Back in February 2010, I called Starwood Hotels to inquire about making a reservation for six nights at their Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel in Honolulu for 6 nights using some of my Starwood points. The hotel website indicated a standard room was was available for points and that upgrades could be obtained for more points. Yet, the website did not allow this upgrade to be purchased online. I was interested in booking a room in the “Towers” building of the property with a balcony, so I called Starwood reservations.
At that time, I was told the Tower rooms were given to Preferred Members “if available” at check in. I then specifically asked the agent if Starwood allowed free updates, i.e., to the Tower rooms, and was told “yes.” I had been looking at websites and readily found a Starwood Preferred Guest who WAS upgraded at his time of arrival at this hotel at no charge. I was impressed, so I made the reservation hoping a room in the Towers might be available when I arrived.
Several days before our departure I rechecked availiability, and again there were Tower room available. Still, I wondered about the “free” part of the Starwood program, I was willing to pay extra points for the upgraded room. So, two days before departure, I again called. This time I paid for the call to the local Moana Surfrider Hotel, an 808 area code. Again I was told the same – free upgrades if the Tower room could be obtained if one was available. Well, I felt more certain and did not want to look foolish at the reservation counter with my wife.
Upon arriving, I spoke to what seemed to be a special reservation agent for "preferred" guests. We stood at this agent's counter for 50 minutes while she did something on her computer, and we stood there waiting and waiting while all others guests in line had been helped and passed by. She continually gave us an indication that she could find an available Tower room. Then at last the moment came, she had a nice room for us. But it would cost $600 (actually $677 - plus tax). Surprise. I explained what I had been told by 3 previous reservation agents, but she insisted that was NOT the policy. Now after standing there for 50 minutes and knowing my wife was anxious about the room, I said okay but firmly said I had been specifically told by Starwood agents that was not the policy of which I had been informed. To make things more embarassing, the agent indicated I had to pay for the room “upfront.” Never had I been asked to pay for a Westin or Starwood Luxury hotel room upfront. Another embarassment. Nonetheless, the agent told me that I must sign and pay for the room right then.
Well, at that time I asked if I could pay for the room using my points. The hotel agent tried to figure out how many points it would be, but she was unable to do the calculation. She only keep saying, “It’s a lot of points, a lot of points.” How many points? “Just a lot of points,” I was again told. But I knew the points from the Starwood internet chart. But she couldn’t tell me – too complicated for her. Finally in frustation, I just signed for the room and paid with my AMEX card. My wife was extremely anxious and went to sit down.
After getting to our room, I called Starwood reservations to verify the company policy. I spoke to two agents (was cut off from the first) and explained what had happened. They both said, “That’s terrible, and it is NOT Starwood’s policy to charge for upgrades if available at the time of checkin. The second agent said she would transfer me to the Starwood Corporate customer service. It was then I spoke with a nice gentleman named “Thomas.” His impression was the same as the other agents. So he had me hold on and he called the hotel. He came back on the line and advise me of what I had been told at checkin. Moreover he said he learned from them this policy was on the hotel website. I asked him to find it for I was sure it was not. He agreed it was not there. He said he would investigate and “make things right.”
Well, the day before checkout, my wife and I looked at the hotel bill on the TV. And lo and behold a $677 credit was on the bill. Nice job I said Thomas. The balance was now a credit of (-) $171. All seemed well. But went we went to check out in the morning things had changed. Suddenly there was NO credit on the bill as the TV had indicated. What was going on I had no idea. Moreover, we got the same rude agent at check out, unfortunately. And we again went through the same thing. No the customer ISN’T always right there, just a snotty attitude. So she said she would go and get the manager to see me. Another 20 minutes passed, waiting at the counter. Finally, another lady came out, and again we went round and round. The manager I guess stayed in his big office and thought only to send his assistant, we were not good enough for him to see personally. Afterall, he was the decision maker. Wow. And we were told he was not going to change his mind about the charge – tough you signed a contract we were told. I of course, I had no idea we were signing a “contract” at the registration. A contract that was a binding and unchangeable “contract.” It was only a registration. Afterall, we were not buying a house.
We have stayed at many Starwood hotels, and they have been excellent, but this hotel thinks more of money than their even their "perferred" guests.
Unique Quality: Similiar to other Honolulu properties, except their staff is rude and uncaring.