Mak­ing noise over a ho­tel’s omis­sion

Los Angeles Times - - TRAVEL -

Ques­tion: We re­cently went to one of our fa­vorite getaways, book­ing just hours be­fore we ar­rived. Af­ter check­ing in, we were es­corted to our room and were sur­prised to see the main pool area closed be­cause of con­struc­tion. No one, from the reser­va­tion agent to the front desk, gave any hint of the noise, etc. For­tu­nately, our room was well away from the con­struc­tion, but eat­ing break­fast/lunch in the out­door restau­rant next to all that com­mo­tion was out of the ques­tion. We were sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed by this nondis­clo­sure and are left with a ques­tion: Are re­sorts/ho­tels re­quired to in­form peo­ple of on­go­ing dis­rup­tive con­struc­tion? Alice Glasser

Mar Vista

An­swer: Ho­tels don’t have to tell you about con­struc­tion, but not do­ing so puts a busi­ness in greater peril than con­struc­tion ever could.

“In my opin­ion, I think you are ob­li­gated to let the guests know what to ex­pect or an­tic­i­pate,” said Lau­ren Sum­mers, who has spent a dozen years in the travel in­dus­try, in­clud­ing seven in innkeep­ing.

Man­ag­ing ex­pec­ta­tions was so im­por­tant to Sum­mers, who ran a guest­house in Mas­sachusetts, that she and her crew had a script that ex­plained what guests should and should not ex­pect, in­clud­ing dis­pelling the no­tion that they would be served a hot break­fast com­plete with china and crys­tal as a bed and break­fast would.

Park­ing was also in­cluded in a script “that ev­ery­one was trained to give,” she said. “We didn’t have a park­ing lot that had a space for ev­ery sin­gle room, so some [guests] would end up park­ing on the street. ... If there was con­struc­tion that was af­fect­ing my park­ing lot, I would have an obli­ga­tion [to dis­close that], ac­cord­ing to my sense of pro­fes­sional ethics.”

Tyler Diehl, owner of Zap­dog Travel, a bou­tique agency in Bev­erly Hills that mainly han­dles en­ter­tain­ment and cor­po­rate travel, spent most of his ca­reer in the ho­tel busi­ness, in­clud­ing sales, and un­der­stands the pres­sures of and the need for rev­enue.

Ho­tels do­ing ma­jor con­struc­tion and ren­o­va­tion some­times close, but they also some­times stay open and close floors, Diehl said, to make sure there is some rev­enue flow­ing (and room rates for the re­main­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions, he added, some­times went up, not down).

“You have sales­peo­ple who want to meet their goals,” said Diehl — and he was one of them. But, he added, “I have per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with ac­counts that I wasn’t about to ruin” by not dis­clos­ing what was go­ing on. The best ho­tels he worked with com­mu­ni­cated such news early in the book­ing process, he said.

If yours didn’t, you need to make it clear — be­fore you leave — that you’re dis­ap­pointed, Diehl said. Do so at check-in or as close to checkin as pos­si­ble, he said.

“If you wait un­til you’ve checked out and paid for ev­ery­thing, you’re go­ing to have a hard time — it’s not im­pos­si­ble — get­ting a dis­count,” Diehl said.

You have to be your own best ad­vo­cate, both Sum­mers and Diehl said, so it’s a good idea when you’re book­ing to ask what you should know about changes or new projects at the prop­erty.

That is, un­less you’re us­ing a travel agent.

“If you use a travel agent [to book], you have a fall­back,” said Freddy Rein­ert, vice pres­i­dent of Si­enna Charles, a travel agency in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., that deals with up­scale clients and travel. “It would be our re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure ev­ery­thing goes well.”

Be­cause of re­la­tion­ships travel agents have with prop­er­ties, a ho­tel or re­sort is much more apt to dis­close to them that there are con­struc­tion or other is­sues, said Ja­clyn In­dia, pres­i­dent of Si­enna Charles who is mar­ried to Rein­ert.

What you know may de­pend on whom you know — or on your abil­ity to fer­ret out in­for­ma­tion ahead of a visit. Ei­ther way, you have some pro­tec­tion along with a help­ing of peace of mind.

Have a travel dilemma? Write to travel@la­times.com. We re­gret we can­not an­swer ev­ery in­quiry.

Reuben Muñoz Los An­ge­les Times

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