Part review, part complaint, part travelogue, part diary. Here’s the email communications about what went down with my 280,000 point trip for a 5 night stay (buy 4, get one free) at The Ritz Carlton, South Beach. Miami, FL 12/27/15 – 1/1/2016. I thought anyone considering the property might benefit from our good and the bad experiences. And by all means, let me know if you have any questions...
Monday, February 29, 2016
Good morning Mr. Petersen,
First and foremost, “Thank you” for your time and sharing your comments during our phone call. I have notified our team of the inconveniences experience so that our Ladies and Gentlemen uphold our service standards at all times. Rest assured, this was an unfortunate inconsistency and by far unacceptable at our hotel. Moreover, we will recognize Sx Lx for her great service.
Per our conversation, I will process 15,000 points to your Marriott Account as a token of appreciation for having chosen us for your Holiday stay. These points should post in your account in 48 hours.On behalf of our Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize for not having met your expectations. It would be a great honor to personally assist you with any future reservations at our hotel to showcase a true Ritz-Carlton experience. Please note my contact information in the event I may be of further assistance to you.
Always at your service,
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Happy New Year! I wanted to follow up with you for some time as I've remained happy with the way you resolved our check in issue in December but overall very disappointed in our stay with you. A lot of 'little things' went wrong with the staff and their service and I can't help but wonder if I was paying cash instead of trading in Marriott points if I would have been treated better.
As you may recall, I had to call you directly for help with getting into a room when it was after 5pm and the front desk told us we would simply have to wait until "our" room was ready. We'd been there since 2 and patient even after 4 came and went. They would not offer me an estimate as to when this would be nor would they give us an alternative room that was ready (post email addition: the front desk agent did not hesitate to tell us that we were NOT getting an upgrade). I shudder to think how long my family might have had to wait if you had not answered the phone and come to our rescue. The room you secured for us was great and we really appreciate you having chocolates sent to us later that night. Unfortunately, that was not the end of our feeling unwelcome.
Once you left us in our room we waited 30 minutes for our luggage but it did not come. Since we had a dinner reservation waiting we had to leave the hotel without the chance to change clothes. When we returned around 8 I was happy to find our luggage and the chocolates in the room (again, thank you!). So while that day ended well, it seems like it all could have all been avoided if the front desk staff was customer-focused and if a 4 PM check-in meant a 4PM check-in, especially when informed we were going to be early. After all, I saw plenty of people checking in while we waited and waited. As I remarked to you at the time when I encountered a similar situation at the San Juan PR Renaissance they sent my family to the bar with a front desk business card and paid for snacks and drinks during the inconvenience. I assume your front desk was simply going to let us sit in the lobby forever without acknowledging the inconvenience.
The next morning we decided to take advantage of the beach. After checking us in, the attendant stopped en route to our chairs, set down our towels on the foot of a chair and left us without an explanation when he was waved over by a couple in one of the large beds. After I picked up the towels, we moved to where there were 4 empty chairs and we started setting up ourselves. After the attendant finished with the couple he came over to us and said "I was coming back" but he didn't complete the setup. Nor did we get a "I'm sorry I left you without explanation" and neither he or anyone offered us menus, drinks or even checked on us the rest of the day. I'm still wondering if I missed a social cue to tip him prior to service or if he only serviced those who pay for 'extras' instead of the rest of us.
The next day we ordered drinks and lunch at the pool and I did not receive the beer I ordered. I pointed out to the server that what he brought me was not a Blue Moon but some kind of cheap lager like Bud Light (I am a total beer snob having worked in the industry for years). He argued that he had that poured it himself so I was wrong but he would get me another if I wanted. Since it was crowded and had taken a long time to get this drink I told him I was ok but we'd get it right on the next one. He didn't come back for over an hour so there was no chance for that second drink. When he did finally come back - and with the bill - he told me that he had since figured out that he served me a Red Stripe so I was right about there being a mix up. He still charged me for the Blue Moon.
Lastly, on the day before leaving I asked the front desk if we could stay in our room until noon. I was told yes, but we then received a note under our door in the morning stating checkout was 11. Also in the note was our bill, including incorrect charges from the first day of our stay (how could we incur charges if we weren't allowed to check in?). I went to the front desk who resolved both of these and arranged for a bellman at noon. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that at 12:30 no one had yet showed up at our door and we took our own luggage downstairs.
