Travelodge Santa Cruz Found Mad Skanky

Reader Adam L’s most unsavory experience at a Santa Cruz Travelodge this week included:

• Pubic hair from previous guests in the tub
• Tape covering holes around the washbasin peeling off the countertop
• Large cracks in the wall around the window

When he went to complain at checkout, he found the manager arguing with a guest who was stuck by a hypodermic needle left in her room. The manager insisted she must have planted it herself. All part of the reason why rates it a whopping one-star.

The Hotel might beg to differ with that ranking. When Adam booked it, the phone agent told him this hotel boasted Travelodge’s “Honor Roll” premier status.

Adam’s letter to the president ofTravelodge, asking for a refund, inside.


Ken Greene, President
Travelodge Hotels, Inc.
1910 8th Avenue, N.E.
Aberdeen, SD 57402-4090

Re: Travelodge Reservation no. XXXXXXXX

Dear Mr. Greene

I stayed August 18 and 19, 2006 at the Travelodge Santa Cruz Riviera, located at 619 Riverside Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060. When I made my reservation I was told by the phone agent that this location carried Travelodge’s “Honor Roll” elite quality designation. This designation must have been made either several years ago, or by someone who has never visited this hotel. It is dingy, dirty and unsafe. It feels unclean from the moment you walk into the lobby, and gets worse as you make your way to the room. Furthermore, to charge between $130 and $200 a night for a hotel in such poor repair is unconscionable. I understand that rates are unusually high in resort towns like Santa Cruz, but cleanliness and safety should be included in that premium price. I’ve stayed in fashionable hotels in New York for less and never felt like I had to ask local friends to use their showers, which I did this time upon finding the unsanitary conditions at this hotel. I’ve listed some of the various problems with room 122 below.

In the bathroom:
Tape covering holes around the washbasin peeling off the countertop
Laminate worn and broken on the bathroom countertop, exposing deteriorating plywood underneath
Large cracks in the wall around the window
Pubic hair from previous guests in the tub
Large patch screwed into a hole in the wall with filth around the edges and screws
Paint chipped off the grimy bathroom cabinet hinges
Filth around the edges of the countertop

In the bedroom:
Badly stained carpet
Paint peeling off the walls
Large holes in the drywall around power outlets (fire hazard)

I intended to take these issues up with the manager upon checkout, as he had not been on duty when I checked in and found the room in such a state, but I could not, as he was embroiled in a protracted dispute with another guest when I tried to check out. The other guest had been stuck by a discarded hypodermic needle that had been left in his bed by a previous guest, and the manager was arguing that the guest had probably planted it, and that he wouldn’t be giving a refund, or even a discount because the guest couldn’t prove he hadn’t put it there himself. I’m sure this level of neglect and hostility is not in line with the Travelodge brand, but it will forever color my thoughts on the company if this cannot be resolved.

It is my sincere request that you refund my credit card for this stay. I tried to find another hotel and was unable to, or I would have just cancelled my second night of the stay. I can’t imagine this is the sort of property you want representing your brand.

Kindest regards,
Adam L.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. d0x says:

    If I found a needle in my bed I would have called the Police. There has to be a way to turn that into some kind of assualt charge. What if that needle has the HIV Virus or HEP C in it and now this person is infected because of Neglect?

    Now im all paranoid. Im going to CT this weekend and staying in a Hotel that has midrange reviews on, when I get there im going to have to tear apart the room and look for needles.

  2. ADM says:

    Does anyone have any experience getting out of a reservation after seeing the quality of the room once you arrive?

    When I am staying somewhere without a reservation, I always ask to see the room before checking in (no one’s ever given me a hard time about that), but I wonder what happens if you have a “confirmed” reservation. Will they attempt to charge you for the cancelled res even if the room sucks/is dirty/has hypodermic needles in it?

  3. Triteon says:

    Good point ADM. I can’t believe Adam L stayed there. Complaining upon checkout? Never– I would have been back at the front desk within minutes of check-in.

  4. My first thought was: Amateur CSI aside, how did he know it was pubic hair?

    Still, regardless of whether I check the room before or after I check in, if there’s a little problem, I call the front desk, if there’s a huge problem I ask to be moved to another room or I’m out. Sometimes saving on the cost isn’t worth risking your health and comfort.

