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Friday, January 6, 2012

The Oakwood Christmas

There's certainly a first for everything.

Take for example, our Christmas stay at Oakwood Manila. This is the first time we were told that a hotel - or serviced apartment, which is what Oakwood identifies itself as, a five star one - had no parking spaces available - and we were registered to check in. (We had to scour the surrounding area for a secure parking lot. The open space beside the hotel got a lot of business on December 24 and 25.)

We only found out they had no parking space there and then because we were queuing for valet parking (which we are used to from  other hotels), and the first hammer falls: The hotel staff assigned at the driveway stopped us just as we were about to ascend to the hotel driveway (a short one), asked us to move back for no apparent reason, then we had to wait about a minute because another car came from around the bend and he let the other car, inexplicably, cut in line.

And to those of you who know me, you know how anal I can get about people following their place in lines. (Maybe I shall regale everyone with the MRT incident in a future post.)

It turned out, I didn't have to do any talking. Art went down and reprimanded the attendant for letting the other car go first. (And the attendant could not explain sufficiently why we had to give up our place in line.)

We haven't entered the lobby yet and we already had two strikes. (Queue Cut In and No Parking.)

Since I did not get a call or email back from the reservations agent about my requested early check-in time (when I was told he was "on top of it"), I assumed that we would go through the normal process, and their standard check in time at Oakwood was 3PM. (Rather late, I must say.)

There were about three people in front of my line (and there were 4 lines to the reception desk), so I could hear the receiving staff assigning room numbers to the other guests. I could make out one billeted at the 19th floor, another at the 23rd floor, and a family at the 20th. I thought to myself that with my request for a higher floor, I would be at least around the vicinity of the rooms I heard made out to the other guests in line before me.

"Welcome, Mr. Ramirez." A perky staff greets me when it was my turn, and I handed to her my Deal Grocer coupon. "You will be billeted at the 15th floor."

This was what I was emailing back and forth with the reservations agent for, two months before? A room on the 15th floor, when all around me, everyone was getting the 19th, 20th and 23rd floor? I asked to see the reservations agent who told me that he would see to my requests.

The agent comes out from the back office. "Hi, Mr. Ramirez."

"Hi, _________. I'm very disappointed. One, you did not get back to me on my request for an earlier check in time, which you said you would do on the day itself - today - and I emailed you about this three times at least."

"Sir, I really couldn't give you a specific time until today."

:And here I am checking in at 3PM because you did not advise me whatsoever, even just to say that you could not grant an earlier check-in time. Two, I also asked for a room on a higher floor...We had various email exchanges about this, and you said you had posted a note at the "front" so that the staff on duty could give me my request, and that you would "see to it personally". I find myself at the 15th floor, while everyone else is on the 19th, 20th, 23rd floor."

"Sir, for the promotion price, the highest floor we can accommodate you is the 18th floor."

"Which you did not give. The reason I emailed you and contacted you as soon as I purchased the coupon was so that I would be in line for my requests to be entertained. Did all these other people also email you?"

"No, sir."

"That's my point. There was no point in me emailing you back and forth with specific requests because you would have just assigned me a room that was available at the time of my queue, and I had to queue at 3PM because I did not get any word from you about the earlier check in time, which you said you would advise me on."

"OK, sir." He talks to the front desk staff. "We can move you to the 18th floor, but you'll need to wait another 30 minutes to an hour as we get the room ready first."

At which point I was so drained with the "welcome" I was experiencing so far, so I said "Never mind. We'll take the room at the lower floor. Never mind that none of the requests I made were given at the slightest."

"OK, sir. We tried our best."

"That's your best? Then I guess that says it clearly, then."

"OK, sir."

"Stop saying OK, because I am not having an OK experience from the time our car pulled up your driveway."

Art then reminded me to not let the incident mar the entire experience, and since we saw pictures beforehand of how the place looked, we were at least assured that we could have a restful respite ahead in tasteful surroundings.

Oakwood wasn't done. This was what greeted us when we got up to our assigned room.

(My apologies for the quality of the shot, as I had to quickly use my phone camera to capture this.)

Yes, the door of our room was open, and for a moment we thought we had the wrong number on our card. We checked it again, and it was correct. So I stepped in closer to get a better shot of what greeted us in our room.

There was a ladder propped up against the sink, and a paper bag with papers, light fixtures, and I failed to get a shot of it, but beside the brown bag, there were light fixtures lying around on the floor also.

Which meant someone from maintenance was probably fixing up some problem and decided to leave his things there. Or he wasn't done fixing. Or housekeeping wasn't informed that people were checking in on December 24. (Very plausible. Not.)

We quickly went inside and started to "inspect" what other things were out of place. I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the drawer that was also open in the bathroom - normally everything should be in its place, cabinets closed, bed neatly folded, not a chair or table in a wayward pattern.

I immediately also called the front desk to inform them what greeted us upon entering the room. By this point, I'm sure they must have labeled me "a complainer" and the girl who answered was apologetic, and said that the manager on duty would be right up to see to things personally.

Should I be charitable in this season of giving, given our "welcome"?

(To be continued in the next post.)

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