On the plus side, the valet was always prompt in getting our car and housekeeping did an excellent job dealing with 4 people, even if sometimes they were a bit late (one day they didn't get to us until after 4).
Maybe it's a training issue or maybe you were understaffed for the season. Or maybe it's just a lot of coincidences. I know these things aren't life and death, but I work hard and am away from my family a lot which is how I maintain Marriott platinum status and I do expect a certain level of ease and hospitality when travelling for leisure. It seemed like every day at the RC something "little" went wrong and I came away vowing to never again stay at one of the properties. Whether it be San Juan's Renaissance, Key West's Marriott or at Cancun's JW all of those Marriott properties left me feeling that my points were well spent, my family was taken care of and my loyalty was appreciated.
With you guys I felt second class from the start. Your efforts made a difference...unfortunately, no one else we encountered seemed to care. Thanks for letting me rant about this - I'd appreciate knowing what happened from your point of view. Thanks.
Date: Saturday, December 26, 2015, 5:50 PM
Dear Mr. Petersen,
Thank you so much for your response and for informing us the details about your arrival on Sunday. We very much look forward to welcoming you and your family to The Ritz-Carlton South Beach! May I please have your kids’ names to add to your reservation?
I have noted and communicated your early arrival time around 1:00 PM with our Front Desk Team, as well as your request for an upgraded quiet room on high floor. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee your room will be available until our check-in time of 4pm but of course in the case that the room is not ready at your arrival we can absolutely store your luggage, and give you a call as soon as the room is ready, so that you and your family may explore South Beach or our Hotel facilities more comfortably. I have also placed you on our upgrade priority list should one be available. Please note the upgrade is not a guarantee but I will try my absolute best to accommodate this request for you.
Mr. Petersen, please let me know if I can be of any further assistance to you and your family to make your stay with us great experience, and I look forward to your arrival tomorrow!
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 9:12 AM
Thank you for your note. We look forward to seeing you soon. Wanted to mention that we're 2 adults + 2 kids (ages 8 and 6) and not a group of 4 adults. We've chosen Miami for the sun and beach - not to party on NYE.
My kids are well traveled, having spent the past two New Years in Cancun and San Juan and we're excited to add another warm weather destination to our memories.
If there's any way you can help us with having a 'quiet' room on a high floor, away from the elevators, etc. it would be greatly appreciated. As much as we hope to experience all that Miami and The R-C have to offer, bedtimes still sort of apply.
I do expect we will arrive before 4 - most likely around 1pm - but we're happy to leave our car and bags with you and explore the area on foot while we wait to check in. I hope that is ok.
Thanks again. See you Sunday,
On Dec 22, 2015, at 7:19 PM,
Dear Mr. Petersen,
It is a pleasure to welcome you to The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. Thank you for choosing our hotel for your upcoming stay. In anticipation of your arrival, I would like to offer my assistance with preparing every detail of your accommodation. From coordinating your arrival time and dining reservations needs to scheduling spa appointments, recreation or transportation needs, I am here to ensure all arrangements are addressed with the utmost detail.
The details I have for your reservation are as follows:
Kindly let us know if you anticipate to arrive before standard check-in time of 4pm
Kindly address any of your requests to my email at , and I will attend to all details.
We look forward to hosting you during your time in South Beach.
Message was edited by: robertjpetersen: I added a post email message about not getting an upgrade and added some tags
This is definitely not the type of experience I would expect at a Ritz Carlton, and I would be very disappointed if I had used 280K points for this level of service. I have never used points for RC, but have had excellent luck with most of my Marriott and Renaissance stays using points (including an upgrade to the 1BR with living room and kitchen at the Key West resort). I think your expectations were very reasonable and am frankly shocked that the only compensation offered was 15k points. Thanks for the review. Many of us can avoid a similar experience in the future due to your sharing.
Note that the RC didn't give me 15k points as compensation: the woman who called/wrote was very clear to state that the points were being given as an acknowledgement of poor service and not as compensation. I can only assume this distinction is necessary in case I decide to push the matter and try to recover my incorrect beer charge or any other costs (for example, we were charged a $28.25 'resort fee' every day and we parked a car with the valet at $42.80 each night).
