Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort a big disappointment – but lessons can be learned

J Willard Marriott Barbados

J. Willard Marriott wouldn’t have let this happen!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

I cannot think of many, if not any, more important aspects of the hospitality industry than constantly listening and responding to your guest’s comments, whether negative or positive. The customer is king.

I recently stayed at two ‘4 star’ hotels in the Florida Keys. The first, Hawks Cay was excellent and met every expectation. The second, a major branded hotel, fell dramatically short and I thought that it was only constructive and objective to report our experience.

Sadly, while staying at the hotel, management did not respond to concerns raised and as I had pre-paid in full weeks prior to arrival, we felt we did not have the option of moving to another property.

Hotel’s Misleading website

Even though the nightly rate was close to US$200, I made the mistake of booking a standard room – largely based on the individual property’s own website description which, included ‘153 oversized rooms’ and ‘most with balconies’.

It transpired that well over 40 rooms did not in fact have balconies and to describe the two rooms we saw or occupied as being ‘oversized’ must border on misuse of the English language. There were other issues, including the level of noise during the night, non-smoking areas that effectively were not and sliding doors that would not lock.

Customarily following a hotel stay, especially for the first time, I posted a review on TripAdvisor and only then noticed that this particular property had not responded to a single one of over 900 postings by previous guest’s comments (good or bad) since July 2002! It seems inconceivable in these days, considering the power of social media, that any major brand could consider this best practice.

Undaunted I then contacted the Corporate Headquarters and finally received the following email from them, some 16 days after check-out…  

“We apologise for the delay in the response from the hotel. We have been in contact with the Guest Services team at the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort. Due to being understaffed, the team has not had an opportunity to respond to your concerns yet.”

I cannot recall during the nearly fifty years working in the tourism industry, ever being told this before. Days later following the intervention of the Office of Bill Marriott, the hotel finally proffered an apology with the promise of a room upgrade during any future stay.

Sadly, they did not address any one of my concerns at the outset. (ed. note: No doubt John Willard Marriott would not have been happy about this!)

Perhaps not widely known is that TripAdvisor closely monitor all ‘Contributors’ reviews and frequently report back to the individuals just how many people have read them. In my case, the last number was well over 7,000 of which 92 per cent were geographically located in the United States.

Not for a second would I herald TripAdvisor as a gospel in influencing choice, but when used properly it can provide an invaluable insight especially when you are considering choosing a hotel or location for an initial stay.

The objective of this week’s column was to concentrate and focus on what our visitors reasonably expect and something we all have to practice to bring them back. Over the last month there has been a lot of discussion regarding the extraordinary concessions granted to Sandals on Barbados.

With over four weeks now under their belt, it’s time to personally experience if the ‘Sandalize’ effect will help take the sector out of the current morass.

More next Monday!

14 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

14 responses to “Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort a big disappointment – but lessons can be learned

  1. yatinkiteasy

    Adrian, I think your review of Sandals on TA is much more interesting….from a Bajan perspective…I`ll quote the part that I just could not believe when I read it..
    “I also found it incredible that on the island who invented Rum, not a single Barbados brand of rum was available at the resort. Apart from Pine Hill milk, BIGO ice cream Banks Beer, bottled water and some soft drinks, there were very few locally made or supplied products. Again, having extracted these massive tax breaks from Government for 40 years, I implore Sandals to spend more locally and not import so many extra regional products. This will be the key for corporate Barbados and its people to supporting your company.”
    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of..no Bajan Rum?What are they serving , Appleton?This stinks and should be brought to the attention of those who so easily and quickly granted sweeping concessions to Sandals.Lets hope Mr Stuart acts with more moral concern for the island where he stands to make millions.

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    Yatinkiteasy, Thank you. My Sandals experience is the subject of the next Tourism MATTERS (16th December). While on their website it highlights the special relationship Caribbean-wide with Appleton’s, they are in fact serving ONLY El Dorado. I did in fact speak personally to Adam Stewart (CEO of Sandals Resorts International) while at the Casuarina and he promised to look into it. Also contact Raphael Grisoni the MG at Mount Gay and he thought they were also serving Appleton’s too. He is going to try again.

  3. Dreamer

    As soon as you walked through the door the Management knew you were a nuisance who needed attention. Why waste time on 1 person when there are 400 other customers appreciative of their service. You know not to go back; I doubt the Marriott will miss you.

  4. Dreamer

    Marriott has done more for the Hotel and Hospitality industry than any other company or corporation. It would be good if you could get an audience with him so you can for the first time in your life meet a humble person who really cared for people. I worked for his company about thirty years ago and still brag about his corporation.

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Dreamer, it seems I am not alone if you read the TripAdvisor reviews and do you think either Mr Marriott would have ever stated the Customer Services dept., could not respond because they were understaffed? Maybe over my almost fifty years in the tourism industry I have stayed in a few more Marriott’s than you have and perhaps can be more objective from a customers standpoint. I stayed in a Marriott last September in Costa Rica and if you read my TA review, it is glowing in praise.

  6. Dreamer

    Your are so silly. Now how do you know you have stayed at more Marriotts than i have. What made you come to than conclusion? How do you know that you are more objective than I am. You speak like one of those privilege motel owners in Barbados who tink eveyting is bout dem. As said before you need a little bit of humility

  7. Adrian Loveridge

    Dreamer, Travel Agent, Tour Director (worked in 67 countries), tour operator and hotelier who participated in very many road shows and promotional events across South and North America and Europe.
    Its not about humility, it is about FACTS and hands-on PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
    Now that I have disclosed my last 47 years of work experience, perhaps you will enlighten us with yours, so readers may compare.
    As I said, neither of the Mr Marriott’s would (and in fact did not) accept the eventual response I had from Key Largo Bay Marriott.

  8. Dreamer

    I can just see you writing without any respect and the GM tossing your comments right into the trash where they belong. I am sure if you had a valid complaint the GM or any of the Marriott employees would listen. Why should I disclose? If i say I worked 48 years you would find a way to add to your years of experience. You always have to be right. It must be difficult to live a simple life.

  9. Anonymous

    So were there not enough poor reviews on TA to not book at the property and choose somewhere else?

  10. Dreamer

    Anonymous, You are right on target! Adrian is full of foolishness. In America service is not like servitude; dont expect employees to be treating you like in the islands. No one in the States is going to be wiping your little mouth or rubbing your little tummy. The USA pulled away from that English expectation long ago. It is such a challenge when English people travel to the USA. Different cultures.

  11. Adrian Loveridge

    Dreamer, when is the last time you stayed at ANY hotel (name and date) as you to be so far removed from current reality.

  12. Dreamer

    What about last week is that too long ago. I am not some British hedonist who checks under the bed for hair or the picture frames for dust or the pillow for a loose feather. I stay at a hotel to do business and enjoy the time. Life is not perfect for the billions of people who inherit this space. Life will not perfect at the beach resort. Adrian find something positive in you life and stop harping on littlt things.

  13. Adrian Loveridge

    Dreamer, Thank you for your advice and I will bear it in mind. But do you really think Marriott or any other of the great hoteliers like Lord Forte would have built lodging empires if they had not attended to the LITTLE THINGS?

    Still not prepared to name any hotel that you have stayed in recently eh?

    I wonder why!

  14. Dreamer

    What difference does it make if I stayed at a Hyatt or Days Inn. These are examples of the inherent problems with Barbados. This old idea that you have to be somebody of importance; someone of breed to visit Barbados. Who is Lord Forte anyhow. Do we still have lords? Very unamerican. America does not like this type of stuff; Americans are regular down to eart people. Not stuffy people who constantly play important.