Marriott Nightmare? Bring Your Flashlight.

From the “Holy Shit I Haven’t Even Packed Yet” and the “There Goes My Hopes of Traveling Carry-On Only” department comes Louisa Edwards’ account of pre-conference mishigas at the San Fran Marriott. Honestly, this does not bode well.

So, looking for alternate accommodations that are walking distance from the hotel? Good luck with that. There’s the Four Seasons across the street but if you’re not familiar with the Fo-Sea, every one of those seasons is damn hell holy shit outta your budget expensive. Same with the St. Regis.

If you’re feeling the first stirrings of a need to make backup reservations, there is a Hilton (which is great if you have points, which I do not) and there’s a few other major player hotels a few blocks from the Marriott. There’s also a feature on hotels.com that will allow you to search for hotels using the Moscone center as your home point – which is next door to the Marriott.

Are you already at the Marriott and having a hell of a time? There’s a comment form on the Marriott website, but my best advice to you is to Document Everything. Every thing that goes wrong, every time you see something beyond the pale in terms of service crap badness, WRITE IT DOWN. Name names. The people who do things excellently right? Name them. The people who don’t? Name them, too. Then, send a letter (not an email, a letter) to every person whose name and address you can find in control of the Marriott Corporation. If I have an experience equal to Ms. Edwards’, you can bet I’ll be posting mailing addresses and contact info here. Start with the general manager of the San Francisco hotel, and CC as many people as you can. Document everything that went wrong (if anything did – I’m not usually such a glass-half-full-of-crap person but the initial account is alarming). Because let me be honest with you: RWA’s conference committee spends a buttload of time researching these hotels, and to my understanding the hotels court the conference like broke Regency heroes court rich ingénues. If you’re like me, this is a big chunka what-what out of your budget, and if the hotel isn’t up to snuff, complain. Capital-C Complain.

Note: this is not a diss against RWA. Y’all know I am a fan of the RWA. RWA, you, me, and the rest of us conference folks deserve better than a hotel that isn’t getting the job done in terms of service. So if your conference experience doesn’t get better from the account that’s been linked to, take note. Take copious notes. And complain. Tourism in the US is at a record low. The use of the word “staycation” is in every major publication because people just plain cannot afford travel this year. So? Any hotel and every hotel should be actively courting business, and any problems should be addressed promptly. If that is not your experience, take notes.

(But try not to cross the line in to douchebaggery. Please. As someone who used to work the front desk of a hotel, there’s stating your problems reasonably, and there’s abusive yelling. Please try to stay on the reasonable line, even if the problem isn’t reasonable.)

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  1. 1
    Sarah Frantz says:

    This is the hotel PCA was at in April, and I have to say, this surprises me.  We had a great time there, and as far as I could tell, PCA was treated wonderfully.  I certainly had no problem with any of the service I experienced while there.  So, hopefully this is just a huge anomaly that won’t happen again.

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    I agree – I hope it’s an anomaly, too.

  3. 3

    Yes, write everything down.  We did this after the Shittsburgh Hilton debacle in April, and—after much calling and reading aloud the list of that which sucked—we got a ton of money back.  So, if it’s sucking hard in San Fran, make your list and be tenacious about getting a rebate or refund.

    And apparently, check the beds for dead hookers, because all the management is going to do is stick a fan in there to get rid of the “bad smell.”

  4. 4
    Jill says:

    I got last minute reservations at a small hotel .4 miles from the Marriott. I am a happy camper.

  5. 5

    The only good news for me this year is that I live in Oakland and will be BARTing in daily.  Dallas was a nightmare with my stolen jewels and bad information on how I would never find it from the management.

    My advice:  Check into the Claremont in Oakland and take BART over.  Better weather, nicer digs, great gym.

    See you Wednesday.

    Jessica Inclan

  6. 6

    According the SF Gate, the power outage was caused by a cable failure…not the fault of the Marriot.  Still, someone should tell the Marriot’s manager about the dissatisfaction of an attendee of the RWA because he seems to think everything was peachy!

