intercontinental in L.A. from the club suite to a one bedroom suite. Considering I already paid $600 a night.

    Hilton Aspire supposed to give a free night at one of their properties. Tried to book the Waldorf Astoria with it but pretty much was told that their standard rooms where all booked up every every of my dates I wanted to use. Basically what I told them so if you want to the use the voucher that is a selling point of the card, you just get a room at a Hampton Inn but try using it at their better properties it’s “No rooms available”.

  67. That was a good manager on duty.

    The front desk agent that gave you the 2 beds instead of 1 was maybe a new employee. It takes time to give good customer services at hotels. At least 18 months experience before you can deliver excellent service and anticipate customers expectations.

    I received a spirit of excellence award from JW Marriott for excellent service. I got to meet him. I asked him for the private jet after my 2 year anniversary at Marriott but his office told me to come back in 28 years. Then I got fired for harassing some celebrities.

  68. Have you considered the possibility that the front desk has an anti-Ben bias as they hate their employer, and are taking it out on a guest also named Ben by denying you the room you reserved and sent in engineering?

    Best way to test this is to book more rooms on the same day with 1) yourself 2) a non-Ben with same elite status, 3) a non-elite Ben and 4) a non-elite non-Ben.

    Did I just recommend that you book 4 rooms in a hotel that recently treated you poorly? Why yes, I did, but it is in the name of SCIENCE!!!

  69. This is so typical of Marriott lately as they’ve declined rapidly in recent years – especially after the merger.

    My wife is Platinum Elite and I’m Gold. She booked us at a Marriott property in Birmingham, AL, last weekend. The associate who checked us in said there were no upgraded rooms available (the place was dead), she checked us into a room that was already occupied, then it took more than 15 min of waiting to get booked into a different room. So we go to the bar for drinks to use the free $20 Platinum credit and – shocker – there is no credit on our account.

    We’ve had similar issues in different cities so it’s not just this one Marriott property. I think we are done with them.

    #Bonvoy-ageMarriott

  70. You may not be interested in a free return stay, Ben, but 30k points & a free (larger) doggy robe are always nice! Poor Ford walking in on that scene!

  71. I’m confused. Why didn’t the manager go to your room and grab the workers by their ears and drag them out? Instead of acting shocked each time you said they were still there. Is she stupid or something?

  72. An entertaining read! Slightly hysterical but still entertaining and very valid points!

    Marriott should be shamed for advertising one thing and implementing something else. The “no blackout policy for awards” is the height of lying and double speak. The “room upgrade based on availability” is another total lie. This must be either a corporate policy to be very fast and loose with the truth on upgrade availability or it must be an encouraged corporate Marriott culture. This is easy to provably challenge and should be contested in every instance.

  73. The front desk agent that checked you in initially is to be applauded. For the vast majority of people in that situation, it would have been incredibly awkward to have a room with one bed – and may have resulted in quite a negative impression on the guests. That agent anticipated the situation and took some great initiative. Looking forward to staying at that property during my next trip to South Florida.

  74. I work front desk for Marriott and we treat all our guests well from non-members to Ambassadors. I’ll clue you in on something though – guests that start their check in process demanding upgrades with entitled voices are not only despised, but we will give you the shittiest option we have. Truth is, in a well managed property (such as mine) arrivals reports are printed all day long and upgraded rooms are pre-assigned in anticipation of elite guest arrival. Does that mean that multiple rooms within the same group of people will be equally good? No! Rooms are being made ready all day by housekeeping and we block them as they open up. Is it so hard for some posters here to grow up and stop comparing their room to their coworkers room as if it’s a dick measuring party?!

  75. This is all ridiculous and embarrassing for the hotel, but the worst part for me is really the “water view“. This is is no accident or mistake, but deliberately sh***** on your customers.

  76. Out of the last 4 times staying with Marriott, I’ve never been upgraded, (I’m a gold elite member). In fact, the last stay, I was asked to pay for my upgrade. I paid for a room and received another, when I complained about it, they said it was a glitch in the system.. WTF? I’ve gone off Marriott now and will look elsewhere!

  77. She should have went upstairs to address the situation directly.
    If that hotel is convenient to Ford’s mom you may be staying there again soon…

  78. I’m surprised, haven’t you been traveling long enough to know that in this hotel, which is called The Ben (HELLO!!!), there are only 2 possibilities? 1: they welcome you and put you in the presidential suite (also called The Ben suite) OR 2: They just f*ck up everything

  79. @Amy

    If I’m not auto given an upgrade I am entitled to, you will hear my demanding voice. And if you still Bonvoy me, I will publicly shame you on TripAdvisor. Consider yourself Bonvoyed!!

