This is going to be a relatively long review. There is a lot to cover. Please be patient. The point? Stay away from this place. Apparently everyone else is.
Generally I book hotels on Priceline.com. With the help of some other websites I can usually get a really good deal on a four-star hotel. This was not possible in Banff. The rates that seemed to be working in Banff on Priceline were the same as you could book the hotel directly. Well, that was a pity. So, I examined the various travel agent web sites and the best buy seemed to be Bumpers Inn or $65 a night plus tax. So I went to the website for that motel and book directly with the motel. I do that, frankly, as a favor to well priced motels so they don't have to pay commission to the booking web site. The motel sent me an e-mail confirmation. All was fine.I had booked for a four night stay so I imagined that this was longer than most of their guests.
The distance in hours driving from the place I was staying the night before shows on Yahoo maps as 7.75 hours. Friends told me that it could take eight or nine hours depending on road and weather conditions.
One of the things that I have learned from this adventure is that Yahoo maps measures of time that it takes to drive a distance may not be accurate. I think it doesn't take into account how much longer it takes to go through hilly or mountainous areas. It must calculate the time needed to drive assuming a constant speed at the speed limit and a flat plain that one is crossing. So it took much longer than Yahoo predicted. I left my former place at 2 PM picked up food and got on the road a bit before 3 PM. I ate good food while driving. I stopped halfway to buy gas. It took me 7 1/2 hours but I was exceeding the speed limit by up to 50% at times. It was dangerous and I should not have had to do that. But I'll explain why I did have to do that.
I knew I would be leaving after two or 3 PM so I called the motel to tell I would be arriving late. I thought this would be very courteous and polite of me to give the motel advance notice that I would be arriving late. Then they could make the appropriate arrangements. I regularly do this and it is appreciated by the motel clerk.
Please keep in mind that this motel requires your credit card to take a reservation and it requires two days notice for any refund. So it was clear to me that I had already paid for the room. To me that's a contract. Since I have already paid for the room it was the motel's responsibility to make sure that there were some way for me to get in the room whenever I arrived. If I can't cancel then they can't cancel.That's the contract.
The person who answered asked "well, around what time are you coming?" I said it was hard to tell but I imagined between 10 and 11. He said when “you get halfway here call us and we'll see what we need to do.” He said he thought there would be no problem if I arrive by 10, no maybe 11, oh 10, it was all very ambiguous and circuitous. I politely tried to make arrangements for arriving late but the conversation was extremely strange and he did not want to be pinned down to any kind of procedure.
He mentioned nothing about there being any closing time for the front desk. The e-mail they had sent me mentioned nothing about any closing time for front desk. Their web site mentions nothing about any closing time for the front desk. When you get there there is no sign painted on the front desk door about a closing time for the front desk. Only after you get in the room is there a note on the phone that there is an 11 PM closing time for the front desk. And only after you read the brochure in all its detail sitting on the desk do you see is 10 PM in midweek winter months and 11 PM in the summer months. I think you might see where this is going.
When I reached the halfway point I stopped for gas and I called the motel. I told him where I was and how it looked to me that it was impossible that I was going to reach the Motel by 10 PM. The same person had answered the phone. He said, "Well, call me when you get closer." I said, "There's no cell phone coverage driving on the highway from Jasper to Banff." He said, "Well, once I reached Lake Louise I should call him again. That's cell phone coverage should be available at that point." I said, "I really don't want to be in that much of a hurry. Lake Louise was still far away. Why don't we just make the arrangements now for late arrival?" He said, "Oh, well, I don't know, it's hard to tell, just call me when you get to Lake Louise." I gave up. I said okay. I got on the road. But, could I trust this guy to stay until I got there late? Clearly, not. I drove up to ### kilometers per hour (I don't want to self-incrimiate) at times going through the Rocky Mountains on a dark night with no moonlight, trying to follow the taillights of the car in front of me and having to go at that speed to keep them within my view was a treacherous night. All because I couldn't trust this clerk to not just lock me out of my already paid for room.
I got to Lake Louise, I pulled over and I called the motel. Same guy. He lives in this area. I told him I was at the intersection of the main highway and the exit to Lake Louise. I imagined he'd know how far a way that was from the motel. I said how far is it from Lake Louise to Banff? He said 56km. I said, "Okay, I'm about 56 KM from you. It's 9:48 PM. Will you be there when I get there? He said yes. There was still no mention of there being any definite closing time for the front desk.
