I am posting this for no reason except that I had an extraordinary experience at a DC Marriott-branded hotel that I wanted to share - and thought maybe you'd like to hear a positive story for a change!
The background: Some friends of mine from CA are in DC this week for part business/part pleasure (paid for by their company). I live a few hours from DC, so I decided to drive up and join them. I'm on my own dime of course, and DC hotels are generally very pricely, but fortunately I had ample points for 3 nights at the Cat 5 hotel where they were staying.
The problem: As at many DC hotels, the only available parking here is valet parking at $49/night, or almost $150 for the three nights. Since I was not going to use my car at all during the three day stay (I just needed it to get to DC and back), I couldn't stomach paying that. So I decided I was going to drop my things at the hotel, check in, and then drive my car to Union Station, where the parking is a slightly more palatable $24/day.
I arrived at the hotel at 9:30pm after a long day, and was really not looking forward to having to take my car to Union Station and then get back to the hotel that late at night - but I was determined to do it. A valet immediately came out to help me unload. He assumed I wanted valet parking, but I explained my plan of taking the car to Union Station because the $49/night was too costly for me. He seemed very concerned that I would do this so late at night, thought about it a bit, and then said - "wait a minute, let me talk to a friend of mine..."
He came back a few minutes later and said he had gotten his friend to move a car, freeing up a parking space ON THE STREET where I could leave my car for the next few days at no cost!! I was shocked. Do you know how many parking space there are in DC that are free and have no limit on how long one can park there? Not many.
I'm a little worried there is going to be some catch, or my car will be stolen - but the area seems quite safe and I parked my car on the street for many years back when I lived in DC, so I think I will be ok.
But I'm still stunned that the valet would do this for me. I gave him a $20 tip in gratitude, but he seemed not to be doing it for any particular benefit - it really seemed like he was just concerned about me and wanted to help out.
How crazy is that??? Note that I did not mention the hotel - I imagine what he did is not quite within Marriott's rules, and might be seen as depriving the hotel of parking revenue, although it really didn't. But in my mind, it was great customer service and made my day.