Tuesday, May 06, 2008

International Plaza Resort in Orlando displaces hundreds of ministers! ~ UPDATED 5/7/08


Just a serious FYI to anybody traveling to the Orlando area to beware of booking anything at the International Plaza Resort Hotel, Orlando. (10110 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32821) AG ministers should be especially wary if you are coming to Orlando for the next General Council. Do not under any circumstances book rooms in this hotel even if it would be your only “resort” no pun intended. I am putting this out as an all points bulletin on the internet to anybody traveling...beware!

Our district council is being held at the International Plaza resort this week and the hotel had double booked the rooms. Please note, this is not our district’s fault, in fact they seem to be very stressed at the actions of the International Plaza Resort. One hotel employee explained it to my husband and our children’s pastor that another large conference is meeting here and they allowed them to “stay over” for an extra night, as a last minute request. Another pastor’s wife told me they did not give her this as an excuse but instead employees told her that they were remodeling and thought rooms would be done by this conference, but they were not. Who knows what the real story is - but I DO know one thing to be true -- they kicked hundreds of ministers out who had a confirmation/reservation with what seemed like little regard!

Well, what did all this mean? Well, when we first arrived at 3 pm to check in we were told nobody from the AG group could check in until 4 pm. When we came back an hour later the lobby was literally jam packed with ministers and spouses and all were being turned away and told that although they all had booked rooms with bona fide comfirmation numbers, they did not have rooms! Scores of them were being sent packing, quite literally, to another property. Even some of the executive leadership are not staying at the conference property! What a joke. The line that pastors had to stand in to receive this news and their new hotel assignment was also a mile long because one employee insisted on taking care of it herself and no one else was allowed to help. So these ministers stood in line for what felt like forever.

Scores of pastors were displaced without rooms. But the staff at the plaza said never fear, for a few dollars cheaper for our inconvenience (um this is BEYOND inconvenience, not being able to stay where the conference is being held) they would put everyone at a sister property. Upon seeing the other hotel property I became convinced it would be best for them to disown their “sister” or at least make her a secret sister. After driving quite a ways down the road we pull into what is an ugly dump of a property that has a huge pineapple sticking out of the roof and a sign on the parking lot that says, “Pet Walk Here.” That was a BIG CLUE as to what we could expect. A hotel that accepts pets! Yeeeeckkk! Upon coming in we find out there are no king size bed rooms, and it’s as dumpy on the inside as it looks on the outside. The entire time I was in the hotel, I sneezed constantly. The place smelled moldy and the carpets felt damp. Literally I have had better accommodations in third world countries and I’m not kidding. To top it all off, they charged for internet service. (gasp!) No, no, no, this was not for us. Teeb immediately got on the internet with Pastor T and searched for a place for us to go.

He quickly found a place on line that was just down the road a bit further that looked really good. Seeing the reviews he felt we’d be in good hands there so he booked it. We checked out of the pineapple dump and came over to this place called Galleria Palms and we love it! It's beautiful. Best of all it’s the same price as the dump, only we’re in a really nice place!!! We love it here. It’s truly fresh, new, clean, contemporary – king size bed, internet, beautiful furnishings, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN, no pet or mold smell, and I am so happy. So is Misty. We’re very blessed to be here, and we are so thankful. I for one am very glad my husband wants me to be happy and did whatever he could to change our location.

This worked out for us but I feel sorry for all of the displaced ministers I saw getting off and on the elevators at the pineapple dump as I call it. They looked very disappointed and sad that they were going to be enduring these conditions for 3 days of council. One pastor’s wife I was on the elevator with said, “were you displaced too?” I said yes, and she said, “this is so sad, so very sad.” Yes, it is.

I am going to be writing to the better business bureau, the Ripoff Report, and many other business organizations to get this on the list of complaints against this hotel/corp on the web, but just wanted to warn all you who are coming to Orlando – since it is a vacation capital of the world – please, please spare yourself a lot of headache and DO NOT under any circumstances book at the International Plaza Resort or the Orlando Vista Hotel! (do not let the pics on the internet fool you, the place is a disaster!) Especially you ministers out there who have to go through so much with time, expense and childcare to get away…you DO NOT need this headache and I for one want to spare you of it. Now it’s good night as I go get in this nice clean bed at the Galleria Palms with my babe and enjoy a good night’s sleep. God is so good. I am so blessed to be here. Thank you Jesus!

