St. Regis Customer Service Egregious

After a hectic weekend of a Project Linus fundraising event, book signing and Author Meet & Greets, my husband is treating me to a couple days in Dana Point, California. Orange County, lovely weather, visiting Cal pals and ocean views to die for, what can go wrong? Staying at the St. Regis Monarch Beach is one thing!

Granted, it is a beautiful hotel. Oddly enough, as impressive as the surroundings are, the service can be improved tremendously. When we checked in yesterday, we must have arrived after a Super Shuttle as there were about a dozen other guests ahead of us. At such a highly rated hotel, I expected to be warmly greeted yet we may as well have been standing in a lengthy line waiting to get on a ride at Disneyland.  The only thing missing from the experience was screaming kids. It took at least 10 minutes before anyone walked up and apologized for the wait and another 10 to get to the front of the line.

Our room is stunningly attractive with a spacious bathroom and dreamily comfortable beds. My husband almost had a heart attack as I went on the balcony to catch a glimpse of the Pacific and performed a balancing manuver worthy of a Cirque de Soleil act on the railing to catch the tiniest slice of the ocean blue. Evidently our room is on the B side of the hotel, overlooking a lovely parking lot. While trying to catch a breath of fresh air, the wind whipped the second hand effects of my loud talking, chain smoking neighbor. So much for refreshing ocean air. The door would have to remain closed while he was out there.  At least within the confines of our room, it was a luxurious retreat.

This morning, I packed a back with goodies for an adventurous day off the hotel premises, since one has to pay $5 per hour for parking each time you go in and out of the parking garage. Gary is going to be in meetings all day so I have the freedom to reacquaint myself with one of America’s most beautiful coastal lines.  Although I was armed with a flexible game plan, I stopped by the Concierge desk to inquire if they had additional recommendations. One person was ahead of me so I figured it would be a quick wait. HA! Five minutes later, I am in the same place and the concierge hasn’t even acknowledged my presence. Finally I picked up a tourist magazine that had a local map and decided to venture out on my own. Afterall, how difficult can getting around Dana Point be?

I pulled the rental car up to the exit gate, excited to start my day and inserted my ticket. It spat it back to me quickly and stated I needed to pay at the parking kiosk. Fortunately there wasn’t a car or parking spikes behind me as I had to back up. After driving around the parking lot a couple of laps assuminig there must be an automated machine there, I finally spotted a uniformed employee. I pulled up to inquire where I needed to go to get out of the garage. He barely spoke English. Finally through a combo of Spanglish and hand signals, I was able to surmise I needed to park and go back up to the lobby and pay the valet. The same guest was still at the Concierge. She must have been plotting out a world tour.  $24 and a “free” bottle of water later, I was finally able to extricate myself from the St. Regis. I was told each and everytime I parked, I would have to go through this same routine. Talk about making things inconvenient for guests!

And somehow the Verizon man must have forgotten to stop by the St. Regis. If you ask, “Can you hear me now?” The answer will be a warbly “NO!” With barely a bar of service, our air card and cell phones are virtually useless! Fortunately, I am now miles from the St. Regis and enjoying a sunny, bikini clad day on the coast. Off to meet one of my Cal pals for a yummy lunch in the lovely Corona del Mar. Next thing on the agenda- to try to get Trader Joe’s to come to Colorado before 2013. It has to be an easier feat than getting good service at the St. Regis.