My Worst Starwood Stay. Ever.
The one disappointing part of my recent trip to Israel, was my stay at the Le Meridien David, Dead Sea. It was, in fact, the worst stay in the nine years I’ve been a member.
A little context — I enjoy good service and hotel surroundings and I seek out top hotel status because it helps increase the likelihood I will experience these things during my stay. That said, I understand I live in the real world and don’t penalize hotels for average service and accommodations. I also have different expectations for a Comfort Inn vs an Aman property.
That’s why I was so excited to see there was a Le Meridien at the Dead Sea, which was sure to be better than the nearby Crowne Plaza. Unfortunately the Le Meridien, which is a category 1 going for 2,000 points a night, did not have rooms available on points, and I wound up having to book a room category up. The sea-view deluxe rooms were pricing at $470+, but I was able to cash in 1,000 points to get 50% off the rack rate, bringing it down to $240, which was still a little pricey for me.
Slightly cheaper rates came up in the days following, but since I couldn’t guarantee my room choice of two beds, I decided not to risk it.
When I checked in around 3:30 PM, I was told the hotel was sold out and no upgrades were available. Bummer, but I understood. What I didn’t understand was how, though I made my reservation almost a month in advance (not the night before), they not only couldn’t put me on a Starwood Preferred Guest floor, but they couldn’t even give me the room type I had booked.
As much as I might like any friends I travel with, I prefer my own bed (unless having a King means a great upgrade) and having to share was something I’d paid more to avoid! I know the hotel was sold out, but had that many Platinums checked in before me?
That was just one disappointment. The condition of the room was poor. The room I was given was not only in need of renovation, but appeared to be missing furniture. There was this huge space between the bed and the window where a couch or some seating clearly belonged.
At least the view was good!
The bathroom door and frame were warped from moisture and peeling flakes of paint. One corner of the shower had mud left from the previous occupant and there were several long black hairs in the bathtub.
The internet, something I count on to work remotely while on the road, did not work at any point, though we both spent several hours trying. When we were lucky enough to get the slow connection to finally load a log in page we were told our access code was invalid, despite having it verified/refreshed by the front desk 3 separate times throughout our stay.
When we finally gave up on the first attempts to get internet, we headed to the club lounge to get a bottle of water before dinner. Except the door was closed, despite there being 10 minutes til the 6PM closing time. When a staff member came out, they refused to let us in, despite the fact other guests were still in the lounge.
We did manage to get into the lounge the next day, and it wound up being one of the few things about the hotel I really liked. It looked out towards the sea and had plenty of seating. While we were there around noon, they had a tasty selection of pastries and complimentary drinks, including beer and wine.
One of the smallest issues, but one of the things that affected me the most, was the welcome amenity. At check-in no mention was made of my status until I asked to make sure my number was on my reservation. At that point I was offered the Platinum amenity of points, breakfast, or a local welcome basket. After hearing a detailed description of the AHAVA Dead Sea products in the basket, I chose that!
When it hadn’t arrived 3 hours later, I went down to the front desk to ask. I was assured it would be sent up later that evening after 7PM. When it hadn’t arrived by morning I asked again and was told that they didn’t have any made up and weren’t sure if they would, but I should check back before leaving. I was clearly disappointed and they offered free breakfast in addition to the basket.
Wasn’t very hungry so it was a little bit wasted on me, but it was a fun opportunity to try authentic Israeli breakfast items.
Since they had told me there was a chance the baskets would be in stock later, I inquired at check-out. The attendant made a phone call and asked me to wait. While I was waiting, she discussed the situation (in Hebrew but motioning towards me) with the person who I had talked to earlier in the morning. After about 10 minutes, she called down again. Then told me not to leave and disappeared. A few minutes later she was back, holding a large bottle of water.
She declared, while the other person looked on, that the bottle of water was the only welcome gift they offered Platinums. I would have been disappointed, but completely understood if she said they didn’t have any baskets and they were sorry. But to lie to my face, and in front of someone who had told me a different story, was the final straw.
Actually, the final straw was then getting stuck for 30 minutes trying to leave the hotel because several tour buses were stuck in the entryway. The parking attendants had allowed guests to park illegally and the massive vehicles couldn’t navigate past them.
I understand problems can come up and don’t expect things to be 100% right, but at no point during my stay did I feel like a valued guest. In fact, most of time I kept thinking about how I’d wasted my money and it would have been better to stay at the Crowne Plaza. Not to mention apologizing to my friend for the experience!
Had this happened at a lesser star hotel or had it not been a $500 room, it wouldn’t have seemed as bad. This stay shook my faith in Starwood brand standards. A a Le Meridien is supposed to be nice, right? I’m also questioning the value of my platinum membership. I’ve reached out to Starwood last week with my feedback and a request to help fix such a terrible stay, so will post an update when they respond.
Oh, and neither my stay, nor any points for spend, have posted two weeks later.
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