Sunday, August 5, 2012

When a Fairfield Inn becomes the Ritz.

I just filtered through "Marriott" as the keyword in my Outlook.  It turns out in the past year we have stayed an entire month of our lives in various Marriott properties with a few stragler hotel brands thrown in.  These stays were not business related and eventually picked up in an expense report and reimbursed.  These were in no way pleasure trips.  They were all for medical travel.  Some are under a hospital rate and most are under a "friends and family rate" made possible by my sister-in-law who works for Marriott Corporate.  If these two rates are not available then we end up staying at a lower "tier" hotel to fit our fly by the seat of our pants budget.  The trip we are on this week was originally supposed to be a two night stay.  After the surprise visit to see Dr. Garcia just two weeks ago we were so thankful the hospital concierge at Cincinnati Children's was able to work in all the extra testing needed for me during this planned trip for Danica's appointment and my therapy.  This added three additional nights.  When Cincinnati became our home away from home in the spring of 2010 we tried a few hotels close to the hospital and settled on a Springhill Suites just on the outskirts of the university and hospital scene and across the bridge from the Kentucky riverfront.  Like most major cities the rates are high and during certain events or seasons they go up higher, and there is limited availability.  Here's the thing.  It takes me about a month of stays to be able to sleep anywhere.  My OCD is on hyperdrive in these "someone else slept in this bed last night" places.  The smells of cleaners and toiletries and bleached sheets make my head spin.  I can't get the temperature right.  The pillows are all wrong.  The weight of the comforter is either too light or too heavy.  I pretty much feel sicker than ever when I'm travelling.  The Springhill Suites on Eden Park Drive was an exception.  It was like home.  If you know me well, you know my space is a critical part of my well being  . . . or not being well.  This Fairfield Inn was a necessary choice at $69.00 a night for last night and tonight, but I feel awful here. 

This morning we headed to the hospital for Danica's urology appointment.  We found out some good information about her urodynamics testing in June as well as making a plan to move forward with her bowel issues including a new referral to see a colorectal doctor.  By the time we got back to the Fairfield I needed to rest and Danica was crazy excited to go to the pool with Dan.  They even got a big floaty raft to play with at Target.  Picture little Danica in her suit with an inner tube around her waist bopping down the elevator and through the lobby to the pool area.  Within minutes a teary eyed and competely crushed little girl reappeared in the lobby.  The pool was closed!  They were doing a shock treatment because their chlorine levels were off.  Dan and Danica show back up in the room.  She was heartbroken, and Dan and I were at a loss as to what we would do to keep her occupied all afternoon. 

Within minutes the front desk clerk, Marcus, rang us in our room.  "Mrs. Snyder, we are so very sorry about the pool.  We were wondering if we could send your family to the movies this afternoon to help pass the time?"  I was dumbfounded.  In the next half an hour he had put together a print out of the movies playing, a $40.00 gift card for the theater and a little bag of drinks and snacks and hand delivered it to our room.  Above and beyond customer service is a beautiful thing in a world of over promise and under deliver.  Marcus is my hero!

In a once upon a time life I can barely remember anymore I was blessed to stay in beautiful resort properties and the Ritz Carlton for pleasure and for work.  Right up there with Nordstrom, the Ritz Carlton brand is an impeccable example of a "God is in the details" way of doing business.  Today, this Fairfield Inn, a wrong side of the tracks property so far from luxury still managed to offer the same kind of care and service to our family.  It changed our day.  It made a difference.

When Dan and Danica got back from the movies the pool still wasn't ready.  In perfect Danica fashion she made lemons into lemondade and turned the tub into a pool and played for almost an hour.  Circumstances are so often out of our control.  Today, Danica and the Fairfield front desk guy reminded me of something I've believed for so long now.  The space in our head and hearts is luxury property when kindness is the core brand and love is our value proposition.

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