I had one of the worst visits ever at this hotel, and I’m going to let my email to the hotel tell you why. I have removed some personal information, as well as edited in some minor ways. I will update it at the end. Prepare yourself for a bumpy ride. Also, if you were planning to stay there, I’d recommend looking into some other options. Don’t believe me? Read on:

Dear IHG Customer Relations,

I am writing to you just days after returning home from what was otherwise an unremarkable, but quite nice trip to Kansas City, MO, a city I visit every three months, if not more. It’s taken me a few days to find time to complete this letter because I have been busy working and trying to take time to compose a letter explaining my stay, with multiple pictures, at the Candlewood at the Kansas City International Airport (Reservation # [redacted]), a place you will never find me again. I realize this letter is lengthy. You will understand why after you read it. I look forward to your response to me. Thank you.

If you look at my stays with IHG, you’ll note most of my Kansas City stays every three months them are with you… Whether I have been in Overland Park, Kansas City proper, Lenexa, or any other suburb, I have stayed all over the area. Even after you did not open a hotel in time last year and left me in a lurch with my reservation, I still stayed at another of your properties, which maybe means I am too trusting of you, as this last visit has shown. I do expect that though I may continue with your properties, I will not continue with Candlewoods and will likely warn others away because my last three Kansas City stays in Candlewoods,  which I’ve chosen for their practical value since I go for doctor’s visits and these are simple but well-equipped, (usually) clean for a frequent traveler; however, this is no longer true and has included broken facilities, worn down facilities, and unkempt facilities. I have responded to surveys noting these things. But I feel it’s important to note that as recently as my last IHG stay in late July, I also responded to a survey (as I do often when things are good as well) praising your excellent facilities and employees as IHG properties, Stephen and the entire staff and facilities of the HIE downtown Minneapolis for going above and beyond; I don’t complain about every stay hoping to receive gifts. But I do review stays and this stay has a slot on my travel blog in the form of a very slightly modified (only for understanding for my audience) copy of this email. This is a partial  list of the things I remember from my stay, which began at 12:30 a.m. and ended a mere 36 hours later. I will include pictures  with it, which will be self-explanatory after reading this. This letter would not be so lengthy, nor the file size so large, if the issues were not so all-encompassing that they necessitated such a list. Virtually all of the issues are housekeeping issues and there should never be so many glaringly obvious housekeeping issues in one room in one stay. They are in no particular order, and what’s most notable is that I did not go looking for any of them. What is most troubling is that after several of them, I lived in constant tension and anticipation, a sort of fear of what I might find next. I could not enjoy my stay because it was like living in a pit of yuck.

Listen, I did not expect the Intercontinental or even a Holiday Inn Express. I expected a Candlewood. A quick look at my stay history over the multiple years I have been with you should show you I know my hotels and their differences. I expected cleanliness. Since you have removed single use shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, I expected adequate supplies. I expected floors to be clean and to not have trash on them; I expected, trash cans to be empty. I expected there to be an extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom cupboard. My expectations were basic and simple. Here is what I received:

As I was leaning to turn off a light, I happened to notice that behind the TV stand there was a straw wrapper and a crumpled up napkin or something. Heaven only knows how long it had been there.

– There was visible dirt and debris on the corner of the floor noticeable to the naked eye without bending over on the corner by the bathroom as well as next to the refrigerator near the garbage area. I am near-sighted, and do not wear my glasses indoors. That I could see it without looking for it is quite notable—and problematic.

-The moment I arrived I went to put some cans of Diet Coke in the refrigerator and there was a half-filled bottle of water laying on its side in the refrigerator already.

IMG_5632

-There was also a single glass left in the dishwasher

IMG_5681

-I looked up and notice the microwave not bothered to be reset and had seconds left to go.

IMG_5635

-That got me looking in the cabinet. I saw the dishes in the cabinet laying askew.

IMG_5683

-Next to the dishes were coffee cups, the disposable kind. By that point I was counting because nothing seemed right. One had been used. There were three cups, but four lids. It hadn’t even bothered to be replaced. I have been in enough Candlewoods to know how many coffee cups are standard. Housekeeping should too.

IMG_5682

-In more serious news, as I ran water—each time—to wash my hands, fill my medically necessary Waterpik (because I am only a few weeks post-op from very intense oral surgery and it’s not complete yet) and brush my teeth) the bathroom sink could not handle it, and it filled instantly. This was especially problematic because I had to run it to get the water warm to fill the Waterpik. Eventually I gave up and got it from the bathtub faucet. The sink was disgusting.

-At the kitchen sink there were maybe four paper towels left on the roll when I arrived. I looked underneath for a new roll. Again, it is standard to have a new roll—in a new package, wrapped—nope. There was an unwrapped roll sitting there in an unsanitary fashion under the sink. And with only a few paper towels left, I would think it would be common to simply take that and replace the entire roll.