    “The generators don’t light up a hotel like full power,” Cousineau said. “I’ve been through a few hurricanes and a couple of earthquakes and this was a walk in the park in terms of customer service and keeping people satisfied. Thank goodness it’s a gorgeous day and 99 percent of our customers want to be outside.”

    Quote from the SF Gate website.

  7. 7
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    I’m sorry, but there’s a bunch of over-reacting going on over this.  The power was out over many city blocks, so it wasn’t the Marriott’s fault.  And according to Terri Brisbin, who was there, the staff did a good job of handling the situation. For heaven’s sake, bell staff were carrying suitcases up and down the stairs—what else were they supposed to do?

    If you go into something looking to have a bad time and prepared to find fault with every little thing you don’t think is perfect, you will indeed be unhappy and find lots to “document.”  I’ve watched it happen in the past.  While I had a great time in NYC a few years ago, another woman managed to bitch and moan herself into a hissy fit over the same things that happened to me, and was absolutely miserable.

    Let’s give the hotel a fair shake and see how they do. Frankly, it’s SF. I figure if we don’t have a 9.8 earthquake, we’re fine.

  8. 8
    Leah says:

    My family and I stayed at the Palmer House in Chicago last August (you can get a great deal there with Amtrak).  The hotel was being renovated and when we arrived, all the power was out, with the same confusion described in SF—no check in or out, lots of people in the lobbies, no elevators, that kind of thing.  They took luggage and we went sight-seeing, but it took a long time to get the elevators running, and even longer to get lights and AC to the rooms.  In fact, I think we were putting the kids to bed at that point.  But the staff were great, and it wasn’t bad.  What was bad were the reactions of some of the guests.  The elevators on one floor rarely stopped, because they were packed with people from the lower floor (to be expected), so they reserved one for the floor above.  I remember one family trying to push ahead of a handicapped woman in a scooter—really pushing, not just oblivious, until my husband and another man stopped them.  There were other people behaving rudely or screaming at staff.  But unless you were running late for the airport, I just don’t see how it was a horrible experience—more of a travel “adventure.”  Not always easy with a baby and 2 preschoolers, but not bad.  While my husband waited to check in, we camped under some lobby stairs and ate M&Ms;.  Unless death or injury is involved, this kind of thng is what you make it.  I hope all the problems are fixed, and everyone has a good time.  (That bad smell, though…if it was a dead body, I have to say, I’d want another room even w/o the smell.  ewwww.)

    sense66—well, no, not that kind of sense, but I did have an odd experience in a Miami Super8 once

  9. 9
    ev says:

    So sorry I will be missing all the fun.

    We were in a Mariott Fairfield last year outside of Atlantic City and asked them to bring a cot up since they gave us a King instead of 2 Queens (our daughter was with us). When we returned later that evening, you could smell urine all through the hallway. Yup. When we opened the door it smelled like a dog had lifted his leg on the cot. We made them change our room even though they were supposedly full. And pay to have all the clothes we had hung up washed.How the person who brought that up didn’t smell it I have no idea. Unless they did it??

    I am looking forward to reading all the blogs from RWA. Maybe someday it will come back this way and i can go.

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    Yeah, I might have been a bit on the “oh crap oh crap!” side when I wrote that last night. The RWA conference this year is mondo-damn-hell expensive, and it represents a large chunk of time away from the family, which makes me nervous and fuels the “oh crap oh crap.” So with a more sleep-soothed brain and more caffeine I’m looking at the situation again today.

    You’re right Leah, and Lisa, that the attitude of the guests is half the equation. And really, long elevator waits never bother me because that’s when I meet the most people and have the more gooder conversations. I also prefer to be in the conference hotel because it’s easier to go downstairs/upstairs vs. up the block a half mile when I want to lie down or restock something in my bag, recharge the computer, etc.

