Compensation Clinic: Aloft London Excel

5 Comments

A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a Compensation Clinic-case from a stay at Marriott affiliated Aloft property in London that had rented out their pool to “Waterbabies”.

Compensation Clinic Aloft Excel

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You can access Aloft Excel’s website here.

Here’s email from the reader:

My stay at Aloft London Excel was extremely disappointing. I made two reservations for consecutive nights (22 and 23 December).

I live in London and have no need to stay a night in this hotel – my primary reason for making the reservation is to use the swimming pool. The swimming pool was unavailable throughout my stay. The hotel management is making money by hiring out the pool to a private company. The pool was occupied by a swimming class on Friday from 9am to 5.30pm, Saturday from 1pm to 3pm and Sunday 10.30am to 2.30pm. I photographed a sign at reception indicating these times but this was not clear at the time of making the reservation. The hotel management claimed that the pool remained open to hotel guests but this is not true – only a tiny portion of the pool was available to guests, making proper lane swimming impossible. All of the changing rooms were in use and unavailable and the management had opened a disabled toilet cubicle to guests as a (very inadequate) changing facility. No towels or lockers were available as all had been taken by the swimming class. The class consisted of around twenty participants and was extremely noisy (very loud group chanting and singing) which appeared to breach the hotel’s own conditions on using the pool “without disturbing other users”.

I think it is unacceptable for the hotel management to hire out the hotel’s facility to a private company at the exclusion of hotel guests, particularly for such a long period of time. I have stayed at London Excel Aloft several times before and always to use the pool, and have never experienced any problem. This time the pool was unavailable for the entirety of my two night visit. Please advise whether this practice is in keeping with Marriott’s expected  standards for hotel operators. I would like you to refund the 25,000 points and a part of the cash cost of my reservations, and to take steps to review this practice at this hotel.

Here’s an update from the reader:

I just received a reply from the hotel today, after chasing for a response earlier this week. I’ve pasted it below. What do you think? I stayed one night in cash and one night on points, and they’ve refunded the points. The argument that a hotel pool could anyway be filled with guests is reasonable (but doubtful at this location), but I still think it’s not right to sell the pool as a matter of routine to a private company.

I really wonder if this is sanctioned by Starwood/Marriott. It is definitely not the case that half the pool was available, as only one lane was set off for hotel guests. Most of all, there is no warning of this policy when you come to book online so you’d have no way of knowing whether the pool would be occupied. I’m minded not to pursue this further, but interested in your thoughts on the case.

Here’s reply from the hotel to the reader:

Thank you for contacting Marriott Customer Service in regard to the recent stay with us here @ Aloft London Excel.

First of all I would like to apologise for the inconvenience encountered during your stay related the use of the swimming pool.

I can confirm that we do have swimming classes on a daily basis at different times however, the use of the pool to our guest should not be disrupted as half of the pool it is always available to our guest during the opening times.

I completely understand your point that the swimming pool might have been crowded but this can happen also when the hotel is running full occupancy and most of our guests are using the pool at the same time.

I would like to clarify that the disable toilet has been used for the swimming lesson as changing room to minimize the impact of having all the three changing rooms occupied at the same time.

In regard to the use of the lockers, there is a sign to contact reception as a mandatory deposit (refundable after the key is returned) is needed to be able to use one.

I am really apologetic if no towels were available at the time you attended the pool and I will definitely pass the message to our housekeeping team to be more vigilant and bring fresh towels more often in the pool.

Your feedback in regard to the swimming lessons has also been shared with our Hotel Manager.

In an effort to make amends and as gesture of apologies I would like to offer you a credit of 25.000 points.

Please let me know if this is fine with you. In the meantime please feel free to contact me directly previous any future reservation with us so I can make sure you will have an enjoyable stay.

Conclusion

Reader also noted that this is not some kind of outreach scheme to benefit local families but hotel is making some money from wealthier families that are paying for this “Waterbabies”.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a hotel to rent out their pool for an event (think about all those racy pool parties in Bangkok area hotels) or any other F&B outlet. Hotels should post clear warnings on their websites when some parts of the hotel are suddenly not accessible for guests. Seems that this specific hotel is renting the pool out on daily basis based on the email reply.

I believe that 50% refund (refund of the points) is a fair outcome for the reader. If they plan to use this location in the future, perhaps get an email address for someone and always confirm that Waterbabies o some other group are not using the pool on that specific day

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, it seems there is some competition for our major whiner Sebastian here – 25K marriott for not being able to use the pool is quite a good catch indeed. And seriously, if their main reason for the stay is the pool and they live in London surely it would be much easier (and cheaper) to just go to a public one?!

  2. I frequently choose hotels based on the quality of their pool, sometimes paying about fifty percent more compared to a hotel with no pool.

    I often find the pool to be unavailable from about 18:00 as the hotel uses the pool and surrounding area for a dinner party or similar event, sometimes for a particular group, or sometimes available to anyone for a package including a buffet, perhaps entertainment or similar. Evening time is my swim time — I am busy during the day, sun is too strong etc.

    Never notified in advance, frequently disappointed, wouldn’t know how to request let alone get compensation. I would much prefer to have not stayed at the hotels on such a night, half or complete refund wouldn’t make me change my opinion on that, but would make me feel somewhat better. Can one hire a compensation claiming team, much as one can hire someone to book award flights, or to get an EU tardiness Cheque? Sebastian? John? Gary Leff?

    • I try to swim daily and always base my decision on hotel choice if there is a pool, preferably minimum of 15 metres length so lap swimming is possible. After a couple of disappointments where pool was closed for maintenance or ‘during the winter’, I always contact hotel to clarify if it will be open or not. Next time I find pool is closed or unavailable after being told it should be open then compensation will be on my mind.

  3. I notice, at times, on the travel forums, that members can be unempathic of others traveling upsets/disappointments, dismissing it as “first world problems” and as “whiners.” We all have our own expectations and priorities. Let’s be understanding and helpful to those who take a risk and put themselves on the forum.

  4. I generally dislike this hotel practice. They basically sell the same service twice, to different people and that’s unethical. They sell pool access as part of the room rate and then to this company (or an event), not delivering the promised service to others.
    The point refund seems fair, but I’d still not stay at a hotel like that again…this type of greedy, ynetgical management behavior will show itself elsewhere, too!

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