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.