Today is an exciting day of travel for my family and me. Yesterday…. was not so much, and I’m still having a hard time swallowing shady and unwelcoming experience I had with an upcoming hotel reservation.
For those who have been reading the blog for a while, it’s no secret that I love the IHG credit card, specifically because you earn a free anniversary night each year that can be used at any IHG property worldwide after paying the $49 annual fee.
Back in July, I booked a stay at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, using the Chase anniversary night for one night, and 60,000 IHG points for the next.Since you can only book Chase anniversary free nights by calling IHG, the agent booked a room for my mom and I, and two young children (ages 2 and 3), noting them at the time of booking, and we were set to go.
Then… yesterday, 48 hours before check-in, I receive an email from the hotel “welcoming me” to my upcoming stay, and asking me to confirm how many people would be in the room. I enthusiastically responded that it was a special trip and first time in Paris for my mom and kids, and asked if it was possible for a rollaway bed.
Within an hour, I received an email stating that because I booked with a free night certificate and points, I was booked into a Classic Room (which is true), and the maximum occupancy was 2 (also true), that I would have to get a separate room for my kids.
I responded back right away reminding them of the ages of my kids- 2 and 3- and said there was no way they would be able room alone, and that I did not want to split from my kids, or book a separate room, since we are traveling as a family and I was already confirmed into a single room with my kids noted in the reservation at the time of booking.
I understand that some hotels (especially in Europe) may be very strict with maximum occupancy rules, but the reservation was made by a phone rep back in July, and now two days before my check-in date, when I’m past my cancellation window, this is now an issue? I was beginning to feel like there was some underlying shady business at this point.
Were they trying to squeeze some extra cash of me? Or did they view points and free night bookings as “second class citizens” in their hotel? All of this was ridiculous, unnecessary, and super stressful to deal with on my last day home before a big trip.
I get a second email back saying that I could stay in the same room with my kids for a 30 Euro up-charge into a Superior Room… but the my mom would have to get her own room! It was very clear to me that this hotel did not want to budge, so I reached out to IHG first on Twitter, then by calling.
The IHG Twitter team was responsive, and did confirm that the kids were included on the reservation at the time of booking, but they also told me that since IHG properties were independently-operated, the final outcome was entirely up to management, and that it would be in the hotel’s best interest to help. This is also a really frustrating response, because I clearly needed to rely on IHG to back me up and help.
I sent another email to the hotel asking to be connected to a manager and was ignored. At that point, I really didn’t want to stay at the hotel anymore after this exchange anyway, but it is so last minute, and I was hoping for at least some resolution.
I called IHG and got connected to an amazing supervisor who truly cared about making this right. He realized that the agent did in fact book the room for 2 adults, and it included my 2 children. After calling the hotel himself and confirming that they did not want to work with him in getting all 4 of us in the same room, he proposed a really sincere and generous solution- IHG would cover the 2nd room that the hotel is requiring of me.
He put me on hold and came back with some extremely shocking news: “Ms. Aucello, I tried to reserve the second room that the hotel is demanding you to get, but they told me they are in fact oversold. I can’t reserve anything”.
With that information, I became furious. How shameful can the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand be? Management hides behind a phony welcome email, ridiculously telling me that my toddlers need to get their own room, then tells an IHG agent that was trying to do the right thing here that there were no rooms available after all? Shame, shame, shame.
The awesome IHG agent did try to find me space at another IHG property, but I ended up booking a room at the nearby Westin Vendome for 20,000 Starpoints instead (they have a family-friendly policy that allows children under 12 to stay in the same room with paying adults, as long as they share a bed, which is what we don’t mind doing anyway).
What I make of it is this: the hotel was oversold and wanted me to simply “refuse” a demand to get a second room; the hotel expected me to just gracefully cancel and move on, so that they can give the room to a paying customer. The IHG rep was very helpful and even he was shocked, reassuring me that he had reported the property for this incident. Truly shameful behavior.
I know for a fact that I will never ever consider a stay the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, with or without points or a free night certificate, or if I’m ever traveling to Paris again with or without my kids. Their unwelcoming, and unfamily-friendly behavior speaks volumes. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. It’s probably not the first time they’ve pulled this fast one on points bookings before.
Thankfully I was able to get my points and free night certificate back, but since my anniversary was set to expire in a few days, I used it to book an upcoming stay at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, so that it didn’t go to waste. So the good news is there was really no “loss” that came out this, except time (lots of it), and the situation putting a slight damper on the trip. I am thankful to have a pretty diverse points portfolio, so I was able to make a last-minute redemption to save the day.
Has anyone had a similar experience at this property or at any hotel in general?