  5. John Stracke says:

    “Travelodge’s ‘Honor Roll’ premier status”? What use is a ranking issued by the company itself?

  6. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’m thinking, Why would anyone stay at a 1-star hotel? This person has “local friends” who are willing to let him shower there, why not impose a little bit. under the circumstances they’d probably agree. This smells a little like B.S. to me.

  7. Ran Kailie says:

    Um, its TRAVELODGE am I the only person who recognizes this name as being the name of a notoriously badly rated hotel chain?

    I stay in Travelodges when I need to save money and have no choice, like when I went to Manhattan a year ago, I couldn’t afford anywhere else in the city that was close to the concert I was seeing.

    The room wasn’t great and smelled bad, but it was CHEAP and near Hammersteins.

    I think anyone staying at a Travelodge and expecting a nice hotel really has never heard of the company before, Elite Status or not. Sorta like Motel 6, you can tell me all you want how nice and elite your Motel 6 is, its still a Motel 6 and I’m still not expecting more then a 1 star hotel.

  8. I like Super8 for cheap-ass hotels. Every one I’ve ever been in (and I used to travel a LOT cross-country by car) has been really basic – sometimes you can’t even get extra pillows from reception – but squeaky-clean and dead quiet. They cater a lot to truckers, whereas at a Holiday Inn (say) you’re more likely to get families-with-kids. They’re also cool with unusual check-in/check-out hours, or daytime stays, because of the trucker demographic. (I once got deathly ill on a cross-country trip and checked in to a Super8 at 9 a.m. and stayed until that night, no hassle, $20, and the nice counter ladies told me which mom & pop place to go that would make me scrambled eggs and dry toast and serve me flat soda at 9:30 p.m. in the middle of nowhere.)

    Most Super8s also let you bring pets. There, I’ve done my praising of a company for the day.

  9. tourpro says:

    As a former hotelier, I can tell you that quality is a function of supply and demand. The more competitive a location is, ie more rooms that customers, then the greater probability that lodging will have to differentiate themselves through superior service or product. In other words, they are forced to provide value. In high demand locations, customers always lose. With limited supply, rates begin to skyrocket and quality falls as incentive to excell does not exist.

    That said, even a “clean” room, if examined with UV will reveal details best left to your imagination. Tripadvisor or any number of the emerging Travel 2.0 type sites help the consumer take some of the risk out of the purchase decision. But unless you have an option besides where you have reserved and have arrived before the cancellation deadline, odds are that you will be held to the reservation contract. In regards to complaints, there are only two kinds of hoteliers – those that try to do the right thing all the time, and those that only see short-term profits.

  10. Schorsch says:

    Hey! I stayed there on a bike trip along the California Coast. By far the scariest night of the trip. I saw probably 3 street fights while looking for somewhere to eat, a drunk through an empty at some girls in a truck, and what looked to be the beginning of a brawl. Apparently parts of Santa Cruz are very nice, but I didn’t see them. This place was a hole. I recommend Motel 6, which has been the cheapest, most consistently OK motel.

  11. homerjay says:

    I attempted to stay at a Best Western in Maine once. When we checked in we noticed that there were an uncomfortable number of flies in the room. Within the 5 minutes we were in the room I counted 14. We went back to the desk and ultimately got our money back without arguement. The clerk even helped us find a room at another hotel since they were full.

    Can’t fault em for helping but flies all over the room? Ugh….

  12. drewB says:

    Before you bash on Santa Cruz: this hotel is one of the first seen when you enter the city coming South down the coast. It’s cut-rate, and on the edge of the city. If you go even a bit further away from the cityline, the city is an amazing place.

    All judgements towards a city are moot if one picks the first hotel they see.

  13. Demingite says:

    That’s a well-written letter.

    I feel sorry for any housekeeper who would ever have to “clean up” any hypodermic needle.

    Don’t be surprised if the “Honor Roll” has to do not with the quality of the hotel, but with the profitability of that unit to the corporation. Big difference. It’s very possible that the TraveLodge in Santa Cruz — because it’s in super-pricey Santa Cruz, it’s physically well-positioned, and consumers don’t know better — makes buttloads and buttloads of money. It makes money despite, not because, of its horrendous quality.

