While rehabbing a home in Newport News my wife and I needed a temporary place to stay until our home was habitable so we looked into extended stay hotels in the area and found the best price for a month-long stay at the Savannah Suites Newport News on Jefferson Ave.
We paid, in cash, for a month's stay up front an amount nearing $900 after previewing the 'model' room around the corner from the front desk which seemed sufficient in amenities and cleanliness at the time.
Upon arriving in our own room things went steadily downhill, but first a description of what we had paid for. These are extended stay suites with a queen bed, a kitchenette with two burner range, a microwave, single-bowl stainless sink and a not-quite-full-size refrigerator as well as several cabinets above and below the appliances. The bathroom of course had a sink, toilet and shower/tub with a cabinet under the sink. Other amenities/furniture included a TV, wired internet connection, two chairs and a table, a dresser and a small closet.
When we arrived in our room we immediately noticed a dark line on the side of the refrigerator at counter level. When we pulled the refrigerator out it became disgustingly obvious that cleanliness was not part of the hotel's protocol as the entire bottom half of that side of the refrigerator was absolutely coated with a thick, sticky , brown film that terminated in a dried puddle on the floor underneath. We assumed it to be a spilled beverage or food item that was never cleaned where it was not immediately visible. The other side of the refrigerator was also filthy, though it was against the wall in an alcove so it's difficult to imagine how it could have become nearly as filthy given its distance from the countertop.
My wife, not quite obsessive, but certainly concerned with the cleanliness of public accommodations decided to do a little deep cleaning of her own and proceeded to mix a bucket of hot water, detergent and bleach to clean the kitchen and bath areas to her satisfaction.
In order to not cause a confrontation with those whom we had just handed nearly $900, and whom in whose hands our next month of living was now placed, I decided to write an email to the corporate website's customer service address. I attached pictures and gave a brief description and added the caveat above that we desired not any interaction related to the issues with anyone on staff as we were capable of addressing the issues ourselves while still expressing our disappointment.
We received an email from Val Rubio, Vice President of Operations, apologizing for the conditions and assuring us that the appropriate people would be made aware and thanking us for bringing it to her attention in order that she would help her understaff to live up to their obligations.
One week later we found a bed bug crawling on our wall first thing in the morning and immediately called the Newport News Health Department to make a report. Within three hours an inspector arrived and found evidence of a previous infestation, including bed bug fecal matter along our headboard, but no evidence of a current infestation. A claim belied by our killing and saving a bed bug.
Linda Fisher, General Manager, made no contact with us at all that day to help to resolve the situation.
The next night we found yet another bed bug crawling on our wall which we also killed and saved. We decided to pay a visit to the front desk the next morning.
Sunday morning, immediately upon awakening, a third bed bug was found crawling along the ceiling which we killed and saved.
We took the dead bugs to the front desk where we spoke with the Assistant General Manager, Mr. Callahan, who made a vague offer of switching rooms but stated that if we were interested in any sort of refund we would need to speak to Mrs. Fisher who would be in Monday morning.
We told him that we felt unsure that the conditions in any other room would be any better than what we were already experiencing and declined his offer to switch rooms until we spoke with Mrs. Fisher.
Immediately upon returning to our room we found the fourth bedbug, IN the bed, documented below.
Monday morning came and we expected to be paid a visit by Mrs. Fisher as part of her Monday morning agenda. She never contacted us.
Finally at noon we went downstairs and obviously interrupted her lunch as she finished chewing her food when she appeared from around the corner to greet us at the front desk.
We explained that we were the people with the bed bug issue and that we would like to resolve it. She launched into a tirade about how we went over her head in two instances; one by sending an anonymous email about the condition of our room at check in and two by calling the health department about the bed bug we found initially.
She then asked us what we felt would be an appropriate resolution to the problem and we told her we had no idea what to expect as it was not a situation we had experience in from which to draw on in the past.
She offered us another room, which we accepted but with the caveat that it not have been ridden with bed bugs at any point prior. We accepted the offer and she told us to go back upstairs and pack up our things and that she would send maintenance up to bag up the bedding.
She then stated that Val Rubio, Vice President of Operations, would be in that day for a marketing meeting and that they would be discussing the issue and be in touch. We told her we would be in our room all day and we looked forward to hearing from either or both of them with a resolution.
About 30 minutes later Mrs. Fisher appeared at our room and said that she had another room ready and asked if we would like to take a walkthrough of it with her to make sure it was satisfactory. I finished packing our belongings and Susan went with her to see the room.
Susan came back to our old room and informed me that Mrs. Fisher pulled the refrigerator out to show that it was clean, but when Susan and Mrs. Fisher's eyes both saw the nicotine scum on the top edge of the cabinet doors Susan says Mrs. Fisher stated that she should have Housekeeping stand on a chair to get that clean.
It still has not been cleaned.
About an hour into moving into our new room Mrs. Fisher called to check on our progress and we informed her that we had moved everything and that once again we would be in our room the rest of the day in anticipation of contact from her or Ms. Rubio concerning the issues we'd encountered.
Several hours later, and with no further contact from either Mrs. Fisher or Ms. Rubio, Susan called the front desk to inquire and was told that Ms. Rubio would be in touch via email with an appropriate solution to the problems.
The next day we received an email from Ms. Rubio assuring us that she and Mrs. Fisher had come to an agreement as to what was appropriate compensation for our inconvenience and that she would make sure it was there by Friday.
Friday came and went, and so did Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with no further email nor personal contact from staff or corporate. Wednesday morning we went to the front desk and were informed by another manager that though he had no information or knowledge of our situation he would leave a note for Mrs. Fisher who would be in Thursday morning.
Today we went to the front desk and Mrs. Fisher was there. When we asked if our 'compensation' was there she said it was. When we asked when it arrived, she told us it had been there since Monday. Yet another failure on the part of management and corporate in setting a deadline and missing it as well as not being proactive in contacting us to make the situation right.
Our 'compensation' consisted of a $30 gift card to IHOP and the offer of two free nights should we wish to extend our stay.
That's right, a system is broken and people are getting paid out of MY pocket for a job they're not doing and the obvious answer is....pancakes.
I shoved the card back across the desk and said that it was unacceptable and returned to my room to try to move further up the chain of command.
Eventually I received a phone call, after sending an email to Brian McCarthy, Owner/Corporate Officer, from Thelma Wilke, Owner/Corporate Officer.
While Mrs. Wilke seemed to understand my frustration with the preceding events she eventually devolved into telling me yet again that somehow this was our fault for not following the appropriate procedures ie contacting the front desk about the filth and bugs and offered me a two week refund and would so graciously allow us to stay through tonight as it was late in the day.
I have also contacted all three local news stations with my story and a reputable pest control company who informed me that the methods undertaken by whomever 'treated' our room were likely completely ineffective as bed bugs are quickly developing resistance to pesticides and that a simple plastic cover over the mattress was insufficient and his company instead uses a steam-sanitization method as well as complete plastic-encasement of mattresses/box springs.
Needless to say I still feel as though the entire Savannah Suites corporation has failed in its obligation not only to myself as a cash paying customer but to itself and its posted mission statement.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Savannah Suites Extended Stay Hotel in Newport News is conveniently located on Jefferson Avenue about 4 miles from Newport News Williamsburg International Airport and less than 2 miles from I–64. Our hotel is furnished with Full Kitchens, a Fitness Room, a 24 Hour Guest Laundry Room, Free High Speed Internet and many other amenities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Savannah Hotel Newport News