We arrived very tired, having been involved in lots of stressful work with major deadlines and many sleep-deprived nights before departing for Chicago. Imagine how happy we were when the alarm clock in our hotel room went off at 400am during the first day we could actually sleep in a little. And not even a digital alarm clock (which is very easy to see or find in the dark) but an old-fashioned alarm clock (which is not easy to see in the dark), and with a ringing bell and a broken button (which can be very difficult to shut off when awakened unexpectedly at four in the morning). Why can't the housekeeping staff be trained to turn off all alarms when guests check out? Probably for the same reason they should also be very careful of what position and location they leave the room TVs in: they are not good service providers. Excellent television by the way, but, huge and on a swinging arm. Ours was left extended out very far into the room space, not near or against the wall, and had we not been more careful while entering the room and unloading, we would have banged our heads on it, with a good gonk.
Earth to management: it's high time to make a thorough checklist for your maids, because they are doing a sloppy job. Please make sure you remember to put "replenishing supplies" on it, too. When we first checked in, we thought a cup of coffee or two would be nice. We found a machine in the room, and nothing else but a mess. Coffee stains on the drawer tray, a used/dirty machine, and mostly missing sweeteners and products. Last guests apparently removed all the teas and coffees, left a sweetener and one creamer, and hoisted the rest. Fine, but, jeez, housekeeping, replace them! We did call and get them replaced, but almost an hour later. So much for the "we'll send them right up".
One decaf coffee to every four or five offered provided- okay, I can understand that, BUT, if, the next morning it is discovered that only the one Decaf was consumed, wouldn't it be logical to assume that this is exactly what should be replaced? This is a no-brainer, and yet... The decaf was not replaced at all, until requested. Same for the (yummy) hazelnut creamer, and even the drinking glasses, too. If they can't replace them because they are out of stock (what I was told by a maid in the hallway) then leave the old ones there. Very, very low standard of housekeeping. YOU NEED A CHECKLIST!
First morning we had called (at 950am) to ask until what time breakfast would be served, and were told 1100. Great- no need to rush. We strolled on down at 1035, were seated, after much confusion the hostess and servers had about how to handle our e-certificates, but seated nonetheless. When asked what we wanted to order by the server, we said the buffet. Ah, but then we learned that the buffet had closed at 1030. Now, wouldn't it have made sense to inform us of that when we inquired on the phone what time breakfast was served until? But no, this information was withheld, and it gets even worse. We ordered (very expensive a la carte menu, and the quality very uneven) what turned out to be a mediocre waffle for $17 which came with one measly, old strawberry in the center and nothing else. Couldn't you throw on a few more berries for that price? Also, we both ordered bacon- the menu description sounded delicious. The two servings of bacon were horrible- barely lukewarm, dry, overcooked and tasteless. My educated guess would be that our bacon came directly from the buffet that had just closed, and had been sitting around for a couple of hours. for what we paid à la carte, freshly cooked bacon was in order. Unconscionable! Mind you, I did have a nice bowl of mixed berries, and the hash browns were good, as were the cappuccinos. With an orange juice it all came to a total of about $60 before tax and tip. So, just about $75 for a mostly terrible breakfast, in a Fairmont Hotel. And even though we did have fifty dollars in certificates, we still paid an additional $25 out of pocket, and quite honestly, there are many other breakfast places in the city where we could have and should have had an excellent fresh morning meal for $25. Oh well, lesson learned, hopefully.
Second day (of 6) we left the room at 1035am, and came back at 125 pm, to do some work. Room had not been cleaned. We were gone almost 3 hours; evidently that was not enough time. We were given some excuse along the lines of the maid had to work on a different floor. Not good enough. I called to express concern about this and dissatisfaction. That's when I first got connected to Murtaza. First he apologized, then a few minutes later he actually told me that the policy in this hotel was to service the guest rooms only every other day! Really? And he further explained that this was the policy in many hotels now! News to me, and I travel, and read and write about travel. Okay, so I said, "well, that's fine but maybe communicating this policy to your guests in advance, either in written form somewhere in the room, or verbal notification upon check-in, would be a good idea". He agreed, then he put me on hold. Then he came back and said, no, he was wrong, "That is not the policy at this hotel", and he apologized. WTH!??
This is my first time staying at a Fairmont (four nights to go, what will happen next?). I usually stay at Westins, Meridiens, Marriotts, Hyatts and Sheratons. I can tell you this experience was not inspirational in the least. The lobby is very attractive. So are the lobbies in many other hotel brands.
We slept well, and have in other hotels, too. The location is excellent, but there are many other reputable hotels in the same neighborhood. So, why on earth would we want to establish loyalty to this chain? I was hoping to be at least favorably impressed, even if not swept off my feet, but this has not happened. Au contraire, cher Fairmont. Why aren't you doing much better!
Murtaza, at least, meant well- and sent us a bottle of very nice California red wine (Tarrica Vineyards Merlot 2012 Paso Robles) and some chocolate covered strawberries, and a written apology- all a very nice gesture, BUT, I don't think that this is quite the right way to show us that they can get the certain basics that they messed up, accomplished correctly. Fresh, well-prepared bacon would have been more meaningful, and very relevant, for starters.
