A late Spring escape to the desert landed my friend and I at the Santiago – an independently owned and operated specialty lodging property in Palm Springs. My friend was almost a regular having visited on many occasions over the past few years. With his recommendation and a quick check of reviews, it seemed like a nice choice.
The overall experience was pleasant and relaxing. During our stay, service from other staff including Sean (no longer employed) and the housekeeping staff was fantastic. The property is a 2-story motel style Inn with a nice sized pool and ample outdoor seating. We arrived around 5 pm, and were pleasantly greeted by Jay, the new Manager. Jay was very welcoming, and took time to catch up with his returning guest, while telling me about the features of the resort. We checked in, unpacked briefly, and then visited with other guest’s poolside. Our suite was 111 on the ground level, near the manager’s apartment.
After an evening out with friends, we returned to indulge in the pool and hot tub. After sitting poolside a bit, my friend returned to the room and found a live cockroach (or water bug) on the sink. He managed to catch, kill and flush it. On Saturday morning, he shared his experience with staff member Marc and a few hours later with Jay (who indicated he had not been advised by Marc). Unfortunately, nothing was done – such as spraying the area / advising us to keep the drain closed / calling pest control professionals; or we thought, checking outdoors behind our room. In fact, to our dismay, Jay seemed ‘surprised’ by our report. A simple Internet search will tell you these critters are a bigger issue in the Palm Springs area than usual.
On Saturday night, after an evening out in Palm Springs, we returned to our suite again to find another live large critter in the same sink location. Unfortunately, I was also in the room this time. Again, we managed to capture, kill and flush the second intruder. With a return visit planned, and another two guest referrals for Santiago, my friend was now extremely concerned for his return prepaid visit in May. On Saturday and Sunday night, we ended up sleeping with the bathroom and room light on to deter further invasion. It’s also important to note, we took note of a week's old dead cockroach in front of the ice machine Saturday night, which was still present Monday morning. In addition, we noticed an old empty tray of mouse poison, long since void of any poison to catch a mouse! This certainly raises questions to the quality or contracting of ongoing pest control services and frequency of visits.
Since we didn’t want it to ruin our Sunday, after Jay's surprised response and non-action, we stuffed a washcloth into the exposed plumbing /tile area behind the sink, where we thought the bugs were gaining entry and kept the drain closed and the sink overflow plugged and the lights on. Then on Monday, a few hours prior to departure, I spoke to Jay and Sean in the lobby area, being respectful to make sure no other guests were present. I explained the second episode on Saturday night. Jay again seemed ‘surprised’ and said that he had called the pest control company. Sean on the other hand was very apologetic, and assured me this was not acceptable. Sean sincerely apologized, and wished I had told them sooner. At that point, I explained we spoke to Jay on Saturday after our first night's incident, and this almost seemed like a surprise as well. Denial of a potential cock roach infestation problem will not resolve it. I told Sean and Jay we couldn’t be certain if they were cockroaches or water bugs, so I took photos the second night. There was no interest in seeing the photos, which I certainly thought would be beneficial to Santiago so they could show their pest control company what was actually found. After several minutes of conversation, I did ask if they could make any adjustment to the bill, and told them they could discuss it as we wouldn’t be checking out for a few hours. It was further indicated that the housekeeping staff does not always throw the trash in the dumpster until the end of the day, which could present an issue – especially since suite 111 is the closest guest room to the trash and recycle containers out back.
A few minutes later, Sean came and spoke with me. He apologized again, and I truly felt his concern was genuine and compassionate. He even acknowledged that regardless of the type of bug, it was unacceptable. He also offered to apply a partial credit to my friend’s next stay at the end of May. Before we departed, Sean spoke with both of us, and considering my friend will have stayed 12 nights himself plus 4 referred nights in just 4 months’ time, a $100 credit was almost an insult. To date, the final offer was a $200 credit, and although we each paid for 50% of our April stay, no offer was made to refund anything to my credit card. The argument that “your stay is already paid for” falls flat, since all one has to do is issue a credit.
We understand that problems arise. Problems related to noise from other guests, or weather are certainly out of control for the resort. However, the issue we had experienced is preventable to some extent! From more active pest control, to better management of trash removal, caulking around plumbing, even laminated courtesy notes posted in the bathroom advising guests to keep the sink drain closed – all of these and more could help prevent cockroaches from entering guest rooms. And most importantly, Jay should have acted after the first night when Mark initially reported the problem – even asking to see specifically where the cockroach was found, spraying the outside and inside perimeter of our unit and contacting pest control on Saturday. Unfortunately, none of these actions were taken.
It’s important to note the positive experiences at the Santiago as well! Aside from the repeated disruptive bug event, everything else was great. From starting the day with breakfast, to enjoying a delicious lunch, to treats served poolside. Sean himself was ever present, checking with guests to see how they were enjoying their stay, and offering suggestions on places to see or go, and making guest introductions. When not interacting with guests, he was usually working with the housekeepers. Our housekeeper Oscar was terrific and though we only asked for him to vacuum, replace the used towels, and clean the bathroom. He instead made up the room completely, including making the beds. This was service above and beyond what was requested! The resort grounds are inviting, and the nursing hummingbird was a wonderful and natural experience to behold. It’s clear the resort has been cared for and well maintained over many years. Side note - Sean no longer works at the Santiago (which is unfortunate).
Unfortunately, an otherwise nice stay was marred by management inaction. I wrote and mailed a letter to the (absentee) owner, and his email response was almost canned. He indicated attempting to reach me by phone several times – and by my count, 1 time does not equal several. He didn’t even provide a call back number.
As I started out, one joy of independent lodging is the pride and care provided by the owner / Innkeeper. Since this owner employs management and staff, it basically is like staying at any franchise, where you are at the mercy of the employees to act accordingly – sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. With so many specialty lodging options in Palm Springs, I would personally not return to Santiago, and would instead choose another option.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The most recently updated gay boutique hotel in Palm Springs, Santiago offers free breakfast, poolside lunch, and all-day refreshments in the cantina. The wealth of amenities includes the largest pool of any gay resort in Palm Springs. In this swimsuit-optional paradise, guests also enjoy an outdoor spa, meticulously landscaped grounds with two-man rope hammocks, a mist cooling system, fast wi-fi, and incredible mountain views. Santiago's 23 rooms feature flat-screen TVs, luxury bath products, king or queen beds, and tastefully styled furnishings. It all adds up to the perfect luxurious getaway for individuals or groups. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Santiago Hotel Palm Springs