I’ve been alluding to the experience of which I’m about to tell you for a while now. And I’d put it off for the last few weeks, because, frankly, I was waiting for it to become funny. After all, nearly everything awful and travel-related becomes hilarious after enough time, right? Like when my friend’s luggage was lost and she ended up wearing her 15-year-old daughter’s purple skinny jeans around town. When she finally caved and bought a replacement pair of trousers, her luggage miraculously appeared.
My nightmare of a hotel stay in Ashland has not reached that point just yet (I am convinced that if I wait until it becomes funny, we will be long dead). However, my blood pressure has finally returned to normal, nearly two weeks later. I am no longer waking up in a cold sweat, no longer frantically feeling the need to pack up my bag every ten minutes and change rooms. I’ve stopped removing dog hairs from my clothing – though long after they were gone, I continued to do so, continued scratching my skin, my brain unable to accept that I was not, in fact, covered in pet dander.
Yes, two weeks after our anniversary trip to the Plaza Inn and Suites at Ashland Creek, I have nearly recovered from the experience. And with a calm and clear head, I would like to tell you about it.
And why you should not, under any circumstances, stay there. (Unless, of course, you are a masochist. In that case, go for it, because THIS PLACE WILL MAKE YOU UTTERLY MISERABLE.)
Rand booked our room at the Ashland Plaza two and half months before our arrival. He did so online, because that is the way that most people under the age of 70 plan their travel. It was in this tiny, innocent step that we went awry. It was to be our undoing, though at the time, we had no idea. Later, we learned (via the girl at the front desk) that if you book online, the Ashland Plaza automatically puts you in a pet-friendly room. I figure this is because they have to inform you of this fact, and it’s a lot easier to slip this information in if you’re reserving a room via the web.
After booking, you receive a confirmation of your reservation, and in small print, it states that the room is pet-friendly (it’s nearly unnoticeable). That’s it.
When we arrived at our room at the Ashland Plaza Inn and Suites, we didn’t realize what we had signed up for. We had assumed we’d get a nice, quiet, clean room, and instead we got dog hair. Seriously, it was like a Wookie orgy had taken place.
Dick Move, Ashland Plaza Inn and Suites.
Now, for the record, I think dogs are pretty neat. But I’ve never had one, and I don’t plan on it, ever. Rand and I both have allergies, and it’s just not worth the constant cleaning and popping of Benadryl to actually have a dog. I’d much rather admire them from afar. Also, I hate poop.
When we got into the room, I figured we’d make the best of it. I had let the girl at the front desk know my concerns about staying in a pet-friendly room (which we had only just realized we were in), but she assured me it was incredibly clean (though she barely sounded like she believed herself). Obviously, it wasn’t anywhere near the realm of clean. I dragged a finger across the tv stand, leaving a dark path amidst the dust, dander, and hair that settled there. Long pet hairs of every breed imaginable were tangled throughout the surface of the carpet. It smelled of urine. All in all, very romantic … if you’re a terrier.
When we woke the next morning, my eyes were red and my throat was scratchy. I squeezed some drops into my eyes, hoping to flush out some of the dander. It was hopeless. When I turned to find that Rand, too, was congested, I didn’t need any more convincing: we had to move rooms.
The girl at the front desk wasn’t surprised (I suspect she knew how bad it was). She told us she could give us another room – but we might have to move into another room after that. At this point, I didn’t care. As long as the rooms were available, and we could easily move our stuff into them, that was fine. She assured me that all the rooms would be of comparable price and quality.
Our second room had two queen beds (not exactly great) was substantially smaller than the Wookie harem, but it was clean. Sure, we had no desk space or place to put our suitcases, but my breath lost the sexy asthmatic wheeze it had acquired over the last night, and the whites of our eyes became, shockingly, almost white again. It was the best 36 hours of our stay.
Until, of course, we receive a phone call at 8 in the morning. We ignored it the first time (who the eff calls at 8 in the morning?) and Rand finally picked it up the second time. He couldn’t really process what the guy at the front desk was saying.
“He … he can’t be saying what I think he’s saying.” Rand said. Apparently they wanted us to move not only once more, but two more times.
I went downstairs, in my pajamas, to see what the hell was going on. Normally, I try to look presentable when I’m upset – I think it adds more credibility to your complaints when you aren’t wearing bunny slippers. But Rand never gets to sleep in. He works constantly. This was our vacation, and already, it had been a disaster. I was going to raise hell, and it was going to happen in plaid pajamas.