-When I went to throw something out from my own garbage, the trash can next to the kitchen area had trash in it already. It was something like a paper crumpled up. Perhaps whomever was not cleaning anything forgot to throw it behind the television.

-Not to be outdone, however. in the bathroom, there was not a spare roll of toilet paper because, apparently, the roll that was already on it was the spare roll, and I knew that because in that trash can was the crumpled up package from that roll. Out of three trash cans in my room, only one had nothing in it. Back in my college days when I had to stay in places like Motel 6, even then, at least my trash cans were clean.

-What was empty, however, was the shower gel in the bound-to-the-wall  And though the conditioner appeared to have some in it, it also was empty. Because of its consistency, it just sticks to the sides and appears that way. I was not able to get either. The shampoo had some, but not a lot. I am a runner, which means I shower at least twice a day. I also travel to Kansas City by air, which means the less I carry the better. If you’re going to be environmentally friendly, please work on being  customer friendly and actually filling these containers after each visit. This is the second time in a row the shower gel has been empty at two hotels.

IMG_5633

-When I went to get a laundry bag for my dirty clothes to put in my suitcase and opened the closet, there was a double housekeeping whammy: dirt or something (I didn’t want to see closely) on the floor by the ironing board on the far side, and only a to order laundry, but no one had bothered to replace a plastic bag.

-Speaking of carelessness. When I got in the bed, I went to grab the soft pillows, which is all I use, and 50 percent of the 8 pillows on the two queen beds were mislabeled; soft and hard were mixed up. So obviously I had to feel to decide which was which, which I would think any average adult could do. It’s not that it was too difficult, but I didn’t appreciate having to feel 8 pillows to find which ones I needed because someone didn’t do the job I paid for by trusting your hotel. This is minor but I think it is part of the point I am trying to show. The utter lack of care and pride in the job here was demonstrated everywhere in this room. Positively everywhere.

-Some more gross news appeared on the top side of the comforters and the throws over them on the bed—thank God the sheets themselves appeared clean, as did the towels, or I would have been gone, but I was only there for two days–had stains on them. These stained were bold ink stains in one case and another one that looked like food that did not come out. Look, bleach them or toss them if they won’t come out! This was the most despicable and disgusting stay that I have had since I stayed 20 years ago in a random Boston hotel that made me run away to a clean hotel. I will be leaving a review on this.

-No towels in the fitness room, one treadmill broken totally.

IMG_5664

This is only a partial And that is what is most upsetting of all.

What is very sad about this is you have some wonderful staff members. One—Lydia, I believe, was  incredibly nice to me when my keys did not work when I came home back after a long day at the doctor and running around two pharmacies and taking a run in the heat. She literally watched my things that I left at my door on the cameras while I ran down to get keys because she was there alone. I mentioned to her a bit of this and showed her one picture of the dirt and she was pretty appalled and said, “I will definitely be adding some points to your account.” She was true to her word, but she did not know the extent and her 1000 points does not begin to satisfy me in this area. I do not have a complaint with her, but you have to also understand. This was not a holiday. I literally had one day on the ground there and the last thing I had time to do was spend time explaining and taking a tour of my room. I was exhausted and in pain and had to go back. I didn’t even have time to see my own friends.

I don’t like to get on to housekeeping because I’m sure they’re the lowest paid people generally, and probably need their jobs more than anybody, but honestly, where is the management that should care about the standards of this hotel. I can hardly believe room [redacted] is the only room that wasn’t cared for well.

This is absolutely unacceptable and will prevent me and probably many others from ever returning. I’m a Platinum Elite member, who holds two IHG credit cards. I have been faithful and loyal to you—and I am scheduled to spend my next birthday at an [redacted] in [redacted], which I chose very carefully, and am now a bit worried about… I have left wonderful reviews for my wonderful stays…. I have elite status with four leading hotel groups across the US, Europe, and Asia. But never, even when I was so poor that I used to stay in those Motel 6s, have I seen things so careless as I have in this hotel. It’s like whomever manages these things doesn’t care at all. How can somebody not clean the garbage cans out of napkins or make sure there’s not a straw wrapper or a piece of chocolate laying on the floor? How can somebody not make sure the dishes are straight in the cabinet?

This time I decided to stay near the airport because my trip was so short. I chose this hotel because the points were the lowest amount and I had surgery recently which cost me a lot of money and I could not afford a higher priced hotel and  didn’t want to use a lot of points. But I honestly think that this wasn’t worth any points because everywhere I turned there was something wrong. Even on my sloppiest days in my own home it’s not as bad as this hotel was. All I could do was walk around with my mouth hanging open because I could not believe how absolutely careless and the glitch for everything was at every turn and just when I thought I’d seen the last thing there was something else. I’m just kind of afraid to look right now.

