Let me preface this blog by saying I know and have experienced amazing service in wonderful hotels. From The Dorchester and The Four Seasons Canary Wharf in London to The Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles I have stayed in the best of the best and know how everyone is to be treated in a great hotel.With that said, here is my latest travel blog entry:
Anyone who knows me knows I do my homework. I never rush into anything, never act capriciously or make a large purchase without thoroughly researching everything about the product. I do the same with hotels and airlines. This has caused me to become a creature of habit, a name which I wear with pride. That’s why people say “Stick with what you know!”
After a recent Expedia Chat win on Twitter and a need for a break I decided to stray from my comfort zone and take a chance. Again I did my research – read reviews on several sites, asked around, and sent out some emails. When one hotel’s concierge (Westin Sacramento, Starwood property) took 18 days to reply to a 3 line, 2 question email and everyone I spoke seems to have a horror story about said hotel they were off the list. A good friend of mine works in event planning on a large scale (DNC) and she had great things to say about the Sheraton Grand Sacramento. I also asked around on Twitter as well and heard nothing but nice things. With their location next to the Sacramento Convention Center and other great hotels like The Citizen Hotel and The Hyatt Regency within a short walking distance I figured it was a safe bet. Got onto Expedia – which is super easy (and I love the “notepad” feature). I found an amazing deal for 2 nights (and for more money) on the club level. Done deal and booked.
Several people did note that hotels have a deep dislike for third party travel sites and that it’s best to call the hotel and verify your reservation. So I did and spoke with a very nice lady “Stacey” at their central reservations but she suggests I speak with someone actually at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento. I must have gotten “Kevin” on a really bad day because my 2 quick questions were just too much for him. Questions about wi-fi would anger anyone right, or maybe he was busy, then he hung up on me, or maybe the phone slipped out of his hand and landed on the receiver. It was at this moment I thought maybe all those reviews were right, hotels hate thirst party sites. Too late now, I can’t change or cancel anything now; I’m stuck.
On May 8th I checked into The Sheraton Grand Sacramento. “Manuel” did everything a reservation clerk does, except speak much. He didn’t say he was putting a hold of $50 on the bank card that if unused would “fall off” in a couple of business days. He also didn’t explain anything included in the club level or explain how to get there with my card key. I figured there would be something in the room explaining everything. Nope. So called Guest Services and asked where the club lounge was and what was included. For some reason I get nervous when someone who works anything where doesn’t know about the place they work at. Answers that involve a lot of “…hum…..uuuuuuuhhhhhh….uuumm…….well….I’m pretty sure those are the hours, but don’t quote me” don’t instill confidence in anyone. Apart from being 2 doors down from the ice machine the room was very nice. Lots of room, great view of the city, a big bathroom and clean. Sadly, they don’t allow Rokus so I was stuck with cable = 50 channels of nothing. Thankfully they did have the Travel channel – Don Wildman can make anything sound interesting. He could read the Burbank yellow pages and make it seem interesting.
At 5pm I grabbed my key card and went exploring for the elusive club lounge. I found it. Plates the same size as a teacup saucer and on offer for the extra money: cheese, crackers, raw veggie sticks, brownies for dessert and what I later found out was a Quesadilla. While the wine list I asked about a possible rose or blush. The man pointed to the list and said “that’s what we have; if it’s not on the list we don’t have it.” And turned and walked away. I ate my cheese and crackers and went back to my room. Stupidly optimistic I thought “well surely for the weekend they’ll turn up the volume and have something better”. No. The next night it was exactly the same, but more of it and the brownies had been replaced with cookies. I once again tried to engage in polite conversation with the man “hosting” the lounge but I guess he didn’t think I was cool enough so he turned around to start a conversation with the other employee about how many leg squats he did the other night waiting for Richard. Enthralling, it really was captivating listening to that exchange.
Now here is a point I have to make: I think people don’t think about the housekeepers in hotels until they have a problem with their room. It’s backbreaking work for little pay and I doubt most people ever leave a tip. The next morning I left a tip with a nice note. On my way down the hall an employee said this to me “Good morning” and I smiled back at the nice man and also said “Good Morning”. It was the only time a single employee greeted me in any way the 3 days I was at The Sheraton Grand Sacramento.
The lobby area was very pretty and bustling with people. Let’s face it, they don’t have to be nice here – they’re going to get the traffic anyway with this location.
When time for checkout came, earlier than previously planned since I noticed streets were blocked off and traffic was heavy for a Sunday morning I decided to off “the grid” and go home to the ‘burbs (where I love and belong). No room service, no PPV movies, and no parking charges I left without owing a penny. So I was surprised to see a “pending” charge for $50 pop up. You can’t get mad when you already know about something, but for the hotel staff not to disclose it was so unprofessional. I did speak with again with Guest Services and they explained “they do that with everyone “and if it was a hardship…no it’s not a hardship just a shock when I didn’t buy anything and didn’t know it was going to sit there for a few days while they made money on that money for 5 days.
What it all comes down to “location, location, location”. The Sheraton Grand Sacramento doesn’t need me, they don’t need you nor do they don’t need locals, whether they are rude to people or not with their location and the amount of tourists they will always have the traffic no matter what. Sure Sheraton Grand Sacramento is on social media but they are asleep at the wheel and they can afford to be. “Location, location, location” = never-ending traffic. But if I had to do it all over again I would stick with what I know and book the Hyatt Regency around the corner. In fact I would rather go just about anywhere else.