My trip to the Chicago Seminars started off with a surprise: a stay at the La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Chicago O’Hare Airport hotel.
No Room at the (Holiday) Inn
I arrived at the Holiday Inn and Suites Elk Grove Village (the Seminars’ host hotel) late Wednesday night — around midnight or so.
The Amazing Abed — guest representative extraordinaire — welcomed me with open arms. (Like, literally, spread out his arms as if to say, You’re here! Welcome!)
Abed punched around on the computer a little bit. But I quickly gathered that something was rotten in the Village of Elk Grove.
Ethiad canceled a flight earlier in the evening — and the Holiday Inn was where a bunch of passengers were sent with room vouchers.
“We have to walk you,” he said. (For those unfamiliar with the term, “walking” is hotel speak for “bringing a guest to another hotel because the original hotel has no more available rooms.”) That’s not something any hotel guest wants to hear — especially late at night.
I worked at a hotel during college. Our property walked people to other hotels once or twice a year. The situation is unpleasant for everyone. The walked guest is understandably irritated. The hotel workers deal with angry travelers — on top of keeping up with the busyness of a sold-out property.
So, I understood the situation. (Plus, I could squeeze out a bonus trip report blog post! Score!)
And, yes, hotels can do this — even with confirmed reservations. It’s sort of the equivalent of a bumpertunity. But unrewarding and much more of a pain in the neck.
Abed called around to several hotels and eventually found me a room at the La Quinta Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel.
I took an Uber (on the Holiday Inn’s dime) and arrived at my home away from home — away from home.
La Quinta Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel
I guess La Quinta is accommodating to some folks. That might explain the homeless-looking person who sat on a lobby couch and watched TV.
That’s nice of them.
But then the front desk rep gave me more news that chipped away at my patience.
Apparently, there was no walk agreement in place between the Holiday Inn and La Quinta.
But I was tired and needed sleep. So, I held the room on one of my business credit cards while the two properties remedied the situation. (The rate was $135, FWIW.) The Holiday Inn came through with payment and La Quinta removed the hold off my card.
The front desk rep and night manager both were polite and as helpful as possible.
One of “Those Places”?
Do you ever go somewhere and get an uneasy feeling? It’s not necessarily that you’re in danger or facing harm. But there’s a strange, sort of negative energy in the air. You don’t want to be there — at least, for longer than you need to.
That how I felt when I stepped off the elevator and into the fourth floor.
One of my first impressions: this isn’t one of those nice La Quintas you may hear about. It seems old and worn — and needs a refresh.
A sort of musty smell greeted me. The carpet felt thin and worn.
The mattress on which I slept wasn’t very comfortable. Plus, the pillows were square-shaped. That might work for a snooze on your couch. But they weren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep. (Just ask my friends who saw me the next day.)
The bathroom sink featured a mishmash of toiletry brands. (Why do I get the feeling it’s a “Lost and Found: Greatest Hits Edition!” offering?)
And then we have the shower.
There was this stain on one of the tub’s sides.
I’m not even kidding: the first thought (and sound) that came to mind was:
I can’t say I recommend this property. Even to people who are all about “I just want to save money and have a roof over my head while I sleep.” Nope.
Sure, I’m spoiled. But this place was just — no.
I truly enjoy staying at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village. I’m always comfortable there — and was never so happy to be back as I was later that morning.
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Marriott gets a lot of criticism (and rightly so in most cases) but the Bonvoy terms and conditions have a very explicit walk policy. IHG and Hyatt don’t.
I was walked myself from an Holiday Inn Express in January. I arrived to find a hotel without any working heat. The hotel was still open and taking guests. I said that was completely unacceptable. I went to a nearby hotel. Both the hotel GM and IHG refused to compensate me even though IHG has a vague walk policy on its website.
I’ve been walked four or five times from Sheratons, Marriotts, and AC properties not because they were overbooked but because they weren’t fully operational. In all instances, I received the required compensation explicitly stated in the Bonvoy terms.
As for the toiletries, I wouldn’t be surprised if the management company or owner bought them wholesale from other hotels that were required to eliminate individual bottles of shampoo, soap, and conditioner for wall-mounted dispensers. I see old Marriott and IHG toiletries in the photo, for example.