  80. @iamhere

    Bingo!! Instead of acting surprised and shocked each time Ben says it hasn’t been resolved, she should have just gone up to the room and yanked the janitors out of the room by their damn ears!

  81. @ Amy — Hmmm, you treat all of your guests well, or you treat many of your guests not well? Based on your description, sounds to me like the latter.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t start the check-in process demanding upgrades with an entitled voice, as you like to describe it. I politely asked if they have any upgrades available after being informed that I would be in a standard room. As an Ambassador is that an unreasonable question to ask, in your opinion? If so, perhaps hospitality isn’t the right field for you?

  82. @Ben

    Amy essentially is just saying to trust her and she will give you whatever the hell she wants. You just bend over and get Bonvoyed!

  83. I just can’t believe the manager didn’t go walk up there with you themselves. The idea a kid is there, the idea they came in without asking, and that they’re fixing something you didn’t report as broken. “I’m sorry, let me walk up there with you now and get them out of your room immediately.”

  84. @Jake

    That’s right. You grab them by their ears and yank them out of the room. And then you call their wife to come pick up their child.

  85. “Amy” should be fired immediately if her employer can identify her. Nobody with this attitude (which I recognize, and it is a feature of some in the “hospitality” industry) should be permitted to continue POISONING the hotel’s (and corporation’s) relationship with their customers, who will eventually stop paying. There is NOT a “sucker born every minute”, and repeat heavy users are the lifeblood of an enterprise, no matter how “entitled” some self-appointed clerk views her current victims.

  86. @Amy

    Let’s just assume Ben “demands” an upgrade and not asked for one (I personally don’t believe that’s the case here but we can agree to disagree). You would “despise“ the customer and give them the “shittiest“ room possible?!
    You also ignored the situation with the maintenance guys with the little girl. I would like to know how a “despised” customer should react in that situation? Even after telling the management team over and over again.
    This is from someone who is “proud” to be a front desk employee from a “well managed” Marriott said a lot about the state of the Marriott Corporation.

  87. We had a similar experience at what was supposed to be a very nice hotel in Barcelona. The bed in the first room we were booked into was broken. The room we were moved into had been smoked in recently (wife is asthmatic). The third was unmade and looked like a raging party had taken place there. We also had our two year old in tow and a full-sized crib. It took the bellman yelling at reception to get their sh1t together before we ended up in a fourth, very tiny but adequate room.

    Room service sent us a fruit plate, but there was otherwise no apology about the hassle. We were so thankful the bellman was a seasoned pro, but would not bother staying there again.

  88. Really, you let your pets up the furniture? When I travel I always take a sheet or towel to put down.

    Perhaps you should be as courtious to others as you want Marriott to be to you.

  89. Hopefully there’ll get things working smoother in the future as it seems corporate rushed to get the hotel ready b4 a final check. Hopefully they’ll get a final physical spot check in all the rooms and update the rooms types appropriately too.

    To bad you forced the little girl to have to sit outside your room alone. I don’t see anything wrong with her being there. I used to go and hand out with my father when he worked on the aircraft in the hanger and ramp or did the preflight inspection or fixes at the gate which also included me walking in on all the passengers, entering the flight deck or the galley. Is it an American thing to think about the insurance coverage – it always seems to come up?

    As for not knocking before entering, could have been an honest mistake or a cultural difference. No big deal. Even if you err naked and just out of the shower LOL – thats would have made the story even more funny.

    But glad the worker got the toilet fixed in the suit when you came back to get the upgrade with the view!

    And all this for one night.
    But the Misses looked pretty happy with the small robe!

    Some people try hard to make things right. Some people work hard but are not social, but love family. And everyone else fills in the gap.

    Sounds like a fun place to visit.

  90. I’m sure we all have stories like this but without getting a suite upgrade. 🙁

    I was in Vegas at Red Rock hotel. Checked in late due to my later flight. Go in the room and get in the bathroom to unpack and I smell marijuana. It’s coming from the bathroom vent from another room. I call the front desk and they send someone up to go to another room.

    They drop off a new key and I go to the new room and the room hasn’t been cleaned yet. Ughhh! So I call again and they ask me to come down to the lobby. They make their employee run up to another room to make sure it’s clean, 30 min later, I go to my room that is the farthest point in Red Rock hotel! Never an upgrade even though I have stayed there many times due to work. After this, I stayed someone where and drove a long drive since Vegas traffic in this area was light. How come I didn’t get a suite upgrade??? 🙂

  91. >Can you point me to the front page stories about domesticated pets spreading diseases to humans, especially at hotels? <

    It's not the last virus we have to worry about, it's the next one. And domesticated pets can carry ticks, which can carry Lyme disease and other ailments.