Update: We talked to one of our district office staff, Joe Gibilisco, (love that guy!) and he confirmed how upset the district office staff is at this fiasco. Joe has been working hard to get the hotel to see the error of their ways about all of this and make things right. Although there is no way they could truly "make things right' I think he is trying to get some of the monies refunded to pastors who were stuck at the pineapple place. We also heard that the district was considering using the International Plaza for quite a number of events UNTIL this happened. They have just made a HUGE mistake and lost A LOT of business as a result of this gaffe. Pastor Russ Jones, one of our presbyters and a friend of mine and Larry's wrote his own blog post about this experience, that he calls "Hotel Hades." You can't even imagine how grateful Misty and I are to our husbands for moving us to the Galleria Palms! Thank you, dear husbands.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Deana:

I'm glad to know we're not the only ones that hated their stay at this Hotel.

We checked in on Sunday evening. The room was dumpy-I guess clean enough, but not up to my expectations. So, I thought if we could get in the TOWER it would be nicer.

We ended up on the SMOKING FLOOR! It was so disgusting! There was nothing else available. All night I slept with the sheet over my head so not to breathe in the smell.

We checked out after the Women's Ministries luncheon which was awesome by the way! We left to go home that afternoon. My husband and I couldn't bear to go another evening in that room. We'd coughed and our eyes burned. I literally felt sick. I truly love the Mission's evening service, but couldn't stay any longer there. My husband didn't want to pack and repack for the third time.

Disappointed from this trip, yes, I but will get over it.

lj

Deanna Shrodes said...

Hey lj,

I agree, the WM luncheon and the Missions service were OFF THE CHAIN, incredible. We enjoyed them so much.

I am so sorry you had this experience with the hotel. Everyone I have talked to, literally everyone here, has a story and it's not good. Last night we went to Friendly's after service (where I ate my veggies - lol) and we saw some other pastors - and one told us that one fo the pastors asked the International Plaza if they could look around a bit before deciding whether to accept their offer to go over and stay at the Vista (pineapple hotel) and the employee at the plaza said, "This offer is extended to you right now, take it or leave it, but if you do not take it we are going to have to ask you to leave or we will call security." CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? UNREAL. I can tell you this person's name by e-mail or when I see you in person but I don't want to post it here on the blog for their privacy, but they are a very respected person here in our district who would not fabricate this, I assure you. (Not that anyone would - I mean, what would be the point) but anyway...

APPALLING. That's what the whole thing is. I know everyone will "get over it" and it's not like a "tragedy" or what not but just so disappointing especially for hard working pastors/spouses who have to plan, pray, persevere to "get away" for even a few days. The Plaza has lost a ton of future business, for sure.

Love you, and ttyl...

Melissa said...

Did you ever file a report at ripoffreport.com? I think it would be worth your time, and it would probably save even more people the hassle you went through. It's also likely that if enough reports get filed, they'll actually change their business practices, so it doesn't happen again. Ripoff report does seem to get companies to change. Anyway, glad to hear it eventually worked out okay for you all, and thanks for sharing your story!

Deanna Shrodes said...

Yes, filing a a ripoff report was one of the first things I did! I found that resource last year and am so glad I did but thank you for pointing it out...

Betty said...

Hey Deanna!

Yes, I was also "bumped" to the Pineapple....aka...cheap, dirty, Las Vegas hotel. We arrived at 6:30 pm on Monday, only to go through 4 sets of keys trying to get the lock to open on our room. Finally the front desk called Maintenance to come fix the door. We waited....and waited...and waited for them to show, while we sat in the hallway with our luggage. The maintenance guy fiddled with the lock for several minutes, then got it to open 1 time. He then handed us the key & said there was nothing he could do....that we would just have to insert the key & keep trying several times till it would open. Then he walked away. It was now 8 pm. Once inside, our room we noticed it was filthy. We wouldn't even allow our daughter to play on the floor. We tried to change rooms, but were told no by the front desk. We wanted to check out & go find something else, but knew it would be hard to find anything that late at night. At one point, I honestly thought my husband was going to check out & drive back home.

The next morning, we checked out! My daughter & I walked to several hotels that were around the International Resort, while my husband attended the Council meetings. I finally found one that had a vacancy. It was clean & wonderful!

Several of the pastors remained at that nasty hotel, but they were not very happy about it. The "Pineapple" was the main topic of every conversation at council.

Betty

Deanna Shrodes said...

Hey Betty - you're right, everywhere you turned somebody was talking about the pineapple. It will now be something to look back and laugh about however at the time we were all living it, it wasn't funny at all.

I posted today to several hotel review sites as well as the rip off report.

Give your precious little one a hug from Deanna and "Bobby". :-) (GRIN)