I walked out of the managers office in disarray trying to take in my surroundings. The manager was walking erratically in different directions. I had no idea what the hell was going on and questioned the manager for the third time. Glancing over at me but avoiding any eye contact he yells at me “I’m calling the cops” You’ve got to be kidding me…
We were in Orlando, Florida in the United States and super excited to be heading to Disney World for Elise’s birthday. She had been talking about it for the past 3 weeks. Seeing all the Disney characters and reliving the movies from her childhood was everything she was looking forward to.
Our first priority was finding cheap accommodation that wasn’t a bad hotel. We ended up checking into a chain hotel called Days Inn right near Universal Studios. It offered dirt cheap rates and a number of extras for only $39 a night. A bargain by U.S standards. For this price it was advertised we were to get free WiFi in the rooms, free shuttle to the parks and free breakfast each morning.
It would soon turn out that it was too good to be true.
We couldn’t believe what a billy-argain this place was, although alarm bells should have gone off when we read so many poor reviews of it online. However, the extra inclusions and the cheap price pulled the wool over our eyes.
Straight from check in we were appalled by the rudeness of the front desk staff. It seemed like we were a pain in the ass for booking with them and having to get our details off us. I then asked and double checked for the inclusions that had been advertised especially the free WiFi in the room. With a sigh, the man assured me there was WiFi in the room.
As soon as we got settled in our room I checked for a signal for the internet but couldn’t receive any. So, we headed back down to reception and asked again about the WiFi. The man again said that they had it and that there must be something wrong with my computer. It was the only response I could manage out of him as he seemed too involved in watching the movie on the large TV against the reception wall.
After his answer, I did a quick glance around reception and saw about 10 people crammed onto a few seats in the foyer area on their iPhones and laptops. It seemed they couldn’t get WiFi in their rooms either, otherwise why would they be down in reception?
His behaviour grated on me but I let it go and Elise and I discussed that in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t a major issue, considering the price of the room and the other inclusions we were getting. Besides, we were pretty used to not having a decent WiFi connection, having just travelled throughout Asia for the last year.
Elise then ‘interrupted’ the man and asked about the shuttle bus times to the parks for the following few days. The times we found out were ridiculous. The bus to Universal Studios didn’t leave until 12pm (who would want to arrive in the park at the middle of the day? Surely when people go they want to get as much out of the day as they can for the money they are paying!) and the shuttle to Disney left at 7.15am, which meant that you had a good hour or so to wait at Disney until the park actually opened!
Oh and did I mention, that if you do take the shuttle to Disney at 7.15am you have to cram breakfast down your throat because that doesn’t get served until 7am (if you’re lucky!)
It became clear to me that this hotel wanted to seem like they were giving away lots of extras, but weren’t really concerned with the way they were executed. All the inclusions began to fray at the edges and we soon began to realise that you get what you pay for.
We asked if there were any other options to get to Universal studios other than the time the shuttle leaves and conveniently they have a private taxi service that can take you for the costly price of $7, leaving when you like. (They really should have told us it was only about a 2km walk to the park and we would have gotten there ourselves).
So the next day we headed out to Universal Studios and had the best time. Elise HATES big and fast rides, but I was so proud of her on how many she went on with me. Although she did leave the Incredible Hulk ride and the Dragon’s Challenge all to me! It was an exhausting day, but we wanted to see as much as possible.
Towards the end of the day, we wandered back to Days Inn and I headed to reception to ask about the WiFi again. I rang the bell and waited about 10 minutes before anyone came to see me and then was greeted by the same man as yesterday with a smug smirk coming from the side of his mouth. As I enquired about the WiFi , he now told me that there was a problem with their connection and it could only be reached in the reception, but assured me that it would be fixed the following day. Fine, no problem.
Once again there were people everywhere in the reception area-leaning on tables, sitting on the floor-all trying to stay connected. As Elise took out her computer and logged on, one lady even asked her “Were you told that there was WiFi in the rooms too?”
The next day we had planned to see Disney World on Elise’s birthday. We woke up early and even though breakfast didn’t start till 7am we arrived at the doors at about 6.45am just to make sure we could get a brekkie quick and catch the free shuttle at 7.15am. Two other families seemed to be thinking the same thing as us and were also waiting outside the door. At about 6.55am one of the workers came to open the door for us and we rushed inside, ready to get our breakfast and to eat it quickly.
Unfortunately, nothing was prepared or set up, and the worker seemed intent on taking his time and only taking out items from the store-room one at a time. Literally, he would bring out one jug of juice…place it down. Then head back to the store-room and carry out one carton of cereal…place it down. This continued until 7.10am! We now had 5 minutes to try to eat our breakfast!
The breakfast room was filling up and there were a lot of disgruntled customers all having to leave without finishing breakfast because they wanted to catch the shuttle bus.
As the shuttle arrived, we dashed out eating cereal and toast on the run, with bananas in hand. As soon as we got to the bus the driver told us we had to throw out our food as no food was allowed on the bus. We tried to not let this unorganised start to the morning get in the way of enjoying Elise’s birthday and we would just grab something later at the park. We just wished the hotel was better organised and the staff took a little more interest in pleasing their customers.