Due to weather potential, I asked Lydia about the possibility of a late check out, half expecting my flight to be delayed. Ever-gracious, she told me, “because you are Platinum Elite, you can have a one o’clock, a two o’clock, or a three o’clock checkout” I’d come to ask for a one, but decided to go ahead and take the 3 p.m. because that would give me opportunity to rest in the hotel if the plane was delayed; it might not be well cared for, but it was better than a crowded terminal, I reasoned. She wrote me down, and  thanked her. This hotel definitely acknowledge my status better than most. But that backfired too, and was the absolute last straw. I was angry, not just irritated at this point because I needed my sleep very much, but your housekeeping staff did not care about that.

You will see a picture in these attachments which show that I still had a sign right on my door indicating not to disturb me.

IMG_5688

However, despite check out being at noon for all guests, housekeeping tried to enter my room without knocking at 11. Thank God I had latched the door since I was in my underwear.

IMG_5687

This is unacceptable and had I not latched the door and had been out of bed in my underwear, you would be facing a lawsuit. There is a picture enclosed of how it had tried to be entered. I yelled from bed that I had a late checkout, and my sleep was ruined. I wanted to cry because I was so tired. That cost me an hour of sleep as my flight was late enough I could have slept till noon. I keep different hours as it is, and didn’t fall asleep until after 5. Then, despite that, at 11:22, a very loud bang and yelling of “housekeeping” at my door, interrupted me again, scaring me. Once again, this is before even the standard check out time and with a do not disturb sign on the door.  I was infuriated at this point.

There is a review in my travel blog about this experience, which is piggybacked off of other recent Candlewood hotel experiences in which I have had some of these things happen, but never all of them at the same time like this. This was a miserable nightmare of a weekend because of you… You obviously have some front desk staff who are striving to do a terrific job because the man who checked me in and worked overnight both nights also was incredibly friendly. Even returning my 30,000 points—which would be the decent thing to do, and I have never asked for a refund before–could not make up for how awful it has been. Basically, everything was so unorganized at every step of the way that it was stunning. I honestly have never seen anything like it. I have traveled all over the world as a solo traveler usually, and this is unlike anything I have experienced. One reason I stay with recognized names and with places I have status is specifically to avoid such incidents.  Some of this was certainly minor, though unacceptable, some was not.  None was okay. And frankly, almost every single time I stay with IHG someone knocks on my door with a DND sign on when I have a late check out—though usually most don’t do it before hotel check out. And certainly men don’t try to enter my room without knocking. That was the absolute last straw. I am still not sure what to do, but you will never see me at the Candlewood MCI again, and I suspect you won’t see anyone who reads my travel blog. I may not write off every IHG property yet, for I know there are differences, but this was a sobering experience. I’m sure you can understand why.

[name]

[redacted IHG Number]

I sent this at about 4 a.m. and within six hours had received this reply:

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 2.00.22 AM

Dr. Susan? I’m not sure how to take this. See my post on how Hilton and IHG handled the same situation of not having a hotel ready and I think you will understand the differences. Hilton does things such as give free gift cards and nights in hotels. IHG gives you some bonus points or back your points. Here, I would have clawed for those points back. Absolutely. I wonder if I had paid cash if it would have been that easy? I don’t really love “I know they appreciate your sharing your experience, and I am confident they will take appropriate steps…” This says there won’t even be oversight or accountability. This is “here’s your ‘money’ back, so go away quietly.” But  I’m not sure I will.

Candlewoods are by no means fancy places, but they can be really nice for what they are. My mom and I stayed in one in Del City, Oklahoma, last October, and it was nicer than the older Holiday Inn Express in Midwest City, literally across the street, I had stayed in the night before she arrived for the conference we were attending. They are not real suites in that most are one room, but they have kitchens–and bathtubs. I hate the trends of walk in showers and no tubs. They are great for non vacation stays. I won’t spend some big birthday stay in them, but for 10,000 or 15,000 points a night when basically I am hopping in and out of town, you bet. However, this was unexcusable for a hotel. And Ms. Nina isn’t getting it yet. I will update you with any further replies. But here’s the bottom line: DO NOT STAY HERE.

I did have to giggle (and growl) a bit at IHG’s website and what it says:

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 1.40.19 AM

Riiiiiight.

There is an older but apparently nice (I believe it) Hampton in basically across the street from the airport, a Holiday Inn (IHG but better standards) where I have stayed, and have had very nice stays), and even a Hilton Garden Inn down the road, all in similar price ranges, though all at higher point values, sadly. But I’d use more of my points than stay at this disorganized place again with its dirt and men trying to walk in my room at 11 a.m. when my DND sign is on. When I think about that… guys, he did NOT KNOCK that first time. The key went in the door and the only thing that stopped him was my latch. Had I forgotten that night and happened to be walking across the room… I can’t even, as my students say. Find another hotel. It’s very hard for me to believe this was an isolated incident with the myriad things wrong. This is clearly systemic. Don’t. Just don’t.