When she offered the points to me I told her I wasn't looking for anything more than an explanation, especially if 'Marriott points people' were flagged in their systems as such and could that be why we treated as their lowest priority from our first moment at the front desk. She told me that they were aware of Marriott status but that it would play no role in service except to help with upgrade availability.
But, overall, yeah: spending 280,000 points to be treated as a non-entity upon arrival and then given some free chocolates + a free night at a small market Courtyard property in return seems a bit unbalanced to me too. Hence my post. I hope everyone else's mileage varies in the positive direction as a result of my actions.
I have never had any luck getting an early check in at any RC, so I think they are kind of unyielding about that. Nothing ticks me off more than the room not being ready until well after the stated check in time, though, so I feel your pain! They should have comped some refreshments for you while you waited.
Having been at the desk at 2 and then again at 4 (since they hadn't called but promised 4) and again at 5 (since they hadn't called and we were supposed to be at dinner at 6) I wasn't sure if we should continue to hang about, leave for yet another walk or start hitting up websites for another hotel option.
No one made a call to housekeeping. No one offered an alternative. It was only when I said "I don't care if you're waiting on an upgrade, I just need a room." that they informed me I wasn't getting upgraded and would simply need to wait until "our" room was ready. Most frustrating was that no one would offer an estimate even though 4 had come and gone.
You'd think that after an hour of my 6 and 8 year olds running amok in the foyer someone might have said "Why don't you go to the restaurant, bar or lounge and wait this out?". Thank goodness the guest relations agent had signed her emails with a phone number and answered the phone when I called or this could be a lot more than a post about the "little things' that went wrong.
I guess I'll never know if this is typical RC behavior or not as I won't be booking with them again. Or more accurately, my wife will never let me consider them again.
About a year ago my wife and I treated our daughter to a birthday trip to the American Girl store in Tyson's Corner outside DC. We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton there, at the time the only Tier 1 in the US, and service was fabulous. When asking for a late checkout, we were asked what time would be good for us. When our daughter got a paper cut and stopped by the desk to ask for a bandaid on our way out, the concierge made a call, we waited 5 minutes, and a gentleman arrived with a Ritz-Carlton envelope filled with bandaids, antibiotic ointment, etc. that we could take with us. Did not ask for room number or charge anything. I think this is the expected type of service at RC, taking care of the little things. I would expect a Tier 1 to be more spotty on service than a Tier 5, but I guess not.
I'm willing to chalk it up to busy season / overbooked / understaffed / undertrained, but that shouldn't be acceptable at a RC, especially given that I spent 280,000 points + $70/day in fees (note the room rate itself was listed at just over $1,000/night + fees). It was nice they actually followed up on my email but the joke of a 15k point 'apology' just means they'll never get a second chance with me as well as my continued vigilance on this thread. Kudos on being the kind of Dad who will go to the American Girl store - we took my daughter and her 2 favorites to the "spa" on her birthday last year too!
No, that certainly is not acceptable at RC. After our excellent experience (at $750 total for 2 nights in Executive suite), I am still very interested in other RC properties if the value is right, but glad you shared your experience so we can avoid this one.
One thing I notice comparing the RC site to the Marriott site is the lack of any reviews for RC. Things like this need to come out publicly, or there is no incentive for the hotel to correct them. I wonder why they do not have a review section like Marriott does?
I saw that they don't have reviews as well - that is interesting. I considered posting my story to TripAdvisor, but I'm not all that angry nor seeking revenge at every opportunity. I was/am just disappointed with my stay and found their response lacking. I figured other Marriott loyalists would be the most receptive to my story and get the most out of hearing it. I know I rely on this site when making a personal choice and hope this helps others.
So I checked out TripAdvisor to see what the reviews said since you can't leave one directly on RC's website. I found a surprisingly large number of reviews with stories similar to mine about poor / missing / indifferent service and lack of customer attention by the staff. Frustratingly, a lot of them had a reply from the property that was exactly what they said to me: we're sorry your expectations were not met and we hope you give us another chance. None of these replies actually state they will look into the problem, correct the problem or even admit there is a problem. Because of this, I decided to share my story there after all with the conclusion, 'You have been warned: Stay Away.'
