With online travel agency options whittled down following the $1.6 billion Orbitz-Expedia merger in 2015, and hotels already offering customers perks for ditching the third-party travel sites, it might be hard to imagine the rivalry between the likes of Expedia, Priceline, and major hotels could get more contentious. But it apparently can, and is about be thanks, in part, to the completion of a mega-hotel merger between Marriott and Starwood Resorts. [More]
If you’ve booked a room directly through a hotel chain’s website, you’ve more than likely seen lower-cost options for visitors who agree to prepay for at least some of their stay. Before you choose that cheaper room, make sure you know what you’re agreeing to so that you don’t end up on the hook for hundreds of dollars later if you have to make a change. [More]
A year ago, low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines made its debut in the American Customer Satisfaction Index with a thud, coming in dead last among airlines in the annual survey. But even with a 15% improvement over last year’s score, Spirit still couldn’t escape the cellar. [More]
Momentum in the tug-of-war over Starwood Hotels — home to brands like Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, and W — has shifted once again. Only days after China’s Anbang Insurance appeared destined to win with its “superior proposal,” Marriott managed to dig deep with the help of a few billion additional dollars.
For years, some have accused America’s largest hotel chains of colluding with travel booking sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline to make sure that the room rates offered to consumers on these sites are the same. This practice, claimed plaintiffs in various lawsuits, effectively allowed the hotel chains to determine their own prices and kept the booking sites from competing against each other; meaning consumers could be paying more than they should. But a U.S. District Court judge feels differently. [More]
A class-action lawsuit filed yesterday in a U.S. District Court in California alleges that the biggest names in online travel — Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com — and some of the world’s largest hotel chains — Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, Intercontinental, among others — conspired together so that the “best price guarantee” you often see when booking a room online is in actuality just a number set by the hotel operators.
The annual fee for the Starwood American Express card is going up from $45 to $65. Is it worth the price to pay for the right to use a credit card?
Having trouble with your Starwood hotels experience and regular customer service not helping? This guy might. After all, he founded the place.
Last week’s news that the Westin Casuarina hotel in Las Vegas was surreptitiously charging conference attendees for the organizer’s unpaid bill generated enough bad press that the Westin did an about-face this week, and sent out letters on Tuesday telling affected customers it is reversing the extra charges. A Westin spokesman said, “We’ve decided as a matter of customer relations to issue the refunds while continuing to pursue payment from The Coaching Center” in Austin, Texas. The Westin also says the refunds are an “effort to show our good faith,” which we assume means “please don’t sue us.”
If you were one of the conventioneers who got charged extra fees by the Westin Casuarina, we suggest you talk to your credit card company or contact The Coaching Center (according to the Houston Chronicle, the company’s president is refunding the charges directly to those affected). If you need contact info for management at the hotel, however, an anonymous tipster sent in a list of phone numbers and email addresses.
Randy saw our post earlier today about the Westin Casuarina in Las Vegas and wanted to share his own experience with them. In honor of the Casuarina’s increasingly sketchy reputation, we will add lightning to their photo.
The Westin Casuarina Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas has begun charging an unpaid $50,000 convention fee to the attendees who already paid before they attended back in October. The company that set up the event, Austin-based The Coaching Center, hasn’t paid its bill yet, and “president Suzanne Black said she was trying to arrange a payment plan when she was told by Westin management that the hotel would recoup the bill from attendees.” Now people are finding charges anywhere from $600 to $1200 on their credit card bills. Even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has said this isn’t standard practice, but Westin says it’s got fine print that proves it can hold you liable for any charges left unpaid on your visit.
Man manages to stay at what he describes as the most ghetto Sheraton in the world. How bad was it? Well, it’s called the “Sheraton-Miami-Mart.” Yes, “Mart,” and it has the same high level of quality, cleanliness, and accommodations that you would expect from any place with “Mart” as a suffix. [Shankman]