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The Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel is a hot mess

Allow me to preface this rant by saying that the organizers of IDEA 2009 are in no way responsible for the poor accommodations and service at the Sheraton Center Toronto Hotel. Though it was the hotel recommended on the conference website and at which a group discount was provided, there is no way that the organizing committee would have been able to foresee any of the events that occurred during our stay.

Our experience at the Sheraton Centre was shockingly bad, but when we checked out I didn’t feel the need to go out of my way to report the dissatisfaction to the hotel staff. Then as luck would have it, I received the following email in my inbox last night:

We would like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your continued patronage and also for your recent stay at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, ending on September 16, 2009. As you may already know, Sheraton Hotels And Resorts is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts family of brands (Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Aloft and Element). As a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Preferred member, you are a highly valued guest and we appreciate your loyalty and feedback enormously.

We would greatly appreciate it if you could take the time to complete a brief survey regarding your most recent stay. This is important to our company, hotels and our brands that use this information worldwide to continuously improve our guest’s experience and, most importantly, how to meet and exceed your expectations in the future. TNS has been retained to conduct this survey on behalf of Starwood.

At your convenience, please take some time to complete the survey. To complete the survey online, simply click on this link: [link redacted]

We appreciate your business and thank you for staying at a Starwood hotel. We hope that you will visit other Starwood hotels and resorts in the near future.

Sincerely,
Denise Coll
President, North America
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Given their willingness to listen, I took the time to give them my uncensored and frank opinion about our stay.

For the question: “How satisfied were you with your overall experience as a guest in this hotel?” I gave the lowest possible answer on a 10-point scale, Unacceptable. Then they provide a text box labeled: “Please tell us why you gave the hotel this overall experience score and in particular any memorable experience or exceptional associate you encountered during your stay. (Please Be Specific)”. I did as they asked.

The following are my complete comments to the hotel administration. Since I believe that my response will likely sit in a database somewhere for 6-12 months before it is ever reviewed by an actual human being, I thought it only appropriate to repost it here in the hopes that someone who works at Sheraton or Starwood Hotels in a position of power will read it and actually make some much needed improvements to their customer experience. My motivation isn’t to be spiteful or pejorative, but instead to be as clear as possible about the details of the experience to ensure that it never happens to another customer who walks through their doors. I really expected more from such a respected brand.

If someone you know is in a position to do something about this, please pass this along to them and don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

My full comments:

We are shocked at the horrendous accommodations of the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel given the strength of the Starwood brand.

The condition of the first room we were given was beyond unacceptable, forcing us to eventually request to switch rooms — something we had never done before. There was a wet spot on the carpet, pubic hair in the bathtub, masking tape on the wall and ceiling, and the safe in the closet was locked and unable to be reset and opened.

After being switched to another room that was somewhat more comfortable, we were still amazed at the poor quality of the linens (the fitted sheet wasn’t deep enough to be fully pulled over the mattress), pillows that felt like plastic, and scratchy, tiny bath towels (and I’m only 5’2″). The room was absolutely freezing because the building hadn’t yet turned on the heat for the season. We requested an electric heater, but it didn’t do much to improve the temperature. Despite the air system being turned off, cold air was still coming out of the vent until we got up onto the bed and manually closed it ourselves.

We weren’t interested in housekeeping service because of the environmental impact, but when we ran into our assigned housekeeper in the hallway one morning, she said that a new policy requires her to “check in” by dialing from each room phone — and since we had left the do-not-disturb sign on the doorknob the previous days, we had been preventing her from getting her full wages. Sympathizing, we waited in the room while she phoned in.

For a hotel of your stature, it was very surprising that you do not offer wifi in the guest rooms. The computers provided in The Link area were so antiquated that we were forced to sit in the crowded lobby with our laptops just to check email periodically. Additionally, the sundries shop doesn’t open until 9am, which makes it impossible to purchase any last minute items that may be needed for one’s morning routine.

Toronto is a wonderful city and we had a great time touring around, but suffice it to say that we’ll never be staying at the Sheraton Centre again, and we’ll make sure our friends don’t either.

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  • runger

    I passed your blog post along to the people that I worked with for setting up our room rate, etc.

    Thanks for blogging about this.

  • http://twitter.com/jaanus Jaanus Kase

    Hmm, there is something about Toronto hotels and heating. I was in Delta Chelsea two years ago in October and same problem—there was no heat in the room, and they wouldn't give me a heater or anything, so it was cold like crazy and I could not do anything about it. Very unpleasant.

  • http://www.orianmarx.com/ Orian Marx

    You can now experience the joys first hand – Sheraton is offering a free night stay at 86 different locations as they try to clean up their hit-or-miss image:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090930/ap_on_bi_ge

  • http://twitter.com/gabbyhon Gabby

    I am appalled that you had such an awful experience. My only complaint was the atrocious price of internet service. When I checked in, the desk clerk said he was going to put me on the Starwood Preferred Guest Floor since I was a member–great bed, nice pillows, clean, larger room. I'm now counting my lucky stars.

  • Pingback: Pleasure and Pain » The Sheraton Responds!

  • ericreiss

    Brilliant blogpost! If we do not demand good service, we will never receive it. Well done, Whitney!

  • http://www.santaferanch.com/category/santafe.western_decor.western_bedding/ Western Bedding

    how much for 5 nights? or a night? It wasn't indicated on your post I guess… :D

  • imihaiu

    That's somewhere I'll never stay at. Needless to say, I've had experiences like these before, but never with a top hotel like that. I guess they don't make hotels like they used to, nothing like the Barcelona hotels or other places in Europe, where you get quality and style all in the same time.

  • http://www.torontoretirement.com/ Retirement Homes Toronto

    Nice post. I had to plan for next week their.