UPDATE: Fairmont Hotel Drama Gets Happy Ending For College Students

Yesterday, we brought you the story of 128 Washington University students whose reservations at the Fairmont Millennium in downtown Chicago had been canceled and relocated 15 miles away to an airport Sheraton. We’re happy to report that the situation appears to have been resolved, without much bloodshed.

After being told by Fairmont that their contract had been canceled because of overbooking and that the nearest available rooms to downtown would be out in O’Hare country (which, if you know Chicago, isn’t exactly a quick jaunt to downtown), the students went about finding their own accommodations.

They ended up splitting the displaced student tourists into two hotels — a Marriott ExecuStay and a Homewood Suites — in the downtown area. Unfortunately the increased price at the Marriott, coupled with their difficulty in getting back the $9,000 from the Sheraton, meant that the organizers were in a financial hole.

However, according to Washington U.’s student paper, Fairmont has agreed to pay the difference in cost.

Said a Fairmont exec in an e-mail to the Senior Student Council:

We are committing to pay for costs related to the contracting of an alternate hotel in the O’Hare area… and the additional room rate increase associated with the downtown rooms at the Marriott.

Senior class to stay downtown [StudLife.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. kiltman says:

    Heh, Happy Ending!

  2. StuffThingsObjects says:

    Behold! the power of the interwebs!

  3. Hi_Hello says:


  4. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “…without much bloodshed.”

    Aw, man. I was kinda hoping for at least a little bloodshed.

    • trentblase says:

      Well, their mascot is the “Battling Bear,” so that would be an amusing battle. Fairmont is lucky the kids weren’t from Michigan State.

      SPARTANS! Tonight… we fight…. FOR BEDS!

  5. TBGBoodler says:

    I still can’t believe they’re having trouble getting back their money from Fairmont. Jeesh.

  6. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I’d like to think the e-mail I sent Fairmont on the student’s behalf had even just a little to do with this outcome.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Waiting for publicly shaming a company because they fucked up to because some form of industry.

  8. ChuckECheese says:

    This isn’t too surprising. For those who aren’t aware, the typical Wash U student comes from a well-heeled family. No doubt many of these cancellees are the offspring of doctors, lawyers and such, who would have made Fairmont legally and financially miserable for a long time to come.

    • amuro98 says:

      Is anyone else sick of this trend where companies won’t do their job until dragged before the public via the news media?

      I mean, just think of how much business the Fairmont in general could have GAINED if they had done the right thing by the students in the first place? Let’s say it cost them $1000/student to get the group into a nearby hotel. That’s chicken feed compared to the good press this would generate, even if it was just among the families and friends of the students. And if the story went national, that $130k would have easily been recouped within a week by people calling to make reservations specifically BECAUSE of the story!

      But no. It took a negative media story to get the Fairmont to grudgingly do its job. Well, screw them. I’m glad the students are getting taken care of, but I’m still not going to use the Fairmont for my hotel reservations. Ever.

  9. jimmyhl says:

    Here’s the rub: the Fairmont was unable or unwilling to find suitable accommodations for 128 would-be guests, but a bunch of college kids was able to do it (no doubt because of their superior skills and experience in the so-called hospitality industry). I’m glad the affair was straightened out to everyone’s satisfaction but I still think this is a black eye for the Fairmont. First, they bump 128 customers who had solid gold dibs on the rooms, then farm them out to some naff airport fleabag where the employees are on strike and tell the students they can like it or lump it. In other words, if it hadn’t been for kids’ legwork and some residual sense of shame on the Fairmont’s part this story would not have a happy ending.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Agreed – I thought that in the original article the Fairmont claimed that there simply were no more downtown rooms available, hence they had to put them out at the airport. But then the kids themselves found enough rooms?

      This still stinks to high heaven. I envision 2 Reservation Agents high-fiving each other about over-selling and one of them saying ‘Now just dump them student jagoffs in some sh!tty airport hotel and lets go spend our commissions on hookers and blow!’.
      …Just how I imagine it, anyway.

    • webweazel says:

      This is what I don’t get either. They had a solid reservation, months in advance, for 128. I know they consider there would be some last-minute cancellations, but by HOW MUCH did they overbook? By 5 rooms or by 50? If it’s a small amount, rather than canceling the ENTIRE GROUP, let them know the issue up front, work with them to come up with a better solution, or move some of your 1-room reservations to another hotel to make up the difference.
      And, if they’re regularly overbooking by 50 rooms, they need a better plan. They rolled the dice and lost money on this screwup.

