We made a reservation at the Beachside Inn 6 months in advance as part of a wedding block. We had even planned our vacation around it. However, a huge storm in New York delayed our flight over 4 hours, causing us to miss our connecting flight in Denver; thus we were unable to get to Santa Barbara in time for the first night of our reservation. When it was clear that we weren't going to get to the hotel that night, we called (from the tarmac!) to explain our situation, and were told that because of the hotel's 48-hour cancellation policy, we would still be charged for the night we missed. We’ve both been in situations where factors beyond our control have prevented us from fulfilling a hotel reservation, and although they were under no legal obligation to do so, the hotels have always waived their cancellation policies as a gesture of good will. So this news was an unpleasant surprise - but not yet worth a 1-star review. After some back and forth with the on-duty managers, we were told that only the general manager, Luz, could waive the policy in recognition of the exceptionality of our particular circumstances.
Having missed our connecting flight, we spent a night at a Denver hotel. Then, in order to make the Saturday afternoon wedding, we had to fly out of Denver before dawn to Los Angeles, rent a car, and drive to Santa Barbara. Upon checking in, we were assured by the on-duty manager that Luz would review our situation, confirm the specifics of our story with the airline, and consider waiving the policy for us when she returned on Monday morning.
Luz never called us, so we called her. Thus began a most unfortunate back-and-forth saga with a woman whose career choice of the “hospitality industry” could not be more of mystery. She made it known to us from the get-go that she would not even consider waiving her policy, let alone show any compassion for our troubles. It did not matter to her that we had every intention of honoring our reservation; that we fully understood the reason for the policy and respected it, but that we were hoping she could show some flexibility in light of the fact that we had been so inconvenienced financially (having to pay for the Denver hotel room and the rental car) and otherwise; that we had flown from across the country to be there; or that this miserable experience was the start of our vacation and effectively ruining it for us. Even when we told her that our friends staying at that Best Western were waiting to hear how this situation was resolved, she blisteringly responded, "Well then you can show your friends the contract.” (As I explain below, we had no idea what “contract” she was talking about.) Her one "offer"? In her best condescending school-teacher voice: "I would be happy to cancel the contract and charge you the full rate for the room [for one night]." Of course she would be "happy" to do this-- the amount was almost the same!
Needless to say, we were appalled by her attitude towards us. It was not just that she refused to budge and inch on her "policy"-- she made absolutely no effort to make us feel better, instead repeating like a broken record that our room usually went for twice as much, and that she couldn’t refund us for the night we missed not because of the 48-hour cancellation policy, but because of the “contract” that the wedding party signed stating that every room would be occupied for a 2-night minimum. We never saw this contract, and we were never informed of the minimum stay, but nonetheless, we were being held to these terms.
Eventually, after doing some online research, we called back and said that since we have a AAA card, we would like her to cancel our group rate and we would pay the full rate for two nights with the AAA discount. Contrary to the advertisement in our AAA book for a 20% discount, she would only discount the room 10%. She insisted that we email her the card because, naturally, she could not possibly take us at our word that we have this membership. She claimed that she would refund us about $22. Off a $377 bill. Wow. (As an aside-- seriously?? *Those* rooms cost more than $300 a night? It's not exactly the Ritz Carlton...)
And this is where it really gets good. Once we emailed her the AAA card, she refused to even refund us the $22. It was clear at this point that the situation had become a battle of wills. Her reasoning? My fiancee had made the reservation, but the name on the card was mine. We had to laugh out loud when we got that email. We have used this AAA card many times as a household, and *never* has a hotel insisted that the AAA card member and the name of the reservation match. Since she had to cancel our original bill to recharge us the “discounted” amount, anyway, I suggested that she bill my credit card instead. Naturally, she refused to do even this. Instead, she encouraged us to take the matter up with the credit card company and she would follow suit with her own documentation.
The feeling that a business would go out of its way to make their customers so dissatisfied was unsettling, to say the least. It is disturbingly clear that Luz sees customers not as partners in her business's success but instead as objects from which to extract every cent she can. We can only imagine what she’ll spend that $22 she "won" from us on. We followed up with the Best Western corporate office because we figured they would want to know that the Santa Barbara Beachside Inn is giving Best Western a bad name, and we also contacted AAA to inform them that one of their clients is making it very difficult for AAA members to use their cards at her establishment. AAA very nicely gave us a rebate on our next membership renewal as a gesture for our troubles. A+ for AAA! Unfortunately, the most Best Western would offer was a $25 gift card toward a stay at another hotel in the chain, which we informed them is worthless to us given our complete lack of such desire at this point.
Please do yourself a favor and take your business elsewhere.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to the Beachside Inn, perfectly located just across the street and a few minutes walking distance from the harbor, pier and beaches of Santa Barbara. From our fantastic location, you can also enjoy a beautiful walk to "downtown" Santa Barbara, and experience all our world class dining and shopping. And to make life even easier, the Santa Barbara beachfront/downtown electric shuttle is available at our front door if you're planning to have an even more relaxing day while visiting. Our 60 room hotel will be sure to offer you the quaint charm, which represents Santa Barbara's essence. But we also offer some of the most modern conveniences. From our very hi-speed internet, to a fabulous continental breakfast and the latest in air conditioning / heating systems, we are all confident you will have a memorable visit here in Santa Barbara all handled by our fabulous staff.We look forward to welcoming all of you to our wonderful littleescape by the sea in beautiful Santa Barbara. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Best Western Beachside Hotel Santa Barbara
- Best Western Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Best Western