Fairmont Hotel Cancels Reservations After Receiving $13,000 Deposit

UPDATE: Looks like this situation has been resolved.
128 students at Washington University in St. Louis are more than a little peeved after finding out their reservations at a Fairmont hotel in downtown Chicago had been canceled, even after the hotel had received their $13,000 deposit.

According to a report, the students’ contract with the Fairmont Millennium was canceled only five days before check-in due to overbooking.

Fairmont’s attempt at making good on the mistake was to place the displaced students at the Sheraton Chicago O’Hare, which as you might have guessed by the name, is 15 miles away… and next to one of the world’s busiest airports.

“We put this money [down] to guarantee that we were coming this weekend, and on their end they were supposed to make sure they were going to have these rooms,” said the Class Council treasurer.

Aggravating the matter further, the students feel they were misled by Fairmont into thinking the Sheraton was a good deal:

[The Fairmont salesperson] claimed to have negotiated a special deal that included free shuttle buses to public transportation, Wi-Fi and breakfast.

After checking hotels.com, the class council quickly found that these amenities were included in the Sheraton’s standard package.

Luckily for the remaining 144 students on the Washington University trip, their rooms were booked at the Congress Plaza Hotel in downtown Chicago, so they won’t have to make the trek in from the airport to enjoy the Windy City.

When reached for comment a rep for Fairmont released the following statement to Consumerist:

From the onset, please be assured that the need to relocate any guest is one that we take very seriously and every opportunity to avoid this type of situation is explored, prior to making this difficult decision.

To help clarify how this could have happened, I can confirm that convention hotels – such as Fairmont Chicago Millenium Park – often have meeting planners request a block of rooms a year or more out for their group. Typically, as the date of the event nears the number of delegates will firm up and drop off, at which time the guestrooms are released. For that reason, convention hotels will often initially oversell their space with the expectation that the drop in group numbers will allow them to accommodate their individual travelers and smaller groups.

In this particular instance, the group numbers did not decrease and our hotel was caught in an over-sold situation. As soon as this was known, our Director of Sales & Marketing began contacting his peers at 13 other downtown Chicago hotels in order to place his guests at centrally located properties. Unfortunately, they were in the same oversold situation and were also beginning to relocate guests.

Once it was known that the Washington University students (along with 3 other groups) would need to be placed in alternative hotels, the search to find a quality brand within reasonable proximity was begun and the group organizer was immediately notified.

I understand our Director of Sales & Marketing for Fairmont Chicago Millenium Park has also offered assistance in offsetting incremental costs to the group and is awaiting a response from the organizer.

While we certainly acknowledge that this disappointing turn of events would be frustrating for all groups involved, I’m hopeful that the hotel’s offer to assist will be considered in a bid to redeem what should be a special visit to Chicago for these students.

Hotel cancels senior trip reservation [StudLife.com]