    • amuro98 says:

      Agreed. It stinks that it basically takes an expose’ to get companies to do “the right thing.”

      It also seems to me that the Fairmont is only doing anything due to the bad press of screwing the students out of their reservation, and opening themselves to a nasty class action lawsuit.

      So the Fairmont isn’t doing the right thing because they WANT to – but because they think they HAVE to.

      Screw them. Next time I need a hotel, the Fairmont isn’t going to be on the list.

  10. frank64 says:

    ANAL and all that, but if they had a contract, wouldn’t the hotel be liable for the difference in the cost anyway?

    A routine cancellation of hotel rooms would seem to be something that could screw up many vacations/trips, that is why we make the reservations, especially if we are held responsible if we don’t go. It seems the hotels get the best of both worlds. Not fair one bit. Please comment.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      ANAL? Or IANAL?

      Further, no one thinks anyone here is a lawyer, unless they say they are. Dumbest acronym ever.

      • frank64 says:

        Yes, INAL. Thanks for pointing that out. Sorry I posted something so dumb.

      • frank64 says:

        Many times if someone states something legal people will say something like what do you know “are you a lawyer?” So this stops that. One time I said something as an aside about taxes and I was accused of giving wrong tax advice. First of all it wasn’t framed as advice or the point of the post, and what I stated was in fact true. You can’t win!

  11. odarkshineo says:

    Got my share of happy endings in college…

  12. common_sense84 says:

    Exactly what I said should happen yesterday. The fairmont screwed up and there would no doubt be ways to book them at places geared towards longer term business travelers that are fully furnished and usually are rented for weeks or months at a time.

    The ExecuStay normally does not rent for less than 30 days. But hotels can easily work out things like this b2b.

    It’s just sad that it took a serious lawsuit threat for the hotel to act. Next time they will bump the individual business people who are not in a position to sue instead of hundreds of students that have free legal help from their school.

  13. luftmenschPhil says:

    I recently stayed at the Homewood on Grand. Nice hotel – I’m sure the kids made good use of the rooftop pool!

  14. dreamfish says:

    “We are committing to pay for costs…”

    That mail sounds somewhat officious. It could have been written in a more human tone. Also, I wonder if it contained an apology (and by that I mean a *real* apology, not the weasel-words style “I’m sorry if you felt put-out”).

  15. Destra says:

    Well, also they’re legally responsible under the contract to pay the difference, so it’s nice that they’re just paying the money instead of dragging it to court.

  16. psm321 says:

    That’s still a rather crappy resolution. They’re still split between 2 hotels and ought to receive some sort of compensation. It’s doubly sad that they had to fight even for this not-quite-up-to-par solution

    • Anathema777 says:

      They’d be split between two hotels even if the Fairmont had honored the reservation. So many student signed up for the trip that they used up their hotel block at the Fairmont and had to book the rest of the students at the Congress hotel.

      • Putaro says:

        Sure, but they had a block together at the Fairmont and paid for it. Whether or not other people might have been staying at a different hotel makes no difference. They could have arranged their schedules so that people in the same hotel would be doing things together or whatever.

        The Fairmont made a commitment and took cash to keep that commitment. They failed to hold up their end of the contract and they should be making good on it.

  17. frank64 says:

    My question before got hijacked: Isn’t the booking of rooms a contract that makes the hotel liable for any damages in canceling a booked hotel? Especially if I would not be allowed to cancel, and I made plans based on having the hotel room. I would think there would be some precedent.

  18. oldwiz65 says:

    And if it hadn’t shown up on the web, Fairmount would have simply told them to sleep in the park. I shudder at the thought of staying at that hotel.

  19. almightytora says:

    As long as it doesn’t affect the Hyatt Regency O’Hare during the third week of November, it’s all good.

  20. FrugalFreak says:

    My bet is they cancelled based on they were COLLEGE STUDENTS. They had an image of what students with parties do to rooms. Did they make reservations with same reservation agent or each separately? they couldn’t know with whom they were dealing with beforehand, but when they likely saw them come in together, protection of hotel may have kicked in.