From what I've heard this hotel is in its first year of being open, but it has some major problems to overcome. This is a lengthy review, if you want to skip it just know that there is no general manager at this time for this hotel and any problems you encounter will not be resolved during the time you are actually staying at this hotel.
The first thing you will notice is that there is usually only one person working the front desk and at times there is a line of 5 to 8 people standing waiting to check in. This becomes a huge problem if you want to check in or need help with something.
Here are some major problems that I encountered during my 5-night stay:
1) Pet Allergies. I had no idea this was a "pet friendly" hotel. The first two floors are used if a guest has pets staying with them. During check-in the hotel failed to tell me that my room was used to house dogs before my stay. One would think that the hotel would ask if you have any pet allergies before booking you or inform you that the first two levels are used for pet friendly rooms. This made for a very uncomfortable stay as I'm allergic to cats and dogs, but could be even more serious to someone who has a stronger allergy to pets.
2) Problems with the room. During my first night, around 4am, the window shade came smashing down from the wall. It seems that it was not properly secured to the wall. Other minor things such as the cordless telephone not working due to it missing its battery and the noise of the refrigerator cycling were also somewhat annoying.
3) Problems with cleanliness. After our first night housekeeping changed the sheets on one of the two beds. One of the beds had a grapefruit sized urine stain on the sheets housekeeping had put on that day. It was BEYOND GROSS. I stopped by the front desk, which had 4 people waiting to be checked in, there was only one person working at the desk. When I asked for a manager and I was told there was not one there at that time and asked for my phone number. I was called two hours later with a brief apology from the front desk and was told that a manager would not be there to take a look at the bed, but that they would have housekeeping change the sheets.
4) Someone breaking into our room. The largest problem I encountered at the hotel was during our second night. Around 6 to 7 am we heard knocking on our door even though we had a do not disturb sign on the door. After 2 minutes of knocking the door opened and a young man walked into our room un-announced and not wearing any type of uniform. As soon as he saw us in bed he yelled SECURITY! and bolted out the door and into the hallway. The hotel had no clue who this was as their security had left at 5am that day. We told "Amil" who claimed he was the general manager of the hotel that someone had broken into our room, he told us that he would immediately start an investigation and assured us that it was safe to stay at the hotel that we should not leave and that he would contact us by 9 pm that night. We never heard from him again
It turns out there is no general manager for this hotel. Apparently the person who was the GM left and they are "in-between" managers. They did not get back to us until the day after we got home. They told us it was a "simple" mistake, and said it was an employee of the hotel. They did not provide any further detail. We felt HIGHLY uncomfortable during our stay not knowing who had barged into our room. They really showed that they are not concerned about the safety of the guests staying at this hotel. It is next to impossible to talk to a head manager while you are at the hotel and they only are willing to really address the problems 3 to 5 days after you have tried to contact them, well after you've already left the hotel.
Most people do not encounter problems during stays at a hotel, but it is usually comforting to know that when you do have a problem that it will be taken care of in a timely manner. This hotel has beyond horrible customer service and has shown that it does not care about its guests. I have never in my life needed to walk out of a hotel and book at stay at another property. If I could go back in time I would have left for another hotel during the middle of my stay. I would not recommended to anyone the gamble of staying at this hotel. I had to contact the Starwood corporate due to all the problems I encountered at this hotel. The person in charge of the hotel did not have the courtesy of taking my phone call when the corporate office called, but instead kept to email and did his best to down play the situation. Instead of issuing me a refund the hotel gave me the equivalent to just over one nights stay in Starwood points, which is faaaar from getting my money back for this horrible stay. Their correspondence has shown that they have no intention of looking in and fixing these problems.
I'm a Starwood gold member and frequently stay at their properties. Usually when I face a problem during my hotel stay it is quickly resolved. I would not stay at either the Element hotel or the connected Aloft hotel. I would suggest staying at a Starwood property near the BWI airport or pick a different chain to stay at. It's sad that I have to vent my frustrations with this hotel over the Internet.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
August 9, 2010
Hello and thank you for your comments regarding your stay with us at the Element Arundel mills. I want to take the time to apologize again for all the issues you encountered during your stay and the inconveniences that followed. You and I did not have the pleasure of meeting; however I know that you spoke with several members of our management team including our Regional Director of Operations during and after your stay. You brought several key areas of concern to our attention and I assure you the entire management team has been working tirelessly to ensure that these issues do not affect any future guests. Once again I am tremendously sorry for everything you encountered. I hope that you will continue to be loyal to the Starwood brand and perhaps one day stay with us again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.