    But not enough hot water? Don’t know if I can be down with that, even if it’s an act of power snafu.

  11. 11
    J.C. Wilder says:

    I recommend packing Snacks! Smart Bitch Sarah can attest to my snack packing as it saved both our lives one evening and when no food was to be had in the hotel in Pittsburgh. :)

  12. 12
    SB Sarah says:

    “Snacks?”

    “Snacks” my (much larger) behind.

    JC had a buffet. No joke. It was like Hoss’s. It was like a miracle. I was starving, the restaurant was closed, and, suddenly, there was food all the way around the room.

  13. 13
    Emmy says:

    Oh noes!

    Had me scared for a sec, but Yaoi Con is at the San Mateo Marriott in Frisco. Hopefully everything will be working fine when I get there.

  14. 14

    Emmy – the San Mateo Marriott is nowhere near downtown, so you are alright.

    I so hope it all works out…it’s good to have folks see the Bay Area and have a wonderful impression of a place that I love.

    Oh!  But if you have time to, remember to pack a sweater…SF summers are rarely scorchers.

  15. 15
    Zoe Archer says:

    I’m staying at the Hotel Diva, booked through Travelocity.  It’s also .4 miles away from the Marriott, about five blocks.

    Incidentally, I’ve checked the weather.  We’re talking low 60s, people.  Bring sweaters and jackets!

  16. 16
    Jessa Slade says:

    If I know the spirit of RWA writers, there’ll be campfires & s’mores & rockin’ good tales if the lights go out.  I wish I could be there too.

  17. 17
    Virginia Shultz-Charette says:

    I was looking at some of the comments after the Ms. Edwards complaint and some were saying “thank goodness I am registered at the hotel across the street”. Hey guys, those people would have been without power as well. In addition,I can’t imagine that a back-up generator is going to fully power a hotel that size.

    I’ve traveled all over the world, and “sht” happens. Nobody went out of their way to make the Edwards unhappy and quite a few went the extra mile to make them happy. It’s all in your attitude. I only wish I could join you all at this adventure. After all, it’s the conference- not the hotel you’ll be talking about. And I can’t wait to hear the results, etc. Have a great time!

  18. 18
    ev says:

    We were at a Holiday Inn one time where the fire alarm kept going off all night long. Then we would all go outside and wait to be allowed back in. Met lots of interesting people that night- it’s amazing what you will talk about while in your jammies and your defenses are down.

    spamword- law13- isn’t that Murphy’s Law??

  19. 19
    Eliza Evans says:

    You know, it would be JUST MY LUCK to get there and get the stinky room that Louisa Edwards refused.

  20. 20

    I’m sorry, but there’s a bunch of over-reacting going on over this.  The power was out over many city blocks, so it wasn’t the Marriott’s fault.  And according to Terri Brisbin, who was there, the staff did a good job of handling the situation. For heaven’s sake, bell staff were carrying suitcases up and down the stairs—what else were they supposed to do?

    *stands on soapbox*

    Okay, I gotta open my big mouth on this one.  As a 13-year employee of the Marriott Headquarters I am happy to stand by my company.  I am proud to work for them and and EVER thankful that RWA signed their contract with Marriott properties. 

    Now, no one is perfect and issues do arise, but it is truly breaking my heart to read others say “Glad I’m not going to the conference to deal with that!” and “Good thing I’m at the other hotel.”

    The power outage was not the hotel’s fault and I believe the staff did all they could in the situation.  Again – no one is perfect nor can the hotel afford to comp everyone’s stay.  There are bound to be issues during any crisis, but give the hotel a break.  And most certainly don’t choose another hotel in the future because of one person’s experience.

    And, in case you are wondering, I did not get an employee rate for the conference. I’m paying the same room rate as the rest of you.  NOW—as for discounts at the restaurant and gift shops… ;-)

  21. 21
    SB Sarah says:

    *makes note to follow Leslie Dicken into restaurant and gift shop.*

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