This was my first trip to Central Wisconsin; the occasion was to meet my fiancée's family and attend her nephew's wedding. She stated that the reception would be at the Hotel Mead and that almost everyone planned to stay overnight there after.
My first impression was that the staff were genuine and trying to please, however some things I observed made me go, “What the heck?!” The hotel was definitely a topic of discussion the next day at the gift opening and one comment by a “local,” that the Mead was “owned by the bank,” led me to an epiphany. I concluded that the management and staff are motivated and trying to keep their jobs and keep the place running, but they lack an owner and management team with the passion and knowledge to run a first-rate hotel. With that insight, the “what the heck” experiences were explainable. In order of events:
Check-in was smooth. Our room was clean but somewhat dated. For example, the desk lamp was of the type popular in the 1990's - the kind with a built-in telephone jack so you could plug a cable to your laptop and dial into your account at AOL or Compuserve. There was no wi-fi signal. We were in 272, the farthest room on the second floor. Perhaps there is signal closer to the center of the building. Our air conditioner was okay. At the gift opening we heard that at least one room had an air conditioner that was so loud that they couldn't sleep. Our bathroom was clean. The towels were fine. There was plenty of hot water.
The ballroom is nice and the bartenders were fun. The food service, though, left room for improvement. On the positive side, hot food was served hot and cold food was served cold. Given the difficulty of feeding several hundred people at once, the food was, all-in-all, better than that you would find at most large, catered events. On the down side, while the service was efficient, plates were slung and food cleared with no regard for “serve from the left, clear from the right” or other nuances of fine service. One comment at the gift opening was that the service felt closer to a cafeteria than to fine dining. It seemed strange that there was so much that was right about the meal but the servers were clueless. Perhaps the bankers running the hotel understand accounting but don't understand fine service?
As the reception wound down, we headed to the rooms for after-parties. At one we were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was a kid with a radio and a uniform. Kid Security stated that there had been a complaint and that if we didn't quiet down, he would call the Po Po and we would all have to leave. Wisconsin Rapids is not a big city. If you include Stevens Point, the local population is around 50,000 – not so small that everyone knows everyone, but small enough that you know a lot of people wherever you go. A guest, we'll call her “Ashley, Friend of the Couple,” had apparently grown up with Kid's older siblings and instigated him to eat boogers and paste and perform other such antics in prior years. Unintimidated by the uniform and radio, Ashley, Friend of the Couple, sat Kid down and explained that emptying the entire second floor and large parts of the third and fourth floors - a sizable percentage of the population of Wisconsin Rapids and vicinity, guests who were spending tens of thousands of dollars at the hotel that night - might not be his best option. She offered to call Kid's mommy to help him understand if he needed further advice. Kid, perplexed at this turn of events, shuffled off and was last overheard at the front desk lamenting his hurt feelings over not being offered a piece of pizza. Two comments on this episode. First, Kid could have had better training. It seems he has one tool in his kit, “Call the Po Po and have everyone thrown out.” Once that failed, he had nothing left. Second, and I found this out later, the hotel had booked two rooms on the second floor to non-party-goers. Why they weren't given rooms on the fourth floor, with the families with children, or entirely in the other wing, to me can only be explained by bankers-in-charge who don't understand the hotel business.
Upon awakening, we found a receipt under the door and a second piece of paper with a note to “Please review us on TripAdvisor.” I looked at my girlfriend and said, they want us to give a review. She said, “Be careful what you ask for.” I agreed. I am sorry if this review seems harsh. I liked the staff at Hotel Mead. They seemed to be genuinely trying hard to please. Most of the experience was great. The parts that were not so good were caused by rookie mistakes. The staff needs guidance and training from owners with the passion and skills to run a first-rate hotel. That seems to be lacking. I hope they find it and wish them the best. I will be back and hope to see improvements.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Conveniently located in the heart of Central Wisconsin, Hotel Mead offers distinctive, luxury accommodations at affordable prices.Whether you are planning a meeting, romantic getaway or wedding reception, our attentive and seasoned staff pledge to insure a pleasantly memorable experience. Plan your next stay, vacation, business meeting, group event, banquet, conference, convention, wedding or reception at Central Wisconsin’s premier lodging and conference destination - the Hotel Mead. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mead Hotel Wisconsin Rapids