"I (almost) stayed at a Holiday Inn last night."

Last weekend, we took our annual drive to Williamsburg, VA to have a couple days of fun at Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream. Personally, I’m not so big into Halloween, but some other family members are, and we all like going to this place any time of year, so it’s become a Fall tradition, and we all look forward to it as the last bastion of Summer(ish) travel. This year it was very Summer-ish. The weather in Virginia was HOT, with highs near 90°F both days we were there.

The real focus of this story, however, is the hotel . . . err, the hotel reservations. My wife is our travel agent, and she booked a Busch Gardens tickets/hotel package, with 2 suites for 2 nights at a Williamsburg hotel that shall not remain nameless: Holiday Inn & Suites Gateway at 515 Bypass Road. We had never stayed there before, but even though she began shopping it 3 weeks in advance, Karen found the Williamsburg hotels already heavily booked for this particular weekend, and her criteria; suites, breakfast included, etc., quickly whittled down the available options.

So, we set out from home Friday afternoon on the roughly 350-mile drive and encountered several traffic delays along the way that set us back to where we wouldn’t be getting to Williamsburg until right around midnight. We tried calling the hotel several times, but no one answered. Seeing as our reservation was prepaid and confirmed 2 days earlier, we weren’t terribly worried. So perhaps you already sense where this is going, but upon our arrival at 12:10 AM, we were told the hotel was overbooked, we were flagged as a no-show, and our rooms had been sold. There were no more rooms available in the hotel, and probably not in the entire town. Imagine our delight.

Without detailing all the ugliness that ensued, I’ll skip to 2:30 AM, when we finally checked into some of the last rooms available in Williamsburg—and I’ll tell you—the place we ended up didn’t have the last open rooms in town because it’s just so elite and so few can afford luxury of such high caliber, oh no. But that doesn’t mean it was inexpensive, nor does it mean that the management of Holiday Inn & Suites Gateway at 515 Bypass Road, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185 was so deeply regretful of what they did to us that they picked up the tab for these alternative accommodations, oh no. In fact, as I write this, they still have not done anything but vow to “investigate the matter.”

So to you my friends, I’ll say this: When you travel, take nothing for granted, even prepaid hotel reservations, especially if they are at Holiday Inn & Suites Gateway at 515 Bypass Road, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185.

And to Holiday Inn & Suites Gateway at 515 Bypass Road, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185?

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If I ever make it to Williamsburg, Virginia (never been there), I definitely won’t be booking advance reservations at the seemingly unreliable Holiday Inn & Suites Gateway at 515 Bypass Road that does not apparently care about its customers.

Have you considered writing a Google or TripAdvisor review of the place ( https://bit.ly/2PgN9rL )? I’ve written favorable reviews when warranted, and very unfavorable reviews of various places based on less-than-good experiences like yours. They end up being seen by tens of thousands of people. I’ve even had owners and managers of some these places contact me in an effort to get me to change my reviews.

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Yes, my review is now posted everywhere possible.

My post here today is part of my new campaign. :rage:

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Back when I was in college, I had a summer job as a night desk clerk at a hotel (not a Holiday Inn). We never overbooked rooms. If someone reserved a room with their credit card, that room was theirs whether they showed up or not.

Personally, I think overbooking should be illegal.


I agree.

Unfortunately, all anyone has to say now in defense of anything they’ve done wrong is “computer glitch.”

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That sucks!

I stayed at a Marriot hotel a few months ago.

They only had valet parking. I told the guy at the front desk “Can’t I just get my own car? It’s much more convenient” and he said in the snarkiest tone I’ve ever heard “Uh, sir. I seriously doubt that”. So I ended up waiting several minutes each time I wanted to go somewhere, and like 15-20 minutes when the queue was backed up! Unfortunately they didn’t mention any of this online anywhere.

They didn’t even have real doors to the restroom, it was a frosted glass sliding door. It didn’t lock or anything.

Oh and there was no cell signal. Which I later learned that they block cell signals so you have to purchase their wifi.

