We have all encountered them, we hope never to aspire to be them but when we encounter them we know instantly: they are the worst hotel guest ever. This one comes to you from The Confidante, a Hyatt property on Miami Beach.
We are going to call this customer, Tennis Skirt, and if I had to guess (I do because I didn’t ask) I would say she was mid-50s and trying really hard to look early 40s. Aptly named, she sported a white Tennis Skirt, a large name brand bag and an awesome attitude.
She sat down opposite from us and was clear from the start that she didn’t have much time – she said so, repeating it, many times. Her husband or partner grabbed some small items from the buffet and the server, who could do no right from the start, brought them drinks. She had ordered a simple granola breakfast with no peanut butter as she was deathly allergic for herself, pancakes and a hot oatmeal to go:
“…in one of those little cups with the lids, you know, to keep it hot. It needs to be hot when I take it to him. Do you have one of those lids?” This was all before he could respond with a simple yes or no.
After a few minutes had passed and the server was in view again, she flagged him down to ask if her oatmeal was coming, to which he responded “Of course it is.” After a couple more minutes had passed and she was still waiting (impatiently), she began huffing and puffing and telling her husband how “asinine” this wait was and that they would not be paying for the meal. She then seemingly levitated, floating like a poltergeist from her seat over to a server station enquiring to whomever was in the area where her food was (because of course whoever she happened to ask would know). When she did not receive the response she preferred, she walked back over and asked her husband if their was anything healthy on the buffet and then proceeded to help herself to some fruit.
I was in the restaurant industry for years and as a former bartender/server/manager – I am not going to delay your food intentionally if you are whining about it – I just want you out of my hair as soon as possible. In essence, even when you bark at me about the food you’re not eating (which I am not cooking nor can control its arrival) we are on the same team because I don’t want to deal with a surly customer any more than that customer wants to wait a moment longer for their food. The equation is simple, if I can find a way to get your food faster, you leave faster and bother someone else – everybody wins.
For whatever reason, perhaps self-fulfilling prophecy or a server staff that disagrees with my approach to fast/now customers, her oatmeal really did arrive about 25 minutes after she ordered it and told them she was on a tight timeline. She had to get her walk in. Eventually a manager brought the oatmeal out himself (that’s a good manager to jump on the grenade) and of course wiped their bill apologizing profusely.
Anything they ordered would have taken too long from the moment she sat down, but I was personally frustrated that it actually did take longer than was probably necessary and she was somewhat in the right to complain. The abuse along the way, however, was unnecessary.
Later in the day, I started for the towel station near the pools. I needed to check towels out and give them my name and room number to ensure I was a guest. I was about to give my name to the attendant when she ran off quickly, summoned by guess who? There were about a hundred people at the pool area at this point (about 1pm during on a Wednesday during the holiday break) and the only one snapping her fingers and ordering staff is… you guessed it… our favorite guest, Tennis Skirt, her mostly silent husband and now her teenage son.
She’s upset that there aren’t enough open seats for her family to sit together when they rock up to the pool at peak swimming period. The staff decides to evict vacant towels on lounge chairs that do not have other supporting evidence of a tenant (no hats, cellphones or other personal effects to suggest someone was sitting there) and puts our Queen of the Courts poolside (the quiet pool ironically for such a loud, barking dog).
There is another staff member a little sheepish in her presence and almost cowering when he returns to the towel stand. We connected earlier because he found out I live in Pittsburgh, he is a lifelong Steelers fan, I am not but I didn’t break his heart.
“Hey don’t worry about her. Trust me there is no pleasing her. If she didn’t have a seat she wouldn’t be satisfied until you built her one from scratch. Even then, she’d wait until you were done to demand it was reclaimed wood. Just ignore her, she will bark at someone else, I promise you.” He gave me a knowing glance, and I walked away.
Espresso, No Coffee
My family had just completed our brief stay at Hotel Confidante (my review is here) and we packed up. When we reached the front desk, my wife and I took one look at a line of about 30 people (2:30PM – both late checkouts are leaving and normal check-ins are taking place), and decided that scene isn’t for us. I emailed MyConcierge from Hyatt and mentioned we were heading out but would not check out at the front desk, please ensure we were not charged for breakfast or the bottle of water in our room.
My wife and daughter went to our car in the driveway, the valet had already brought it around – that’s the kind of service you should expect for $44/nt plus tax. I went inside for tipping change at the little coffee shop, Cafecito. Like a bad punch line, Tennis Skirt is in front of me by about three seconds ordering coffee, sort of.
“I’ll have a hot tea, decaf and double espresso with no coffee.”
A pair of confused and soon-to-be-abused staff members look back at Tennis Skirt like they either heard her wrong or she has no idea what coffee is.
“Miss, coffee is made from espresso beans, and espresso from coffee beans. There is no way to have espresso without coffee, decaf or otherwise.” The barista was in his early 60s, grandfatherly, Spanish-speaking and just loved to make a perfect cup of joe. He is looking at her incredulously when she challenges back.
“No, I want a hot tea, decaf coffee and double espresso with no coffee – a doppio.”
A second staff member steps in to try and clarify her order. There is some conversing between the staff member and the barista who is saying in Spanish that you can’t have espresso without coffee, the younger (presumably American) staff member explaining that she just wants a double espresso and agreeing that yes, you cannot have an espresso without coffee in it.
“You know what, I’ll just go to Starbucks, they know how to make a doppio –“ she interjects while people are intervening on her behalf to try to get her drinks without laughing at her.
I foolishly step in. “Espresso is a coffee product, you can’t have espresso without coffee.”
“But is it made with espresso beans?” she retorts.
You know what? That’s 90% marketing – I stop my thoughts from reaching my mouth and becoming words. Instead I just say, “Yes.”
The barista mumbles again in Spanish that you can’t have espresso without “café”, we discuss the crazy lady for a second as she walks away drinks in hand. A full ten minutes after I arrived for tipping change for so that I can tip the valet I end up bonding with the barista and tipping him too out of general American obligation and guilt.
I am sure there are worse hotel guests, but Tennis Skirt was just the lowest type of human being to me, constantly expecting staff members to do the impossible like removing coffee from espresso beans and creating pool loungers out of nothing. We had encountered her three times from 10:30 to 2:30 and 100% of the time she was rude to staff, demanding, and embarrassing to be near.
How do you handle people like this one? Do you say something or do you avoid them? Do you write blog posts about them?