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How Would You Handle a Less-Than-Stellar Hotel Stay?

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  Site Where: 99 Mary Street, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 4000
March 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM | by | Comments (13)

Last week, Brisbane scored their first new international hotel in 16 years with the opening of Four Points by Sheraton. Because we're not ones to miss the chance to check-out a new hotel, we booked a stay and checked-in only five days after opening day.

Here's the set-up: the 32-story building is in the heart of Brisbane, overlooking the cityscape on one side and the namesake river on the other. Each of the 246 rooms offer sleek, downtown-inspired decor with a nod to utility and productivity along with simple, yet effective amenities. The entire property aims to be as sustainable as possible with energy-saving lights in the hallways and reflective glass to reflect the hot sub-tropical sun; a nice touch.

Catering to a corporate guest, the property offers a second floor bar for drinks and a marketplace-style restaurant for fueling before and after meetings. A rooftop gym is surrounded by a 180-degree outdoor terrace which is perfect for private parties and or simply for chilling out after a long day. In true Four Points form, there's also plenty of meeting space for... well, meetings.

So far, so good, right? Not quite. The excitement for that "new hotel" smell could only last for so long once we uncovered a few issues.

While we explored our room, we found our TV hadn't been programmed with television stations. No biggie, we just stopped by reception on our way out to let them know we'd be gone for an hour or so with time to fix our television. When we returned, we found our TV still not working and a voicemail from the property's IT technician asking for a call back to explain the issue. Yeah, we thought we had already done this?

Always having a desire to stay connected, we booked a room that included WiFi as part of the $254 room rate. Tap, tap, tap to log onto the network and the only thing we were greeted by was the options page to pay $20 per day for the wireless connectivity. Not cool!

Eschewing our compulsion to Instagram our view, we headed down to the bar for a cocktail where we found the most uninspired cocktail bar we've ever seen outside a community hall. We can give the service a slight break since we assume the majority of the front line staff were only five days on the job, but the lack of design aesthetic had us looking elsewhere for more drinks and subsequently, dinner.

When asked how our stay was, we weren't very emphatic during checkout and hoped for a feedback survey from Four Points in a few days. Right now, we are seriously questioning the brand's desire to become the best in the business for business travelers.

But are we just being hyper-critical of a new hotel working out some opening kinks? Or is there really something off-point about this Four Points Hotel? What would you do? After three unnecessary strikes for a new hotel, would you complain before you checked-out, during the final issue or long after your stay is over via the email survey?

Sound off in comments below!

[Photos: HotelChatter]

Comments (13)

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Seems like you're a picky customer

If you were looking for a strong design aesthetic and lively bar, why did you choose a Four Points catering to a "corporate guest"? There are plenty of hotels in Brisbane that fit your criteria in that price range...but your stated goal was to not miss the opportunity to see a new hotel. It seems your expectations were off; had you been an SPG loyalist traveling on Brisbane for work and looking for a basic stay at a reliable chain (offering corporate rates, point redemption options, credit towards status, etc) it might have met them.

Regarding the wifi, I usually log in via the paid channel and see the charges automatically dropped from the bill (as free internet is one perk of my status). You mentioned you hit the paywall to log in but were there extra wifi charges on your bill?

Who knows what happened regarding the TV but my guess is you complained and the technician didn't understand what the issue was. They may have even gone to your room to fix the issue but not seen the same problem, so they followed up. This is bad customer service, clarifying a customer's issue and trying to respond?


Yup, Hyper-Critical

I agree with most of what adk wrote. You have a list of complaints, but you don't tell us if they were resolved. Your problem with the internet is puzzling. Wireless systems aren't magical. The network can't know that your room rate includes internet unless you log in. I'm certain the charge would get adjusted off as adk describes.

This is the statement that concerns me the most: "Right now, we are seriously questioning the brand's desire to become the best in the business for business travelers."

Denigrating an entire brand of over 250 hotels based on the performance of one hotel is unjustified. But, denigrating a brand based on something as subjective as "lack of design aesthetic" of one f&b outlet is rather shocking.


I wasn't fussed with it either

Your blog is on-point with my experience as well.  There was something 'temporary' about the property... like when a shopping center is getting remodeled and areas are temporarily set up during construction.  So I get what you are saying about the lack of design aesthetic which lead me to conclude that that property was unfinished. Disappointing.

Honestly, the Bar did look like a community hall canteen. hahaha.  Surely that cannot be the finished product?  I ordered a Mai Tai and I watched the bartender follow instructions on how to make it.  However, he put it in the wrong sized glass and then filled the rest of the glass with lime juice.  Have you ever drunk a glass of lime juice? Well let me tell you that it gives you that sour induced pain at the back of your jaw and makes your eyes twitch.  So I don't recommend the Mai Tai.

I caught the lift with another guest one time and we got to talking about his experience and his comment was "I won't be staying here again".  So it is a consistent message.

So, perhaps the above people should reserve their comments and opinions until they have actually stayed at the property.  Who are these people and why are they making excuses on behalf of the hotel... of which they have never stayed at?  


