I stay in hotels a lot. Usually Monday to Thursday night most weeks for work. Currently, I am enjoying the benefits of a Crown Plaza hotel which is at the upper end a hotel group that includes Holiday Inn. The points generated from such staying hardly compensate for being away from home so much but do make it easy (and cheap) to put my family up in Holiday Inn hotels whenever handy for short breaks and stays after visits to the theatre.
On Friday night, we stayed at a Holiday Inn in Lemmington Spa after watching a performance of Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon. I had checked in two rooms a little earlier in the day on the way to meet up with my family. (One room for my wife and I and another for my eldest daughter and a friend of hers – my youngest having lost out because of an unfortunate incident with one of her friends.) The hotel reception was very polite and friendly and I was delighted with the service. The rooms were basic but okay although they lacked air-conditioning (something I am used to both in my usual hotel and at home) – which was slightly worrying given how hot it was outside.
When we returned to the hotel after seeing the play, we were too late for the full room service menu. The rest of our little group had eaten early but I had met up with them a little late for a full meal so needed a little extra. The 24 hour menu offered me only sandwiches and a couple of curries. Well, I know the 3663 (a food services company) Thai Green Chicken Curry pretty well so plumped for that. However, when I pressed the button for Room Service I was greeted by someone on the Bar and when I asked for the curry was simply told "the chefs have gone home" – I checked the menu again and this was definitely a 24 hour item (and one that obviously can pretty much just be bunged into a microwave oven) so I could not see the relevance of the location of the chefs. I pointed this out and the assertion was repeated. Louder. A little further probing revealed that the curry in question was secured away being locked cupboards so even had the microwave skills been available, there were stumped.
My request for take-away menus was greeted by shock. So I went for a simple sandwich and a bottle of a dry white wine I vaguely remembered hearing about for my wife and I to share. Less than 30 mins later, the sandwich was delivered by a cheery chap complete with a glass of red wine (rather than a bottle of white). I pointed out the error and received an apology and a few minutes later he returned with aforementioned bottle and an assurance that I would not be charged for the glass of red wine that I was also welcome to consume. Fair enough.
Our sleep was disturbed by a shrieking fire alarm in the early hours of the morning. We stumbled out of bed and grabbed out our clothes ready for a quick exit. The alarm stopped and we returned gratefully to bed. I have experienced many fire alarms in my hotel stays over the years, one or two fires and lots of standing around outside waiting for the fire-brigade to give the all clear. Just one of those things. I would rather be woken by mistake a few times than be burnt to death.
Suddenly, there was a loud and urgent banging on the door and a voice boomed out to advise us: "you have set the alarm off – I need to come into your room now". I took a moment to get dressed and then opened the door. The owner of the voice, stormed into the room (despite my wife still being in bed) and started to interrogate us: "have you been smoking?" No. We do not smoke then. "Ironing then?" Nope. We were asleep. "Are you sure?" Yes, absolutely [as if we would get that mixed up – perhaps a little ‘sleep ironing’]. He looked around for awhile then announced that he would have to go and check on the people that would be running around the corridors because of the alarm but he warned us that he would be back. Oh joy.
Had I been less tired, I would firstly have not let him into the room and secondly would have responded rather strongly to his assertions. As it was, he left my wife in a very unhappy state, myself very irritated and, I later found out, my kid and her friend in the room opposite somewhat disturbed (to put it mildly) as well.
He did not come back. Shame as we had got dresses and were waiting for him for an hour.
Breakfast when we got up later was also not trouble free. Confusion over whether or not we had handed our vouchers in (we had – but the first guy to take them from us had not written things down), missing tea, and hot food that wasn’t hot.
When I checked out, the bill contained that glass of red wine I had not asked for! I got that removed of course. I then asked to see the Duty Manager.
It took her 25 minutes to turn up – good job there wasn’t an emergency! Another member of staff asked if she could help at one point but when I mentioned "official complaint", "assault" the search for the deputy manager intensified. I added "not being able to find the Duty Manager" to my list of worrying things.
I told the Deputy Manager, once she turned up, that I considered the events during the night regarding the fire alarm to be a very serious matter but one that I had decided to leave it with them to sort out on the understanding that I expected a written apology and confirmation that the employee in question had been appropriately reprimanded and retrained and that I also expected to receive some kind of compensation. She appeared to take the matter seriously, apologised to me, advised that the Manager would be in later that day and that she would escalate this to her immediately and that I should expect them to be in touch shortly.
I am a little surprised that I have not had a phone call from the Manager with an apology and confirmation that they will be in touch shortly but I await with interest to see what they do, if anything. I did warn the Deputy Manager that if I did not hear from them shortly, I would escalate this to my employer who has a huge account with this hotel group and who I expected would want to discuss this matter at the highest level.
Somewhat ironically, the fire-alarm in my own house went off a couple of time last night and we could not work out which sensor tripped the system (we do not have a sophisticated control system). Probably a bug had crawled into one of the smoke sensors (the most common problem) – some of sensors are a little tricky to get at to hoover out regularly.