I'm home and not too jetlagged and will try to delete all but the first post I wrote on Monday. I don't take back any of it, but I was using a Netbook, Windows7 (agh!), and was in a serious state of fatigue (having traveled from Brittany for several hours), anger, disillusionment etc.
I want to start with the best first -- once I got out of the Paris Rive Gauche, a hotel I have loved in the past and recommended to others. But the highlight of my 'rewards' stay was leaving, or better said, once outside the doors. I checked out and thanks to what you'll read below, I had no balance. Had things turned out better, I probably would have had a meal at the hotel restaurant. But no way since it was by then 5pm, the Lounge was open (but stuffed with people, many of whom made away with beverages), and because of the way I was treated. So on departing, I had a 0 balance at 5:30 am. As soon as I was told this, I asked (as always in French) the gentleman at the desk if he could call me a taxi to the airport since my knees can no longer deal with stairs and suitcases. He asked if I wanted to put it on my hotel bill and when I said no, he simply pointed outside and said I could get a taxi there. Enough said, perfect end to horrible stay.
The good part is that I had the greatest Parisian taxi driver in the world. I don't know his name, but he immediately took my luggage, greeted me, and the whole time to CDG we had a wonderful conversation. He'd been to Orlando, Key West and NYC, so we both shared our stories (and many laughs) on the way to the airport. Once in the airport, strange to say, all went well. My Delta flight was on time, the crew had a great sense of humor that even extended beyond the airport at Boston. I ended up sitting with most of the flight crew outside Logan waiting for different buses and sharing experiences. So getting to the airport and flying were the best parts of the 14-hour Paris experience. A sad commentary.
OK, back to my gripes. The Rive Gauche has been my choice of hotels for the past ten years, and I have always gotten a large room, large bathroom, and all amenities. In all cases, until Monday July 11, I was treated with the utmost respect on checking in, checking out, and in room amenities.
So now we go back to that issue of Rewards are no longer Rewards, because you have to pay money in addition. I cancelled the Vendôme reservation for that night because they wanted 40,000 pts plus 90 euros. The Rive Gauche had Rewards rooms, though all of the other non-free Rewards had different prices added to them. Since as I've said on principle I will no longer pay for a Rewards room, I chose the free room at the Rive Gauche.
To reiterate a few points of my first emails, everyone greeted me with a smile till I gave my name and showed my PP card, MR Visa card -- essentially until they figured I was not going to pay more for a card. Then the woman (I am tempering my language here, because her attitude was horrible) who checked me in spoke, as I said earlier, entirely in French. No problem -- I had done so all week and did so till I left Paris. But instead of 'normal' French she rattled off everything as fast as she could, gave me my room key, told me quickly about the concierge lounge and I was checked in within less than 5 minutes (with the utmost of rudeness).
Then I got to my room, which was a complete shock. I have read other people say the Rive Gauche's rooms are small, but since I've always had lovely rooms in the past -- and posted photos -- I could not believe how small it was. The photo of the bed and door were taken pressed against the desk which itself was against the window, with the lovely view you'll see :(.
I was not in any way treated like a MR member, let alone a Platinum Premier. I did finally find the soap and shampoo in the tiny bathroom and adjoining bath (right next to the door), but all I wanted to do was get some wine and food at the Executive Lounge then go to sleep and leave. I did.
I am frankly stunned by this change. Admittedly, unlike other Paris hotels and some others (go to Ghent, go to Athens and forget about Paris if you want to stay on Rewards at a truly wonderful Marriott). I was insulted (pretty much overtly in check in and check out), never welcomed as a special Marriott member, and as a result I will never stay at the RIve Gauche again. I would rather stay at the Courtyard in Saint-Denis (even if I have to pay for breakfast...) for much less but probably greater courtesy.
That said, I don't want to taint this for paying customers. I cannot fathom why hotels are punishing their best customers for not paying for their Rewards nights. But they are, or at least some of them. In all past travel at the RIve Gauche, I have had an amazing time. Maybe, I just got unlucky with a nasty check in woman and a negligent check out guy. But the room, while it had a king bed and good TV, was miniscule by the standards of the hotel, which I know very well.
Moreover, it did not compare in status or class to the wonderful Hotel Oceania where I spent four days in Saint-Malo. I am not saying not to stay at the Rive Gauche. I am just warning that if you do so, don't count on pleasantness or a nice room if you are using points only.
Welcome home! Regardless of whether one is paying or staying on points there is no acceptable excuse for not treating guests the same as you would someone you were welcoming to your home! Don't allow this to spoil your love of travel, nice people, like your taxi driver, are still out there and from what I have learned from your postings you are a delight to those you meet.......Bill
Glad you made it home safely after what sounds like a disaster at the hotel in Paris.
