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Travel: When is a Hotel Reservation a Reservation?

Over the years I have stayed in 100’s of hotels/resorts around the world. Some of have been incredible, while others have been disasters. Most fall somewhere in the middle. Rarely do I ever file a complaint to the corporate office of a hotel/resort, even when service is poor or the room is filthy. I make a note of it and never recommend anybody stay at that establishment in the future.

Last weekend I had a new experience with a hotel that made me feel that I had to file a complaint because the management acted like they really didn’t want our business.

My family and my in-laws were traveling to attend a wedding in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and booked a hotel relatively close in Southlake Town Square. I had made reservations for a couple rooms at The Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square about a month in advance. My wife and I were traveling with our two younger children, so we booked a suite that would accommodate all of us and a second room for our extended family.

The night before we were to arrive, I received a call from the Front Desk Manager informing me that the guest staying in the room we reserved wanted to extend their stay because of work being done at their house. The manager agreed to extend their stay and downgraded our existing reservation to a smaller room. We weren’t given an option, just a mandate that this was our new reservation. I expressed my displeasure with the manager’s decision to not require the prior guest, who was changing their plans, to take a different room so my family would have the room we had reserved. This was met with silence. The situation was made worse because we were only notified the night before, thus leaving little time to make travel changes for our entire party.

Not being able to stay in the room you reserved for unforeseeable reasons that make the room uninhabitable would be an acceptable reason to change the category of our room. This was not the case, but it was the case for the room they ultimately gave us!

Upon check-in, the same manager gave us a room on the 4th Floor of the 5 story hotel and told us that there was some construction going on until 5 pm that evening on the 5th Floor. This was a Saturday afternoon. He also said, it shouldn’t be too bad because it was Saturday.

In short, they were jack hammering immediately above our room for hours creating a noise so loud you couldn’t carry on a conversation even if you were yelling.

In this time of the pandemic, with closures, lockdowns and difficulty getting employees, I really try to be more patient that normal and provide a greater latitude in service problems at hotels and restaurants. In this instance, none of those reasons would apply. The manager made his decision unilaterally and then, perhaps, gave us the truly uninhabitable room in return for our discontent with his decision.

As this website develops, you will rarely read a negative piece about a hotel or restaurant. I want to share the pleasures of great service, food and locations without focusing on the substandard. In this instance, however, I felt that the management at this hotel should be avoided at all costs until they correct their policies. I have filed a complaint with Hilton. If I get a response, I will be sure to update this article.

My next travel blog will be a review of a more exotic location - Punta Mita, Mexico. We are very excited for this upcoming trip and feel confident our experience will relegate the management at The Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square to the file of distant bad memories.

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