Hotels 101.

We’re your home away from home. Understanding how hotels work can make your vacation or business trip go so much smoother. There are so many articles floating around about “things hotels don’t want you to know”, but I’m going to share some things that I do want you to know.

Book Direct

Everyone and their mother will tell you to book on Expedia or some other third-party site. I’m here to tell you that this is terrible advice. Booking third-party often makes you last priority. Now, I would never treat any guest any worse or better than the next, but this is just how some hotels are. You might think you’re getting a great rate with Expedia or any other site, but you’re not. Hotels have to pay commission to OTAs (online travel agents), so the hotel is not receiving everything you pay. Because of this, some hotels might treat your reservation as less of a priority.

Say you booked a room with two beds, but something happened and the hotel oversold that room type. Guess whose reservation is first to get switched? Yours. So now you get to the hotel with your family of four, and it turns out you were moved to a single room. Better get cozy with the kids! Since the hotel is not profiting as much off of your reservation as they would from someone who booked direct, your booking is deemed “acceptable” to adjust if need be. You’ll also be the first to be walked if a hotel is overall oversold. Another thing to note is that if you wish to cancel or change dates on your OTA reservation, you can’t call the hotel to make these changes. We are technically not allowed to touch dates and rates on third-party bookings, so you’ll have to call the 1-800 number and wait to reach a representative. If you have an billing discrepancies or any other issues, we can’t help you.

You also will not be earning hotel loyalty points. These points can add up very quickly, so it’s silly to not take advantage of the membership programs. My particular hotel’s program give you 10 points per USD spent, and free nights start at just 6,000 points. Most hotels now allow you to route points to a frequent flier account. I have my Marriott account set to send all my points to my Delta Skymiles accounts.

The best way to make sure your reservation is always guaranteed exactly how you want it is to book direct. And don’t mess with the central reservation department. Call the hotel you wish to stay at and talk with the actual front desk. We have more power than you think to get you a good rate. We’d rather cut you a deal than lose the entire sale. You matter to us, and we want to make sure you have a great experience with us – all you have to do is let us!

Requests Cannot be Guaranteed

I know you want to have adjoining rooms with your sister’s family. We want to do our best to honor your wishes, but sometimes it just can’t happen that way. Please understand that a request is exactly that – just a request.

The front desk has control over most of your stay. If you wish to have two room reservations close to each other or on the same floor, you have to let us know. 99% of the time, we can make that happen, but we can’t promise anything. Room location requests depend entirely on how the hotel filled up the night before, room type booked, and availability. Look, we want you to be happy and enjoy your stay, but we can’t grant every wish.

Early check-ins and late check-outs. Sigh. Early check-ins are harder to allow than late check-outs. Take my hotel for example. Our check-out time is noon, and guaranteed check-in starts at 3:00 pm. You can’t come to the desk at 10:00 am on a Saturday in July and expect to be checked in. It won’t happen. It all depends on the same things I mentioned before…how the hotel filled up, which room type you booked, and availability. We always, always, always do our best to honor special requests, and again, we are not miracle workers (though, when we make the impossible happen, that’s exactly how we feel), but we do care about you and we do our absolute best.

Incidental Deposits

I’m not sure which type of hotel doesn’t have an incidental hold in 2019. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard from guests, “I’ve never stayed anywhere that required an incidental deposit”. What kinds of hotels are you staying in????? Everywhere I have ever been has had some sort of hold.

Why do we do this? Well, because we don’t trust you. Just kidding, kind of. If you destroy the room or steal a pillow, we need to protect ourselves and be sure you have the funds in case we need to charge you. These holds also exist to allow you to charge things to your room. If it’s 2:00 am and you’re craving a Klondike bar, you can just get one from our marketplace, say, “Charge this to 201, Mr. Smith”, and be on your merry way. We know you have the funds, so we are comfortable adding that charge to your account.

