Horrible Check-In Experience Almost Ruins 20th Wedding Anniversary Trip

My husband & I booked the Swan for two days to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We married at Disney in October 1995, so we thought it was a great idea for a quick weekend celebration to return there.

Rates at Disney hotels have reached big city luxury levels, so we had to settle for a more affordable hotel on the property, selecting the Walt Disney World Swan, a Westin hotel. Since I am a gold level Starwood member and Westin has a good reputation, we expected a great experience. Consulting the web site and talking to a reservation agent, I learned that some of their rooms had recently been renovated and made my selection accordingly.

Upon arriving to check at 3PM on a Friday, my husband was told our room was not ready. I inquired with a second front desk clerk and was met with rude abruptness and  refusal to give us an estimated time when the room might be ready. The clerk actually said “30 – 40 people are in the same boat as you.”  I thought “That may be, but are any of them celebrating a milestone anniversary which I had mentioned when making the reservation?” Turns out there was a convention ending that day and it seemed like the hotel gave too many late checkouts. We waited in one of the sitting areas for 1 1/2 hours which had comfy seating and free wi-fi, but who wants to sit there instead of relaxing in the privacy of your room?

Front Desk DSC01531

I went to the front desk a second time and spoke to the clerk at the Starwood Desk position who was very nice. She apologized profusely and gave us a $50 room credit. She offered that we could get a room right away, but it was 2 queens with interior garden view instead of the king with balcony looking towards the Broadwalk that we had booked. Was told we would get a call when our room was ready. A total of 2 1/2 hours went by before we got into our room which had been ready 30 minutes before we came back to the front desk a third time. We never received a call on our cell phones. We were given 2 free drink coupons for the inconvenience.

Fortunately the room was the type we had booked – super clean with new décor in pleasant relaxing colors. The balcony was enjoyable to sit on and enabled us to view the EPCOT fireworks on Saturday night. The best part about the bathroom was the second separate sink and vanity across from the closet with plenty of room to spread out my stuff. The only thing that marred the look was that despite being recently renovated, there was a lengthy crack near the bottom of the shower wall. Due to the late occupancy of our room, we had to rush to get ready for a 6:45pm dinner reservation at another hotel on the property.

DSC01500We did have a lovely surprise of a fruit and cheese tray with a bottle of sparking cider that my sister arranged.

One other problem that occurred was that our luggage was not secured right away, but instead left in the lobby by the bell stand. Employees came and went and at times no one was the bell stand. I was able to go up and take an expensive pair of earrings out of one of my bags and no one questioned me. (My husband checked the bags so the bell staff didn’t know who I was). Shocking and unsafe, so watch your bags or make sure they are secured in storage if your room isn’t ready when you arrive.

This hotel charges for parking – $18 per day. The rate is the same for hotel guests as for day visitors. It would be a gesture of goodwill to give guests who are staying in a room a bit lower rate or wave the fee altogether. The parking lot is shared with employees (wearing their uniforms) who I noted had no reservations about taking spaces closer to the building right in front of paying guests! It would be more in keeping with Disney’s reputation for good customer service to have a policy that employees must park at the back of the lot and leave the closer spaces for guests.

Strong chance I would not stay at this hotel anytime soon. Shame on you Westin!

About J. Matlock, Director of Fantasies

Jeanette's wanderlust started as an Air Force brat crisscrossing the US visiting almost every state. Writing has always been a part of her life. While earning a BA in Journalism from the University of Central Florida, Jeanette found photography was the perfect compliment to writing. She is always on the outlook for what she calls "Right Time, Right Place" photographs that capture a once-in-a- lifetime moment. Her adult travels have taken her to Scotland, England, France, Switzerland and all over the US and she continues to crave going to places to experience adventure, great food and lifestyles. She has written travel journals for the web site IGOUGO.com to share her experiences to guide and encourage other travelers. Her descriptive writing style makes one feel as if they are there sharing the experience. Her love of writing is based on this simple truth: "When I am writing, I know that I am doing the thing I was born to do." (Anne Sexton).
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1 Response to Horrible Check-In Experience Almost Ruins 20th Wedding Anniversary Trip

  1. Moritz says:

    It actually looks very nice, but such a check-in experience is just totally horrible and shouldn’t happen in any hotel. So sad that it happened to you on such a special occasion 😦


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