I spoke to a young man at the front desk who, I assume, had just auditioned for the part of Lennie in Of Mice and Men. He explained that we needed to move rooms – once today, and again tomorrow.
I told him no.
He said we had to, because other people with reservations needed our room. And we didn’t have a reservation.
I explained that we did. He told me that was incorrect – our reservation had been canceled by the staff, apparently, the day we moved rooms.
Did I mention it was 8 in the morning? And I was wearing pjs? AND THAT THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE OUR VACATION?
After a heated discussion (in which I explained that we did have a reservation, and that we had already moved once already and were fine with moving once more BUT NOT TWICE MORE, and also THAT YOU SHOULDN’T CALL PEOPLE AT 8AM) another gal came up and was able to secure our next room for two more nights. The only problem? The room wasn’t ready. So we had to pack up our room entirely, store all our stuff for 4 hours, then move it into our new room and unpack. Because of this, we missed breakfast (AGAIN).
Also, I might have been too angry to actually think. I might have curled up into a ball and cried. Because my husband and I get two actual vacations a year. Every other trip requires work, and a lot of it. This is the only chance we get to sit around, linger over breakfast, leave our stuff around the room, sleep in, and do all the other things that married couples without children do. And thanks to the Ashland Plaza Inn and Suites, it was ruined.
Our final room of the trip (which we finally moved into after Rand spent the morning at a coffee shop doing a bit of work because WE HAD NO OTHER PLACE TO GO) was the size of a hatbox – though it is affectionately dubbed “a studio” by the staff. There was a desk, but there wasn’t enough room to sit at it and have our suitcase open at the same time. There was only one chair, so if Rand and I both wanted to check our email at the same time, one of us had to sit on the floor.
It was horrible.
It was at this point that the lovely Christine, who had been following my plight on Twitter, wrote a letter to the manager of the hotel. In brief, she basically noted they had treated us like utter crap, and that it was our anniversary. Also, I could like to take a brief aside to say that if you have someone like Christine in your life, you are lucky. Even if you haven’t seen her in nearly two decades, she will be as loyal and wonderful as you remember her. But anyway, back to my rage …
The manager of the hotel, Shannon Johnson, replied to Christine.
I can safely say that I have never hated a human being more, after knowing them less, than I do Shannon Johnson. She noted how it was our fault that we had booked a pet-friendly room, and commented on her and her staff’s PURE AWESOMENESS at finding us another room. She also came by to visit us personally and brought us a bottle of wine (why she thought it was a good idea to bother us again, when we had no peace in her hotel thus far, I have no idea. I didn’t even turn around when she came to the room, because I feared of what I might say to her).
Later, Rand saw a price list of wines in the elevator.
“Aw, well, at least they brought us their cheapest bottle.”
And at that moment, folks, things got funny. Just a little. Later, Rand’s cell phone rang. It turned out to be a friend, but before he answered it, I joked that it was the hotel.
“They’re going to move us into a janitorial closet,” I said. “But don’t worry – we get more shitty wine out of the deal.”
On our last day, I went to check out. I ended up meeting Ms. Johnson face-to-face. She tried talking to me, which only made the situation worse – I didn’t want to have a conversation with this woman. I didn’t want to talk about the weather. I told her that our experience was heinous. She took no responsibility for what happened, but acted as though she had offered me eternal salvation when she took $100 off our total bill. This did nothing for me. I’d much rather have paid $100 to not have gone through the mess and anguish of our stay. I HAVE $100. What I don’t have is time, or peace, or the opportunity to spend a few restful nights with my husband. The Ashland Plaza robbed us of all of those things, and gave us $100 and shitty wine in a cheap attempt to make up for it.
Oh, and during all of this? Rand and I spotted this – creekside rooms, like the one we had thought we had reserved, that were clean and empty. We checked on them, and they remained vacant for the duration of our trip. GAH!
The worse part? I suspect if I had just given housekeeping $100, and asked them to clean our litter box of a hotel room thoroughly in the first place, all of this could have been avoided.
It’s not funny yet, but it’s getting there. The thing is, I love Ashland so much, so intently, and our time spent there is too important to waste being miserable. And yet, it was nearly impossible to enjoy ourselves. Even the time spent away from the hotel was clouded by the rotten experience we had there.
Ah, well. Lesson learned. We made sure to make our hotel reservation for next year nice and early, so we’re guaranteed a nicer room … at a different hotel, of course.
Dick Move, Ashland Plaza Inn and Suites.