We stayed at the Newport Channel Inn on Labor Day Weekend. We selected the hotel based on the positive reviews here as well as on the fact that my research indicated that this would be about the least expensive option for a family of four in the area.
Unfortunately, this proved to be the most disappointing of five hotels we stayed at during our recent southern California trip. Some of it was bad luck and some of it was bad service from some of the junior members of the staff.
In a nutshell, our stay began on a Friday night that was literally the hottest day of the year. In spite of that, the A/C was not on when we arrived, and the A/C unit itself generated only a modest breeze. We went to the office, and the junior staff member came out to our room. After about a minute, he said that there was nothing he could do. The result was an unpleasant night in our sweltering room. We slept poorly and had little energy for the next day, which was supposed to be our big day at the beach.
We spoke to the staff again the next day and ended up getting a lot of excuses and no results. The weather cooled down a bit, so our second night was better but still not really comfortable. When we checked out, we also had to deal with an unpleasant attitude from a staff member and no offer for a discount.
So we left feeling pretty down about the Newport Channel Inn. Here's where the story gets interesting, though: I wrote an initial TripAdvisor review in which I captured our disappointment very factually--no ranting or exaggeration. I said that under normal circumstances, I could imagine the hotel being worth 4/5 as a rating. However, the malfunctioning A/C brought my score down to a 3/5, and the attitude of some (but not all) of the staff members brought it down to further to a 2/5. And I figured that was that.
So I was very pleasantly surprised to get a personal call from the hotel manager after he read my review online. At great length, he expressed his sincere regrets over our difficult stay and that he appreciated the care with which I had written my review. He told me it was the poorest review that they received in over a year and that they were determined to turn the experience into a learning opportunity for the staff. They also had made plans to replace the inadequate A/C unit in the room. He told me that many homeowners in Newport Beach don't even bother having A/C because it's only an issue a few days a year--we just happened to catch one of those days. Still, he agreed that the A/C needed to be ready to do its job on those days.
He also informed me that they had already refunded my credit card for the first night of our two-night stay--the night when we were so uncomfortable. This saved us $190 and seemed to me to be a very fair outcome. All of a sudden, the hotel went from being the most expensive of the five places we stayed (admittedly Labor Day Weekend rates were a significant factor there) to becoming the least expensive on a per-night basis. While I still would've preferred to have a nice cool room, this left me with a very different feeling about the whole experience, and I retracted my review so I could update it with a more thorough commentary on what happened.
The impression I'm left with is that this is a small, family-run hotel run by someone who deeply cares about the customer experience... and who responds to a dissatisfied customer with poise, courtesy, and a complete lack of defensiveness. He finished our call by urging me to stay again in the future so I can be really wowed the next time, and I will take him up on it if I'm in the area. Of course, the goal for any hotel is to do the right thing, the right way, the first time, and that didn't happen here... but it was nice to see a great response to my review.
There is a good moral here for TripAdvisor reviewers as well as for hotels and attractions reviewed here: As a reviewer, it's important to write fair and balanced reviews without any hyperbole or ranting. That makes the service provider more likely to respond reasonably. And for those who receive bad reviews, it's still not too late to make things right! Owners who take TripAdvisor reviews seriously get a major plus in my book.
FInally, some general comments on the hotel:
Positives: It was good to have three proper beds instead of a cot or a rollaway, as we had in several other hotels... Within easy walking distance, there's an awesome cafe for breakfast with absurdly huge pancakes (an order of three pancakes is enough for three people!) and a restaurant called Eat Chow that was quite good... The hotel is very close to the beach and not a far drive to the best parts of the beach... The shower was good, as was the housekeeping... Some of the staff were really good: After walking two blocks to the beach, I was concerned to find that surfers dominated it. Where could we swim? The guy on duty gave us a map and all sorts of tips about where to swim and park for free.
Negatives: As mentioned, the A/C was a problem, as was the customer service from a couple of individuals. But I understand that the A/C has been fixed and that steps have been taken to turn the customer service problem into a "teachable moment." The beds were okay--not super comfortable, but adequate... While you can easily walk to the beach, I'd be reluctant to swim there due to all of the surfboarders... Breakfast is not included: Hmm, it would be interesting if they could work out a deal where your hotel room fee includes a complimentary breakfast at the place next door! Many of the hotel breakfasts we had elsewhere were only so-so, and the place next door had a terrific breakfast.
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- Also Known As:
- Newport Channel Hotel Newport Beach
- Newport Channel Beach