I agree with you and others that there is no excuse for being treated disrespectfully anywhere, anytime, by anyone.
Having only been to France once -- visiting the coastal area where our military landed in 1944 and began the process of saving Europe's hide -- nearly 30 years ago, I encountered no such treatment or behavior by any of the locals or anyone else.
The room non-upgrade while using points, on the other hand, seems more and more common based on comments by other Insiders.
One more thing...I'm not clear what you are expected to pay for if you are using points.
Wow, we were just there this weekend too with our 2 young kids. We also stayed with points and paid for an upgrade to a suite for the space.
Serriously, what is up with the front desk staff and the wait staff? To add to your negative comments about the stay...our check in expereince was also really rude and full of incorrect information, the staff checking us in did not seem to understand the entire reward point stay or status, telling us at first we did not have lounge access or breakfast because we were using points. The front desk lines were way to long.
FYI don't ask for the cheese plate as your arrival gift, we received 1 roll and 2 small packages of saltines to go with our goat and blue cheeses.....serriously. We are not cheese snobs by any stretch but we couldn't believe that they sent the plate up this way.
We had housekeeping come 2x to turn the beds down at 9:30 and again at 10:30 (different person) we had the chain on the door bc we were putting the kids to sleep and they kept pushing against the door to get it to open. The next day they didn't clean the room, take out room service tray or change the glasses. We couldn't believe it when we got back to the room after a long day of sight seeing to find the room as we left it. The staff at breakfast was just as bad, over 15 mins for coffee and silverwear even though we asked our server 2x in french after waiting about 5 mins.
Normally when we travel with the kids, we have outstanding service as when we travel for buisness or weekend get aways, but this time it was an all around disappointment. As for using points for stays, we haven't ever felt that we were treated differently. I am glad this was not our first time.
I do have to say that the valet and the door staff were very helpful, as was the concierge staff in helping us decide on a few sights and transportation.
Even with a few of the positives, we are not sure if we would stay there again either.
Thank you for confirming my experience. I don't know whether the Rive Gauche has gone through a change in management or what, but it was horribly different from the hotel I've used for so many years. It used to be I'd come home from the Bibliothèque Nationale to find a bottle of champagne (Moët et Chandon, no less) and a box of chocolates in my room. In other words, it used to be a really fantastic hotel.
This time, like you said, it was all about rudeness. I have a choice in the future and I intend to exercise it, even if it's not at a Marriott.
The whole rewards plus points things has aggravated me for well over a month, when I first made a post about it. More and more hotels in big cities are making what I called "Rewards are No Longer Rewards." Still, even in the past when the option of just rewards were offered (with upgrades possible with money) I assumed as a Platinum Premier that I'd get decent treatment. The bathroom/toilet complex (if one can call it that) was smaller than what I have in my Maine apartment. In fact, I have never had such a small room at the Rive Gauche.
I think all of us need to make a point about Rewards. I frankly am using my Marriott Rewards Premier card less because it's become less valuable, whereas I still get plenty of miles when I use my American Express Delta Reserve card (plus free Skyclub and suitcases). So experiences like this are affecting every aspect of my relation to Marriott stays and Marriott credit cards.
I have spent more of my life in France than any other place than Pennsylvania and Maine and I love it. Not since the 80s have I had any problem, and I love the people. My wonderful cab driver to the airport came really close to making up for the bad experience at the Rive Gauche.
Professor -- I've got it now. You could get a room on points, but if you wanted to "guarantee" an upgrade then you had to add $$$ to the points? I was missing that point in your post, probably because I've never had to do that. And, as you pointed out, I generally expect that I'm going to be upgraded in some form or fashion (and I usually am) whether I am using points or $$$. By requiring $$$ for an upgrade, it seems to me that this particular hotel directly contradicts the T&C regarding upgrades for MR members. I recall once, yes once because I never returned to that hotel, that I checked into a FFI at the government rate and when I asked about a possible room upgrade, I was told that upgrades weren't given to government rate rooms. Fortunately for me it was before the 6pm cancellation time, so I cancelled on the spot, got on my BB right in the lobby and booked a room at a SHS in the same town for the same rate. I'm convinced that all the talk in the world will have no effect on your french hotel or Marriott in general, and the amount of revenue they get from me ain't going to make or break them, but I feel better about it.
I sense that you have highlighted a set of fundamental changes that might in time alter our understanding of the purpose and substance of the Marriott rewards system:
1. As various Insiders have pointed out recently, the real cost of the scheme is becoming a burden that sits increasingly uneasily on the company's balance sheet.
2. The industry is becoming ever more competitive (see the relatively disappointing results Marriott released today), with all the relentless pressures on margin and bottom line that this brings in its wake and, again as other Insiders have stressed, many hotels are finding it difficult to reconcile the costs of "rewards" facilities with tough profit targets.
