Travel Tip #13. Tip Generously

August 13, 2015

Lessons From Nantucket Gardens

August 13, 2015

Special Travel Tip: Research Hotel Conditions

August 13, 2015

Earlier in the summer I blogged about the importance of hotel quality, location and amenities:

  1. Spend more on hotels and transportation if necessary to assure your safety and comfort. It costs less for one to travel than for two.
  2. Determine hotel in-room amenities in advance. If there is no in-room safe, leave valuables at home.

This is not the first time that real life has caused me to re-think my tips for safe, solo travel. While both travel tips touch on the importance of hotel quality, I overlooked one important issue that can impact comfort: the current condition of the hotel. I did not do my homework before my stay in Philadelphia. Instead, I trusted the brand name. I could just as easily gotten in trouble by trusting a recommendation from friends who stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia several years ago.

The Great Recession hit the hotel industry hard, and luxury hotels built on expense-account travel and conventions suffered. On top of that, many hotels had changed hands in the frothy economy preceding the recession, with buyers assuming massive debt to pay inflated prices for prestige properties.

The Ritz-Carlton has announced major renovations starting in October. Had I conducted an online search before I booked, that news might have given me pause. Is the hotel dated and tired if major renovations are slated? I could—no, should—have gone to to see what reviewers had to say. I would have learned that recent guests have not been happy.

While I take Trip Advisor with a grain of salt—reviewers tend to prefer economy hotels, and some rate typical room rates for 4- and 5-star properties “over-priced”—I also find warnings about noisy construction projects, poor service, rude staff and dirty rooms.

However, I am not sure that any online information would have prepared me for dirty, stained carpeting, as well as maid service that arrived late in the day, when I was back at my desk, and did not take time to clean the bath tub or wipe down the counter.

I am not a complainer, but in this instance I did speak to the manager and I wrote corporate headquarters. Were I staying in Philadelphia longer, I might have moved to another hotel. Usually, a change of rooms would suffice, but I had the distinct impression that the problems were systemic.

What would you have done?

Photo: Club Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, the one bright spot during my stay.