Last weekend we did an overnight at the Doubletree Hotel at Universal Orlando, while taking in a concert at Hard Rock Live. This hotel has been around for as long as I can remember - about the mid 80's - and has flown the flag of several different chains over the years. Anyone that arrives to Orlando by car has no doubt seen this hotel, with its twin towers greeting those exiting the Florida Turnpike onto I-4. There are a few good things going for this property, but by the end of the stay I was quite happy to be checking out.
First, the good stuff: The biggest reason to stay at the Doubletree is its incredibly convenient location to Universal Orlando. The hotel lies directly across the street from the theme parks, within a reasonable walk if one desired. In fact, the full name of the hotel is actually "The Doubletree Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando." I guess they really want to drive that point home, and I can't really blame them considering the location and Starbucks in the lobby is where this list of "good stuff" comes to an end.
Things got off to a rocky start when the desk agent informed us we were booked into a smoking room. I reserved the room through a third party website as I always do, but the potentially fatal error was skipping my call to the hotel prior to arrival to inquire what room type we received. As the desk agent searched for a non-smoking room, he politely informed us that "This is what happens when you book through wholesalers...You just get what they give you." To the casual observer, this statement would seem innocent enough, but to my ears it sounded about like "The Bird is the Word" on repeat.
During my hotel days, it was a very common practice for me to stick Priceline and Hotwire guests - neither of which I used - in smoking rooms when we were in an overbooked situation. The guests would arrive, they wouldn't be happy, and inevitably I'd say "This is what happens when you book through wholesalers...You just get what they give you." Granted, I probably said it with much more tact, but regardless, now that I am on the other side of the desk I see those statements in a different light. The damage was done...my first impression of the Doubletree was a lecture from the desk agent, and I felt a pit in my stomach for ever having done the same.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~