Looking For An Extra Day of Fun in N. Idaho?

Northern Idaho has a pretty awesome amusement park called Silverwood, which is very convenient from the I-90 corridor, but if you’re already there, you can easily add another day of fun at Triple Play just down the road. Continue reading Looking For An Extra Day of Fun in N. Idaho?

No Room at the Hampton Inn & Suites

This is an article about my travel debacle at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Van Nuys, California in February 2013. To start with I was charged for a “no show” as well as the full rate for a room for which I should have not been charged. But as Paul Harvey used to say on his radio broadcasts: “Stay tuned for the rest of the story”.

Travel writing is somewhat out of my league being the Petroleum Industry Analyst consulting for various independent West Coast clients. I am also a contributor to the Bakken Oil Business Journal, which is an on-line as well as print magazine for the Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota oil shale exploration and production business. This trip was scheduled for a meeting at an attorney’s office in Sherman Oaks, California, which just happens to be just around from the Hampton Inn in Van Nuys.

Bob the Weary Traveler
Bob the Weary Traveler

My odyssey started out early in the morning on Saturday, February 16, 2013 leaving home in Terry, Montana for the 185 miles trip to Billings Logan Airport traveling to me end destination in Southern California.

I made my hotel reservation through the on-line Hilton reservation line and all seemed to go well until . . . . . . . I had to change my arrival date by one day! I called the Hampton Inn the day before my original arrival date and asked the desk clerk to move my arrival date up from arriving on Friday to Saturday night. The clerk said his computer was not working but would make the change when it came back up. This should have put the red alert flag up for me right away, but I digress.

Fast forwarding to my fateful Saturday night and after a long day of traveling, which included a layover in Seattle on my way to Los Angeles, I finally arrived at my destination at the Hampton Inn for a much needed night of rest and relaxation. But, alas, it was not to be and much to my chagrin I found:

• The staff at this facility is not properly trained to handle changes in reservations.
• I called ahead to the Hampton from the Burbank Bob Hope Airport and was told I did not have a reservation. They were totally booked with the PGA tournament in town. After giving the desk clerk my guaranteed reservation number I was told to come to the hotel while they worked out a solution.
• The GPS showed no Hampton Inn at the address in Sherman Oaks printed on my confirmed reservation. I called the desk clerk again to obtain directions and was told the Inn was actually in Van Nuys. The GPS than accepted the address and I was able to take the most direct route to the hotel.
• The parking at the Hampton is inadequate for the number of rooms available at the Inn. Off site parking is handled by a valet but is not close to the hotel.
• Upon my arrival at about 11 pm the driveway to the Inn was completed blocked by a locked up minivan, the owner of which had disappeared without giving his or her keys to the valet.
• Being unable to get into the driveway I left my rental car parked sticking halfway out on Sepulveda Blvd. while I walked into the hotel to check in.
• It was then I was told they could not find my reservation and there was no room at the Inn.
• I was eventually checked into a smoking room against my better judgment but by then would have slept on the couch in the lobby just to get some much needed rest.
• The Hilton customer service staff was very courteous to me after I discovered the charges for a “no show” and the room for my one night stay was billed on my AmEx credit card. However, I was told the other items I was reporting were internal policy issues on which he would not be able comment.
• I received a call from the General Manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Van Nuys apologizing for the lack of service and to let me know credit for the smoking room had been processed to my AmEx credit card account. The no-show credit had already been processed.
• He further explained the parking problems by stating they are in the middle of a building a two story parking structure next to the Inn, which will be finished by September 2013.

I checked out of the Hampton Inn on Sunday morning on February 17th and was able to find a room to my liking at the Best Western across the street. This affair ended up ruining my one “down day”, which I had planned in order to prepare for my Monday morning meeting.

My various emails to the CEO of the Hilton @ chris.nassetta@hilton.com have been ignored other than receiving emails and phone calls back from the Hilton customer service personnel apologizing for any inconveniences I may have suffered.

To be fair and balanced I invite your comments to the above article. All will be published without your name and email address being identified if you wish me to do so. Comments are to be pertinent to any service – good or bad – you may have received at any of the Hilton hotels.

Getting Kids Back Out on the Road… Again

Yeah, you caught it, I’ve been back home from China and settled into the work-a-day home for a ridiculously long two months now. Thems months is over and I’m back out answering the Bedouins call of the open road. Adventure awaits and it would be rude of me to keep it a’waitin’ too long. Continue reading Getting Kids Back Out on the Road… Again

Visit San Francisco with Flowers in Your Hair

It’s not that I haven’t heard my fair share of cheesy folk songs, nor that I haven’t more than traveled my share (and then some) of the world in my rarely-ending quest to seek out what’s great, brilliant, worthy and wise but, in this case, it’s that I went to San Francisco. And because I went there, well, I just had to wear flowers in my hair. Continue reading Visit San Francisco with Flowers in Your Hair