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Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Swimming Pool Wars

After spending the whole day cooped up in our room, we thought a swim would be in order. The pool is open from the crack of dawn until 10 PM, and we hoped the kids would finally get out of it and go to bed so we could swim in peace. We don’t care if kids are just in there, swimming and playing, but we keep our glasses on to swim, and we don’t want to be splashed in the face. Previously, we just asked the kids to be careful, and it worked. Not this time.

In fact, the whole hotel experience at the Super 8 in Custer, SD was so horrible that I don’t even want to describe it again, so I’m going to just reproduce some things I’ve already written. The first is the complaint I will be sending Super 8 motels and hotels.com as soon as I have a good internet connection and the time and energy to do it. The second and third are posts to one of my on-line groups, We Kid You Not, which is for people who are child-free and loving every minute.

To Super 8 management:

We booked months early, asking for ground floor because of our pets. When we arrived, we had to BEG for a ground floor room. Keep track of your reservation records and requests.

When we arrived, we asked for a refrigerator, and were told we were supposed to have reserved one when we reserved the room. Excuse me! How were we supposed to know that? How, on hotels.com, were we supposed to do it? You weren't prepared to provide the room we DID ask for in advance. Be nice. Have enough refrigerators for each room. Problem solved.

Breakfast isn't available late enough. We bet most people using hotels in the Mount Rushmore area are on vacation. We don't want to, or have to, get up early. At least have late hours on weekends and holidays.

There's no local restaurant information available in each room. You have to go to the desk and get the book, then bring it back. Moreover, it's incomplete. We found more on our own. Update and make copies.

No luggage carts. Get some.

No elevator. Install a luggage dumbwaiter while you get permission to install an elevator.

Miniature trash cans. So small, we emptied them twice a day ourselves. So move on up to a more realistic size.

Not enough shelves, hooks or closet space. Get the iron/ironing boards OUT. Make them available on request, and use the space for storage.

The nerve of demanding we sign to pay $100 if anyone complains about our dogs, yet no one is fined for slamming their doors, letting kids run wild in the rooms, or shrieking in the halls, or horseplaying in the pool area. I want $100 for every screaming kid and slamming door.

The door slamming is especially outrageous. There are many ways to keep people from being inconsiderate boors. Tell them not to. Put little brass/plastic stick-on signs on the doors (at eye-level) reminding guests to close doors gently. Demand they agree to pay $100 for each slam of their door. Install slow-closing hinges.

The halls stink of smoke. Move the outside ashtrays far away from the doors so non-smokers don't have to walk past them and through clouds of smoke. Confine smokers to one wing.

A band of small children occupied the pool for about six hours, non-stop. We finally went in because we wanted to relax, and got into an argument with a laissez-faire parent who suggested we leave if we didn't want to be splashed in the face while wearing glasses. We saw adult swimming hours posted at another pool we visited on this trip. Why don't you give adults the same consideration? UPDATE: We finally got these after continuous complaints to the local management.

We can't leave our dogs "alone" in the room even confined to crates and wearing bark collars. How are we supposed to eat? Sightsee? Shop? This is a vacation. We want to do things together.

There's no decent area to walk dogs. Put in some grass. You have more than enough rocks.

If you don't want to accommodate people with pets, fine; just say so. At this point, you are NOT dog-friendly. You aren't even really people-friendly.

In defense of the staff, they were pretty darned nice when we asked for things. They provided a refrigerator. They moved a late arrival upstairs and put us on the ground floor. They took our side and handled the parents of the badly-behaved children. But your rules and procedures run from useless to barbaric. You don't threaten guests and reprimand them for their "failures" to know what you expect in advance. Send some of your staff to the La Quinta School of Hospitality, please! They know what "dog-friendly" really means.

One last thought: to be fair, the uncivilized behavior of your guests is not your fault. They should know how to act. But our considerable experience demonstrates they probably will be selfish, clueless and downright mean. So if you take some precautions, such as slow-closing hinges, smoker-only areas and adult swims, you can cut down on some of the friction. Yes, it IS a holiday weekend, and it IS a tourist area. But it is everyone's vacation, and we are all tourists. You expect us to make our dogs behave, and rightfully so. No one wants a hotel full of howling, pooping canines. But no one wants a hotel full of uncontrollable brats and indifferent parents, either. ADDED: This, we discovered, was not just about us. A group of elderly people we met in the spa before attempting the pool complained to us that they hadn’t been able to get in the pool all day. But they didn’t confront anyone, and we will. And we will not stop until we get what we paid for.

Posted on We Kid You Not:

I'm resurrecting this thread near Mount Rushmore. Yeah, it's a holiday, but it's a holiday for everyone, not just the seven little boys who have been hogging the pool since three PM. It's now just after 10. We went in at nine after hoping all evening they'd be gone, because we'd already had a run-in with some of them slamming doors and screaming in the hall. But the pool closes at ten, so we finally went at nine. First we got in the hot tub, where three senior citizens were already relaxing. We chatted a while, and then I asked how the pool was, temperature wise, if they'd been in yet. One woman said they hadn't been able to because of the kids. I said, "Just go in and they'll move." I know this because we make them give us some space. We point to our glasses and say, "Don't splash us." But the woman declined. After a while, though, we wanted to go in ourselves. We did the same routine, and one kid told us to take them off. I said, "I like to be able to see, so don't splash me." Sure enough two minutes later, one of them did, and I asked both him and his parents to prevent it. At this, the mother said, I should get out of the pool. I said, "What, is this your private pool? I just got here. You've been here for hours." She suggested again that I leave. So I did. I went to the front desk and cited the rules they were breaking, and they went out of the pool.

Arrogant, selfish breeders and their absurd sense of entitlement. I told them at the desk the next time I wanted to use the pool, this wasn't going to happen again. BJ was very upset and didn't want to "make trouble" (she thinks everyone wants to kill our dogs in revenge) but I won't tolerate that crap. We are all on vacation and all have a right to use all the facilities. We didn't ask anyone to leave so we could swim, we only wanted to share.

I decided don't just hate kids; I hate their benighted, soulless moronic parents as well. Not just for making it difficult to have some fun, but for upsetting my spouse.

Oh, and this is the hotel where we had to agree to pay $100 if anyone complained about our dogs making noise. They don't make noise. We trained them not to, and that's why we can travel with them.

Finally, the resolution, so far, at least. I will be posting reviews on Hotels.co, too.

Well, I have some great news! After the second swimming pool war, I went to the front desk and said, basically, "Adult swimming hours or else." I mean, I was nice, and I was sympathetic to their plight (breeders are crazy) but said, "We are paying. We want to swim." And the very next morning, the sign went up. We get the last swimming hour child-free, and it's been great!

PS: I know some parents and child-lovers may well take offense. However, please keep in mind that these events are indicative to us of a huge problem. People don't know or care how to raise kids as far as we have seen. If parents want kids to have a better reputation, start early and train them right. You are not their best friends; you are their parents. Do you want to teach them how to act, or let the prison systems do it? Set rules, enforce them consistently. Watch Supernanny, and do what she says. Unless and until they can control themselves in public, or you can control them, leave them home. If you are already a decent, responsible parent, thank you. We need good examples.

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