Earlier this week, there was a terrible rainshower in Mumbai, which went to the extent that the Mumbai had to shut down its airport and airlines issued travel waivers, a rare thing in India.
At this point, people were scrambling for whatever space they could get for accommodation, and various hotels opened their doors to people who wanted to come in and be warm. Grand Hyatt Mumbai and Hyatt Regency Mumbai are two such hotels I’ve heard about.
However, on this night, an unfortunate incident also happened at a hotel which prides itself with the InterContinental flag. It comes to light that the InterContinental Marine Drive in Mumbai, which is a boutique InterContinental hotel and one I’ve great memories of, apparently refused confirmed guests their own rooms since they had already (perhaps) (re)sold the same rooms to other patrons.
Here is the recap of the incident from one of the 4 people who was leading a party of students from the Columbia School of Journalism. As per the professor, he had stayed for a week in Mumbai at this hotel, and he also paid extra to extend his stay.
I rarely use my social media presence to complain about my otherwise privileged life and travels. Never, really. Today I speak, however, because I am surprised by how natural it is for humans to go back on their word to make an extra buck. When the entire city of Mumbai is floating under water. This fine five star institution and it’s management is double-booking and pushing out its guests to make a few thousand rupees on some rooms. It is making room for local politicians and government officials who are looking for an excuse to use taxpayer money in a time of calamity And when I called out the General Manager on taking advantage of us and other guests, he said, “That’s how it is. It’s all about the revenue. I don’t care what my staff promised you, told you. That’s not how it works. We have given your rooms away. It is how we make a buck. You can sit in the lobby and have a coffee. I don’t know what else to say to you. I am sorry that you feel that we have strong-armed you. This is how we function.” His staff stood there looking at me in the eyes and lying in front of their boss to save their jobs. On his orders, they refused to offer the students a pillow or a blanket. Heck, not even a towel to cover themselves as they slept I can appreciate how we are a lot better off than many folks in Mumbai and Houston. I am grateful, we are. So why complain? No, not complain, but to reflect on the human condition One human being made the decision to make others suffer, to deceive, so that he could put a penny in the pocket of some rich tycoon who probably doesn’t know his name. More than a dozen people decided to support that lie for it secures their present and future. How easy it is for us to look out for ourselves even if that means that others will misread our community, people, and nation. I also learned about human resiliency and journalistic passion. It’s not all about five star hotels and yummy meals. My fellows responded exactly how I expected them to–with dignity, courage, and tolerance. How easily the tide turns–from the sea view suite to the floor of the main lobby. #intercontinental #ihgrewards #mumbai #marinedrive
Per the DNA, which covered the incident,
They had allegedly booked three rooms at Hotel InterContinental from August 22 till August 29, but had extended their stay for another day, and claimed to have paid the tariff of the hotel suite for that extra day. They were scheduled to leave for Ahmedabad on August 29.
“Since it was raining heavily on Tuesday, we told the hotel staff not to give away our rooms to other customers till our check-out time was over, and left for the railway station to check on the status of our train to Ahmedabad. On reaching the station, we learnt that the trains were cancelled, so we came back to the hotel room only to find that it was double-booked and sold to a politician,” Trivedi told DNA.
As per one of the students who suffered, the hotel refused to even offer the guests blankets, even when they agreed to stay in the Lobby and not push for a room after.
InterContinental Marine Drive responds
The hotel on the other hand has clarified on Twitter on what happened as per them, read it bottom to top.
What May have happened?
While the hotel never replied to my email about this issue to them, here is how I am trying to speculate and piece together what may have happened. The students and their professor stayed through August 29 and everything was fine. Both parties accept this.
On August 29, the guests tried to extend their stay for a day. Here is where the conflicting statements begin. The hotel states that the guest extended his stay till 10 PM and paid for a half day use and left to catch his train.
The guest states they had indeed paid for the whole day through August 30th check-out and had left the room(s)/Suite early to catch their train, with the understanding that they may come back if they could not get out of the city.
The trainee at the reception thought the guests were gone for good, and handed out the keys to anyone who was willing to buy the Suite for the night. Not anticipating that they would come back in a few hours asking for the key to their room again. That was where they started hard-talking to the guests, and perhaps their language was not the most appropriate.
I believe both sides are at fault here. If my interpretation is correct, then the guests should have not checked out of the hotel altogether. They could have taken their bags and keys and left, and told the hotel they could do an express check-out in the morning by charging the card on their reservation. This is a hotel which sells a room in $ prices in Mumbai, so I’m sure they had the mechanisms to implement it.
From a layman perspective, the hotel was in their rights to sell the room once the check-out was complete. And I won’t fault them for it. Except their treatment to these guests when they came back was inhuman. I’m sure they did not have real rooms left else this was not going to be a problem to accommodate them, but they recently renovated their banquets and maybe could have laid them a bed there?
Ultimately, it will be the InterContinental brand which will be sullied here, and they haven’t stepped in to clarify. I totally think there is a huge slip between the cup and the lip here, and the InterContinental Marine Drive will be left to take all the blame. That shouldn’t be the case. I’m really looking to see the invoice to see what really went around here.
Who do you think is at fault here? Or is it always the bigger brand which is at fault?