I wanted to briefly follow-up on my recent posts on St. Kitts and Nevis.
We enjoyed the trip very much overall, but invariably I find myself chasing details associated with most any trip I take. Things like points not crediting as they’re supposed to, billing issues, and writing reviews both positive and negative.
My goal is to be efficiently effective in these follow-ups. I try to continually improve my familiarity with the best channels to communicate with travel providers towards this goal.
Let’s see how these conversations turned out…
Four Seasons Nevis Renovations
Our stay was marred by heavy construction at the resort.
Although the hotel gave us $500 in resort credit as compensation during our stay, I still paid $2,100 for 3 nights and I felt we didn’t get the Four Seasons experience we paid for.
I wrote my review up here on Milenomics then followed up with feedback on the Four Seasons website. I didn’t hear back on that for a couple of days so I left a review on Trip Advisor.
The resort manager followed up with me quickly via email. We connected on the phone the next day. He offered me a complimentary follow-on stay once renovations complete. I accepted the offer and will look forward to returning some time in 2020.
Key takeaway: Hotels really pay attention to their Trip Advisor reviews. I’ve changed my position on writing Trip Advisor reviews after this stay. For a while I felt like “why should I give them free content?”. But from this experience I can see that hotels pay close attention to Trip Advisor reviews. I also want to have a thick file of reviews at other properties, both positive and negative, so I’ll be leaving quick reviews on all of my hotel stays going forward.
Park Hyatt St. Kitts Breakfast Gratuity
We had a terrific time at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts.
One rough spot was quibbling with the hotel about whether gratuity is included in the complimentary breakfast.
Things on the bill were a little confusing [to me].
There’s a 10% Service Charge plus 12% for “IET”. IET is a combination of 10% VAT + 2% Island Enhancement Tax.
These charges (22% total) is also applied to the room rate. So I felt that a tip of roughly 20% for breakfast would be appropriate for good service.
One nice thing about Hyatt is how you can monitor your charges real-time in their app. I noticed in the app that although I wasn’t getting charged the $90 for breakfast I was getting charged for roughly $30 each day for breakfast through some combination of service charge and gratuity.
I called to check on this mid-way through our stay because $30 USD per day is worth fighting over for me, especially over a 4 night stay.
The front desk said they’d look into it and call me back. They never did, but when I went to check out I was only charged $20 USD per day for the optional gratuity I left each day.
I suggested that should be removed because Hyatt T&Cs say:
Globalists will receive daily complimentary full breakfast (which includes one entrée or standard breakfast buffet, juice, and coffee, as well as tax, gratuity and service charges) for each registered guest in the room, up to a maximum of two (2) adults and two (2) children.
At check out the front desk said they’d gladly remove the charges, but then the wait staff wouldn’t receive a gratuity outside of the 10% service charge that is “pooled” among all servers.
That wasn’t the outcome I wanted so I asked her to leave the charges in place. I then sent @HyattConcierge a DM on Twitter asking them to look into it, and give me some Hyatt points as compensation so they wouldn’t have to get involved with the billing process.
@HyattConcierge redirected my complaint to the hotel and said they’d contact me directly. I didn’t like this outcome because I felt this was a World of Hyatt issue. The hotel wasn’t doing what the program T&Cs say they should.
So I emailed concierge @ hyatt.com. A couple of days later I got an email back from na.customerservice @ hyatt.com awarding me 15,000 Hyatt points for the confusion.
Key Takeaway: @HyattConcierge is good at handling simpler requests like “is there suite award availability at this property on these dates?”. But they’re not so good at handling issues like this one. An email to concierge @ hyatt.com (or perhaps na.customerservice @ hyatt.com) is a better path to take when properties don’t seem to honor T&Cs.
And when you’re in the Caribbean, pay attention to how much service charge is included by default. It varies by property and food & drinks are expensive so you’ll want to figure it out at the beginning of your stay so you don’t end up over-tipping unintentionally.
AT&T International Call Charges
While we were on St. Kitts and Nevis we kept our phones in airplane mode and only used WiFi. I called the Four Seasons a couple times before arriving to discuss the renovations. This amounted to $60 in long distance charges.
I thought I’d be okay [maybe?] making effectively a local call over WiFi but I was not. Making matters worse, my International Day Plan didn’t trigger. This is likely because I didn’t establish a cellular connection on the island.
