Value Score No Data
Good For Business
Not A Misunderstanding
I have stayed at the Herrington Inn 3 times, but I will never return.
The below review is my opinion, and my wife's opinion, of what we experienced at the Herrington. I'm an African American Man, and my wife is white.
The first time I stayed at the Herrington with my then-fiance-now-wife, on business. Although we were a bit taken aback to notice how universally homogenous the staff at the Herrington is - with no visible African Americans anywhere on staff, for instance - we adored the amenities, and were charmed by the customer service from the bellhop - so much so that we decided to return for our honeymoon. The second stay, we encountered the same bellhop, and once again loved the room.
Then, just last month we returned and upon check in experienced treatment I had not previously encountered outside of historic movies about the Jim Crow era south. It seemed so antiquated, watching the desk clerk go full bigot. It was pathetic.
At no time during the check in did the individual behind the desk acknowledge me, make eye contact with me, or address me, although I was filling out the paper work for the room and pulling out my card for the room.
When I handed him my business debit card - the same one we used at each previous visit to the Herrington - he treated the card with great drama and disdain, holding it up with two fingers to examine it like it was made out of reconstructed, out-of-date food stamps.
He then declared "this is a debit card!" and went on to make a dramatic speech that he would be have to precharge the card for the room immediately. Seeing that he did not get a rise out of us with that, he then went on to say (with great emphasis) "PLUS" an extra charge of $50 for "incidentals". (I'm thinking to myself, "incidentals? I'm not a rock star. What incidentals?")
This young man then went so far as to even repeatedly look back at his computer screen to check that our card had been approved before handing it back to us.
It may have been jealousy or envy. But my African Americaness brought out the worst in the Herrington.
When we later raised this issue with the Herrington management, they made it clear that it is their policy to inform guests that they would put "approval holds" on any debit card. However:
1) we had never received this speech before in our two previous stays, despite using the same card,
2) we had never had an approval hold placed on that debit card in the previous two stays
3) none of the other people staying at the Herrington for the same business event that day who had used debit cards experienced either the speech or the hold
4) the *manner* in which the speech was given, and the *manner* in which the card was handled is at particular issue, which is to say that he didn't simply inform us of a hold, he treated me as if he expected I would not be able to pay for the room. He was rude, disdainful, condescending and completely ignored my presence throughout.
He treated me as if I was invisible.
But I guess when I think about it, I can pay for my stay, and my wife's stay, and the Herrington Desk Clerks can only afford to work there.
The problems apparently began before we even arrived - which, from what I've read in other reviews, is not uncommon at the Herrington. My wife, who booked the room, called again the day before we arrived for a one-night business stay. I overheard her on the phone, first when she made the reservations and later as she made the follow up call the night before, specifically reminding them of both our names. Yet when we arrived, hers was the only name on the room. And here's where I would like to remind you that I am Black and my wife is White.
At no point during check in did the individual checking us in correct the room to list two occupants. There is no documentation that I stayed in the room at all, except that I signed the paperwork, and my card was charged for the room.
At the end of check in, when the desk clerk had verified that the card was not in fact a homemade cardboard counterfeit, and I had handed him our paperwork, signed by me, he asked my wife if she had stayed here before. When she replied that we had, he launched into a half hearted mumbled speech about the amenities she would enjoy, all the while clearly indicating that he was assuming this was our first stay, despite what she had just told him.
Adding to the invisible treatment was the fact that my name never was added to the room. Of course, as a result, housekeeping only provided us with one pair of slippers, one bathrobe, etc. Like I was never there.
Apparently a user named CaliforniaFoodie (from a different review site) had similar problems with the Herrington getting the name on the room correct. Like CaliforniaFoodie, no one at the Herrington made any attempt to fix this problem, at any point during our stay. .
To CaliforniaFoodie, I just wanted to say: the Herrington's rude behavior has been confirmed, and with it their lack of ownership and responsibility. They still haven't built anything to protect people from the elements from Hotel to banquet facility, either.
Upon checkout, we were extremely glad to see a familiar face we had looked for the day before - the bellhop who had been so friendly and helpful during our previous two stays. When we checked out, he asked us if we had enjoyed our stay. We couldn't lie and say we had, and his face fell in disappointment and confusion. At the time, we merely assured him that we would contact the management, as we mistakenly thought this would take care of it.
I don't know why the Herrington can't identify the individuals who checked us in and out, one would expect that to be a fairly easy thing to determine, but I can say with a certainty that the individual who checked me in that day behaved in a way that was discriminatory towards myself because I am African American, and perhaps also because I was checking in with my wife who is extremely beautiful.
I do not say this lightly, nor would I have expected such treatment in a million years. We both felt quite at ease in Geneva. We never felt any ill will from anyone in Geneva before this, and never would have expected it. As I said, the whole thing seemed like an ancient movie - not something that could really happen in 2012.
We have gotten nothing but spin and denials from the Herrington. They even deny that the conversation with the bellhop who checked us out ever occurred. They have asserted that no one matching his description was working during that time, who is allowed to check people out. They have insisted that the same person who checked us in also checked us out. They first began by suggesting we were checked in by a man who is at least a decade older than the one who actually did check us in, and when my wife assured them that the person who checked us in was much younger, she was told that occasionally people behind the front desk log in under each other's accounts.
The Herrington Management tells us they have "thoroughly investigated the matter", and their results are:
1) The same person checked us in and out
2) The person who checked us in and out was a younger employee
3) The person who checked us in has worked there since 1999 (note that this result contradicts the one above. Basic math: if he had started working there in 1999 at 19 years of age, that would make him 32 now. Speaking as someone who has past that life marker already himself, that's called middle aged.)
4) The person who has worked there since 1999 did not check us out (note that this result contradicts the first result)
5) They are "quite certain" that I was never discriminated against, that the entire exchange exists only in my (and my wife's) head, that the only errors were clerical, and that the whole thing is just a "misunderstanding". When I think about it, you can call absolutely any grievance that's happened in history a misunderstanding if you use that logic. This is how much the Herrington can care less about out and out bigotry on the part of their employees.
My wife, initially, attempted to reach out to the management at the Herrington with a couple friendly voicemails and two diplomatically written, gentle emails. Both the calls and the emails were filled with praise for our previous stays and concern that anyone would besmirch such an otherwise stellar hotel. Her thinking was that they would be appalled to discover that one of their employees acted this way. They weren't. They were appalled that she would say anything about it, they accused her of making "serious allegations" and refused to discuss it further.
To the Herrington Management and Desk Clerks, I would just like to convey that education is the key to success, not petty envy with a racist cherry on top.
At this point, our only recourse is to make sure everyone hears about how we were treated by the Herrington. We've recommended it to a few people, I can only hope this review reaches more. Don't stay here if you are a minority, or married to one, or have any African American friends or family members. There's a good chance you'll be treated like nothing - not even a person - if you do, and management apparently couldn't care less.
Overall, to be fair, I would give them two solid "k"s out of three.
Hidden Gem in Geneva
I have now stayed at the Herrington three separate times for work. Our customers always rave about the place- especially the bathtubs that are built for 2 people. Each of the rooms are unique. Many have large canapy beds. Some are very romantic- others more generic. The hotel was an old cremery so they put out cookies and milk each night during turndown service. You have a choice of a room overlooking the courtyard or one looking over the river.
Unique Quality: The hotel is situated right on the Fox River so many of the rooms you can look out from your balcony and watch people fishing. There is a bike path across the river and you can rent bikes across State Street at Mill Pond Cyclery.
Directions: Just off of State Street and the Fox River
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