I am writing in regards to my experience with the staff at the Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront in Mackinaw City, Michigan on October 6, 2012. I have sent copies of this letter to both the hotel and the Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism, in addition to posting it on all major review sites online, as I want to ensure that the owners actually see and address the situation.
My husband and I made reservations in June 2012 to stay for one night on October 6 at the Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront. I am the type of person who always plans ahead and is very organized. Prior to making any reservations, I always call the hotel themselves and get more information. In this case, I booked the hotel room online using my debit card. Prior to doing so, I called the hotel and was told that the card was only to reserve the room and that I could use any form of payment upon arriving at the hotel. I reserved the room online and received a confirmation number.
My husband and I flew from DC at 6am to the Grand Rapids, Michigan airport and drove to Mackinaw City. At approximately 6:30pm, when we were about an hour away, I looked at my phone and saw a missed call from the hotel had come in exactly 21 minutes ago. I immediately returned the call. When I asked to speak to the manager, I was informed that the call had been a courtesy call and that when our debit card was ran, it was declined. I offered to provide the new debit card number we have, but was told that our room had already been given away.
We made these reservations five months prior to our trip. A few months after I made the reservations, our debit card number was stolen and my bank had sent us new cards, which had new numbers. Both my husband and I travel frequently, and it is common to provide a credit card number to hold the room. Either the card is charged immediately, or is held until I arrive, and at that time I can chose to provide a form of payment as I choose. Never in my life have I had a hotel cancel a reservation made months in advance on the day of my arrival.
Had the hotel staff given me more than 20 minutes to return their phone call, I could have easily provided them with our new debit card number. The whole reason guests make a reservation is for ease of mind; when our card was stolen, the last thing on my mind was a reservation I made months ago. A reservation should mean that a guest is assured of a room upon arrival; if at that time they do not have a valid form of payment, the room can be given away. In this economy, vacation time and money are spent carefully, and customer service is a very large part of a business’s success.
I have never written a complaint letter before, and only do so because of the horrible experience my husband and I endured because of the staff at the Hamilton Inn Select. Instead of being helpful, the staff was beyond rude and condescending. They talked to each other about me, while I was still on the phone. When I realized that they really had given my room away and we had travelled 12 hours with no place to stay, they told me that they really couldn’t help me find a comparable room unless I was willing to pay $250, which would have been $100 more than our original reservation. Unfortunately, this was one of the busiest nights of the fall season, so most of the area hotels were booked.
In the end, we ended up being forced to stay in the Fairview Hotel, in a room in the very back end behind the pool. The room was old, dirty, and filled with the smell of chlorine from the pool, which we had to breathe all night as we tried to sleep. We had to pay about the same for the room we would have had at the Hamilton Inn had our reservation been honored. It was a horrific experience, and completely ruined our impression of Mackinaw City.
This is not an isolated incident. Numerous people have posted that they have had the same experience as we did, and have made a reservation only to not have the hotel staff honor it. Nothing is more upsetting than taking the time to plan ahead, and losing a room reservation the day you are travelling to your destination. If this practice really is necessary, I suggest that you either have guests pay for rooms at the time of reservation or try their cards 24 hours prior, so guests have time to provide you with an alternate form of payment if necessary, as it was in our case with our debit card having been stolen. Customer service is everything to people in today’s economy, and luckily we have review sites that allow us to share our experiences so that others do not have to go through what we did. After this experience, I will never stay at a Hamilton Inn again.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.