If you’re upset enough, you can tweet them. You might get a free night or two out of it. I have a twitter account that I use to tweet at companies any time one upsets me even a little. I’ve gotten a lot of free stuff, like $400 discount on a cellphone from T-mobile.
Then again you might not want to stay there in case they have a policy for such things. Like having the cleaning lady spit on your pillow or something

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Ooo, I can relate. I absolutely HATE valet parking and avoid it like the plague.

I have done that as well.

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I see this kind of stuff happening more frequently. So many businesses really don’t seem to give a shit. They screw up, you can complain and they look at you stone faced… ‘‘we are very sorry, but it’s not our fault’’. If it’s on social media they are very sheepish and try to ply you with “please contact customer service right away. Our goal is to make this right” Basically that means “tough shit” we aren’t fixing it.

Once they have your money you are at their mercy.


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I really hate valet parking and stay clear of places that I know have it. I don’t need or want anyone parking my car for me and I especially don’t want to tip someone for performing the unwanted service.

There are a lot of people feeling flush enough to travel and gas prices are down so they were all on the roads last weekend. Took me over 4 hours to get home last Friday because the leaf peepers were headed north. At least two of those hours I spent in a nice little pub-style restaurant having a nice relaxing dinner, waiting for it to get dark so (most of) the idiots were off my road.

Road trips when I was a kid were always an “adventure.” On the few times we went to Disneyworld, Dad drove. 3 days in the car with kids. We’d leave about 8pm to get thru NYC in the middle of the night. The next morning, wherever we were around 9am, we’d look for a motel, usually with a pool, and dad would sleep while mom and the kids played in the pool or went to a local diner to eat. Then back on the road again early, like 4am and again drive until around 2pm and find another motel for the night. Then the last haul to Orlando where we wouldn’t stay at the resort (too expensive) but within an hour driving distance. Those road trips, and others like them are still fond memories cuz dad made it work out. Up until they couldn’t any more, the 'rents always traveled that way. Their idea of vacation was getting a EuroRail pass and finding digs wherever their travels took them that day.

So I always consider travel to be an adventure and don’t plan on anything going right.
As a pessimist, I can always be pleasantly surprised, but never disappointed. Everything from missed (or weather cancelled) connecting flights to unavailable rental cars to the ubiquitous traffic jam on a holiday weekend. I’ve learned keep overnight essentials in a carry-on, to start at the bottom of the list of hotels the airline gives you (everyone else starts at the top and they book up fast) and to enjoy the amenities of the city/town I’m stuck in overnight; to “negotiate” politely in order to get a sweet ride upgrade on a rental; and to leave at some gawd-awful hour in the middle of the night to beat holiday traffic whether on the Cape or getting thru NYC on a holiday weekend.
You can see some very pretty sunrises that way.

Travel, I’m very Zen about.
Work, on the other hand…Grrrr…

Thirty or so years ago, I would pack a change of clothes, get on my motorcycle and head out with friends on week-long trips with only vague ideas of where we might be going. Most everything would be decided, changed, found or purchased as the need arose.

We would head out on camping trips this way too. Friends and I would toss our always-ready backpacks into the back of a truck (never any food), then decide on the way where we were going. Desert, mountains, it didn’t matter. We would just head to wherever we hadn’t been before, buy food along the way, gas up, then find ourselves as far from anything as we could before stopping for the night and building a fire.

Unlike the eastern US, there are tens of thousands of wide-open square miles in the west where you might never see another person for days. We would get lost, break transmissions in the middle of nowhere, run out of gas on rarely traveled 4WD dirt trails. We never worried about it. It was all part of the adventure.

I have trouble with kind of approach now. I don’t know what’s changed, but I find traveling stressful.

My wife and I are planning a road trip to Palm Springs over the week of Thanksgiving. I’m sure I’ll spend as much time planning the trip as it takes to make the trip. I’ll end up calculating exactly where we will be at any given time and making backup plans for it all in case something happens.

