February 27, 2013 | LXXII, No. 48

A tale of two hotels

Jess Shut Up

I have always been aware of good service. Like in restaurants and with good business owners that put this quality first. My family and I always return again and again to those places that provide a “customer first” rule. Also, with most of my family having been in the restaurant or service fields, we know the importance of a happy customer. And so the saga goes…

State wrestling, as you already know, had its big weekend not long ago and the family made the trip for the final time with immediate family participating. Now as I tell this part of the weekend, visions of Chevy Chase and National Lampoon’s “Vacation” will come to mind as it did for me. Finding a hotel room near the Dome on this weekend is often difficult. This year we thought ahead and booked our room in the Travel Lodge in Auburn, near Emerald Downs, early. We checked in late Thursday night.

The ceiling tiles removed from the lobby were the first bad omen. But a little construction is not a bad thing, right? It shows that they are putting money back into the place. Not a big deal anyway, because we will be gone during the day. Check in was smooth, the young man behind the desk was polite and even told me he had been recently promoted to manager and was trying to turn the place around. He sounded smart and passionate about his position and he was as helpful as anyone could be. But that was where it ended.

When booking online, I requested a room capable of sleeping five adults. When we walked into the room it was obvious that “five adults” had to be translated into “five small adults.” Two twinish-sized beds and absolutely no space for a cot. I asked for one, and they did not even have a cot but they did have plenty of blankets. I would have to go down to the front to get them. No big deal, I was able.

So down I went, and asked to be put on the list for a bigger room if it came available. I was told by the smiling young manager that I would be first on the list. Looking back, I realize that he was smiling because he knew there would be no such phone call.

When I returned to the room, I sat on the edge of the bed but suddenly found myself sitting on the floor. After some inspection, we found that the leg on the frame had been broken and tried to be fixed.

I called down to the front desk again and was told that they had no extra frames and would fix the frame promptly in the morning. So with some super human strength and light thoughts we were able to prop the bed back up and avoid anymore bed falls. It was shortly after that we noticed, in this non-smoking hotel, that there were cigarette burns on the blankets. Hmmm. Oh well, we will fix this in the morning, I thought. The toilet ran most of the night. Where it went I have no idea, but it had to be in great shape.

Morning came and found a pool of water covering the entire bathroom. OK, just a leaky toilet. I went downstairs to advise them and get some more towels. I told the lady at the front desk, who appeared dressed for a trip in the garden. She advised me that I could just turn the knob at the bottom of the toilet and the water would stop leaking.

REALLY, did she just say that?

Well, when I returned to the room the search was on for a different hotel.

We packed up and decided to go down for continental breakfast. There was a good sized group of people there, in pajamas and sleepy eyed. The breakfast was fair. By now, I expected water and donuts, but it was OK. But I soon realized that everyone eating in there were employees and their families. They were talking about what they hated about work, and why did they have to start so early. I was in shock. No wonder they don’t have any more room, all the employees live here. As we checked out and dodged the vomit outside the front entrance for the second time, we were told that the police were there because someone had slept in the hallway outside our room. Just some drunk that wandered in.

We will not go back.

We found a room in Puyallup, the Fairfield Inn. It sounded grand on the site. I called to make sure it was available, and it was. Late that night, after a long day at the Dome and with championships in our future, we arrived to check in.

Looked really good on the outside. As I went in to check in, the man behind the desk was in a suit, smiling and welcoming me. I actually had two rooms reserved. Oops, but good at the same time. We only needed one, as long as they were big enough. They were. Clean, fresh, friendly. Breakfast AWESOME. Pool, workout room. All the amenities. Service was grand. We even took pictures of staff and all the rooms. Highly recommended. They even had a deer hanging around outside the parking area. Just like home.

So, thank you, those of you who give great service every day. With no compromises.

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