So upon returning I called AT&T and said “Hey, I was charged $60 for long distances charges. If the International Day Plan had triggered for that day it should have been just $10.” The first rep I got had every excuse under the sun.
“Did you call to turn on the International Day Plan before departing?” (you shouldn’t need to)
“Maybe the island you were visiting isn’t part of the International Day Plan?” (it is)
“I can only refund up to $25”
“You’ll need to wait until the statement closes to dispute a transaction” (thanks for wasting my time!)
I called again after the statement closed and the rep quickly gave me a $60 credit which more than made me whole.
I know, I know – we should be using T-Mobile. But I’m otherwise happy with AT&T and don’t want to switch.
Key Takeaway: If you’re travelling internationally and on WiFi, you can still get billed for long distance calls. And they’re expensive. And, at least in my experience, you need to be on the cellular network to trigger the International Day Plan.
Spending a little time following up with travel providers on the way back/after a trip can be worthwhile. But you’ve got to be careful not to let it get the best of you.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, but if you’ve got some legitimate issues or were overcharged try to find the most efficient channels for effective resolution.
I’ll hope to do a follow-up post on the best ways to communicate with each major airline and hotel chain.
I looked at TA when you posted your original review, and I remember being struck by the number of what can only be “fake reviews” (low number of posts, fawning prose, etc.) . What’s rather clear to me is that an unscrupulous establishment will do what it takes to get a negative review to appear buried down below the glowing ones (“below the fold” is the term, I think).
Looking at your post there, and hearing about how successful you were in getting a quality response from management (BTW, was the post with your picture your family’s first review of that hotel?…I spotted another from Boston), I wonder how to replicate that ability to get a response.
For example, I find all of those post-stay “How did we do?” emails a waste of time. I think only ONCE did anyone follow up with me on those. It’s my belief that those surveys are a way for a company to go through the motion of pretending they care—it’s but it’s not a way to keep them accountable.
TA hotel reviews, OTOH, seem to be the only place where regular people can post (also, Booking.com) tabout a place. So the hotel management *has* to be vigilant. (TA *forums* are also a good place to get the nitty gritty on something but–no surprise here–TA has relegated them a bit off of the main page for an area.)
BTW, I’ve gotten a similar offer in Mexico once before, but when it came time to use it, they claimed that too much time had elapsed.
That other review from Boston (https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g147378-d184851-r609030764-Four_Seasons_Resort_Nevis_West_Indies-Charlestown_Nevis_St_Kitts_and_Nevis.html) was not ours.
However, that review *was* one of the few I felt were accurate and authentic.
Totally agree that many others are phony like you suggest.
Good tip about making sure a follow-on visit is within a reasonable timeframe.
I had a good conversation with the manager about when we could be certain the renovations would be complete (with plenty of margin). He followed up in writing with the terms of the stay including a cut-off date and said they have a system to keep records of these things.
I just had a stay at a terrible Hampton Inn. I didn’t have high expectations, just standard Hampton Inn expectations. I emailed Hilton Honors and they gave me 15,000 points. I then got the “how did we do survey.” I deleted the first email but decided to fill out the survey because it really was bad. The next day I received another 10,000 so it may be YMMV, but they don’t take long so maybe worth considering when you have a legit complaint.
Nice. Thanks for the datapoint.
1. Keep a T-Mobile data plan around for times like these, and swap in the SIM when necessary. Dual SIM iPhones are coming, as well. Use Google Hangouts app over WiFi to avoid long distance charges.
2. So the prevailing norm is 10% gratuity, pooled among workers. You felt like 30% was more fair, and you wanted the property to eat it. Furthermore, you wanted compensation for the property turning the charges back to you. A true Diamond guest!
The AT&T phone charges puzzle me. I’ve used my IPhone to make wi-fi calls to the US while in airplane mode lots of times from many countries, but have never been charged at all. Any thoughts or ideas why some situations might make for free calls, but not others?
Maybe the difference was that I was making calls *to* a country outside the US?
Like, maybe it thinks we’re still in the US when making international calls over WiFi.
So if you call the US it’s free. Otherwise it’s treated like a garden variety [expensive] international call.
Just a hunch. But good to know you’ve been able to call the US over WiFi from another country for free.