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.
“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.