    According to Terminix,

    "Bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, but they can bite just about any animal. This includes dogs, cats, rodents and birds. Dogs aren’t a major host of bed bugs, but their bedding can be a great hiding spot for these pests."

  92. @Steven Neoh – spot on. I’m a lifetime Bonvoy Tite and last March enjoyed my first ever stay w Sofitel – Bangkok Sukhumvit. The entire experience was so superior to any of my 600 + previous Marriott stays.
    The upgraded room was stunning, and the nightly club level fine wines and brut champagnes and top notch canapés was enough to make me rethink my allegiances. Unfortunately about 90% of my annual hotel nights are domestic.
    I plan on being extremely vocal about upgrades this year after having several denied last year. In each case I was coming off long flights and just didn’t have the energy to push back. But, let the games begin.

  93. As a lifetime Marriott platinum guy that spends half his year in hotels and the other half trying to book those hotels, your experiences are not unusual. I haven’t gotten a requested upgrade in well over a year. They just don’t do that anymore, regardless of what they say. People walk in rooms without knocking or with a single tap on the door regularly. The rooms in my area have been upgraded, but it’s just a white washed facade. It just feels like the whole bonvoy program is under water. It’s much worse that the old program with fewer rooms and more difficulty across the board. I’m close to scrapping it with marriott completely.

  94. @Mark:

    hate to tell you, but Gold elites don’t get squat. Lower your expectations, or prepare to be disappointed regularly. I am LT Titanium and rarely get upgrades.

  95. @Alex, I would not call the manger’s response “over the top”. It seems like the bare minimum to me. IMHO, Bonvoy points should have been offered rather than another night at that property.

  96. I’m a dog lover but I just don’t want to be in a room directly after someone has had one there. Dog rooms should definitely be sorted so that only another guest with one has it.

  97. We had maintenance walk into our room without knocking as well. The front desk called about 10 minutes later and apologized and offered us points for the intrusion. Of course, the extra points never showed up on my account. I did get an apology though. Marriott is definitely going downhill.

  98. Exactly why are you staying at Marriot hotels? They suck. Book a small boutique off the beaten track…they are dying for corporate customers.

  99. You know, what some people don’t realize or understand is that with upgrades, some rooms go down for maintenance and while they are fixing it, it’s unavailable and once it’s fixed, it’s available. In addition to it, alot of hotels will keep one or two rooms open just in case something horrible goes wrong, especially in new hotels. Also, what people don’t expect is that cancellations will open up that room availability too(things happen and people cancel last minute).

    As for any Marriott Bonvoy members, if you read your benefits, it does clearly state that upgrades will be accommodated based on availability and it’s a first come, first serve. And I’ve noticed people think they are entitled to it like they are the only one, you’re not. There are probably 15 other people of your elite status checking in with only 5 suites or upgradable rooms. (And I make friends with the hotel staff so they tell me things lol)

    I’m sorry this crazy happened for you man, things happen and it’s unexpected, but it sounds like the manager tried her best to make it up. That’s all we can hope for with hotels. Honestly, I’ve experienced Marriott hotels try to do more for the guest that’s humanly possible then some hotels, which is why I stick to them, but to each their own.

  100. I recently was forced to stay in a Residence Inn in Indianapolis (booked by the employer). I realize the employer got a discounted rate, but does that mean we can’t get insect- free rooms and toilet paper (it took 3 requests and actually going up to the desk to get one roll handed to me by the manager on duty the next day). The cleaning staff also flooded the kitchenette (I heard most likely because they didn’t know how to work the dishwasher) and hot water was hit-or-miss for 5 weeks. When renovations on the upper floors got into full swing, they broke the sprinkler system and a coworker had a waterfall in the center of her room. They didn’t even offer to move her room, let alone move her to the Courtyard across the parking lot.

  101. When my kids were young, there was a tradition of daughters going to work for a day with Daddy.
    My kids used to love going to work with Daddy on the 82nd floor of the Empire State Building. Luckily, I’m in Marketing and do not work at a classy Marriott hotel let alone in its guest rooms. I can only imagine this little girl telling her grade-school class about “her day at work with Daddy”.

