When you book a hotel stay, the confirmation email that arrives in your inbox probably gives you the impression that your trip has been blocked. But a Bay Area woman learned this week that just because you can book a hotel room online doesn’t mean the hotel has a place to stay.
The newly renovated hotel in Vallejo allowed her to book a room for May 7-9, although hotel management later told her that she could not guarantee the room for her stay.
Last week, Radisson told NBC Bay Area that the hotel was tentatively scheduled to open on May 6. However, the city of Vallejo has told us that the hotel will not be able to welcome guests until May 20, at the earliest, due to ongoing inspections. The franchisee owner of the hotel confirms that he now plans to welcome his first customers from May 20.
A trip to the wine region
After months locked indoors during the pandemic, South Bay resident Amanda Pensack was eager to take a girls’ trip to Napa. She and her friends put together an itinerary for the weekend, with scheduled visits to wineries, restaurant reservations, and photo stops along the way.
Pensack has booked the closest Radisson property to Napa: the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Vallejo. She made the reservation using 33,000 Radisson points plus an electronic certificate, with a total value of over $ 250. She saved her confirmation email for a room at the Country Inn & Suites May 7-9.
The week before her trip, she checked the hotel’s website for parking details and noticed a message saying “I’m now accepting reservations for May 8, 2021 and beyond.”
Pensack panicked, what about his reservation on May 7th? Would she have a place to stay?
She tried to call the hotel phone line directly on several occasions, but no one answered and there was no option to leave a message. She sent messages to Radisson’s social media accounts. The reps on those accounts responded to him, although no one who answered had told him if the hotel would be open for his stay.
With time running out to find new housing, Pensack contacted the NBC Bay Area Responds team to investigate.
NBC Bay Area responds
We first emailed Radisson’s corporate communications team on April 29.
On April 30, Radisson responded by saying that the hotel was working to resolve this issue, noting that this hotel was independently owned and operated under a franchise agreement with Radisson Hotel Group Americas.
“The hotel experienced potential unexpected last-minute delays before it opened, but it still plans to open on Thursday, May 6,” a Radisson public relations specialist wrote to NBC Bay Area on April 30, adding that by May 3 the hotel must have a definitive opening date.
Radisson also said he gave Pensack two nights at another hotel, refunded 33,000 reward points and his electronic certificate, as well as an additional 66,000 reward points.
Delays in opening
By the time the hotel offered Pensack another place to stay, it was also accepting reservations for May 8. The NBC Bay Area Responds team visited the hotel property on May 3.
The property itself was fenced in and still under construction that day. We saw a staircase being installed, an empty swimming pool, and doors wide open to rooms with no finished floors.
During our visit, we bumped into Ankit Panchal, the CEO of 365 Hospitality, the Bay Area-based franchise that owns the hotel.
Panchal agreed to answer our questions and offered us a tour of a finished room. He explained that if the part of the hotel with the bare rooms and the unfinished swimming pool was not ready, he believes that another part of the hotel is almost ready for guests, pending a city inspection. .
“At the moment, we are actively monitoring it and we only have three reservations on the [May 7]so if we start to see more momentum and more people booking it we’re going to start calling them, we might shut it down because we can only accommodate 10-15 rooms on Friday, ”Panchal told NBC Bay Area. “We have a full staff, we have rooms cleaned, we are ready to rock and roll and it is only a matter of time before the city comes in and issues the partial occupancy certificate. “
Panchal said this hotel has been undergoing renovations over the past two years. Originally, he expected the hotel to open in April. But he said delays at the Port of Oakland and interruptions in international shipping left the hotel without furniture, supplies and essentials.
Additionally, Panchal said city inspection approvals took longer than the hotel expected.
We asked him why the hotel had not informed people in advance of these delays in opening.
“We put it on our website,” Panchal replied. “But what happened is when the city inspector comes in here it’s unexpected, we can’t – we won’t know what they’re going to say. [us]. So if any parts are missing, they’re going to tell us, ‘Hey, you’re gonna wait and you’re going to fix this’ and then we call our guest and tell them that ‘we’re going to move you to another property’ we can move them to an equivalent type. ‘ ”
On the evening of May 5, the Radisson reservation website for the Country Inn & Suites property in Vallejo had a banner stating that guest bookings would be accepted for stays beginning May 8. say the hotel would accept reservations from May 15th.
On May 3, Panchal told NBC Bay Area that his team had previously called guests they were unable to accommodate 24 to 48 hours before check-in, offering those guests a refund or a stay at a comparable hotel. near.
“Most of them, as we said, have accepted reimbursement or accepted relocation,” Panchal told us.
The city of Vallejo tells NBC Bay Area that a permit was issued in late January for a complete renovation and rebranding of this hotel. The last inspections to open the hotel started a few weeks ago.
According to the city’s calendar, the hotel is still at least two weeks before it can accommodate guests. The city expects hotel supplies and staff training to begin on May 13. Once this is complete, the hotel will need approval from the fire and construction departments in order to begin welcoming guests. The first guests will be at the hotel between May 20 and June 30, the city told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday.
Managing a hotel renovation during a pandemic comes with challenges. The city has acknowledged that COVID-19 has caused delays in the permitting and inspection process.
“COVID-19 has really put us, especially the tourism industry, in difficult times where few people stay in hotels, not too many people travel,” Panchal added. “Eventually after the vaccinations and things like that things start to get back to normal. We would finally like to see people come back. ”
What if you book at a new hotel?
We spoke with Panchal about what guests should keep in mind when booking new hotels in the future.
He advises calling and emailing the property where you hope to stay (rather than a 1-800 number) to speak to someone who is actually there.
“Call the property directly and try to see if you can get your hands on them, and check that” hey, I’m coming in, I have a reservation, just trying to make sure I have a room ready ” “, did he declare .
Panchal added that brand new hotels can also experience delays in shipping certain goods, such as his hotel.
AJ Rossitto, of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, noted that the standards hotels must meet can vary depending on the state, city or county where the hotel is located.
“Individual hotels and hotel brands determine their policies for re-booking, checking in and communicating with guests,” Rossitto told us.
As the state of California aims for a June 15 date to fully reopen its economy, Rossitto also noted that many hotels are still struggling and may delay reopening due to staff shortages.
You will want to do your homework on the policies of the hotel you are booking. Chris Chmura, NBC Bay Consumer Investigator, recommends that you do this research before you lock a reservation.
Pensack told us that this experience taught him to always check his reservations.
“Even if you’ve booked something and you’re thinking, oh, OK, I got a confirmation email, it doesn’t hurt to just do one last check, even a week or two, two weeks before that you’re supposed to be somewhere, ”she noted.
She’s glad she trusted her intuition when she worried about her reservation in Vallejo.
She is also happy to have reached out to the NBC Bay Area Response Team to investigate her concerns.
“I’m absolutely confident that by going through NBC and asking the NBC investigative team to help me with this potential issue, we were able to resolve it,” Pensack said.
Do you have a consumer complaint? Let us know, so we can help you.