Marriott Fails: Hotel Still Under Construction, Leaves Your Door Wide Open, No Hot Water

Reader Allan stays at Marriott hotels a lot. He has platinum status, meaning that he stays at Marriott hotels for more than 75 days a year. One might think this level of loyalty would mean that he’d get a response to his complaint letter.

Dear Consumerist:

I have platinum status at Marriott, and my girlfriend and I recently took a vacation to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel we chose – La Concha, owned by Marriott – was brand new. And despite them promising us that the hotel was completed, and the guest rooms no longer under construction, we were awoken to the sound of jack hammering every single morning. When we went to the pool… heavy construction vehicles drowned out the sound of the ocean. When we sat on the resort’s beach, heavy construction in the background interrupted our conversation. The worst part was that the cleaning staff left our door wide open for an entire day while we went to a more remote and much quieter beach.

I wrote this letter informing Marriott of the problems that existed at this hotel a few weeks ago. I CC’d a number of executives, as well a few managers at the La Concha, in San Juan Puerto Rico. I haven’t heard anything back – no apology, no phone call from the executive customer service team, no compensation, nothing! And it’s a little surprising considering that in order to achieve platinum status, you need to stay 75 nights per year in their hotels.

I just want you to warn readers of the consumerist.com that if a hotel is brand new, they should be very skeptical even at large reliable chains such as Marriott.

Below, and attached, is the letter I sent.

-Allan [redacted]

December 26, 2007

Marriott International
Attn: Mr. William Shaw
Marriott Drive
Washington, D.C. 20058

Dear Mr. Shaw:

For over two years, I have been a loyal Marriott guest, choosing the Marriott brand wherever and whenever possible. I have achieved platinum status with your hotel chain, and after well over one hundred stays, have experienced nothing but exceptional customer service. I called the Camden Yards Marriott in Baltimore, Maryland home for nearly four months during the Summer of 2006. I called the Courtyard Marriott in Lowell, Massachusetts home for nearly four months after convincing my client that the Marriott, and its premium price, offered better service than the local Hilton chain. And on multiple occasions, I have written letters to the managers of these hotels noting how pleased I was with the courtesy, professionalism, and service of it’s staff, reassuring them that they were doing their job well. Therefore, it is with deep regret that I write this letter.

I recently moved to New York City, and immediately began working long hours at a large academic hospital. Known as “the city that never sleeps,” my girlfriend and I were long overdue for a vacation, a chance to retreat from the horn honking, the construction, and the winter weather. We chose Puerto Rico for our vacation destination, and more importantly, we chose La Concha, a Marriott Resort, for our accommodations from December 13 to December 17. I have never experienced a business this disorganized and a staff so nonchalant about guest concerns as the La Concha resort; simply put, you failed us, and should be embarrassed.

When we checked in, we were told that our room was upgraded to the twelfth floor, and included a balcony, but was inconveniently located right next to the elevator. Normally, this would not be a big issue, but every morning (excluding Saturday and Sunday), we were awoken by the sound of constant jackhammering starting at 8:00AM in the adjacent service room. This came as a complete surprise, because I had recently received the annual Marriott mailing noting that the La Concha was open and taking reservations. I also called the hotel and was assured that construction had been completed on all guest rooms; clearly I was misled since heavy construction started daily at 8:00AM on the upgraded floors.

During check in, I asked to cash a personal check, in the small sum of $25, and was informed by Michelle, the young lady who checked us in, that the La Concha lacked any means to cash checks despite this service being one of the perks of achieving platinum status. While not a big inconvenience, I had to walk to the other Marriott resort, located three blocks away, to cash a personal check.

Immediately after checking in, I called the front desk for assistance with the digital in-room safe. Michelle, the front desk associate, was unable to offer assistance, but assured me that her supervisor would call back with instructions on how to operate the safe; no one called back. Most concerning, on December 16, my girlfriend and I left the resort to visit another beach in Old San Juan. Gone for nearly twelve hours, we returned to find our door was left wide open by the cleaning staff. Luckily nothing was missing, but the hotel staff’s inability to provide directions on using the safe, coupled with the maid staff’s inability to secure our door, puts the enjoyment of our trip at great risk. This should not happen at any hotel, especially a Marriott. I can only imagine the unnecessary inconvenience if my work laptop was stolen or our passports missing.

On the night of December 15, the shower lacked any hot water; the water was room temperature at best. We notified the front desk staff, and on December 16th, we again had no hot water. In addition to lacking hot water, the bathroom door was difficult to open and close because the air-conditioning closet door had not been properly secured. We asked four times before this closet door was secured.

I do not want this letter to be completely negative, and I do want to recognize the bellhop staff for a job well done. I do not think that you could have recruited a nicer group of young men, willing to go above and beyond what is expected. On December 15, we asked for a bellhop to call a taxi. When we inquired about the bus, he chased down a bus, and after finding that the bus only took coins, proceeded to shake himself down for the exact fare. This is not the service I expect or demand, but was a prime example of a Marriott employee going above and beyond what is expected. That young man should be applauded, the bellhop staff envied by the rest of the La Concha staff who miserably failed – on multiple occasions – of delivering value to guests.

The La Concha Resort, clearly still undergoing heavy construction, should not have been booking guests. It is flashy, it is modern, and at first sight, I liked it. But spending the night in an upgraded room, and being awoken by jackhammering in the early morning hours while on vacation spoiled the Marriott experience; that noise was thprecise reason that we left New York City in the first place. The stay was stressful, and I now feel that I am returning to New York for a much needed vacation from La Concha. In closing, I want you to know that I will still remain a loyal Marriott customer, but will unfortunately need to do a significant amount of homework before booking a room in another Marriott Resort. I trust that you will investigate, address, and resolve these concerns. If you have any questions concerning this letter, I invite you to contact either by email ([redacted]) or telephone ([redacted]).

Sincerely,

Allan [redacted]
Marriott Rewards #: [redacted]

CC:

Mr. A. Bradford Bryan, Jr.
Executive Vice President
Architecture and Construction
Marriott International

Mr. Edwin D. Fuller
President and Managing Director
Marriott Lodging – International
Marriott International

Mr. David J. Grissen
Executive Vice President – Lodging Operations
Marriott International

Mr. Norman K. Jenkins
Senior Vice President
Lodging Development – North America
Marriott International

Ms. Kathleen Matthews
Executive Vice President
Global Communications and Public Affairs
Marriott International

Mr. Robert J. McCarthy
President
North American Lodging Operations and
Global Brand Management
Marriott International

Mr. David A. Rodriguez
Executive Vice President
Global Human Resources
Marriott International

Mr. Luis Forty
Director of Guest Services
La Concha Resort

Ms. Johanna Lopez
Front Desk Supervisor
La Concha Resort