Monday, August 15, 2011

Very nice stay - thank you, Choice Hotels!

We had an excellent stay.  The value we received from access to Atlantis definitely dwarfed any issues we might have had with the hotel.  Following is the review I posted on tripadvisor.

"I find some of the reviews for this hotel mildly entertaining ... as far as I am concerned, by the time you factor in the cost of your experience at Atlantis, you are essentially getting your room for little or nothing ... and much less if you brought a family as I did.
Sure, the check-in process can be bumpy (we waited until well after 3pm before our room was ready - we were given an explanation: 'late check-outs', but there was no apology), the sleeping rooms are dated but generally clean and functional with a fridge allowing you to stock food/drink for evenings or the day trips to Atlantis, while the breakfast is disappointing (breads, packaged goods, bacon, eggs, sausages, prefabricated waffles, fruit and yogurts) and the eating area insufficient.
Atlantis is a 10 min walk through the casino and shops. It is not worth writing too much about it other than saying that at <$200 per night for four in Comfort Suites it was excellent value, but at $400 per night in Atlantis itself, I'm not sure I would have been too thrilled.
As with others before us, we were able to keep our expenditure reasonable by taking snacks and drinks in with us to Atlantis, eating 'lunch' at Jamba Juice (expensive at $9 for a large smoothie - plus mandatory 15% gratuity for slow, indifferent service) and then dinner at one of the local restaurants (Green Parrot and Senor Frogs were excellent, while Anthony's, next to hotel, should be avoided).
Overall, we had an excellent stay - this is an island in the caribbean, so nothing is cheap - but the ambiance of the Bahamas, and quality of the entertainment at Atlantis meant that we went home feeling like we had got what had expected from our vacation."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For Posterity

Many thanks to Christopher Elliott for airing my experience and asking his readers to vote on whether I should remove this blog.  Overwhelmingly (83% to 17%), the recommendation was that I should keep this blog in place.  Here is the article:

I have to say, I was happy with the result because I had been leaning in that direction anyway.  Choice Hotels had honored their guarantee, but the wording of their response had done little to indicate to me that this was all just a big misunderstanding.  Indeed, in booking another part of my trip, I again found a cheaper rate on a non-Choice site ... but this time, rather than put on the gloves for another round, I simply booked elsewhere.

Still, Choice Hotels did indeed honor their guarantee and, with any luck, my stay at the Comfort Inn will be more more enjoyable than the booking process that got me there!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Well done Choice Hotels!

Perhaps all I needed was to get to the right person.  Here is the response from Shawna:

Mr. Young,

I apologize for the confusion regarding your E-rate submission.  I was able to change your rate for your reservation at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island for July 23 for four nights. 
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, we appreciate your patronage.


Shawna-Customer Service Supervisor

Getting to the right person!

So on the advice of Christopher Elliott (, I emailed the "Vice President Customer Care and Reservation" for Choice Hotels:

Dear Sir,

I have been staying at Choice Hotels brands for more than 20 years.  This Summer I was again hoping to stay at a Comfort Suites hotel but have run into an issue that makes me reluctant to continue to choose Choice Hotels.

Your company has offered its "Best Internet eRate Guarantee" for many years, but I have never needed to use it.  However, two weeks ago I found a cheaper rate on Expedia and Orbitz and was frustrated because I could not access the same rate on the Choice Hotels/Comfort Inn site.  I therefore completed your claim form.

As far as I was concerned, I was eligible for the rate adjustment based on the following clause in your guarantee:
The Best Internet Rate Guarantee does not apply to:
  • Negotiated rates and any other rates not available to the public, such as group rates, package rates, coupons, motor club, membership rates (including AARP) and Government Rates;
I received a courteous response from Jack initially claiming the Expedia rate was "negotiated", then that it was a "package" rate despite the key clause "and any other rates not available to the public".  Jack and "Member Services" did not respond further.

If you are satisfied that the wording of your guarantee accurately depicts your policy, and that your customer service staff are implementing it correctly then perhaps you will see no need to take action, and I will need to pursue my claim elsewhere.  However, if you agree that there is a disconnect between the current wording and how it is being implemented then I ask that you honor the guarantee and consider adding definitions to some of the terms (notably: negotiated rates" and "package rates").

If you would like more information on my claim, I have documented everything at the following blog:

I have always been happy with my stays at your hotels, and have never previously had a reason to complain.  I trust that you will understand my perspective and give me a reason to continue to choose Choice Hotels.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

A. Young
Tel: 720 *** ****

This ultimately resulted in my email arriving at the desk of Shawna, a supervisor for the eRate Guarantee program.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

2007 - Radisson had no problem honoring their guarantee

Just for the record, only once before have I ever tried to hold a company to its guarantee ... back in 2007 a similar thing happened to me with the Radisson Hotel (strangely enough that was also my last trip to the Bahamas).  After finding a lower rate, I contacted the Radisson Group who responded in exemplary fashion and immediately adjusted my rate! - what a great consumer advocate site for travelers

If I had known about this site:, I might not have needed to create this blog.  Christopher Elliott does for the entire travel industry, what I was simply trying to do for Choice Hotels ... keep them honest!  I so appreciate people like Mr Elliott and the role they play.

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - Package Deal?

Here is a screenshot of the *current* Choice Hotels terms and conditions (captured 04/21/2011):

The two key clauses are:

  • The Competing Rate is:
                 1. Available for the identical hotel, dates, room type, number of guests, type of currency and length of stay; and
                 2. Publicly viewable by Choice at the time the claim is reviewed.

Seems to pass that one ok.

  • The Best Internet Rate Guarantee does not apply to:
    • Negotiated rates and any other rates not available to the public, such as group rates, package rates, coupons, motor club, membership rates (including AARP) and Government Rates;
 Initially, Choice Hotels claimed this was a negotiated rate - but they do not clarify what this means and surely any rate that differs from their rate is either unauthorized or "negotiated".  Also, it says "any other rate not available to the public" - but this rate IS available to the public.
Subsequently, Choice Hotels claimed this was a "package rate"...

Decide for yourself ... you enter dates at; provides you with a rate ...

... there is no choice of rate (other than room type) so it is not like you can choose the package rate or the regular rate, there is just a rate ... personally, I would call this a discounted rate, not a "package" - and I believe the definition below would support this.

 To me, it seems like this is just a hokey way for Choice Hotels to pretend they have a guarantee when really they do not.  Please don't waste my time!