3. Though I have no concrete evidence to substantiate this, I neverthless feel that, as Marriott grows, the variation in the way individual hotels will treat Rewards clients will become more and more pronounced.
The answer, insofar as there is one, will perhaps lie in pushing for greater openness on the part of hotels so that we can make better choices; and thereafter exploring the pros and cons of the competition's offer.
Dear NUHUSKER and Arkwright,
Exactly! And more and more French hotels are doing it and as I said in one of the deleted posts, the London County Hall about a year ago also immediately put me down as points plus pounds (and that would've been really expensive then). I called the Platinum line and they took away the upgrade that they'd automatically added -- as I told them, I'm supposed to get an upgrade if possible according to the rules in any case.
I don't know about the US, but more and more European hotels are doing this. I simply won't stay at them. Either a reward is actually a reward or it's not. In these cases, it's not. If someone wants to upgrade to ensure a suite, that's another matter. I just wanted a nice room, a normal expectation of quality service, and the things I received in the past.
I don't know if others are doing as I am, but I have cut my spending significantly on my MR card (which I used for everything and then paid it off monthly) and am using my Delta Amex card instead.
Maybe I have just been lucky!
On my last trip to Paris, I offered to pay to upgrade at the CE Marriott. When I got to check-in they upgraded me and DID NOT, charge me for the upgrade. Likewise, County Hall Marriott DID NOT charge me ( I did not indicate I would have payed), for a wonderful upgrade.
I am headed to Paris again in September (On points) and your story has me concerned about the Ren.. I hope I don't have to write a story like yours!
I concur with some of the experiences you all have had. My travel is 90% in the US and is very frequent right now. I have been very frustrated with my treatment most of the time. In the past month, I have been denied upgrades at all but one hotel and this week had another unusual experience.
While doublechecking my upcoming reservations, I noticed a rate change when I moved my arrival date. I am a governnment employee and called the Plat line to have them try to ensure I'd get the govt rate for all the nights I was there, instead of rack rate for most of it. Rooms were available on the web site and according to Plat CS. However, when Plat CS called three full service hotels in the Boston area to try to accomodate my stay at the govt rate, all three declined. Even though rooms were available, they told the Plat CS they felt they would be able to fill the rooms with higher paying customers. I told CS I'd have to switch to a Kimpton who would provide the govt rate (which by the way runs from $171-$206 a night so not chump change)and she said she was so sorry but there were no platinum overrides. After several trips when i was my govt rate did not qualify for the upgrade provision, I'm not sure why this surprised me, but it did.
One stellar anomaly in all of this is the Crystal Gateway Marriott, which always treats me like a valued member of the family through simple things such as a jr suite upgrade, greeting me by name, thanking me for my loyalty. But in 10 stays in the last two months, it's the only totally positive experience I've had.
Sorry to be continually negative--it just seems as if there had been a real change in overall attitude the last few months, and based on the posts here, i'm not alone. Certainly avoiding the RG; the way my lucks been going, I'll be assigned to the outside roof room! :-)
Thanks for sharing this experience with us!
With the way the economy is going, I hope some of these people get their "Resumes" ready. There are TOO many choices to be treated like a "Second Class" citizen.
If an "Ambassador", is treated the way the Professor was, "What is in store for the rest of us"?
Professor, I'm trying to be objective but isn't it possible that your stay was simply an anomaly? That you happened to walk in and get serviced by a very unaccommodating employee?
Isn't it within the realm of reason that if you booked another stay that you would be accommodated as you have been in the past?
There was a time when I was commuting every week to the same Marriott property for a year and I always had a consistent check-in experience. I recall one time I arrived later than usual and was handled by an employee that I had never seen before and I was given a less than adequate room and he didn't encode the key for lounge access. All subsequent stays were normal. Should I have moved to another hotel after that one experience?
Like I said, I'm just trying to be objective.
It certainly is possible, though an Insider who was there the same weekend seems to have experienced much of the same. Even beyond the small room, the worst part was the extreme rudeness of the check-in clerk. She assumed correctly from the start that I spoke French but then started rattling things off faster than I have ever heard anyone speak French. Plus the attitudes seemed to change from the moment I walked into the hotel -- greeted by smiles -- till I gave my Rewards only reservation to the woman at the desk.
Still, you're right -- it could be an anomaly. I still won't stay there again.
They're not supposed to know I'm an ambassador, and my real name is not the same as my online name, but still as high-level rewards members we should be able to expect to be treated well. Actually, as you said, in this economy (and they aren't doing any better in France), we all should be treated better as guests whether we're paying or not.
Thanks for setting the record straight about your name and The confidentiality of the "Ambassador" status. I thought maybe you were actually being "Picked on", by some disgruntled employee.