    Super 8 — in which I’ve also had generally good experiences (quiet — doesn’t attract parties — and clean) — has something called “Pride of Super 8” for some, but not all, of its hotels. I have to wonder: What’s wrong with the ones that aren’t the “pride” (the “shame”)???? I think it’s a rather dumb idea, if I may say so, to claim that some of your hotels are “better” than others (at least staying within a single brand). I think the job of the top managers is to make the brand consistently — in all outlets — something to be proud of.

    I can also picture this generating competition between hotels, which is a good way to gut a system.

    By the way, I believe Super 8 is also headquartered in Aberdeen, SD. Coincidence?

  14. “Super 8 … has something called “Pride of Super 8” for some, but not all, of its hotels. I have to wonder: What’s wrong with the ones that aren’t the “pride” (the “shame”)????”

    Since they’re managed locally, I think it’s supposed to be an incentive for the local managers to run a high-quality hotel. I have the big book o’ Super8 locations in my glovebox and it lists the ones that have received various in-company awards (Pride of Super8, also various “outstanding customer service” recognitions, etc.). I haven’t noticed real difference in quality, but some of the “outstanding customer service” ones have extra amenities — like a VHS library, or a rack of paperbacks. Amazing how those little things can make a nicer stay.

  15. Avery says:

    Thanks for the advice regarding Travelodge and Super 8. This will probably be life-saving to me in a few years or so.

  16. Demingite says:

    As a consumer, it’s not hard to think “This Super 8 doesn’t have the Pride seal: What’s wrong with it?” And if the No-Pride one is the only Super 8 in town, maybe I’ll go to a motel outside of the Super 8 family…

    There are better ways to promote quality. Consider Trader Joe’s, if you are familiar with them. They have the knowledge required to build high quality into the whole system. They don’t need to have a contest between stores to promote quality. Trader Joe’s is “proud” of all their stores, and consumers can trust that they will be treated very well in each and every store. (Vs., wow, I hope this town doesn’t have one of those No-Pride Super 8s….)

  17. Juancho says:

    I think those “Quality Awards” actually can make a big difference, depending on the chain.

    I’m a member of the frequent stay/points program for Choice Hotels. (And I had a crappy stay at a couple of places in the system on a recent trip, so I’m rethinking where I’m going to spend my cash next.)

    I used to stay at a very nice Comfor Inn & Suites near Toledo when I visited friends. They were an award winner on the “bronze” level (lowest) in 2003, but the place was clean and comfortable, with no huge frills. They have since lost the designation, and I was there over the 4th of July and it’ll be the last time. Furniture/fixtures/carpet are starting to get shabby, the breakfast isn’t as diverse, and staff doesn’t seem to care.

    I like to stay at a cheap hotel that has a continental breakfast and a mini-fridge in the room. Getting a free meal, especially to start the day, can help with cash issues.

  18. icky2000 says:

    I agree with a few of the comments already made. It is a 1-star motel. You knew that when you booked the room. You knew that when you arrived and discovered it was a dump. Sending a letter is fine but expecting a refund is ridiculous. The reason you’re paying such an unbelievably cheap price is that they don’t spend any money maintaing the rooms or paying for quality staff. Duh. I stay in similar motels from time to time to save money and yes it sucks but you get what you pay for.

  19. jamescanavan says:

    Having just returned from a vacation, I reserved a room in Fresno California and was guaranteed the best rate on the Travelodge web site. Before checking in, I asked the person behind the desk at the Travelodge what the rates were for the evening. The rate quoted me was $7.00 less than the rate that I had reserved this room for online through Travelodge. I contacted the number given on the confirmation form and was told that I could not cancel the reservation and I would not be given the lower rate or credited the difference in the rate I had reserved the room for. I told the person that there was a guarantee of the best rate. I was told that this did not apply if the rate of the hotel was lower than the rate I reserved at, only if the rate were higher. What a bunch of crap. I will never ever stay at any Ramada Franchise System hotel again. I wish I would have read the comments above before bothering to schedule with Travelodge.

  20. Alexis2 says: