“Rooms: Great. Security: Horrible. Customer Interactions: Terrible. Management: Absent”
I stayed at this hotel more than two weeks ago and was so upset regarding the experience that I had to take a cooling off period to write a review so that it is non-emotional and objective.
Needless to say I am still not up to writing about this hotel so instead I am posting the letter I put under the office door of the GM (as the staff said she is scheduled but they never know when or if she will show up due to personal issues). The following is the letter outline with names and some comments redacted:
To: Mrs. XXXXXXX (name redacted)
Embassy Suites- Alexandria
At 9:00 am this morning, February 16, 2013, I attempted to get ahold of you. I was told by both people at the front desk that you were scheduled to be in at 9:00am but that this may or may not happen and that you may or not show up due to your personal circumstances with your husband. Last night I had a major issue here at the hotel and when I asked for you I was told by the front desk that you and the assistant manager were off for the weekend. The second shift front desk manager also stated this.
At 9 this morning the two women at the front desk told me I could speak with the MOD of housekeeping. As one who has been a General Manager of properties as well as a current professor in hospitality management, I was surprised they would even recommend I talk with the MOD of housekeeping. The issue has nothing to do with housekeeping.
As I noted that you make comments to the majority of comments on TripAdvisor, I would like to direct your view to my review which should be completed by the end of the weekend. I have reviewed over 90 properties around the world so my reviews on TripAdvisor hold a bit more weight than the one time reviewer who had a poorly executed experience at a lodging property.
With that said, the primary complaint is against the restaurant/bar supervisor, XXXX, the one with the glasses and beard. I went to the bar at 7:10pm like I did the night before to get a beer. It was a packed bar and every seat was taken in the lobby. He asked if I was staying there and I said yes. He then asked for my room key which I showed him. He then asked for my room number! And then to top it off asked for my name. This was in front of dozens and dozens of people so now all of these strangers knew my name and room number. I asked him if he did this to everyone as the night before this didn’t happen with the other bartender. He said yes he did. So I sat there and watched and not a single person was asked, even for their room key.
When confronted about this later in front of the front desk supervisor, he said that he didn’t recognize me but that he recognized everyone else. Please don’t insult my intelligence. As a very frequent traveler who knows the markets, rhythms of hotel check-ins, check-outs, I guarantee that he didn’t know everyone. If he knew every one of the dozens upon dozens of people I am impressed, and yes this is sarcastic as it is obviously not true. I pointed this out to him stating that the majority of people there just checked in. The business people in the hotel, many of them, check out on Friday. By the long lines to check in throughout the day on Friday it is pretty obvious that the majority of guests were just checking in.
After speaking with the front desk I was asked if I wanted to move rooms due to the potential security issue. I initially said no but then realized with all of my electronics that yes, I needed to move. I went down and after waiting for the manager for 20 minutes she finally came out and was quite nasty in regards to dealing with this. She said that Fred told him my wrong room number hence the constant questioning. I told her how could that be. How could he look up my room number without knowing my name then stating I gave him the wrong room number? This was one of many fabricated comments made. I realized that I was dealing with the most amateurish group of people I have come across in a hotel property like this. I would come to expect this in a Motel 6 or sometimes even a Holiday Inn but I presumed Embassy Suites was a bit better. I haven’t stayed at an Embassy Suites in years but I have stayed at many properties within the overall hotel portfolio.
(Besides the room security key, the elevators do not require a key to go up/down in and the doors for most of the door are open to the public. As reinforced through the interaction with the restaurant/bar supervisor with the English accent, security is a non-issue to them. I also asked if the could pull the recording of the front desk manager, the English supervisor, and myself but was told there were no cameras...another security issue....as well as a liability issue)
As a suggestion, you will want to offer training to the restaurant/bar "supervisor" regarding the hospitality and f&b laws of the United States. He really could care less when I was talking with him and neither could the second shift front desk manager. In fact they both basically could not grasp what I was talking about. Maybe if you send all managers to a class on laws and liability in the hospitality industry that would help them understand the harsh realities
I am in town right now because someone from this area stole my identity and used it to take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans in my name. This incident xxx, the restaurant/bar "supervisor" and the rude reception of the front desk manager regarding this issue was only exasperated by the reason I am here in town.
I am not sure at all how XXX or the front desk supervisor got promoted but I blame that on whoever made the decision to promote them to their current positions. I presume it was the GM who made this decision but as the staff indicated, you are not around hence I am not sure what indicators are used for promotions in-house.
As for follow-up, I will be writing a case study out of this and will also be writing about this issue for different hotels associations I belong to. You may also find my credentials throughout the internet regarding my background in the hospitality industry which as you can see I have published and presented throughout the world on this area.
Lastly, I will contact the headquarters and will make sure every sight for reviews has a review on it. And as I see you write back to most reviews on TripAdvisor, I will write back if any clarifications are needed. To say this stay was a disappointment would be the most understated comment. The stay started off incredibly great….nice front desk agent who checked me in, the nice bartender (Irish guys), the complimentary drinks and buffet in the morning. As you know, all it takes is one guest agent to mess up an entire experience and you had two---Fred at the bar and the second shift front desk manager (the larger woman). She basically got hostile with me and this did not add to the situation. You may want to invest in people who have been trained in hospitality and know that their actions impact the entire guest experience.
I wish you were in to talk with you this morning but as the front desk said, you may be scheduled to come in but due to your husband being ill there is no way to know if or when you will come in.
On a side note, I did speak with the GM the following day and she said she would speak with the "supervisor" and front desk manager. She also offered me a free night which I turned down but may ask for it since this experience was surreal and I actually should have been paid to go through it. As for contacting corporate, I was sent back communication stating that the issue was already dealt with by the property GM with me. This means that basically any problems just go directly back to the property hence they stay isolated within that property system. This is a business model that is used out there that I am against as it does little to make issues transparent outside of the localized establishment.
In this case I will get through to corporate and now that I have had a cooling off period I will start working on a letter writing campaign so that the issues written about do not stay in-house where nothing really needs to be addressed and that actions of staff like xxxx, the restaurant/bar supervisor as well as the actions of the front desk manager and the absentee GM go unaddressed. The GM tends to write back to most reviews on TripAdvisor so I look forward to her reply. I will say that she was very pleasant to speak with but I got the good sense that nothing will actually happen. This is one of the problems in the industry....transient clientel and supply/demand of clientel for a location come into play when addressing situations like this. They do not need my business as they will get business either way (although it is a huge property and I am unsure of the occupancy rates or RevPar of the establishment).
This review has been written after a two-week cooling off period.
Unfortunately all of the great things about the hotel I initially experienced on the first night were completely trumped by having to deal with the amateurish and untrained actions of the restaurant/bar supervisor and the apathetic front desk manager that night. I extended my stay after the first night for the sole reason that everything and everyone was so great.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.