Thursday, April 06, 2006

When Good Vacations ATTACK!

It sounded like a great plan to me...using large "points" collected on various credit cards to have a "free" vacation.

We (Beny & I) cashed in large numbers of points to stay at the Ritz-Carlton on South Beach, Miami.

The four-day weekend was cut down to three days, but we still went and were ready for uber-relaxation and pampering. Instead, we got lackluster service and dealt with overly pretentious morons on South Beach.

I used to visit South Beach regularly. I always had a great time. Beautiful city, beautiful beach, fine clothes, good food, and great partying.

This trip took on a decidedly different tone. I now despise South Beach and all that goes with it. Perhaps the place has become too big for it's britches? Regardless, the people were horrible. Unfriendly, clickish, and humorless. The employees at the Ritz-Carlton were bland, robotic, and pretentious.

You know the people in South Beach are bad when you find yourself commenting how INCREDIBLY friendly and helpful the people were in NEW YORK CITY! Seriously, we didn't encounter a bad apple at all in the "Big Apple".

We found the pits and seeds in South Beach.

South Beach manners aside, below is the letter that I will be mailing to the General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton. I think it speaks for itself.


Mr. Roos:

Please allow for me to share my recent experiences at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. While I was pleased with the property in general, I provide these details with the hope that you will review them with the appropriate leaders and staff for the responsible departments. I am currently employed at a large travel company in Orlando and do not feel comfortable recommending your hotel as a result of my stay.

Despite the established name of the hotel chain and the quality and comfort in the room, the service was quite simply not up to Ritz-Carlton standards to which I am accustomed. My traveling companion and I did, however, have a wonderful view from the top floor balcony -- beach to the right and bustling streets below and to the left.

Beginning with a tremendous challenge regarding the reservation process and the exclusion/failure to mention of a $250 non-refundable pet deposit (, we were already considering a move to the nearby (and pet-friendly) Loews Hotel. However, after many calls to the hotel directly and to the Ritz-Carlton Customer Service, the pet deposit was waived. This was much appreciated gesture and an added assurance that we would receive the service we are accustomed to from Ritz-Carlton. (This pet deposit is not required at Ritz-Carlton hotels in Asia.)

On our arrival date of April 1, 2006, we called the hotel directly to book spa treatments. We were connected directly to the spa concierge desk and had decided to book a 50 minute Swedish Massage for that evening. We had specific requests of a Swedish Massage for each of us at approximately 5:00 pm. Unfortunately, nothing was available until 6:00 pm. Considering the short booking window, we agreed to this.

Upon check-in at the hotel at approximately 3:00pm, the front desk staff member (Guillermo) was simply gracious, elegant, and charming. This was a wonderful first impression! He is a stellar example of great service.

After shopping on Lincoln Road, we headed back to the hotel and down to the Spa. Upon check-in at 5:30 pm at the spa, there was no record of either of our 6:00 pm reservations for spa treatments. The spa hostess called the Coral Gables Ritz to see if our reservation had “accidentally” been booked at that location. The Ritz in Coral Gables also had no record of our reservation at 6:00 pm. To her credit, the hostess at the spa worked quickly to remedy the situation and called in someone (from City Massage) to give my companion a massage beginning at 6:45 pm. I was to receive a massage from a therapist that was willing to stay late at 7:30pm -- a full 90 minutes after our original non-reservation! I must elaborate here and point out that by the time both of us were finished with both of our treatments a full three hours had elapsed since our arrival time at the spa. This severely hindered our already limited time in Miami.

To complicate matters further, the massages were not Swedish Massages -- they were Deep Tissue. No apology was offered to us for these errors. The following morning, I felt bruising pain at various places on my body and head. This is something I have never experienced from any massage (including Deep Tissue) I am accustomed to at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. I was unable to function or leave the hotel room in the morning for a few hours.

Our original hotel reservation had been booked through American Express and we were promised a late check-out at 4:00 pm along with a complimentary breakfast. Overnight, the hotel had slid our folio under the door for review attached with a memo reminding us that checkout was at 12:00 pm. My companion called the front desk and asked for them to check their records because of what had been promised to us during the original booking process. The front desk assured us that neither a late check-out nor complimentary breakfast was a part of our reservation.

To verify, we placed a call to American Express and were eventually conference-called with the front desk to reiterate by the American Express representative as to what benefits we were to receive. The hotel staff would only then agree to a late check-out of 4pm. I was left to wonder why the front desk staff extended the courtesy of working with the American Express representative, but was unwilling to do so with us. At this point, we were dissatisfied with this Ritz-Carlton location and ready to check-out. If other companies are allowed to book the hotel, please ensure that both parties are in agreement as to what services will be provided.

The Ritz-Carlton has failed on many accounts:
--The reservation processes appear to be flawed and do not seem to be accurate or consistent with other Ritz-Carlton locations.
--The staff did not seem to be paying attention to simple details.
--With a few exceptions the hotel staff did not go beyond “robot mode” in terms of sincerity throughout the property.
--There were many errors and miscommunications.

--The stay should have been effortless, and for us it simply was not.

I do not agree, nor accept, having to negotiate simple situation after simple situation while staying at any Ritz-Carlton. I request that you please acknowledge the receipt of this letter and would appreciate your insight into these experiences of our stay.

Thank you for your prompt attention.

tripaway2day (well, I'll use my real name, but you know...)

UPDATE! – 4/6/2006
Today, we reviewed our American Express statement online and have noticed a “no-show” charge of $250 for the spa at the Ritz in Biscayne. We have spoken with the accounting department for that property and they are investigating if the fee can be removed.


Do yourself a favor. If you are looking for a beautiful beach in Florida, visit Clearwater.


Anonymous Briguy said...

Oh my goodness...honey, it sounds like all those years in GR have paid off! Bravo honey! Bravo! Your concerns are so elegantly stated. It's such a far cry from those bitchy, annoying guests of GR. I hope you get a response! I've never cared for that area at all. I gave it a try and it simply was just too over the top for me. You can have your Orlando, your South Beach, and your NYC...but I'll settle for Chicago and Boston...thank ya.
What up with the Mandisa tragedy? I am appalled and shocked. The one night that I wasn't able to watch the show, she gets voted off. While I am usually the first to tire of discriminatory accusations, I'm just going to lay it out there this time...she was voted off because in George Bush's America...people have once again begun thinking inside a very limited box. Either that, or the show is f*ckin rigged.

Peaches to you and yours...

1:11 PM

Blogger TripAway2Day said...

I guess we'll agree to differ on NYC. I found the city magnificent -- not over the top at all.

Mandiva: It's a travesty. Of course, when Ryan Secrets (thanks betamike!) announced that she was going home I had that same feeling I had last year when Nadia was outsed...and the year before that when Latoya was ousted.

You nailed it. It's Bush and all of his mindless lemmings.

1:22 PM

Blogger Will said...

I've only been to South Beach twice and both times were absolutely amazing. Sorry to hear that your experience was lackluster at best. Glad you chose the Audi rather than the Scion. I'm with Benster on that one.. A Scion? Gross... it's like a Gresham Beamer. Shame on you for thinking of it. I know I'm chocolate covered white trash but even I wouldn't own an Scion. For future reference Daewoo and Hyundai also are on the NO list.

3:38 PM


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