Ummm...we were asked for our opinions

I can see all sides of this so far...Yes, I think your expectations might have been off considering this brand is a lower level business property from Starwood.  To expect a glorious example of chic design in the F&B outlets or the common areas and rooms was off on your part.  Not all new hotels are shining stars in those departments.  Many focus on being more utilitarian and practical than shiny and pretty.  In regards to the TV issue, I would assume that problem was caused by a less-than-detail-oriented final inspection.  Having worked in hospitality during renovations and construction, it's very easy to miss things like that and often times it takes a guest pointing it out to get the problem solved.  The internet paywall was the screen that EVERYONE sees when they log in.  If you have purchased a rate that includes it or have status in that chains rewards program that provides it free of charge, it would have been adjusted off on the final bill.  In situations like this, I would say give it another try in 6 months and see if the experience improves.  If they are still having issues resolving maintenance concerns and it still is not decorated as you prefer, look to another brand/property to find the things you need.  

Brand consistency

Oh and to add, with reference to thackftl's comment ^^ "Denigrating an entire brand of over 250 hotels based on the performance of one hotel is unjustified", I disagree based on the importance of brand consistency.  For example, I will never stay at a Hilton again solely based on my experience in the executive lounge at the Hilton in Singapore.  So in reality, with such a competitive hotel industry, it is absolutely justifiable to judge a brand based on each individual experience.

I love Starwood properties and will continue to stay at Starwood properties however, based on my experience here, I'll find an alternative to the four-points brand as I have discovered it's not quite the standard that I like staying at.  

Yeah, we were asked for opinions, however the above comments provided such things as "Who knows what happened regarding the TV but my guess is you complained and the technician didn't understand what the issue was".  Come on, really, that's not an opinion.


Write a Detailed TripAdvisor Review!

Just like you did here, I'd write a very detailed TripAdvisor review, listing the pros, and then the cons.

Give it only 3 stars so people know you had issues with this stay.

Back everything up with pictures if you can. State the name of people you spoke with and their titles.

I'd be careful to state that this information was all 'your personal experience' and 'your personal opinion', so that the hotel cannot claim you have ruined their business and sue you.

Travelers should most definitely be made aware of flaws in a hotel.
Being open only 5 days makes no difference at all. Teething pains are an excuse.
There is nothing hyper critical about pointing out the truths of your stay.
You are paying money for a good stay, not a poor stay.

if management cares, they will address these flaws asap.
If they don't care, nothing will change. But at least future travelers can be forewarned before spending their money.


Mountains from Molehills

@outandabout: Absolutely nothing in this review warrants bashing an entire brand. The author's credibility is questionable if a hotel earns a black mark for not knowing his wireless device is owned by someone with an internet-inclusive rate.


Clarification

@thackftl - From a previous post about Four Points by Sheraton, (the hyperlink in the story) the brand desires to be the 'best for business' by offering free wifi as a 'utility', not a perk. Creating a hurdle for guests that have free wifi in their package is just a miss, in my opinion. A seamless experience would have seen the reception agent hand me the password or even tell me to log on and the charge would be wiped when settling the bill.
For the record, none of the issues were resolved.
And really, being critical of a new (or old) property is our job; perhaps my hyper-criticisms just didn't sit well with you. We're all entitled to our opinions, and in my opinion this week-old property missed the mark.
That was not actually the point of the post as I was wondering how best to bring this up to the hotel.

Tell us.

As a hotelier I must say that I would very much like to know about the trouble that you had. Reading it on a blog posting or a TripAdvisor review does allow me the opportunity to correct the problem but not to make it right by the traveler.

As someone who has opened hotels it is incredibly difficult to sit in every room and make sure that everything works flawlessly. Sure that is what I generally pay people for but if they or I miss something I need to fix it and I cannot fix it if you don't tell me about it.


One Hotel

@jetflyboy: Perhaps your intent was to get reader ideas on "how to handle a less-than-stellar hotel stay". Unfortunately, that's now what I got from this story. I read it as bashing a brand of over 250 hotels based on three relatively minor issues with one location. Other folks are free to disagree, but your three complaints really are minor.

Here's why this story bugged me so much: If I want to read hyper-critical hotel reviews, I'll just visit Trip Advisor. The reality is that virtually none of will ever stay at the Four Points Brisbane. But, this could have been a useful post to anyone who stays in a hotel if it was framed better.

There were 6 paragraphs detailed the problems and 1 paragraph asking readers how they would handle addressing those problems. If the intent was to gather methods for fixing issues, then the bulk of the story should have been about that. For the record, that type of story is extremely useful because what is shared by readers can be used at any hotel.


Misleading

Based on the headline and photo, you'd think Four Points was just ranked worst hotel chain by JD Power.  It appears the hotel may have had some technology hiccups during opening week.  To the original question, the sooner the better in communicating issues and having your problem resolved during stay.  Best wishes to the opening team at the Four Points Brisbane.  

Regular traveller to Brisbane

Being a regular business traveller to Brisbane, I was very interested to read this review. Four Points is not a brand that resonates with me, but I am a fan of Starwood's other brands, and would have certainly considered a stay here.
Issues with Internet and TV may seem insignificant to complain about to some of you, but I would have been equally irritated as the writer. I need Internet access as soon as I get to my room, so any barrier to this will annoy me. As will not being able to relax in front of the tv while I'm finishing work. I would imagine these requirements would be common to many corporate travelers so any hotel catering to them should have these issues sorted prior to opening.

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