What is an experience you had in a hotel you’ll never forget?

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Mudassir Ali 8 months 3 Answers 153 views

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  1. When I was just beginning my career working for Manganese Steel Forge Company in Philadelphia I was frequently called upon to do some field engineering. This would often involve going into steel mills, foundries, or coal mines in the middle of the night to take measurements and make sketches of equipment that was only idled when the plant or mine shut down between midnight and 6 AM. When on such a mission I would try to arrive at my destination and check in to a hotel in the early afternoon before the midnight shut down. My routine would generally consist of checking in, taking an afternoon nap followed by a late dinner with my customer contact, usually the head of the maintenance department. After dinner and some discussion we would head out to the plant where I would begin the process of surveying the equipment. At the Plant Manager’s office I would suit up and be fitted for personal protective gear then go out to the machine of interest with measuring instruments, slide rule, and notebook and pencil in hand. I was always careful to follow proper Lock-Out-Tag-Out procedures to ensure someone wouldn’t be able to crank up the equipment with me inside it. Most of the time I could wrap up my survey in an hour or two. Once in a while though I could be in the bowels of the machinery all night, finishing up just before the start of the day shift. If the job was sufficiently large and complicated I might have to spend several days to complete my work, in which case I would repeat this process over several days and nights. It was just such an occasion in 1975 at the General Motors Nodular Iron Foundry in Dearborn, Michigan.

    I arrived in Dearborn in the early afternoon of day one of an anticipated three day, two night visit. I previously booked a room at a Holiday Inn near the factory. I made my reservations well in advance of my trip. In the 1970’s GM and other automakers were in their heyday and churning out cars and trucks at a record setting pace. As such, automobile factories were busy and vendors swarmed all over the place huffing their wares and, like me, frequenting the maintenance and operations offices of the various manufacturing and assembly plants. These were the days before centralized procurement, logistics, and materials management became popular in American manufacturing. In 1975, generally speaking, each plant or division was its own profit center and was therefore responsible for its own procurement and vendor relations, among other things. This operating methodology often created a crush of vendors to GM’s and other auto manufacturer’s factories and, in retrospect, wasted a lot of its Management time handling the flow of outside stakeholders. A periodic surge of visitors put a lot of pressure on local services at times, especially hotels. At certain times of the year rooms were in very short supply and unless you wanted to stay at Billybob’s Hog Farm Dry Cleaning and Starlite Cabins (i.e. no private bath) off Route 24, you had to plan ahead and make your reservations early, which I did. At least I thought I did.

    On this trip, I checked in to the hotel and went straight to my room. In those ancient times you were given an actual room key: an oversized hunk of brass that dangled from a four inch long piece of plastic embossed with the Holiday Inn logo and an address. If a guest left without turning in the key, which happened quite frequently, he could simply drop it in the nearest mailbox and it would be returned to the hotel, postage paid. When I entered the room I took note that the room, though made up, was uncharacteristically disturbed. The top spread on the first of two double beds was disheveled a bit and there was a few pieces of paper in the trash bin. The toilet seat was up. I reached for the phone and dialed the front desk. A few apologies later housekeeping was knocking on the door.

    Within fifteen minutes or so everything was at it should be. I have seen situations where a departing guest asks for and receives a late checkout time. Sometimes the guest returns to the room after housekeeping has done its thing and messes up the room. I have been victimized by this on several occasions over my career so this was no big deal.

    That evening I followed my usual pattern and had a late dinner with my GM host and proceeded immediately to the plant to begin my work. I got to the plant around 11, about an hour before second shift clocked out. When the workers were gone and the plant shut down for the evening, I started taking measurements and making notes. As this was a big integral Wheelabrator shot blast cabinet and conveying system, I knew I was going to be there all night with a likelihood that I would have to return the next night to finish up.

