My husband and I booked the Christmas package (23rd - 26th) at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. As soon as we arrived it was obvious they were understaffed. While I was stuck in traffic gridlock, my husband attempted to check in with ID, credit card used for reservation, and printed reservation confirmation. He was turned away, since I had been the one who called on the phone. After getting checked in I was sent outside to wait for a bellhop with a luggage cart. There were already plenty of people waiting in the cold for the same thing, so I luckily found a parking spot and we were hauling our own bags around the halls completely lost until we found a bellman with an empty cart.
The room: When we got to our room it was full of concussion-causing hazards for my husband (over 6 ft.) and there was one side of the bed I couldn't even walk on (I'm barely 5'5") the walls were so sloped. There was a step up into the bathroom, and the bathroom door was under 6' tall. There was no fan in the bathroom, and the tub was refitted as a shower in a way that left a sharp piece of metal on the edge of the door (I cut my knee once). Also, the shower head was placed at the sloped end on the tub, so it was very difficult to wash your hair without having to carefully balance on this slope. Also, our room was right next to an old fashioned elevator with an operator, so there was noise from about 5:30 in the morning until at least 1 am. The good: the bed was incredibly soft, and the room was very clean.
The service: Complementary breakfast buffet, either in the dining room or delivered to our room was included with our package. The first day, we went down to dine, and the wait was an hour and a half. We asked at the front desk about having breakfast sent up (there was no menu for the buffet in the room) and were told housekeeping would drop off a door tag that we could fill out to have breakfast ordered to the room. We could fill them out and breakfast would be brought to the room. Two phone calls and a visit to the front desk produced no such tag. So Christmas morning my husband called down to order breakfast, the phone rang and no one ever picked up. Finally he went down to the dining area and found out that the hotel had decided to stop serving breakfast an hour earlier than scheduled without telling anyone, so we had no food until our Christmas dinner reservations, which also entailed a wait. Once again just completely understaffed. The good: Most of the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful, and the food was excellent.
Common areas: There are nice views, a wonderful fireplace, beautiful decorations, and the display of gingerbread houses. This was great to see, but it was wall-to-wall people the entire time, and you had to fight your way through the crowds to get anywhere. The hotel really seemed to be catering to drop-in visitors (plenty of people come there to eat and look at the decorations, etc) more than guests.
The spa: Our first evening there we visited the spa and it was a wonderful relaxing experience. It is extremely beautiful and romantic. Since we enjoyed ourselves so much, we decided to go back on Christmas day. At first everything was going really well, then when I was upstairs in the female shower/changing/ lounge area I ran into two late teens or early twenties guys in street clothes wandering the hallway. (The spa has a front desk you check in at, and then you wait for someone to take you to the male or female shower/changing area appropriate for your gender, and there is a common area in the middle for both men and women to use). At first I thought these guys had accidentally wandered into the wrong side, and was just mildly annoyed that no one at the front desk was paying attention. I sent them back out the door to the reception area. After telling my husband about it when I was back in the common area, he pointed out that the door they came in had a key-code lock on it. So these guys had broken in (I think a girl near them may have opened the door for them from the inside, or they caught the door as someone was leaving). Leaving the spa I asked to speak to the manager and explained what had happened. He didn't apologize, just said they would look at the security tapes and see what happened. He insisted they must have jumped the fence (really doubtful based on where I saw them, and where I had just come from) and actually told me that 'This sort of thing happens, and there really isn't anything we can do about it." When I told him I didn't think he was taking the break-in very seriously, he asked me what I thought he could do. I suggested he could be adequately staffed, and that he could actually apologize. He insisted someone was at the front desk the entire time (I know this isn't true, the one woman working there left to get my husband orange juice after the cafe closed early), and did not apologize, but said 'I'm sorry you feel that way' instead.
I went and asked to speak to the General Manager of the hotel, and explained the situation to him, and told him we thought the spa manager had handled the problem so badly that we were checking out. The general manager also showed an alarming lack of concern, but did admit that they had seen the men I was talking about leaving the spa on the security cameras. For unknown reasons he kept trying to insist they must have been 13 or 14 year olds, and not adults. All either of these managers had to do was apologize sincerely and show some concern for the safety and privacy of their guests, but they just failed to do so. The general manager also promised me that the female head of the spa would call me the next day. Of course she did not, and when I called the manager back I was told he did not have time to speak to me, but had told the receptionist to transfer me to the assistant manager of the spa. The one thing the general manager did correctly that night, after much vocal complaining on my part, was to call security so that I could fill out a report. The security guard was incredibly nice and showed a great deal of empathy. He had much better people skills than either of the managers.
Anyway, that is the long story of how we ended up driving home on Christmas night from what was supposed to be a romantic vacation. We were really willing to overlook all of the overcrowding, accommodations, and smaller inconveniences to have a nice time together, but the poor handling of serious safety concerns in the spa was just too much.