After a fantastic day at the Magic Kingdom (well worth the money you pay) where we acted like kids again for the day, we arrived back at the hotel at about 10.30pm and was once more ‘greeted’ by the sullen man who couldn’t take his eyes off the TV screen. I asked him once more about the WiFi and if it had been fixed. I also politely mentioned that the manager might want to consider opening breakfast a little earlier as it is hard to fit in time to eat before the early shuttle bus. He then made a large show of having to turn down the TV volume and a large sigh-showing me how much of a problem I was being for him.
His only response? That if I had any problems I should talk directly to the manager who works from 10am-4pm. How convenient the manager only works when everyone is out at the parks! The staffs attitude was really shitting me now. All I wanted was for my concerns to be taken into consideration and acknowledged, but it was like every staff member didn’t give a shit about what any customer had to say.
At checkout I asked if there was a feedback form I could fill out. While I did have complaints I just wanted, more than anything, for the manager to know about the problems we had so something might be done in the future. Of course there were no feedback forms, but the Manager on Duty was there so I could give my feedback to him.
I introduced myself and told the manager of the problems we had during our stay and that I thought there were be a few ways they could serve their customers better. Immediately the manager got on the defensive saying “I can challenge you on that”. Challenge me? We weren’t in a knights duel! Heck, I didn’t even want anything in return I merely wanted to bring the problems we had to their attention! I had also spoken to a few other guests who were staying there at the time and they had the same concerns as us.
After the manager had finished ‘challenging’ me, he then rudely walked back into his office apparently finished with our conversation. The reception guy told me the manager won’t be coming back out and that I couldn’t pay our bill until I saw the manager in his office. I refused to step inside his office as I noticed that where we were talking was all under surveillance and stepping into an office that didn’t have cameras with three guys was not the best idea.
By now, after several refusals from me to go into the office and the manager still not coming out, reception told me that the owner now wanted to see me in his office to discuss the matter! Talk about making this drag on, at this stage I just wanted to pay so then we could go on our merry way!
I sighed and left my luggage in the foyer with Elise and began to walk to another building near where breakfast was served. I was instructed to knock on the door and wait. While I was waiting for the door to open, I thought to myself that this the last time I ever open my mouth-how do I always get myself into these situations?!
Eventually the door was opened by a man in about his mid 40′s who asked me to come in. I stepped inside a room that looked completely different to the rest of the hotel. It was like the office of Denny Crane from Boston Legal. The tables were made of hard wood mahogany and there was unusual abstract artworks plastered across the wall. It seemed rich and plush-nothing at all like the hotel!
I thought the man who had answered to door was the owner, but then a man in his early 30′s came out and introduced himself. He seemed way to young to be the owner, but I put it passed me and got ready to tell him all of the concerns I had. I extended my arm to shake his hand, but he walked straight past me with no eye contact and grunted out a blunt “Follow me”.
More games I thought. I just wanted to pay. I asked what was going on but he just held his iPhone to his ear and asked me to follow where he was walking. He then added, as though it was an afterthought, that he was calling the police to get me thrown out. What the fuck? What had I done? I pleaded with the ‘owner’ to hear my concerns and show me some common decency, but then figured they hadn’t shown any so far, so why should they start now?
I then began thinking, that if they wanted me to be arrested and thrown out, it would have to be for a reason. The owner was still walking around erratically, trying to get me to follow him this way and that. It was my guess that he wanted me to get angry at him for taking me on this wild goose chase, and so on the security cameras it would look like I was the one who was angry and he was running from me.
I was so over this circus by now and there was no way I was sticking around anymore. Let alone to be arrested just because I had some suggestions about the WiFi and breakfast times!
I walked back to the reception where Elise was still waiting with our bags and told her what was going on. Elise then got a little scared and was convinced that the cops were indeed coming for us. Part of me thought that it was just game play from the owner to get us out of the hotel. We put some cash on the counter, asked for a receipt (which we reluctantly received) grabbed our bags and left.
A block away from the main road we stopped to get our bearings and see where we could catch the bus from. I could still feel the adrenaline pumping in the back of my neck when all of a sudden two police cars came screaming past us and turned into the road of the hotel. Immediately Elise panicked and thought we should jump in the bushes or something to get out of sight, but I said that if anything did eventuate from this we needed to be firm and face it. Besides, we hadn’t done anything wrong.
After finding the bus stop we sat there waiting for the bus to arrive, when the cop cars slowly drove past us. But they didn’t stop. I will admit though, we did hold our breath as they drove by!
To this day we still talk about what we now call ‘The Days Inn Debacle”. We still can’t pin point what went wrong. What I can say though is that I highly recommend NOT to stay at Days Inn. There are so many other hotels offering the same services and at pretty much the same price. This incident didn’t taint our time in Orlando but we sure do have one heck of a story to tell the grandkids!