    At about six in the morning I reached a stopping point. Good thing since the day shift was just starting to come on. I carried my kit with me so I cleaned up a bit, changed back into my street clothes and left the plant. On the way to the hotel I saw a Waffle House and steered in to get a greasy breakfast before going back to the hotel.

    I arrived back at the hotel shortly after 9 AM and proceeded to my room. I passed Housekeeping in the hallway. I opened my door and stuck the Do Not Disturb sign on the door handle. I needed some uninterrupted rest.

    I was about to collapse on the bed when I noticed that it was not made up. In fact, it was in a much more unkempt state than I had left it the evening before. Trash, again, and the toilet seat was up. There was a pile of towels in front of the door. Housekeeping must have begun the cleaning process but got interrupted, or something. In any case, I wanted a fresh room. I was getting more than a little annoyed and I took it out on the Housekeeper I had just passed in the hallway. She looked flustered and made a silly excuse saying she didn’t expect me back so soon after I left. Huh? I didn’t want to get into it so I waited while she and another helper quickly made the bed, put fresh towels in the bathroom and ran a sweeper over the carpet. Finally, at about ten o’clock I was able to settle in for a long nap.

    I awoke at about four in the afternoon, took a shower and prepared to go to work. This night however, I went to the plant a little early. I was promised a tour of the engine assembly line so I had to get there before second shift concluded if I wanted to see it in operation. I left the hotel for dinner around six. I was in the plant at nine, took the tour, and suited up for work at about eleven again. Once again it was an all-nighter but I was able to finish the job just in time for the day shift start up. I hung around to discuss my findings with GM engineers and stopped for breakfast. By the time I got back to the hotel it was nearing 11:00 AM. On my way to my room I passed the same housekeeper as the day before. She gave me a goofy look as the pushed the key in the lock, opened the door and entered. This time the room was made up, thankfully. I stripped off my clothes and I fell onto the bed. Sleep came easy.

    At about five o’clock I was startled awake by the sound of a key being inserted into the door lock of my room. Crap!, I thought. It must be housekeeping. Then I remembered that I failed to put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. More importantly, I didn’t secure the chain latch. Whoever was at the door was coming in unimpeded. Nearly naked I decided to give out a rebel yell and make a dash for the door. Too late. There I was standing in my tighty-whities being greeted by Houskeep…

    Wait a minute, this was no housekeeper! It was a guy in a trenchcoat holding a briefcase in one hand and a gym bag in the other. “Hold on”, I said. “You have the wrong room. The front desk made a mistake”. To which the startled man said, “You’re room? This is my room. I’ve been staying here for three days”.

    “You are mistaken”, I said. I been staying in this very room for the past two days. You must have the room next door”. In the moment I never thought to reconcile the fact that somehow his key was working in my door. I reached for my pants, put them on and took out my room key. Yup, the stamping on my key matched the brass numbers on the door. But then, so did his. What the fuck is going on?

    To make this long, long story just a tad shorter, it seems that Mr. Smith (not his real name), traveling salesman extraordinaire, and I checked in to the same room, which we unknowingly shared for two days. What enabled us to become secret, involuntary roommates was the schedule we both kept, and of course the bozos at the front desk who assigned the room to both of us simultaneously. Mr. Smith, incredibly, would use the room at nights and vacate it during the day. When he left he would take most of his things with him. What he left behind he put in the dresser drawers which I never opened. Similarly, I would vacate the room all night taking my work clothes and kit with me and return during the day after he departed on his sales route. It turns out he was having the same problems with apparent housekeeping neglect as I was. His room seemingly remained unmade almost every time he returned to it.

    The epilogue to the story is that after the initial wariness, shock, and disbelief wore off we stormed down to the front desk where we received copious apologies, refunds, and coupons for future stays at Holiday Inns across the country.

    In case you are wondering, we did sleep in the same bed for two nights but Houskeeping miraculously changed the linens before each of us used it.

    At least that’s the story I’m staying with.

