HOWARD JOHNSON – 4670 ELK LAKE DRIVE, SAANICH [VICTORIA], BC. 25 APRIL 2013
But The Day Staff Service Was Helpful
We liked this Hojo's pleasantly flowering entrance - like many of the Island’s properties - and a modest but comfortable lobby with friendly check in. The parking was very convenient and no extra charge.
‘Yes, we have you in your kitchenette suite for 6 nights as you booked with us. Yes, the rate is as agreed.’ So, pleased, we went up to the 2nd floor.
Our small suite contained an extra couch, chair and TV – but our ‘kitchen’ was merely the standard mini microwave & fridge that came with the regular rooms we had bypassed when booking, selecting our “full kitchenette”. At least the food we brought for our breakfasts and occasional meals would not spoil because of the included fridge but there was no kettle, toaster, mini cook top, plates, cutlery, pots, and pans… . OK, there was a small counter sink and the standard coffee maker for sachets.
Back at the front desk, Jenna Townsend the front desk manager stepped up with a forthright mea culpa: ‘We have recently instructed our staff to not use the term “kitchenette” for these rooms since we agree that it is misleading.' Wow! No dodging; admirable and disarming. Price Offset? ‘No it is still a good value regardless.’ Well, we priced your property vs. our usual stay at Best Western, Inner Harbour, on anticipated savings on our usual full, hot breakfasts in keeping with our years of healthy eating - and for cooking a few dinners for our special meals.
‘We can send you up a toaster, kettle and some knives and spoons and you can ask us for paper plates. [We discovered later that their smoke/heat alarm went off every single time we toasted even at medium].
Isn’t this a switcheroo reservation? ‘No. But we can move you to a kitchenette on Monday.’
[This was Thursday] Will you offset this with at least free hot breakfasts from Friday to Monday? Her ‘No’ eventually became OK for two days. ‘We are sorry but…’ She said 'sorry' several time with sincerity and charm...
Our attitude when we travel is to ensure that setbacks like this do not spoil our trip. We accepted the small meal concession and they honoured it, paying for two breakfasts at checkout billing. The attached, separately managed [they said] restaurant was bright and staff cheerful - just like the day staff at this Hojo. We did not have other meals there but noticed that it was well patronised for dinner.
At around 2 am Monday, I reminded the night manager of the move and he shrugged after ‘checking’ his computer. ‘Nothing there. I’ll ask the day staff to phone you.’ And he turned away.
No calls by 11:30 am and we left to pursue our schedule since the front desk staff had a line up at their check in. That afternoon as we returned and asked at around 4 pm, Jenna informed us that ‘We tried phoning your room but you were not there.’
But I gave you my card and told you to note the cell #.
‘Oh, I guess I overlooked that - are you ready to move?’
My bride and I decided moving that afternoon would give us the ability to cook a hot breakfast for Tuesday and Wednesday was our check out early morning, so we passed on the inconvenience of packing and repacking. At least HoJo did honour their offer to move us but their good intention was marred by poor follow through.
Then we went up to our room - which was unmade. We phoned..
‘Sorry, when we put you down for the move we left your room unmade and all the housekeeping staff are gone for the day.’ Jenna did offer to come up and personally clean and do the bed. We declined, asked for towels and cleaned the room ourselves. Why let ineptitude interfere with our tranquility and enjoyment? I am sometimes inept – but then I am not selling to the public.
Housekeeping had not changed the sheets up to Monday although Jenna and Susan at the front desk had said they were changed every third day. We made do.
The property also advertised in-room Blue Ray, DVD players but when we bought a new James Bond flick we discovered there was no player. Staff invited us to ‘come down and pick up one and you can hook it up.’ But even your front desk printed list of goodies still includes the Blue Ray. ‘Well, sorry, but your room does not have one.' They do say 'sorry' often and nicely.
We’ll view Sky Fall when we return home to avoid any more distractions if their "free in room" equipment became a hook up problem.
Their free parking, Wi-Fi and access to the small exercise room with a hot pool were welcome. The door to that room was always unlocked and a door leading to the outside from the exercise room to a now drained, full sized pool was left hooked open. When I did close it the courteous maintenance man, Vic, explained that it was left open because of the high humidity. But there was only one row of yellow tape suspended around the pool above child height. What about kids who might wander out? ‘This is approved by the safety people.’ OK, but it fails the common sense test and perhaps my overdeveloped parenting and grand parenting instincts.
Despite the “kitchenette" misleading booking, the advertised but missing Blue Ray player and the housekeeping snafus we were charmed by the day staff that were intelligently helpful with route confirmations – and as friendly as their ‘Happy” slogan [carried through even to their Wi-Fi password.]
[Drivers Caution: If you are using a Garmin Nuvi 2455 LMT, to input the HoJo address for a drive from the international airport or downtown, do know that even with my map update for this brand new GPS, a few days before the trip to Victoria, the Garmin does not recognize the address in either Victoria BC or Saanich BC. But, if you search for ‘Howard Johnson’ the Nuvi GPS will show you that property, its correct address and will navigate you there. Sheesh. I will returning this sucker since it also was poor with some other Island locations and the software did not know how to get us out of any mall parking lot except to suggest ‘follow the marked route’ but no exit hints.]
BTW, this Hojo has city transit running right by daily [$2.50] and a subsidized [$13.00] shuttle - to the airport only. All in all, it is a convenient location if you must be in this part of Saanich.
If we had to return to this specific area we would likely book this property again BUT would be more alert to their booking promises and insist on confirmation of the specifics by email vs. just a rate confirmation. Otherwise, we would stay at other properties with which we have had much better experience.
Picture of our 'kitchentte' room attached.
- Also Known As:
- Howard Johnson Suites Victoria Hotel Victoria
- Howard Johnson Suites Victoria Hotel
- Howard Johnson Victoria
- Victoria Howard Johnson
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In close proximity to everything you want to do and see in Victoria, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Suites on Elk Lake is your alternative to being downtown. Whether travelling to Victoria on business or pleasure you will find our hotel rooms both spacious and well equipped to ensure a relaxing stay. Our rooms include all the little things that add up to a better quality of life on the road. Guests can enjoy complimentary parking, weekday newspapers, in-room voice mail, high-speed wireless and wired internet, and all in a 100% smoke-free accommodation. Plunge into one of the only seasonal outdoor heated pools in Victoria or soak your stress away in our jacuzzi. Our restaurant, The Lakes Grillhouse and Bar is sure to have exactly what your craving for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner; or watch the game over a beverage in our lounge. Our award winning property and our staff will do their best to make our stay with us a memorable one. We looking forward to seeing you here in Victoria. ... more less
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