I was once bounced from a DoubleTree hotel in Richmond, VA. It was after midnight when I arrived. Being a Diamond member I was disappointed but drove to a nearby Wyndham property. The room was complementary and clean, but not the standard of the DoubleTree. In the morning as I was checking out there was a note at the front desk asking me to return to the other hotel. I thought it was odd but since I stay there a lot I did stop by. The manager greeted me with a huge apology and stated that the error was all his fault. The company policy is never to walk off a Diamond level guest no matter the circumstances. He awarded my Hilton honors account for the missed stay and handed me an envelope. I thought this was odd, but when I opened the envelope there was $100 in cash. Turns out business travelers are always inconvenienced and they are to brush it off. He knew by offering me something personal I would return to his hotel. He was right. I frequently stayed at that DoubleTree and told everyone about my being walked and what real customer service is all about.
Wow, very impressive!
I stayed at a La Quinta last month in rural New York and my room looked the same.And my reaction was the same, I just didn’t feel comfortable and wanted out.
I can’t think of a single property under any Wyndham brand that I would ever consider booking with my own money or, for that matter, anyone else’s money.
Just about one year ago at La Quinta, Tempe AZ (PHX). Hoooorible!
Check out this review of La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Google Maps
I was walked by a front desk agent from the Intercontinental Johannesburg Airport hotel to my check in counter with Air France! They insisted and handled my luggage for me during the walk. It was actually quite nice because it was my first time flying out of that airport, and it’s pretty massive. Seems like a small gesture perhaps but in the moment it was quite a pleasant surprise and much appreciated. I’m both Diamond and ambassador.
Wow! Been there, done that! I have seen La Quinta properties in line with your experience but also some nice ones. I once was walked from a mainline Hilton in Dallas despite Diamond status. I have seen the toiletries hodgepodge in many locations around the world. For a long time, I was under the impression that Holiday Inn Express would be a knockoff of Holiday Inn. When I ultimately had to stay at Holiday Inn Express in San Diego in order to find something within the budget while contracting at Coronado, I ended up loving it. 2 years later, I stayed at one In Portland, OR and loved it. The fact that mainline Holiday Inn has no breakfast benefit for top-tier elites confuses and bewilders me. Thus, my loyalty focus is Hilton (lifetime Gold) and Marriott (lifetime Platinum).
I’ve stayed at a number of Holiday Inn Expresses that are absolutely fine.
IHG has offered a breakfast benefit for diamond (formerly spire) since earlier this year. But yes, in my experience, most new or newly renovated Holiday Inn Express properties are nicer than most average or older Holiday Inn properties. The restaurants at most Holiday Inn properties are pretty bad. The breakfast at Holiday Inn Express is slightly more edible. The only issue I have Holiday Inn Express is the lack of a bar. It would be nice to get a glass of wine, although I suspect they would only serve Barefoot or something like that.
We me and my wife just stayed at the la quinta inn suites in San Francisco California and it was beautiful . I couldn’t believe it nice room very clean huge kitchen and bathroom just have to go to the right one ‘ the one we stayed at was in Millbrae California.
La Quintas can be such a crapshoot!
I got walked this summer by Embassy Suites in Memphis to a less than satisfactory Holiday Inn with a number of issues – bed, leaky pipes, dirty carpets and furniture. (Does anyone get walked to a “better” brand hotel?) Hilton comp’d night walked, but company pays that. What comp does inconvenienced traveler get. I drove myself to and from and cost me another hour of already short night of sleep. They said they would provide something in the mail. Months later, nothing. Might be a while before I stay at a Hilton property with planned late checkin.
I started a Fb called Hotels from hell, while I have never been walked to another hotel, I have lots of experience with the good and very bad rooms!
I (Bonvoy Titanium) was walked after showing up to my Fairfield Inn and 11pm. The hotel was going through management changes and the front desk associate didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know who to call, didn’t know procedure, didn’t know she owe’d me $200 cash on the spot.
I ended up calling Bonvoy help desk who booked me in at a neighboring Courtyard. The original hotel ended up marking my reservation as “no-show” so it took me 3+ months to get the $200 from the owners of the hotel and the 90,000 points I’m entitled to. Bad experience from start to finish.
Chris, were you able to get back to the Holiday Inn the next day?? I have only been walked once from a private beach resort hotel to the Marriott at Mayo CLinic!! I said thar is a BIG NO as we both work in Hospitals and did not want to spend our weekend at one…vs the Beach!!
Yep, I was back the next morning.