Kingston hotel bars locals from staying

Who doesn’t need a getaway every once in a while? It’s nice to have comfy motels and hotels nearby… especially, as Woodstocker Meghan Brown found a few weeks back, one needs to clear a few days and nights for some heavy studying.

“I booked a month in advance; took two days off work, got care for my kids and showed up with a wheelie filled with books,” Brown said this week of her intended July 19 stay at the nearby Quality Inn located off Route 28 near the Kingston traffic circle. “The receptionist asked where I lived and when I told her she said I couldn’t check in because I was from Woodstock.”

Brown added that she thought a joke was being played on her and asked the receptionist to repeat what she’d just told her.

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“She kept saying, ‘It’s just our policy,’” Brown continued. “She said you have to call Travelocity, who I’d booked the reservation through. I said, ‘No, it’s you who’s cancelling.’”

Over the next hour plus of surprised confrontation, the Woodstock-born and based Ph.D. clinical psychologist who works at Astor House and was prepping to take her licensing exam added, Expedia (the mother company for Travelocity) called the Quality Inn’s front desk while she was on hold with the massive booking agency.

“They later told me they filed an internal complaint. I told them this didn’t seem legal, it felt totally discriminatory,” Brown continued. “The receptionist kept saying it’s just the policy and eventually Quality Inn’s corporate office told me that no, it’s not discrimination.”

Two and a half hours later, Brown resettled into the nearby Skytop Motel, through Travelocity/Expedia’s help.

 

Not just Woodstock

We checked in with the local Quality Inn this week to see whether what happened to Dr. Brown was indeed policy. The woman at the desk said it was, but that she couldn’t say more. Better to check in with motel manager Andrew Clark at a later time.

“It’s not just Woodstock,” Clark said. “We take no reservations from anyone in the local area… Kingston, Woodstock, Saugerties; none of them. It’s company policy.”

When asked the origins of the policy, Clark said such questions needed to be addressed to the franchise owner. When asked his name, or when and where he could be reached, Clark answered, “I’m not sure.”

Awaiting responses from Choice Hotels, Quality Inn’s mother company, we checked in on local stay policies at competing chain motels around the area.

“I’ve heard of that but we don’t have any policy like that. We have times when we’re more cautious,” said Best Western Plus’ Director of Sales Debra Harris, specifically noting the delicacies of prom season. “Our policy is more age-related. But we have to stay open to local addresses because of the numbers of people who stay with us while relocating.”

Kristina, at Courtyard by Marriott, similarly said that the only policy she could think of similar to Quality Inn’s ban on locals was one where “it depends on what someone’s here for.” After checking with someone else, she added that, “As far as I know we haven’t had any problems and we do allow people from here to stay here.” She added that she wasn’t comfortable sharing her last name.

Neither was Kyla at Holiday Inn  Express in Lake Katrine. “There’s no reason why we would turn anyone away,” she said. “We treat all our guests equally.”

“If they’re from Woodstock, I don’t see that being a problem,” said Ave Muanda at Hampton Inn’s front desk. “We welcome everybody.”

 

There to study…

Brown, meanwhile, talked about being lumped into demographics and discriminated against.

“I was a doctor there to study,” she said. “It was outrageous but I didn’t have the time to be outraged.”

While repeated calls and emails to Choice Hotels’ media relations department in Maryland were not answered (in addition to Quality Inns, the company also runs the Clarion, Cambria Hotel & Suites, Mainstay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, and Ascend Hotel Collections for a total of a half million plus rooms), Expedia/Travelocity was quick to get back to a request for information.

“Thanks for reaching out and giving us an opportunity to look into this issue,” came their first response, within minutes of a query. “I will need to escalate to my executive customer service team.”

An hour later, Keith Nowak, press relations head at Travelocity itself, emailed. “This is not a policy that I am familiar with – so I would not consider it common,” he noted. “Let me reach out to our customer service team to see if they can help me to learn anything that may help clarify the situation.”

Talk about service…for Woodstockers as well as the rest of the world.

There are 21 comments

  1. JP

    I was in a Utah Marriott 2 years ago. During the weekdays, the place ran like a great business. On the weekend, the management was reduced, and rooms filled with young people partying. I’m guessing this is why this policy exists in this Quality Inn. They may be afraid that young locals pool their money together and party all night. Obviously, Meghan is not a teen or young adult! but perhaps letting her book a room could lead the hotel open to discrimination claims.

  2. Drew

    The Kingston Quality Inn needs every dollar that they can get. They are broke and out of funds. They have under construction for years now and are unable to pay the workers to finish the jobs. They are not in any position to turn anyone away. Good job Quality Inn. Now you’re just securing your future and myself being from Kingston will be sure to pass the news of your discrimination.

  3. at your service

    this is not as unusual as some might think. ask folks in the hospitality industry at a place with competitive rates. i worked a front desk job for a number of years and all the biggest problems we had were with locals or rooms rented by a local person. they use it for parties mainly but also drugs. if you think about what you might need an anonymous room for in the same town you live in, studying for an exam is about the ONLY innocent reason……

    1. Kim

      Domestic violence? Power, plumbing, or other utility problems? Renovation? Local move? Contagious family member? Loud neighbors?

  4. jo Ann Kiernan

    The Red Cross tried to book an elderly lady there who had been burned out of her home and was told the same thing. The Red Cross is filing a formal complaint and feel it is discrimination.

  5. Sharon

    What about situations such as you purchased a place but have major renovations going on and you need to stay in a hotel for a couple of weeks? I know of people that encountered their closing being delayed on a new purchase after they already had a closing on their old place. Their are legitimate reasons for staying locally. When we have had hurricanes and people lost power for weeks did this chain turn them away?

  6. Valley Guy

    A couple of years ago, the unbelievable population of ‘zombies’ stumbling along Rt 28 between the area’s hotels was shocking. Heroin, meth, opioids, prostitution, homeless, transient-homeless – all ‘guests’ of hotels stringing along from Woodstock into Kingston.

    The city, county, sheriff and state police all failing to stop folks, arrest folks, or even pretend to approach the situation. Not only is this bad for business, dangerous for all of us out here, it is dangerous for those people themselves.

    I can with certainty believe that the hotels – at least the legitimate hotels – had no choice but to institute this policy, and I’m glad they have. Kingston doesn’t need to be known as the drug-infested hotel destination. And as a traveler, I know this situation to be very, very, very real and extremely dangerous. I’d go so far as to say – Notorious.

    If you are a law abiding traveler (or citizen) the last thing you should have to deal with is checking into a hotel room only to have illegal garbage happening in the room next door.

    If people want to be upset, then go to your local leaders and law enforcement and DEMAND accountability in policing our hotels and protecting our travelers.

    1. Ziz Gorlin

      Nice that you see people that don’t own cars as zombies. I’m sure you stopped to talk to each of them to confirm your instant judgments.

  7. Ana

    while this policy is obviously discriminatory, Valley Guy and a couple of the other commenters do have valid points. Woodstock has a huge drug problem, heroin is out of control and I’m sure there was a problem that initiated the policy. However, it must be possible to address this in a different way as other hotels may.

  8. BJK

    Was it because you purchased through Tavelocity? There are markets and restrictions just like cheap airline tickets.. If you offered cash at the front desk would they still deny the request because you’re local? If that’s the case then yeah that seems kinda illegal to me.
    This story has some holes. Let’s not get carried away.

  9. MS

    they goy me mad when the closed the pool to the public. They are a bunch of idiots. What if a husband or wife wanted to get away from the kids for a night? Stupid asses.

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