Great facilities, great location, great restaurant, big problems with one rude/incompetent front desk staff member
My husband and I used our points to bring our 3 kids here for 2 nights to enjoy the nearby Long Beach Island beaches for the weekend. Like many reviews on this site, we found the facilities to be
newer, in good order, clean and well-kept with an excellent on-site restaurant including a great breakfast buffet, reasonably priced with a huge selection of breakfast food choices including made-to-order omelettes.
But we experienced some problems here with the hotel staff that we feel the hotel management should be aware of, explained in detail as follows: We checked in around 7:00 pm on a Friday, presented our IHG credit card upon request to cover miscellaneous charges during our stay, and I was recognized as a Spire Elite member – so far so good. We were disappointed to find that the roll-away bed that we had requested with our reservation was not in the room upon check-in, but it was brought up promptly when we asked at the front desk on the way to dinner – problem solved, so far so good. We tried the on-site restaurant Mainland for dinner – I had crab cakes, my husband had a shrimp dish served with pasta, my daughter had an adult entrée of roasted herb chicken, and my sons took kids’ meals. The dinner menu selection was not large but all three adult entrees were well-prepared and delicious, and my sons enjoyed their kids’ meals. When we asked for the bill, we were surprised to be told by the waitress that the “Kids-Eat-Free” coupons we had received from the front desk were probably not valid for dinner and that she would have to check with the front desk. This came as a huge surprise, as we have always thought that the highly publicized “Kids-Eat-Free” Holiday Inn offer was a well-established policy known by everyone – guests and Holiday Inn employees alike. Eventually (after 10 minutes of inconveniently waiting) my sons’ meals were removed from the bill. On Saturday morning the front desk called our room at 8 am (which I thought was rude even though we did not hear the phone ring) and left a message (which we initially did not see the flashing light) stating that there was a problem with our credit card. When we returned from breakfast at about 10:30 am, Charlie from the front desk called again, reaching my husband in person and stating that there was a problem with our card, and to please come down to the front desk immediately. Before going to the front desk, my husband called the IHG credit card company who verified that our card was fine, in good order, and that indeed the hotel had put a $50 hold on our card earlier that morning at 7:30 am. When my husband went to the front desk he was told that our card had been declined after multiple attempts to charge it. My husband was asked to pay cash for breakfast or to pay with another credit card, although we thought we had already placed breakfast on the room tab. My husband called the IHG credit card company directly from the front desk again – what a waste of our vacation time. In the meantime, Charlie turned away other people who were trying to check in, telling them to come back at 3 pm but not offering to hold their bags - what planet is this guy from? The credit card security agent, with my permission, explained directly to the clerk (Charlie) that they could see no attempts to charge the card since the $50 hold placed by the hotel at 7:30 am. This should have been enough for Charlie to conclude that there was a problem on the hotel’s end either with the modem or some such thing. Nevertheless, Charlie insisted that my husband had to give another credit card to cover expenses and rang up a hold of $150, even though a $50 hold had been successfully processed earlier that morning. To the IHG Manahawkin management: if you are reading this, I think the clerk’s behavior was highly unusual and I find it hard to believe why it would be necessary to ring up an IHG Spire Elite card member’s IHG platinum card multiple times to cover minor incidental and meal expenses for a 2-night stay. Ironically, later that day, I actually used our IHG card to purchase snacks at the front desk (although the transaction was processed by a different clerk). To top things off, when we received our checkout bill under the door on Sunday morning, it included two bills: one with charges for one night’s stay even though we had used points for both nights of our stay, and another one which included dinner and roll-away bed charges. When we went to the front desk for checkout, fate would have it that we met Charlie again, who, when he saw my husband, immediately asked: “Will you be paying cash for your stay?” – not a “hello, sorry for those billing problems yesterday”, not a “how was your stay”, nothing but “Will you be paying cash for your stay?” – really -- ???. My husband explained that there was an error in the bills that had been slipped under the door, that we had been charged erroneously for one night when both nights should be free on points, and that he wanted to pay with his IHG credit card. Charlie responded that the bill had an error that was not corrected before it was distributed and that the wrong bill could be discarded. Charlie than asked, “Do you really want to try to swipe your card again?” My husband walked away to put the luggage in the car. Charlie then asked me again if I really wanted to pay with my card again. I replied that I did want to pay with my IHG card, that I had made a purchase with it at the front desk the day before with no problems, and that any problems with processing the purchase must be at the hotel’s end. Then Charlie agreed to try again. Only then when the purchase went through did I receive an apology. So, in summary, I am using this review to tell the management at Manahawkin that although your facilities are wonderful, and many of your staff are also wonderful especially in the restaurant, I think you have some billing & processing issues, possibly related to your modem and/or wifi, and it also seems that the data for the various charges and bills are also possibly being incorrectly entered or processed by at least one of your staff, and that your staff is possibly not handling or addressing these issues properly. And perhaps your staff is overly suspicious of people who use their points to get free nights. In fact, the front desk staff (or at least Charlie) behaved in such a way as to make your Spire Elite clientele jump through hoops to have holds put on their credit cards and still make them feel like criminals in the process of trying to enjoy their hard-earned free hotel nights. Please speak to and/or train your staff on the sensitivity of these issues and also consider if there might be some technical or data processing problems with the way you are assembling your bills and putting holds on people’s credit cards. [Less]