This policy is mainly to protect ourselves, and it ensures that we are only renting to reputable guests, which in turn keeps you safe and comfortable. You also need to understand that holds don’t just drop immediately. When I check you out of my system, we release the incidental hold on our end. Once you leave the hotel, it’s up to your bank to return that money to your account. It can take 3-10 business days, depending on when you stay. We encourage guests to put the hold on credit cards rather than debit cards, just so your money isn’t tied up.

Housekeepers Aren’t Paid Enough 

Have you ever seen a hotel room the morning after a bachelor party spends the night? No? Consider yourself lucky. Housekeepers do not get paid enough to put up with half the things they see. They are hardworking individuals doing back-breaking work (almost literally), so please, be respectful, and TIP YOUR HOUSEKEEPER.

We Want to Help You

Seriously. We want you to enjoy your stay. We want you to enjoy our city and leave with a great memories. If there is an issue with your room or reservation, speak up. Tell the front desk. Let us fix the problem before it blows up unnecessarily and has the potential to ruin your trip. You just checked in to your room and the PTAC doesn’t work? Say something. The room next door is noisy? Say something. You were double charged? SAY SOMETHING. Help us help you. We want to. We’re here for you. We’re nice people! Hospitality is the “friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers”. Our only job is to make you happy. Let us.

 

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I adore this industry. I love meeting so many different people from different places. I love being a part of someone’s vacation stories and having a positive impact on someone’s experience in my city. I love making people happy. Most hotels hire the right people. We truly want you to be happy and have a great time. Be mindful of the topics I discussed, and you should be able to have positive experiences at each hotel you visit.

Happy travels.

-H

 

San Francisco.

My first trip of the year! A few months ago, my friend Rachel and I were at work talking about places we wanted to see. She mentioned she wanted to go to San Francisco, and two minutes later we were looking at flights from SEA to SFO.

We landed in San Francisco around 8am. We couldn’t figure out where to get a Lyft, so we wasted about a half hour running around the airport. Finally we figured it out, and we got in with our first driver, Peter.

Peter was incredible. He was such an interesting person, and so friendly. As soon as we got in the car, he was handing out snacks. Instant five star rating. We told him we were there for the day and didn’t know where to start. Peter took it upon himself to be our tour guide, and I am so thankful for him. He drove us across the Golden Gate and stopped at some viewpoints so we could take pictures.

It was pouring, and SO cold. But the views were so worth standing outside in the rain.

All I wanted to do in SFO was see the bridge. After I saw it, I didn’t really care what we did next.

We were dropped at Fisherman’s Wharf, and we had a few hours to kill. Out first stop was In N Out for lunch, because I had never been. To be honest, I could have gone the rest of my life without trying it. I don’t understand why you all hype it up so much. It was absolutely disgusting. I miss Shake Shack.

We found a Ripley’s Believe it or Not and had so much fun.

We booked a tour that was supposed to last a few hours. Emphasis on “supposed to”. We were stuck in the back of the trolley, so it was completely open and wet. The guide gave us ponchos, but they barely helped. It was freezing.

We saw a good portion of the city, so at least there was that.

Rachel and I made it through half the tour before we had to hop off the trolley and bail. The guide wasn’t very pleased with us, but he also didn’t have to sit in the back of an open trolley with rain dumping on him and wind hitting him. So. His opinions were irrelevant.

We called another Lyft to take us back to the airport so we could dry off and warm up before getting on the flight. Or so we thought. As soon as we get in the car, Rachel gets an email that says our flight was cancelled.

Hold up. What????

So I log in to my Alaska app. Our flight was cancelled. But then I get another notification. It said, “Instead of cancelling your flight, we changed your departure airport”. Uhhhhh, come again? So now instead of departing from San Francisco, we were leaving from Oakland. Our driver said he could change our drop off, but it would increase the cost by a stupid amount. We get to SFO, and try to figure out what was happening.

We waited in line for almost 2 hours, just to have Alaska call us an Uber to get to Oakland. Okay, whatever.

Listen, I know that increased air traffic and flooded runways are not Alaska Airlines employees’ fault. But they have terrible customer service. The employees just kept disappearing, which is why everyone was stuck in line for hours. Then when they finally appeared, they were rude and just blew everyone off. It was annoying. Delta, I am so sorry honey. I will never cheat on you with any other airline again. I love you. Please forgive me.