  102. Honestly, the most (of several) horrifying part of the whole thing is the presence of the child. I’m picturing a female version of Damien. Or perhaps one of the twins from The Shining.

    Of course, I detest children under any circumstance, so maybe it’s just me.

  103. Would have been shocking and tough to believe this story, but it was a Marriott so it is completely plausible. They have fallen so far so fast over the past 1-2 years.

  104. It would appear that you are impatient .Repairs take time.If one travels extensively ,you will experience you room occupied by an unknown,by the staff looking for an empty room to rest it thinking yours is empty .I can assure you that your experience is hardly worth writing about ,much worse happens each day and at all brands of hotels.But,I guess venting makes you feel better.So be it ..

  105. @B Traveler

    Are you deranged? You don’t see anything wrong with the little girl being in Ben’s room? What the hell?

  106. @Amy
    “guests that start their check in process demanding upgrades with entitled voices are not only despised, but we will give you the shittiest option we have”

    Damn, how unproffesional… You give your most loyal customers ‘the shittiest option we have’? Maybe you are in the wrong profession…

  107. Aside from the presence of the child and the fact that the maintenance person did not knock, the rest of the complaints are ludicrous and whiny. Really??? The doggy robe too small?? I don’t drink Pinot?? What a waste of time read. Who cares if it took longer than expected to fix a toilet. Would u have rather written an article about a broken toilet experience and how horrific that was?? Gee whiz… give me a break!

  108. Amy thinks she is top dawg because she can decide what room someone gets. What a time to be alive huh Amy?

  109. I work Front Desk at a small Marriott franchisee (86 rooms). When it comes to Marriott today the biggest problem is there are way too many Titanium and Platinum guests. When they absorbed SPG they failed to account for that. Gold isn’t even worth having anymore. Honestly, Platinum really doesn’t even make you special anymore. We just can’t upgrade everyone there just isn’t enough suites to go around most of the time.

    Also Idk why you were ever given that room if it had plumbing issues. That just tells me they panicked an tried to fix it cuz you were going to be in there, other wise they might not have sold that room. Communication error between maintenance and Front Desk maybe? Also manager should have got off her ass an went an told maintenance to get out or at least tell the girl to come with her back to the office to wait for them to finish. I can see the frustration with that for sure.

  110. I have always found Marriotts to be over priced and a poor value. And since I am not a golden Marriott member I have not been given they type of room reserved in the past, or a room so worn and outdated that it belongs in a Motel 6. It is pretty awkward when you reserve 2 beds and get 1 when traveling with a friend.

    When it’s work travel i cringe when I have to use a Marriott but i have no choice, and full service hotels to me mean that I can’t even get a cup of coffee for less then $9.

  111. If the hotel has only 10 suites and on average 50 arrivals a day, 35 of them are Platinum and Titanium elite or Ambassador ones, how would you think the hotel employees should determine which guest gets a complimentary upgrade? Plus, the hotel should try to sell suites at the premium rate. If you want a suite- then book a suite. Or pay for an upgrade at check in. At least try to understand that out of 35 Platinum arrivals the hotel must say “no” to complimentary upgrade request to at least 30 of them. It doesnt mean the hotel values you less than a Platinum/ titanium guest checking in next to you, who gets an upgrade. Complimentary upgrade is based on many factors such as: duration of your stay, were you complimentary upgrade last time, value the company you work for the hotel, are you here for a special occasion, service recovery, SNA requests, etc. Please keep all these in mind before you complain about you not getting your complimentary upgrade. I feel for the front desk employees.

  112. A little late to the party on this, but I think it would have all be resolved much faster if you had introduced Winston to the Manager as “Brian” aka “The Points Dog Himself”

    I know it stinks of “DYKWTDI” (Don’t You Know Who This Dog Is) but sometimes you have to do whats best.

    Plus Winston might have gotten the “Winter Body” Robe 😉

  113. I guarantee that the upgrade became available because due to the circumstances that you experienced they took the room from someone who actually booked the room in order to upgrade you to make it right. Front office managers will take this gamble as a last resort because hell hath no fury like an honors member scorned.

  114. Very funny when it happens to someone else!! Unfortunately this is the level to which Marriott / Bonvoy has declined. Lifetime Platinum or Titanium means nothing other than I was a loyal sucker !!

  115. I’m at the Courtyard in Ft Walton Beach Destin today. I discreetly asked for a water view upgrade and was told that the hotel is completely booked. I was given a room next to the loudest elevator on the planet and asked for a room change. My new room had a waterview! I’m lifetime platinum over 1000 nights and they still piss on me and tell me it’s raining!

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