All motels and hotels will be carefully researched and pre-booked. I will have researched the carefully planned routes along the way and mostly know where we’ll be stopping to eat. I’ll even go so far as to pre-travel some of the routes using Google street views. We’ll rent a car and make reservations at least a month in advance. I’ve already made reservations for the dog at the kennel, which was also carefully researched and planned.

The whole point of all this ridiculously meticulous planning is to avoid the stress and anxiety these kinds of trips seem to cause me. It used to be adventure, excitement and spontaneity were the driving factors in our carefree trips. Something has changed and I just don’t see it that way any longer. Now it’s more about getting away from anxiety and finding places to relax.

I guess I haven’t lost the adventure part of it.
About the only thing that stresses me out about traveling is getting out of the airport if I have a rental car involved, which usually means driving in an unfamiliar city. Orlando and Phoenix are relatively easy. Atlanta, Las Vegas and LA really suck. The UK is okay if the airport is outside London, after the initial shock of wrong side of road. NYC never, simply because I don’t want the parking hassle. Subway, cab or bus works for where I’m usually going in there.

What a fantastic idea! :slight_smile:

I drove down to Queens once to help my sisters then husband move his aunt up here. It was a 4 hour drive down and I can’t quite describe the horrific driving conditions once I crossed the bridge. OMG never again. I don’t know how people who drive it every day do it. I was in Flushing to be exact and there was so much traffic and sooo many signs I was completely out of my “country” element even though I live in a pretty citified area. I got so lost at one point I remember stopping by a street cop and crying LOL … I’m sure he was quite impressed with my driving savvy :smiley: He stopped traffic turned me around and wrote down exactly where to go. Voila … I found the apartment. I was about 3 blocks off the mark. But, once I found it still no parking anywhere near the building. Nothing says fun like having to park a block or so away to move someone and every piece of crap they own. :roll_eyes:

You hadn’t learned the graceful art of double parking, tossing all the stuff onto the sidewalk with someone there to guard it, then go look for a parking space. That’s how we do installs in Boston. Helps to have commercial plates, but you still have to be fast and always have a second helper with you.

LOL … why didn’t I think of that :smiley: … I was very naive about city life in general way back then :smiley:

Ugggh. I didn’t even mention airports. I avoid flying whenever possible.

I’m not afraid of flying — I just hate the hassle and stress of it all. Jammed into little seats for hours. Stuck for more hours in airports waiting for connecting flights that might or might not arrive. Rental cars (as you’ve mentioned) that somehow need to be found and navigated out of a confusing maze of unfamiliar roads. Scrambled senses of direction. Jet lag. Luggage that has been mysteriously loaded onto the wrong plane. Security checks, carry-on restrictions, bag searches, customs, passports, taxis, I hate it.

Most of my trips are carry on. :slight_smile:

One trip to Phoenix and one trip to the UK did result in lost luggage, but in both cases, staying at the hotel for a day while they found it didn’t matter. In both cases the airline delivered it to the hotel/B&B.

The trick with airports is to leave early or late in the day and to arrive 2 hours before your flight time. My favorites are either first-flights or red eyes, with first-flights being best. Get in, check through security, then go to the nearest coffee shop, grab a coffee and breakfast and watch all the people hassle their way through the check in. Or find a quiet corner with a phone charger and read. Red Eyes are usually not fully booked. A lot of times I get to stretch out across 3 seats for a nap. You can check seating on check-in these days and look for unbooked rows that might stay unbooked.

Sometimes $25-50 at the gate desk will get you an upgrade to business class. Anything over 5 hours is worth it. And I always try for front row coach or emergency exit seats. They have much more leg room. Aisle seats mean you can get up and walk around. Window seats are very over-rated.

I avoid long layovers whenever possible. I’d rather the slight hassle of a missed flight (it’s the airline’s fault then) than sitting around doing nothing for 4-6 hours. That’s not enough time to get out to see the city you are in. If a layover is unavoidable, either plan it for lunch/dinner time and relax at an airport eatery, or go for overnight and arrange for it. That way you don’t have to live the airport hustle and can enjoy your evening.

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