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Friday, November 2, 2012

Haunted hotel might just be code for idiot workers

How many hotel or motel rooms can you remember staying in over the past 10 years? Unless you're really good at this sort of thing (or just obsessive about it), I bet they all sort of blur together. Well, most of them, that is. The really good ones and the really bad ones probably stick out in your memory no matter how much time has elapsed.

I've just had an amazing customer service experience in which I learned that "haunted" really equals "people doing dumb things". It also inspired me to realize that I probably didn't remember most places I had stayed unless they were exceptional somehow. Then it occurred to me that exceptional has two ends!

I checked into this "vintage" hotel which is said to be haunted by some. Yes, Halloween was the day before, but who cares? That doesn't bother me. I went up to my room and got settled in, and all was well.

Around 10:30 or 11, I started smelling something foul. It smelled like I had knocked over a bottle of nail polish remover, since it had that classic acetone smell. At first I thought I was going nuts, since how does a smell like that spontaneously appear? After it failed to dissipate, I went around my room and did the usual "sniff test" - was it the bathroom sink? No. Old bottle in the trash? Nope. Something I stepped in? Nope.

Oh no. It was coming from right outside my door, which opened right onto the elevators (lovely, I know). I opened the door and was hit in the face with this noxious odor the likes of which you can only imagine here in print. Obviously, this is not normal, so I plugged up the bottom of my door with a couple of towels and rang the front desk.

This is when things started going bad. The night manager who answered said they were "cleaning the elevators" and it "would go away". I figured this was pretty odd, since who cleans elevators with that kind of stuff, but just wanted to get some sleep, so I said "okay" and hung up. It turned out that my (12th floor!) windows actually opened and my room seemed to have a slight negative pressure, so I left one open a crack and got some fresh air.

That's when the jackhammering started. Yes, some idiot actually had a pneumatic machine down at street level and was doing something at (now) 1 in the morning. I couldn't win. I could either close the window and breathe fumes (which weren't getting any better), or listen to jackhammering interspersed with the yells of workers.

I had enough. I packed up my stuff and headed for the lobby. There, I informed the guy I was checking out effective immediately, and that if there was a problem with that, I'd just take it up with corporate. I know that night managers have better things to be doing (like turnover) than dealing with a "prissy" guest who doesn't want to breathe acetone odors. The nerve of me, right?

He refunded the whole thing and I walked out into the night. It was now 3 AM, and I hadn't slept at all. I got a cab with the odd request: take me from this hotel to another hotel, and escaped. At the new place, they took me in and made me feel at home. They even let me check in right away without having to wait for 6 AM or billing me for an extra night.

This new place costs more, but it's a known quantity and I actually effectively got my first night free, so it turns out to be a wash. All that first place needed was to emphasize with my situation and not treat me like a nutter. They failed. And so, Sheraton Gunter of San Antonio, that's the last you'll be seeing of me.

This is one stay I am sure to remember.


Finally, I have a picture to include. This is is a placard which was in my stinky, noisy room. I got a picture of it when all of this started happening since it just seemed too surreal to me.

Apparently, "fresh, clean air" is worth $200 to them. Seems like they owed me the refund based on that alone.

$200 cleaning fee

If you're going to pull stink-out stunts like those guys did, you might want to remove these placards first!