Saturday, September 18, 2010

it's a sad world, after all

Rant warning.  Cantankerous author ahead.

I have turned enough pages in life to know no matter how much planning you do and how good your intentions may be, life simply does not turn out as you planned.

Disneyland is no exception.  I planned this trip as a thank-you present for the fellow who has been sitting my house -- and to celebrate his twenty-first birthday.

Because he has a technical background in sound and camera work, he had been looking forward to seeing Disney's new World of Color show at California Adventure.

During my last two visits to Disneyland, I have saved money on lodging by staying at the Best Western motel across the street from the amusement park.  It was close.  And, the accommodations -- as most Best Westerns are -- was adequate.

But I wanted to do something special on this trip.  I decided we would stay at Disney's newest -- and grandest -- hotel: the Grand Californian.

I am not easily shocked at room prices.  But I must admit when I looked at the room prices on line, I was a bit shocked.  And that was for a standard room.  I gritted my teeth and upgraded to a park view room with concierge service -- nearly doubling the price. 

In some benighted homage to my Scottish past, I unchecked the trip insurance box.  After all, you cannot be too extravagant.  And I noted we would be celebrating a birthday.

I paid my deposit, and a few days later I received a rather nasty email that I had not yet paid the full amount.  So, I sent off the balance.

When we arrived on Wednesday, we were greeted by some of the most cheerful people on earth.  Through all the mirth, you could almost miss the sucking sound of dollars disappearing from your wallet.

The moment we started looking for the room, I knew something was wrong.  We were on the wrong side of the building.  When I opened the blinds to the balcony, the hoped-for park view was an asphalt view.

A quick check at the front desk indicated something had gone wrong.  The reserved room was a standard room with no concierge service, but I was charged for trip insurance.  And no mention of a birthday.

Of course, there were apologies all around, but no park view rooms were available.

I would like to say I accepted life as it was.  After all, here I was in the happiest place on earth and I was letting a little room mix up ruin my day.  And I did.  Even after my house sitter said he was happy with the room.  After all, it was Disneyland he wanted to see. 

It did not matter that we were paying almost four times as much as we would at the Best Western -- and were still staying in the equivalent of a Best Western room.

I eventually recovered from my own disappointment.  World of Color turned out to be quite nice.  Nice enough I watched it two nights in a row.  And we have had at least one decent meal.

But all things tend to be ruined by repetition.  I may have had my Disney fix for this life -- or, at least, this decade.

I am looking forward to a day of roller coasters at Magic Mountain on Sunday, and to learn something at Warner Brothers Studio on Monday.

Even a rant cannot go on that long.


Calypso said...

When a hotel room is over 30 bucks - I am NOT happy - do not care if I am in the happiest place on earth - which in any case I KNOW is home - there is no place like home (and for less than $6 a night ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ah...Disneyland/Disney World, the Las Vegas for the young and young at heart. It's understood it's gonna cost big time, but Geez!
I would enjoy Warner Bros. being a movie fan. Have fun and get your monies worth.

Laurie said...

Sad? I must beg your pardon, Steve. But life in developing countries is a lot more disappointing when it comes to amenities. Get ready for a wild ride if you plan to explore Mexico.

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

give yourself a trip to Knotts Berry Farm and you will surly come back happy. I mean- great roller coasters- no HUGE walking characters- and Mrs. Knotts Famouse Fried Chicken restaurant!!!! It truly is the happiest place on Earth!

Tancho said...

Your dilemma is quite common nowadays. (electronic booking) and The attitude of hospitality services is to get the room booked and adjust the inventory as the guests show up. It may have been an error, but....
The rule is to fill the highest paying rooms first, no matter what, then whatever falls down the line, "what choice does the guest have?" other than we comp them a few drinks or a token etc, but occupancy will remain at 90%+++.
The similar situation has tweaked many trips in the past, we just started to get a room just to lay down for the night with less expectations and were never disappointied again.
Unless you speak to a on site manager to do the booking or special services you can expect the same situation, sadly. Enjoy your remaining trip in coo-coo land down there, get your fill of the beautiful people and every other car in the land of sun being black.... never quite figured out that one.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- I do not mind paying money for a good room. But I do dislike paying good money for an adequate room.

Francisco -- "The Las Vegas for the young and young at heart. I like that. And both places sell the same elixir. Money buys happiness.

Laurie -- You are correct. My rant shows a certain callousness. And it surprises me when it shows up. My neighbors in Mexico -- and some of my neighbors in Salem -- would consider this little hotel room the lap of luxury. I thought of that last night as I was reading the recent Bonhoeffer biography.

Rosas Clan -- A trip to Knotts Berry Farm would have been nice. But not on this trip.

Tancho -- And I know lots of companies do the overbooking dance. I am ready to take the fault on this one. I could easily have pushed the wrong buttons. But not that many.

Mike Nickell and Cynthia Johnson said...

Steve - I had to Google it and check the rate...OMG!!! Will you take us on vacation with you next time???

Anonymous said...

For my mom's 70th birthday she made only one request - a trip to Disneyland with the whole family, four generations worth! No need for costly hotels though - with three family homes in Southern California the beds were free - and fun was had by all. Glad your trip improved in spite of the snafus.

BTW, didn't you get an email confirmation specifying exactly what you'd ordered? That would have come in handy and should have reduced your bill.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I would follow up with a letter stating your problems with your reservation. Be sure to use your "attorney" letterhead. I think you will get a response along with a compromise to make things right. I have done this on numerous occasions and sometimes it takes a phone call rather than a letter but I always get results. The only time I didn't get results was when I had to do deal with Advantage car rental and my rental car was in the Yucatan. That was a big ordeal and in the end they did nothing. We didn't end up taking the car and we used the buses and it was the better way in the end.

1st Mate said...

The most excellent hotel room I ever stayed in was obtained by a glitch: they didn't have available the type of room my sister had reserved and had to give us a luxury suite, with a magnificent view of (pre-Katrina) New Orleans. I figure I'll never beat that stroke of luck and generally avoid hotels unless absolutely necessary. These days, on top of the usual disappointments, we have to check for bedbugs too!

Steve Cotton said...

Mike and Cynthia -- Pack your bags. But next time I am staying at the Best Western.

Anonymous -- I am at fault for not following up when I should have. I had a confirmation, but I failed to look at it.

Anonymous II -- I may write. But it is done. Unless it could be blown into another post.

1st Mate -- I have had many great outcomes with hotel rooms. Maybe I should think about them.

Anonymous said...

I have found when I travel and the hotel can't find the reservation, there is a solution. We went to Logging Congress in Victoria. Then over to Vancouver. Mr. Griffin had made reservations for him and his wife, cousin Ken and Rachel, and your dad and myself. When we got there we were told there was no rooms available. Mr. Griffin said find them. We waited in the lobby. After a short wait, the rooms were available. When some of us went to San Francisco to National Real Estate Convention, we went to our hotel. They said they had no reservation for us. The others were all upset and worried. I said to them, "just sit down here in the lobby, they will find us rooms." We sat down and waited a short time and rooms were found for us.