When I got there, he ran my credit card and gave me a key. He clearly had an attitude about something but I didn't know about what. I didn't mention it. What did I care? I just want to get in my room and unpack.
I asked for the key so I could take a look at the room and start bringing stuff up. He gave me the key.It was an upstairs room.
Generally, the room looked fine. There's lots of wood. 1980s wal-mart-type oak furniture but all of it is reasonably new and in good shape. The room is large enough. The bed is very comfortable. While the same desk clerk tried to talk me into a room with one bed, I reminded him that, no, I had reserved two beds and that's what I would take. Sure the side walls of the room were cinderblocks painted white but the price was good and the room was clean, I thought, so fine.
However, the room was up stairs, I knew it would take me at least five trips to bring everything in, So it went back down and asked him if he had a room that was on the first floor. He looked at his computer, scratched his head, looked very officious, and said yes he had a room. I said I want to take a look at it, please give me the key, and I stretched out my hand. He went ballistic. He starts yelling at me. He said that he had had to wait an extra half hour for me, that his boss had forced him to do it, and that he didn't want to hear any complaints. He had to get up at seven in the morning and go to his job.I assume he meant his other job.
I was dumbfounded. At first I just looked at him staring at him. All I had requested was to see another room. He also had said again that the three parking spaces near the stairway were reserved for just loading and unloading, and that I should drive around back and park, and that the parking was on a first-come first-served basis. He explained that part three times. By the way I later learned, driving my car to a parking space that was acceptable to him, that there appeared to be only six cars in the parking lot. The motel was nearly empty. You'd think in those conditions they would treat their guests better. Foolish me!
Anyway, back to the main episode of this story, I looked at him I told him that this was outrageous. I told him that I was the customer and he would do well to remember that. I told him last I have to be working at seven in the morning too and and that all I was asking for was a key to look at another room. I told him that his problem was not with me but with his boss who apparently did not want to hire enough staff, yet, nonetheless, this treatment from him was unacceptable. Being yelled at by desk clerk is not what I consider a good hospitality experience.
Obviously, after being yelled at for the apparently outrageous request of wanting to look at another room in what appeared to be a nearly empty motel, I wasn't going to ask them for the code to the Internet. I asked him to have his boss contact me. Then, I gave up and moved my stuff up to the original room. The front desk clerk already had his coat on when I had come down. He locked up and left while I was moving my stuff into the room upstairs. And, here I am writing this without Internet access. LOL.
One of the things I found in my room, after I had unpacked, was that the toilet is not properly cleaned. There were urine stains on the rim of the toilet bowl and it looks like someone needed to push the brush further in to clean the bowl at the bottom. I'm sure you know what I mean. Of course, as I've stated already, the front desk was already closed. It is anther long story but it is possible that antibiotic resistant germs in this room gave me pneumonia. As I said, another long story.
Let's see what happens in the morning. I think no one is at the front desk until 8 AM. The material in the room gives conflicting information. It says that in the summer the front desk is open from 7 AM to 11 PM. Then, in the booklet it says for winter midweek the hours of the front desk are 8 AM to 10 PM. In this context, for a motel, what is the meaning of the word midweek?
After all the events are described above about my check in experience, I took little drive around town. I'd been in Banff for about an hour two years ago, just driving through, and many times in 1966 to 1968 leading bicycle trips in my youth. Of course, it has changed. If you leave the highway at Banff Avenue you first go through an array of what can only be described as one continuous motel on both sides of the street for about 10 blocks. If Disney were to design a Western Northern image of wood motels actually made a Formica, it would look like Banff. The real Banff, where real people live, mostly of course the teenage service workers who work in the convenience stores and fast food restaurants, is off the main streets and, of course, slightly rundown. It's all a pity to me. The old Banff was a wonderful and real place. The new Banff exudes the most wasteful end of consumerism. They made a shopping center a city. Or, perhaps, they made a city a shopping center. I'm not sure which or if there is actually a difference. Perhaps my view of the city was spoiled by my check in experience and that by day 4 I was becoming quite ill.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Perfect for the budget conscious traveler looking for an Inn with a cozy mountain feel. Bumpers is situated in a peaceful location at the start of Banff Avenue, surrounded on two sides by forest with the majestic Cascade Mountain in the background. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Bumpers Hotel Banff
- Bumpers Motel Banff