We finally get to Oakland and guess what!!! Our flight was delayed. This trip was one of those days where everything that could possibly go wrong, did. It was amazing. I loved every second of that messy day. We could have let the misfortunes ruin everything, but it was so comical. I had a great time.

I do look forward to returning to San Francisco when the weather is better. There’s so much to do and see, and 8 hours was not nearly enough. Better luck next time.

-H

2018, Please Exit.

This year feels like it both lasted forever and sped by. I remember exactly what I did on January 1, but when I think of the entire year, it feels so long. 2018 was a mess of a year, but I’m still alive and thriving (or trying to), and that counts for something, right?

So what the heck did I do all year?

January

One of my greatest friends visited for NYE and stayed into January. Shyan and I have so much fun together, it’s ridiculous. She’s the kind of friend where no matter how long it’s been since we’ve talked or seen each other, we pick up as if no time has passed. I’m glad she was here in Seattle to bring in 2018.

February

The shortest month of the year, but it was a crazy one. I visited Lake Crescent (again) and I’m pretty sure I went to the Hoh Rainforest.

My dog, Luna, and I played outside in the snow. I enjoyed it more than she did. See how annoyed she looks? 😝

This month I was delivering flowers for a local floral shop chain. Valentine’s Day was INSANE, but it was a fun little gig.

This month I started my current job at the Comfort Suites in Tukwila. I left my job as AGM at Extended Stay at the end of 2017, and it was a struggle trying to find work. I applied for all kinds of positions all over the place. I applied for a front desk position at this hotel, and walked out as a Sales Coordinator. How that happened – I have no idea. But it did, and I’ve been in hotel sales since. I am not a sales person. I have never been a sales person. But I’ve learned a great deal from my amazing supervisor. This position forces me out of my comfort zone every single day, and my confidence has increased as a result. Sales is tough, I admire any of you who do this for a living.

I’ve met the best people at this hotel. Some of my greatest friends right now are coworkers. I’m so grateful to work at a place where I get along with everyone.

March

Baseball is back. There are no sweeter words… I went to the third game of the Mariners’ opening series. Don’t for a second think I’m letting go of my Brewers. Seattle and Milwaukee are in different leagues, so it’s acceptable to like both!

April

I don’t have any pictures for this month. It must have been pretty insignificant, because I don’t remember anything from April…I probably went to more baseball games.

May

In May, I (finally) finished my associate’s degree in Business Management. I know there is no timeline for life, but I felt like I was so behind on everything. When I finished my last assignments, I was over the moon. If you know me, you know I’ve been all over the place in regards to school and majors. This is huge.

I finished a certificate from Cornell University in March, but I framed it in May, so here we are. This was an opportunity I will forever be thankful for. Cornell has one of the best hospitality schools, and I was lucky enough to learn from some of the best hotel professionals. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but this was so amazing for me.

I visited Idaho over Memorial Day weekend. I’ve wanted to ride in a seaplane for years, and I was finally able to at Coeur D’Alene. It was incredible.

I got my hospitality/pineapple tattoo in Idaho.

June

I don’t have pictures for this month either. I know I went to a party at a friend’s house, but I think that was the only big thing?

July

My birthday month!

My friends took me out in Seattle for my birthday. We had so much fun! We got ready at the brand new Hotel Interurban in Tukwila. That was a good way to bring in year 24. I know I had tacos that night too, so it was obviously a great time.

I went home for a few days in July.

I didn’t take any good pictures with my family, so here is a portrait mode picture of my favorite Wisconsin beer.

August

In August, I saw my favorite band. I’ve wanted to see Pearl Jam for over 10 years. When they announced the Home Shows, I knew I had to go. On the day of ticket sales, I had alarms set so I would be on the website the minute it opened. I do that a lot – that’s how I bought my Cirez D tickets and my Steelyard London tickets. I had originally only bought tickets to Night 1, but it was so incredible, I took myself to Night 2. I saw my favorite band in their home city twice. Amazing. There aren’t words to explain how it felt to hear my most favorite song live, after 10 years of listening to it repeatedly.