Appreciate the support. I really do hope it helps someone.
The Ritz sells itself on service, early checkin and late checkouts should ordinarily produce a "of course, sir" response. Sitting you in reception whilst the room runs late is totally unacceptable and I cant believe that's the Ritz way. Arguing over your drink is definitely not! I'm in SoBe for my (proper) honeymoon in April and did consider a few special nights at the Ritz before moving onto the Stanton, but am pleased I decided against it now as those kind of irritants can really discolour a stay at a place like that!
brightlybob, I agree, and yet I've never ever gotten any RC property to give me an early check in. I've called ahead and asked, and all they can say is that they won't know until we get there and cannot make any guarantees. It is definitely not the response you'd expect. I don't get it.
The property itself is gorgeous and the location simply cannot be beat in South Beach. Depending on what you are looking for in a honeymoon destination (congrats, by the way!) it might be the perfect place for you.
Travelling on vacation with 2 young kids I look for convenience over everything else. The check-in fiasco had me on edge for the rest of my stay as I'm pretty sure I could have ignored those other 'little things' that occurred as normal busy-season problems if that hadn't happened. But seriously, my kids had been flitting from lobby chair to lobby chair for more than an hour by the time I called the guest relations agent for her help and the desk clerks were more than happy to let that situation continue on indefinitely.
robertjpetersen, I am looking at Miami Beach hotels for 1 night with the kids. I can get this RC property for $271 a night, plus the resort fee and parking. Is that a good deal do you think? We are not fancy, and sometimes I get the impression that the RC staff thinks we rolled straight out of bed, swung through Walmart, then accidentally somehow ended up at their front desk by mistake. What I really want is a nice full-service property on the beach for a reasonable price. Maybe will try the new MVCI which is only $209 a night or the Marriott which is $254, and both of those have a $40 parking charge as well. But considering the cost for those properties, I'm thinking the minor difference in price for the RC might be the way to go.
If you are only looking for 1 night on the beach, I'm not sure I'd recommend any South Beach property as the traffic in and out is horrible and Florida is made up of beach-front hotels. One of the reasons we went with the RC was the proximity to everything + ability to use points. The art deco of Ocean Drive starts just south and it is literally on Lincoln Avenue making shopping/eating a breeze. My kids are 6 and 8 so we need to balance all activities with supervision and a patience limit. The location of the RC really is the greatest and as we were spending most of a week there during the holidays we wanted to be able to experience more than just the beach and pool. I stayed at the Loews next door for business about 18 months ago and found it comparable from a 'nice' factor and can only assume all the big name brands in the strip are too.
As far as a good deal? I really don't know. I didn't price shop as it's a no brainer for me to pick the best available rewards property whenever we want to go.
Overall, based on my experience, I'd hesitate to recommend it if you want 'full-service'. While my kids have their ragamuffin moments, we clean up pretty well and were treated like dirt.
robertjpetersen, thanks for your input. We're just flying from MIA but otherwise spend most of our beach time on the Gulf side with the old folks and Midwesterners. We fit in pretty well there
We did similar a couple years ago; flew in/out of MIA for a cruise, but timing for the return flight was too tight if anything went wrong, so we spent a night at the Miami Beach Hotels - South Beach | Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach/Oceanfront. Was very nice, not at all what you'd think of a Courtyard, and certainly not so snooty as the RC might be. It's not as good a location as the RC SB, with not much within walking distance, but with restaurant onsite, pools and beach onsite, it was great for just the 1 night. Even as a Silver Elite I got discounted breakfast which was still not cheap but very good for a Courtyard. Given the price differences, it was still cheaper after breakfast than any of the other Miami Beach properties.
hassmh, thank you. This is exactly the info I am looking for. I will check it out. I have an Admirals Club membership so we can grab a coffee and bagel at the airport, so CY might be a good option this time.
The inability to stay for "free" using points, mainly. The small print on the website states "USD 28 per day resort activity fee added to room rate includes 2 beach chairs/fitness center access/wifi and more". Since the fees are mandatory I can only assume by not rolling them into the room rate they can show positive cash flow for every guest on their books, including those who use reward points. Kind of a silly practice if you ask me and there are a bunch of threads on this site and elsewhere complaining about it all over the world - not just at this location and not just with this brand.