What an utterly wretched stay, and what a horribly overpriced disappointment..
This ought to be a top-tier resort, and clearly was designed as one ... but the current management/ownership is operating it with the charm of a slummy LaQuinta.
The previous reviewer - Lampoon's Vacation - was quite accurate. I'd read great things about this Doubletree, and was expecting it to be a highlight of our family vacation. Since one night cost me 40,000 Hilton Honors points, that expectation wasn't groundless. The rack rate here next weekend begins in the $400s/night! Madness.
At those levels, one expects something approaching the Bellagio. Instead, Doubletree delivers a sour dose of Motel 6.
The redeeming factor here: The facility itself is beautiful, with an attractive & huge pool with a splendid hot tub nearby. The landscaping is almost Disney-perfect. But the coldness, indifference and incompetence of the staff was astonishing.
Check-in isn't until 4 p.m. - way later than most hotels. With that kind of system, the hotel's entire front-desk staff needs to be ready to roll at 4, no excuses. Instead, there was a line when I got there at 4:20, and a woman who appeared to be the front desk supervisor airily wandered past announcing "Somebody will be with your shortly." At these rates, that's not good enough: Instead, that supervisor needed to be firing up a computer terminal and doing some front-line work herself.
The check-in clerk did a mediocre job at best. I've gotten warmer & better welcomes at way, way less expensive hotels.
When we got to our room, we discovered she'd given us a junker - we walked into a room with a wretched view of a parking lot. (The website promises that its bottom-tier mountain view rooms have "striking views of the Santa Ynez Mountains." Check out the first floor of Bougainville, the building farthest from the main hotel, and you'll find "striking views of pavement.")
I later learned this building has been the subject of previous TripAdvisor complaints for dirtiness and foul-smelling rugs. Our room smelled of cigarettes, and had a badly cracked sliding glass door. What "resort" allows those conditions? At a budget motel I'd anticipate that sort of thing. A hotel charging hundreds a night and describing itself as "an oasis within an oasis" simply can't get away with such stuff.
We called the "Care Line," which Fess Parker's describes this way: "Touch 62 on yoru phone with any special need or concern. You'll get immediate attention. Doubletree is committed to providing our guests with outstanding service."
Well, the "Care Line" clerk said the front desk was busy, and put me on hold. A minute later she came back to say the front desk was still busy, and suggested I should go there. I explained this was a problem for the hotel to resolve, not for me to resolve ... she repeated her brushoff, and I asked for a manager.
Gotta give the guy credit: He came on the line and instantly acknowledged that the conditions of the room were "unacceptable." He offered an upgrade to a garden-view room on the second floor at the Dalia building (closer to the main hotel, surrounded by garden rather than parking lot, and free of the odors that come from a "pet-friendly" hotel where the maintenance staff has been cut too deeply.) He promised a bellman would meet us with the new keys. If his staff had delivered, perhaps this would be a mostly positive review.
Problem is, the bellman apparently had other business. So we stood outside the doorway in Dalia (a corridor without air conditioning) for 15 minutes with our luggage, then hunted up a house phone. That great "Care Line" staffer once again came through with "immediate action" - she brusquely said the bellman would be dispatched "as soon as we can." C'mon, that's not even close to the right answer.
By the time we were in, it was long after 5 ... and what should've been the start of a splending getaway was instead a frustrating afternoon.
During the night and next day, we noticed the good and the bad about the hotel: Lovely lobby and architecture, first-rate pool. The room was immense and decorated with style. But Fess Parker's has a tiny exercise room, and dreadful building maintenance - debris on hallway carpets Saturday afternoon was still there at mid-day Sunday. The back entrance to the main building had the distinct smell of a "pet-friendly" carpet that needed shampoo.
I called to request late check-out. Honest to God, the "Care Line" professional couldn't even handle that one ... once again, she had to refer me to the front desk. But I'll credit the desk staff, at least, with providing a quick 'yes.'
Sunday morning, we had the chance to sleep in. The bed was several notches above the usual quality of hotel beds, and I thought a restful morning there would leave us with a better view of Fess Parker's. But the staff had other plans: At 9:07 a.m., we heard that hideous key-on-wood rapping that you get at a Holiday Inn. But surely a luxury resort wouldn't even think of pulling that cheesy "house-keeeeeeping" routine, right? (And the staff would know we were checking out later in the day, so nobody would even think of disturbing us at that hour. Right?). Well, "Rubicella" advised me otherwise. She said she was the maid, and sort of reluctantly said she'd come back later. Once again, not even close to the right answer.
If you figure hotel points to be roughly equivalent to airline miles, this stay cost $400. At even half that rate, it would be a hideous overcharge.
Fess Parker's desperately needs a far larger maintenance staff, a thoroughly overhauled customer service philosophy, a new Care Line team and a long, second look at its "pet-friendly" policy.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Fess Parker - A Doubletree by Hilton Resort is steps from the beach and convenient to Santa Barbara's waterfront and downtown. Oversized rooms all feature balconies or patios; families and pets are warmly welcomed. Amenities include a year round heated Olympic sized pool, Spa, fitness center, salon, tennis courts, bike rentals, putting green, shuffle board, weekend wine tasting, 2 restaurants, ocean-view bar and 24 acres of grounds. Complimentary airport/Amtrak shuttle service available daily. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fess Parker`s Doubletree Hotel Santa Barbara
- Doubletree Santa Barbara
- Doubletree Fess Parkers
- Fess Parkers Doubletree Resort