This month I went to Mount Rainier for the first time.

September

This month I visited Mount St. Helens. To prepare for the visit, I watched one of my favorite movies, Dante’s Peak, because I have this morbid fascination with the eruption. It was really neat to see what’s left of the volcano.

Packers football was back! There’s a group here called the Northwest Packer Backers, and they get together to watch games. This day, I went to a German restaurant and they had a pop-up Wisconsin themed menu. I nearly cried. Cheese curds, brandy old fashioneds, and Oostburgers. Only a Wisconsinite can appreciate that holy trinity.

October

This month was emotional. Has your team ever played October baseball??? STRESSFUL. Unfortunately, the Brewers lost to L.A. in the NLCS. I’m not even going to pretend like I didn’t cry a little bit. At work. No big deal.

This month I went to Maris Farms for the third year in a row. I celebrated Halloween with my friends Lena and Amy. They dressed their kids as M&Ms. Look how cute they were!

November

My first big event of November was my trip to Vancouver. The next big thing was Santa Barbara!

My THIRD big event of November was New York City.

November was a busy travel month for me. I’m so thankful I was able to take all that vacation time. Since then, I’ve been itching to just go. I want to be on constant adventures and experiencing life.

December

This picture is from Enchant at Safeco. It was so neat! I loved the big maze of lights.

I went to Mount Rainier in search of a White Christmas. I found it!

I wasn’t able to make it home for Christmas, but I still made it into a family photo! Isn’t technology amazing?

What a year.

It was a wild ride. I went a lot of places, met a lot of people, and learned a lot of lessons. I feel I’m a completely different person now than I was at the beginning of the year. I’m looking forward to making a list of everything that I accomplished this year. I’m also excited to sit down and write my 2019 goals and plans.

I hope you all had a blessed year, and I wish you the best going into 2019.

Until next time,

-H

New York City.

“If you are greedy for life, that’s what New York is all about. If you’re trying to get as much as you can every day, this city is the place to be.” – Pam Nelson

New York is always a good idea. Every time I see that skyline, I fall a little more in love with the city. This was my third visit – my first during the holidays.

In August there was an announcement that there would be Cirez D b2b Adam Beyer shows in LA and NYC in the fall. I waited at my computer, refreshing the page until the tickets went live. All four shows sold out in just minutes, but I scored tickets for myself and my friends. I was so ready, but I had to get through a few months, and we all know patience is not my strongest suit…

November 29 finally came. Finally. I met my friend at the airport and we were off.  We were out of Seattle before the sun rose, and in New York after the sun set.

I checked us in to our hotel (Courtyard Marriott on 5th – great property), and we went to the Empire State Building. It was so cold on the observation deck, but it was worth it for that view.

There’s something so gratifying about watching someone experience something amazing for the first time. I love New York, and I want everyone to experience and feel what I have in this city. I’d take all my other friends to NYC just to watch them take it all in.

This was my first visit to NYC during the holidays. Amazing. The city is even more enchanting, captivating, and magical than usual.

After a walk through Central Park, I had to get back to the room and take a nap. The show was 10pm-5am and there was no way I was going to last until 5. I can’t party like I used to 😝

Eric and Adam didn’t go on until 2, so we left for Brooklyn around midnight. The warehouse was in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and finding it was a bit of an adventure.

That venue was absolutely insane. They could not have chosen a better place for this set. I really don’t have any other words to describe that show except wow. I’ve been saying EPIC 3.0 at Madison Square Garden was the best set I’ve seen, probably because it was my first time seeing Eric Prydz AND my first time in NYC. This one might take the number one spot. It’s hard to describe the feeling and energy from that night – it’s kind of a “you had to be there” kind of thing. My best friends couldn’t make it to the show and I promised to send them as much of it as I could, so I have almost the entire set in my camera roll. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve rewatched them and listened to the whole thing on SoundCloud. Absolutely incredible. That night got me so excited for my trip to London. That was another spontaneous ticket purchase that I just couldn’t miss. And now my best friends and I are going to Steelyard London to see my man, Eric.

