Rude and Dishonest Staff

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by ASV on August 27, 2010

Due to some problems with our wedding, we were offered a complimentary room for 2 nights and a reduced rate after that. We accepted their offer and booked our 2-week stay.

We checked into our 1st room, which was not facing the ocean. When one searches accommodations or for a reservation on the Surf and Sand website, all of the rooms that appear are all ocean-facing rooms. We had no idea the view would be of the parking lot and we would be kept awake by the sound of traffic.

We knew that our upcoming complimentary nights were in an Oceanfront Towers King (OTK) room. We knew that we were offered the opportunity to stay in that room for the duration of our stay, if there was availability. And, we knew there was availability, based on reservation searches on the website and phone calls to the reservations desk.

I contacted Pamela Hopkins (assistant to the VP of Hotel Operations), with whom I communicated prior to our stay, and I copied Joanna Bear (assistant manager). I shared with both our frustrations with the room type and the noise. I also shared with both my knowledge that the OTK rooms were available. I asked if we would be able to, as we were originally offered, stay in our OTK room for the duration of our stay, since it was available. My first email went ignored; after my 2nd email, I received a reply from Pam saying she would look into it on the morning of July 30.

I continued to check the availability of rooms online. Through the evening of July 29, when I searched for availability from August 1-August 7, four different oceanfront room types showed up. On the night of July 29, we decided to stop at the front desk, to inquire about availability, and we were told that rooms were still available and it should not be a problem. Lisa Silva, manager, overheard our conversation and immediately told us that no rooms were available. How frustrating that a manager would lie to us about availability, when it was clear rooms were available. That was our first indication that, while rooms were available, they were not going to be available to us.

Oddly enough, after our conversation with Lisa and our dinner that evening, we came back to our room, and I decided to check availability once more. At this point, no more than a couple hours after I just heard and saw multiple rooms were available, suddenly, the online reservation system indicated that only Towers Double Queen and Seaview rooms were available. I thought it an odd coincidence, so I asked a friend of mine to call reservations the next morning, the morning of July 30, before we stopped down to speak to someone about the room extension, and ask for room availability. My friend spoke with Heather. After being asked four times to share her name (I am guessing to check that her name was not my name, so she could speak honestly), Heather checked availability for the same dates I had been requesting, and she shared with my friend that an Oceanfront Towers King room was available. My friend then asked if more than one of those rooms was available, in case other friends wanted to join her, and Heather told her YES; Heather then asked if my friend wanted to book or place a hold on the room, and my friend kindly declined and then shared this information about availability with me.

A mere fifteen minutes later, my husband went down to the front desk to inquire about staying in our Oceanfront Towers room beyond our complimentary two night stay. He spoke with Tami, who shared with him that NO Oceanfront Towers rooms were available. When he asked her why Heather would tell someone who called for a reservation for an Oceanfront Towers room fifteen minutes prior that multiple rooms were available if they were not available, she had no explanation. You might be thinking what I am thinking; that Heather was telling the truth (multiple Oceanfront Towers rooms were, indeed available) and Tami was lying to my husband (saying that NO Oceanfront Towers rooms were available). I am not sure why the staff would be dishonest or would choose to not be accommodating, but I find it extremely disheartening.

Tami told my husband that she would be speaking with Pam later that day to see if they might be able to offer a Seaview room to us. She said that one room was available for all but one day for August 1-7, and she and Pam were going to see what they could do. Interestingly enough, a Seaview room came up on the online reservations system without trouble or restrictions for the entire August 1-7 range, and that is without anyone needing to speak to Pam or anyone else at the Resort for that matter. By end of day, we still had not heard from Tami, so we followed up with a phone call and were told that once we checked out of the Oceanfront Towers King room on August 1, we could check into a Seaview room for the duration of our stay.

August 1 came, and we received a phone call from Elaine from the front desk. She wanted to make sure knew we were checking out of the Oceanfront Towers King room that day. A couple of hours later, we received another phone call from a member of the front desk staff, telling us our Seaview room was available. The front desk manager gave us our key with a smug smile and said, it is on the first floor. Well, having spent a week at the Resort already, we understood that the first floor Seaview rooms had very little view of the ocean (due to the solid wall on the patio) and were perhaps the loudest because of its location directly next to the pool and Splashes. I suspect her smugness can be attributed to the fact that she knew the same to be true about the room as what I already realized.

Then, as if these problems were not enough, on the morning of our checkout, we noticed that the two nights that were supposed to be complimentary (July 30 and July 31) were charged to us and that we also had a charge for the Honor Bar, which we did not use. We went down to the front desk and again met with Lisa. We shared with her that the room was supposed to be complimentary for the two nights, and she told us there was nothing in her notes to indicate that it was supposed to be, so she was going to charge us for the nights and then IF she found out that it was, indeed, supposed to be complimentary, she would issue a refund. At this point, my husband said, the complimentary nights were the whole reason behind being here; to which she sarcastically replied, if they were the whole reason for being here, then why is it not in the notes?; We were appalled! I then indicated that I had email confirmation from Pam, and my husband asked if she wanted to see it, thinking that this front desk staff member (a manager with a business cared with the title of concierge?) would not expect a guest who is packed and about to leave to catch a flight to pull out the laptop, find the emails and PROVE that the complimentary nights were supposed to be complimentary. She raised her voice and said, Absolutely, I would! We were enraged! I had to unpack part of my bag to locate my laptop, boot it up, open my email and search for the emails from Nick and from Pam to prove to this woman that the room was supposed to be complimentary and we should not be charged for any reason. Can you fathom this situation?

When we shared our feedback with the president of JC Resorts (Paul Reed) and the VP of Hotel Operations (Blaise Bartell), we received a reply, through an assistant (Pam Hopkins), after telling her that I was going to post the feedback online. The letter was justification for all of the above rather than a sincere apology. We were not contacted directly, and we were told that if we wanted to speak with management directly, we should call a phone number provided. We did not hear from the president of JC Resorts at all.

Bottom line: try the Montage, St. Regis or the Ritz, but stay away from Surf and Sand.
Surf And Sand Hotel
Laguna Beach, California, 92651

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