I do not blame you for not staying there again. I must tell you I have enjoyed CE, Vendome, Euro Disney and La Defense on every trip, and have always been treated "Royally". My upcoming trip to the newer Ren. in Paris, has me concerned after your experience.
Will let you know!
I agree that is more than just 1 staff memeber having a bad day. Seeing that both my husband and I both had negative interactions with the front desk staff, restuarant staff and the strange housekeeping expereinces. To hear that another guest had similar expeirences makes us think it is more a hotel management issue. We too, normally have the returning guest expereince at hotels we visit for repeat work assignments or travel. It is nice to hear a 'Welcome back' when we come in from the airport or a road trip.
It is a shame that as a returning guest Prof that you did not have a warmer welcome....don't even get me started on the welcome gift perks....your past expereinces make us even more upset over the saltine crackers. To make it worse, when we checked into the Courtyard in Frankfurt this past weekend, their welcome market gifts out shined the Gauche making the kids feel like they checked into a Ritz. The staff really went over the top with making me feel welcome and the kids as special little guests.
We have just moved to Germany from the states this year. Although we are making buisness and personal trips back to the states, we are doing our share as expats making the rounds around Europe for long weekends etc. Our trip to Paris was to see friends and to do a bit of sightseeing. We were there for 3 days, and the hotel expereince was our least favorite. We plan to return to Paris, but we will think twice before booking at this hotel again.
We are off to Austria and Italy this week. Keeping our fingers crossed for continued enjoyable stays.
I think you've probably identified the key to our recent experiences at the RV -- probably there has been some change in either management or management level decisions.
One thing I have always gotten at every Marriott I've stayed at whether it was on Rewards or not(and previously had at the RV) was a welcome letter. Usually, like at the amazing Athens Ledra, it came with an invitation for some special extra. Not even a letter this time.
I see this conversation has struck a chord across several threads, so I wanted to address some of the prevailing concerns.
First and foremost, we are here and we do hear you and your praise and frustrations. I am regularly in communication with properties and Customer Care as things arise, but despite some of these recent discussions, our policies have not changed and all Marriott associates receive the same training. It's plausible that inconsistencies can arise from time to time, but we appreciate your feedback as we work to minimize those instances.
I would encourage anyone with questions about room upgrades for redemption stays to check out the room upgrade page at, https://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/hotelrmup.mi. But, please let us know if some aspect of the information is confusing or could be better communicated. Marriott's associates strive for superior customer service for guests, Rewards and Elite members alike and your feedback helps us improve.
I agree completely with Jerry's response.
Most of us would acknowledge that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to examine each reported inconsistency (some of which would in any case have been better directed to the individual hotel in question).
For me, the problem arises when these inconsistencies take on the appearance of a trend. Even then, I totally accept your point that the fault may sometimes lie with guests not fully appreciating policy detail. The way forward, I would argue, lies through greater data transparency on the part of individual hotels. Leaving aside the issue of "suite upgrades" (which perhaps does not loom as large in Europe or Asia), surely it cannot be difficult for a hotel to declare, for example, whether it has an Executive Lounge, and, if so, when it is open; whether it has an on-site fitness room; and so on.
We too appreciate your reply. As recent guest of the Paris Rive Gauche hotel, it was really the impression of how we were treated as guests at multiple levels, not just platium members or about using points. I doubt the wait staff or housekeeping knew how we were paying but the front desk certainly did and we were treated poorly by all three departments. We do not always ask for an upgrade and appreciate when there is space to recieve one. Right now we are in the Marriott Park in Rome and are loving our expereince. We are celebrating our anniversary and having a wonderful end to a great summer vacation. The staff members from all departments are simply incredible and our exceeding our expectations. This time we booked one room on points and one with cash and are enjoying our upgrade and little extra touches from an excellent hotel.
Thanks again for your contribution and for keeping your eyes on the trends,
I saw your note about Paris Rive Gauche and we had reservations for May 29 & 30 but we changed them to use less MR points at the Courtyard in St Denis. St Denis was lovely to us and the hotel room and bathroom was roomy and looked brand new. I dont think they cared that we used MR points instead of cash and there was no additional charge when we left. Based on your comments, I think we made a good decision.
I'm glad we switched, even if we had to ride the metro 20 mins to get to town. Riding the metro is always an adventure. The breakfast buffet that they offered was very nice but we only wanted cereal and not worth the 17 euro charged so we skipped it, but it was nice that it was offered.
Other Paris threads to check
http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/photoAlbums/1101 La Défense, Paris, France
SusanL (Renaissance Vendome)
Thanks & CDG to Renaissance Le Parc Trocadero (Renaissance Le Parc Trocadero)
Paris! "Never better!" (Arc d'Triomphe trip report)
Surprise (discussion on Paris sights & hotels)
Hotel and Metro in Paris (hotel airport transporation options)