I think I finally went to bed around 7am. Is this what the younger people do? Party literally all night and morning? I can’t keep up. So worth it though.

Saturday was the last full day in the city, and we started at the Rockefeller Center. If you’re going to spend money on an observation deck, Top of the Rock is the one.

We spent a short time at the Museum of Natural History and then later went to Brooklyn for a different point of view.

After the night with Eric Prydz and Adam Beyer, going out another night was too much. I really don’t know how y’all do that. We went to a movie in Times Square (The Possession of Hannah Grace. Stupid but creepy). We got out around 2am and it was raining pretty steadily. Walking through Times Square in the middle of the night (and in the rain!) is exhilarating. That’s when I got my “Holy crap I’m in New York” moment. I’m not a huge fan of Times Square and going anywhere near it is grounds for an anxiety attack. Too many people not knowing what they’re doing or where they’re going. But, I needed my friend to see it and experience it. 2am was a great time to go!

We were able to grab breakfast and cruise around the city for a bit before our flight left JFK. It was a lot packed into a short time. We definitely didn’t have enough time and I’m already eager to return, but I had fun. SO much fun. To be honest, I was nervous for this trip. I’m a firm believer that you won’t truly know a person until you travel with them. It can either go really well or really terribly, there’s not really any gray area. I can only speak for myself, but it was good. New York is always good.

I’ve been tossing around the idea of moving to New York for several years – I think since 2012. Now that I have a fresh start, there’s really nothing stopping me. I was listening to a podcast and a GM of a hotel in Manhattan was being interviewed. Something about it ignited something in me and now I think I know what I want. I want to live in New York and I want to work my way up in the hospitality industry in New York. It’s going to be a tough city to make anything of myself in hospitality, but I’ll be okay. I’ll scrub toilets just to get in the door of a good hotel if I have to. I’m going to seriously consider my options at the end of 2019/early 2020. *insert New York, New York lyrics here*

Who knows where I’ll end up next…

Until next time,

-H

Vancouver.

I had to clean cobwebs off my passport! Just kidding. But it has been six years since I used my passport and left the United States. Something clicked for me a few weeks ago, and I decided that 2019 is going to be Heaven’s Year of Travel. But I started early.

Vancouver is only a few hours from Seattle, so I drove up with a friend. I’ve lived in the PNW for two and a half years, and the only area outside of Washington that I’ve visited was Idaho. And who goes on vacation to Idaho??? (Just kidding, I had a GREAT time in Coeur D’Alene. Idaho, I love you). Crossing the border was easy, though the wait was a little long and I had no idea how incriminating answering all those questions would make me feel! I’m dramatic, I know. I appreciate national security.

We drove up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge first. I had a coworker visit recently and she said it was a must-see, so obviously I had to go. It was terrifying. I had no idea that I’m afraid of heights now. I used to be in flight school, so I was 3,000 feet up in the air in a tiny Cessna and I was perfectly fine. Not anymore, apparently. The park was beautiful, though.

After we explored the park, we drive to the city. I am a city girl, 100%. I love being in nature and hiking, but I feel most alive when I’m in the middle of a big city. I felt it in Vancouver. We walked through Gastown before we went to Vancouver Lookout.

Wow. You guys. You all need to go to Vancouver. The people were wonderful, the views were beautiful, and the beer was cold. 🙂

I only spent eight hours in BC, and it definitely was not enough. But it was enough, to make my heart happy, and inspire me to plan more international trips.

I have quite a few trips coming up! This weekend I’m visiting my dad in Santa Barbara, I’m taking a friend to New York at the end of the month, I might meet up with family in Colorado for Christmas, and I’m going to London in May 2019. I’ve always been the “Maybe someday” kind of traveler, but I’m over it and I’m ready to make real moves. I’m ready to plan more trips! I just need to convince my friends to come with me….

Do you have Canada travel tips? I’m ready to go back.

Until next time,

-H