    Then there was the business trip where I awoke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and in my stupor managed to step through the wrong door. I wound up locked outside my room on the 59th floor of the Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, without a key, in nothing but my BVDs. To make matters worse, the Atrium was really breezy.

  2. During our Bali vacation, I remember being on the third storey of the Hotel- mall one of the days, Just looking around at the chandelier and the beautiful interiors from that floor. I was supposed to go down and join my family for lunch . On the same floor was a large Middle Eastern family with 5 veiled women, 3 men and 8 children including one in the arm . The kids were exceptionally naughty. Since I live in Singapore where kids are extremely well-behaved and disciplined, I found these kids to be unusually chaotic. When I’m saying chaotic I really mean “chaos”. The kids were totally unmanageable, unruly, running all over the place and the adults were unperturbed, not holding the hands of their children, simply looking the other way. Suddenly and out of the blue, the 7 to 9 year old boy leaped, jumped out from that floor in front of my eyes and fell down, straight down. I will never be able to forget this graphic visual all my life. Hell broke loose for the mother and the women started screaming and running, the crowd gathered and the rest is of course, history. I looked down once to see the condition of the boy laying on the floor, and I didnt want to see that sight again . The incident was just waiting to happen. Earlier in the day when I bumped into those kids in the lift my husband told me that when he used to live in Dubai it was a common sight to see a section of kids behave unruly. What i am amazed is that there were eight adults with those kids, and none of them could manage their own children in a public place that too in a different country. How were they able to do it back home? Well..we did see the result of their parenting that day . I know I’m going to get bad comments for this ‘judgemental’ post . I am just angry and not being racist. I know that raising a child is not easy. In fact, with kids you have to pre-empt all the things that can go wrong, and that is my experience of raising my child . I have a 13-year-old who was four years old during that trip. ‘Bite only as much as you can chew’ and one must give birth only to a number of kids that you can handle. Parents have a responsibility too, and we can’t leave it everytime to the neighbours, teachers, staff at the hotel or the guests to scold and caution our kids.

    When kids can grow up well-behaved in Singapore and some countries, I am sure it is possible for other countries too.

  3. When I was 26 years old I had saved enough money after teaching two years to finance my dream trip to Ireland, Scotland, England and most of Eastern Europe. I decided to take a bus tour while in Ireland and the passengers and I stayed in small hotel. We were told that we could have our shoes polished if we put them outside our hotel room door. I decided that was a good idea and I went to bed after an exhausting day of travel adventures.

    About 2 am I woke up because I heard someone coming into my room. I thought it was one of the hotel staff and I turned on my light. There was a very drunk man coming toward me and I was frightened. When he stood next to my bed he told me to remove the covers. I panicked and for a few moments I didn’t know what to do. Somehow I got the courage to say in a firm authoritative voice, “If you don’t leave I am going to scream.” He laughed and I yelled for help as I reached for the phone. I guess the man thought I wouldn’t do anything but submit to his demands and he was surprised that I reacted in a way that meant I was prepared to fight. He decided to leave and after he shut the door I immediately called the front desk. A hotel clerk came within a few minutes and for some reason he did not believe me. He told me that no one had ever had a problem like the one I was describing. I started to cry and he told me if it did happen it was my fault. I had left my door unlocked and he had taken advantage.

    The next day I was badly shaken and I discussed the situation with the tour guide. She told me she would speak to someone in authority but there wasn’t much she could do. We were getting on the bus and we had to leave. As I sat quietly as the bus drove away I realized it was my shoes (small heels) may have been the reason why that man thought I was alone. I spent the rest of the trip making sure my hotel door was always locked and I even put a chair under the door knob to make sure no one had access again. I realized that I was very fortunate that night because that man had every intention of harming me. It was the worst hotel experience I have ever had and I believe that because I was assertive and firm I surprised that man. It made me uneasy during the rest of that trip but I am thankful that I managed to keep calm and convince a stranger that I was not going to be a victim.

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