Now, a brief follow-up to the sharing of the problems with Murtaza: he had left me two messages (but was unable to reach me as my partner and I had dined out with friends and returned late) and asked for me to call him back (but he had not left a phone extension). The following morning I called the main switchboard and asked to speak to him. The female employee working there then said, "We have nobody here by that name". I thought perhaps I had pronounced the name incorrectly- so I tried asking for "Murchaza or Murhaza". This bright bulb next came back with, "You must want to speak with Sean Halloran, I'll connect you with him". I kid you not! So I told her, "No, I am not looking for Sean Halloran, never mind, I will speak to someone at the Front Desk", which I did, and with success. And at that point I asked for Murtaza's title as well, and when I learned that he is a supervisor, I was incredulous that a Fairmont Switchboard Operator would not know the name of the Fairmont Gold Supervisor at her own hotel. This is so unprofessional at all, and a blatant example of poor or lack of communication in the hotel, and again, this is not a cheap motel....
Something of little importance, but interesting when added to everything else: when I had first asked Murtaza why we were receiving the New York Times instead of a local newspaper, the reason he gave was that the other guest in my room had requested it (for the middle 3 nights in his name, whereas the first two and last one for a total of 3 also, were in my name). Interestingly, I had not requested it, but I am female, perhaps the male request is considered more important? Okay, at least there's a somewhat viable explanation. Murtaza added me that we could receive both the Chicago Tribune and the NYT. But I said, "Thank you but, it's not necessary, I just wondered why we hadn't been given a Chicago Tribune". The next morning, when, after initial excitement at seeing a stack of two papers outside the door, I discovered that they were actually just two NY Times, one on top of the other! Is it a comedy or tragedy of errors at this establishment?
Yesterday (day 3), I needed to print a page or two, called the "Business Center" a couple of times between 430 and 500pm, with no answer. I gave up, called an hour or two later, learned they had closed at 500, but that I could get in with my room key. That worked, but then I see that it’s not really a business center, it's an outpost for FedEx, and to use the internet you have to pay by credit card- something like 40 cents per minute. I only needed a couple of minutes, so no big deal- that would not break the bank, but I feel bad for hotel guests who need an hour or more. I have never stayed at a fine hotel that charged guests for internet service, or that outsourced their business center to Fed Ex. I hope this is not the wave of the future!
Harrumph. It reminds me of college education nowadays, with astronomical tuition and expenses of $60-70k per year, per student, and still the schools wants to nickel and dime them to death for all kinds of things that should be included, like photocopies- instead they make them print their own syllabi and other papers, to “save paper”, which is really just a sham for keeping down their own photocopying costs. Some of the kinder and wiser universities give the kids a couple of hundred dollars per year allowance for printing and copy fees. That makes sense, when you're charging well over fifty thousand, you can spring for that.
And Fairmont hotels, when you’re charging almost 300 bucks a night, you can afford to adopt a similar policy- throw in a few minutes of internet and a page or two printed in your business center.
Day 4, I call up Housekeeping (again) and ask for some more Hazelnut creamers, which had not been replaced, and somebody comes a few minutes later with a cup of 6 creamers, only 2 of which are hazelnut. Sigh...
It does seem like there are a few good intentions here (and you know what Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde said about those...) but, the actual execution of tasks is truly pathetic. So, what gives? My guess would be that it's poor training and lousy communication, but perhaps it also comes partly from hiring people who are inept, unreliable, ignorant, stubborn, rude, or, simply don't care about their job, because maybe the pay is too low for them to care or take pride in what they do?
I don't know the answers for why service has been so poor, but I do know that when you (or I) spend almost $300 dollars for one hotel room for one night, there is an expectation that the stay will be up to a certain standard of quality.
The room is well appointed, the bed, pillows, linens, all very comfortable, the view is pretty, BUT, the service has truly been shabby and not at all up to the most minimum of expectations.
Unfair-mont Hotel I would have to say.
Sunday morning (6th day), we had been told the buffet was served later on the weekends, so decided we would aim for a nice leisurely long breakfast. At 1040ish we called downstairs to ask at what time the buffet closed. We were told eleven thirty. Good, in a little while we would start to get ready without rushing. Eleven minutes later- 10:51 am, we got a call. The woman I had spoken to a little while earlier told me, “actually the buffet closes at 11:00. Again with the wrong info! It just never ends. So we rushed and barely made it in time, stressed, harried, hurried, not how we wanted to spend Sunday morning breakfast near the end of our stay. Too bad too, because it was a very nice buffet.
Final epilogue: After 6 nights, we needed to leave hotel around 145, hoped to leave room around 130. Called down on last morning to find out check out time, told 12:00. We asked for a late check- out , we were told 100. I said, listen we’ve been here six nights, we’ve had a lot of problems here and we really need till 130 or 145 maximum, please. Put on hold and then told, “No, the hotel is very booked today and we need to flip the room as soon as possible”. Thanks, Austin! What professional language to use with a guest. So, I asked for the manager, was put on hold, and Austin came back, changed his tune to kindly and said, “She says you can have the room until 3, no problem”. “ Thank you, but 1:30 is all we really need.
And that was our service during our six night stay here. Quite the disappointment.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover Chicago. Overlooking Grant and Millennium Parks, the Fairmont Chicago features 687 guest rooms including 65 suites. For our more discerning guests, reserve our exclusive lifestyle hotel experience, Fairmont Gold. Columbus Tap offers a quintessential Windy City tap house experience with fresh Midwest-focused menu. Start the day off right with breakfast in the Millennium Room. Enjoy a curated menu of crafted signature cocktails and word-class wines by the glass paired with contemporary small plates in THE BAR. mySpa is an 11,000 sq ft urban sanctuary featuring 8 treatment rooms and a fitness studio. Ideally located just steps from Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Theatre District and world renowned museums, the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is perfect for business or pleasure. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Hotel Chicago
- Fairmont Hotel Chicago
- Chicago Fairmont