As part of our Platinum Challenge in July, one of our 'staycations' to underline our anniversary was at the AC Hotel in downtown Montreal: a brand new property that only opened up this spring (2018).
Well, that was a mistake.
We arrived around 17h30. Followed by the check in, we went to drop our bags in our room. I parked the car in the garage (which was a challenge, because of tight fits, difficult corners, plenty of obstacles), went back up to get my better half and left the room to discover the hotel. The pool is pretty straight forward, but has nice floor-to-ceiling windows and from there you can get to a terrace that goes around most of the building.
Afterwards, we went to the bar to have a cocktail (ok, I admit, I had two). Upon paying, we got to talk with one of the waiters of the attached restaurant. I can't recall his name, but he is incredibly passionate about the restaurant, which is pretty much entirely run by staff that came from one of Montreal's most prestigious private clubs. Unfortunately we already had dinner reservation elsewhere, but promised that we would come to try it out some day.
When we came back from the restaurant (20h30-ish) and got back to our room, it was the first time we went into the bathroom. Here the nightmare started.
In the corner, we found a used cotton swap. Really hard to miss. This raised suspicion that house keeping wasn't doing a good job, so had a closer look in the bathroom. Large amounts of hairs from all kinds of body parts everywhere. Back into the bedroom: same story. Pulling a chair aside, I found some indescribable left overs and other stains.
In a full-inspection reflex, Mrs. B opened up the bed covers: a large quantity of black fluffs was to be found. We concluded that the bed hasn't received new sheets since the previous client.
(I wanted to post a picture of the dirty bed linens here, but considering that the site wants me to downsize the picture that is already of horrible quality from my cellphone to begin with, it will hardly be visible anymore.)
Completely appalled and disgusted, we called the front desk. We were passed to the front desk supervisor, William, who came up right away to come look at the scene. We agreed with us that the room was in a deplorable state. He asked what we liked to do from here.
I said that we would like to continue our night of celebration at the hotel and asked him to find another room for us. However, we pointed out that we don't want to be disappointed a second time, so don't put us in a room just to find the same situation.
William left to look at available rooms. It took some time for him to get back to us, so I predicted bad news. When he finally came back, he admitted that it took long. He inspected two other rooms and both were not cleaned sufficiently: "They do not meet our standards."
He offered to transfer out reservation to a different hotel, but when I looked at the full list of Marriott properties in the Greater Montreal Area, it showed that the AC Hotel was the most expensive property after the Ritz-Carlton. So not only were we so turned off by all of this that we instantly wanted to go home, switching to any other property would mean to go down in quality from a price-point of view.
William promised to send an email to the front desk manager and hotel manager to explain what happened. And he did CC us on it. He promised us that he would try to get us reimbursed as he had no authority to do so himself (no person with any authority beyond office business hours).
And we did get reimbursed for the hotel rate and were not charged with parking. Which seems like the minimum, since we couldn't stay the night. However, no compensation for ruining our anniversary night out. No "oh, let us pick up the bar tab," no "oh, here's a couple of bonus points;" simply no compensation of any kind.
Three days later we got a quick, short, some-what impersonal (practically looking like a standard template) email from the Front Desk Manager, Stéphanie D, with some "sincere apologies" about the "few issues with the cleanliness of your room." The main thing was to confirm our credit card was reimbursed with the pre-paid room rate.
I gave a call back to the Front Desk Manager further discuss the issue. My main problem was that this screwed up our entire planning to complete the Platinum challenge (deadline: half a month away). She couldn't help with my challenge. I even proposed to keep the room charge and refund me in points, but not possible.
I even went to re-explain the housekeeping problems and our horrible experience. On one side, I wanted to read between the lines if the issue was already known to them, stating that I've found some other Google Maps reviews stating similar concerns. On the other side, I wanted to subtly let her know how this ordeal destroyed our night out and see if they wanted to offer further compensation. All I got was cold responses. I left me with the impression that the management was aware of it, but not under pressure to do anything about it (one can only guess about the motives, but I don't want to push the speculation).
I called Marriott Rewards to talk about my concerns and the agent was incredibly helpful to work some magic and have the 'stay' count for our Platinum Challenge. When I brought up the fact that no real compensation for the awful experience was offered, the agent stated that this is not normal. The agent would get in touch with the hotel and I should have something offered to me in 3 business days.
Roughly two weeks later, without news, I call back Marriott customer service and I get transferred to Elite Services. The lady replied that there is no open complaint case in my account, even has trouble finding any activity related to my reservation at the hotel. I gave her all the info requested to make a formal complaint, which ended with "you'll be contacted by the hotel in 3-5 business days."
That was August 1.
Today I called back to ask what happened to the case and my promised call back. After being transferred two times (the second agent even mentioned it looked so ugly, that she really wanted a supervisor to handle this), I finally got to Elite Services. The agent there, after looking at the case file, put me on hold to talk to the hotel directly.
When she came back to me, she told me: "Well, you had a prepaid rate, which is a non-refundable rate. If you got reimbursed, the hotel already went above and beyond to make things right with you." Well, that's a smack in the face.
While she closed the file, I asked her if she fully understood what happened: it was not our choice to cancel the reservation, it was the hotel that could not provide a single room meeting Marriott's standards of cleanliness." She kept insisting that the room was prepaid, so nobody had to refund me for it, and something about that it's too late and there is no proof. (Well, see the pictures above!)
Is this what Marriott standards have come to? Do I have to sleep in a dirty bed, up to the point where there might be HIV-infected needles or razor blades, in the fear of not being reimbursed!?
(Actually, at my last stay, different hotel, I did find a razor head in the middle of the floor, but the hotel was a lot more forthcoming to make things right for my experiences.)
To summarize the hotel:
- Central location if you need to be downtown
- Nice 11th floor(?) terrace connected to the pool (nice view)
- Restaurant seems to have a lot of potential
- Housekeeping is a hygiene nightmare.
- Nobody with any useful authority outside of standard office hours and management clearly not giving a c®ap about making sure guests have a decent experience.
- Not upgrading elites (nor any other elite benefit for that matter).
- Surrounded by high-rise buldings, big traffic arteries, so no views.
- If you're booking the conference rooms at pool level, there might be party people on the terrace to disturb your meeting.
- The parking garage is a nightmare for anything larger than a Smart car. (Don't even try to get a Suburban or similarly large vehicle in there.)
- Parking fees are higher than most downtown parking garages.
- The hotel has this awfully strong perfume sprayed in the lobby.