How the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel is destroying Florida

in Uncategorized by

Before I begin discussing this most serious topic, let me just preface that, in case anyone from the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel reads this post, I am still waiting on that bucket of ice to be delivered to my room (since the ice machines on two different floors was broken)…

Do not blame term limits for Florida’s broken state government. Or one-party rule. Or gerrymandered legislative districts. Or the influence of money on the legislative process. No, none of those otherwise serious problems bear anywhere near the same level of blame for Florida’s dysfunctional state government as the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel.

Four times over the last six weeks, for a total of ten nights, I laid my head down at the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel and never once was I disappointed with my expectation that I would be disappointed. And this disappointment does not come cheap. Last week’s bill for two nights ran $297 a night. With even more in taxes (I am never more an anti-tax conservative than when I review my hotel bill), parking fees andgratuities, I easily dropped $800. All for the pleasure of staying in a hotel as drab as the neo-bureaucratic government offices by which it is surrounded.

And people wonder why some of those working in the Capitol have such a horrible attitude?

Of course, my issues with the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel are not with most of the warm, inviting folks who work there (although if any of them are reading this, I’m still waiting on that bucket of ice to be delivered). The staff does possess some of that ‘Southern Hospitality’ you’d expect from a hotel located in South Georgia, err, Tallahassee.

Then again, I am still perplexed by the exchange with the front desk regarding my dry cleaning:

Me: Hi, this is Mr. Schorsch in Room 1610. May I check on the status of a shirt I was having dry cleaned.

Front desk: Sure, let me check. Yes, you’re shirt is right here. Would you like me to bring it up?

Me: (Amazed) Um, yes. Thank you.

I was amazed because I had stopped earlier in the evening to check to see if the shirt had been returned, which it had not. I was told they would bring it to my room, as they normally do. So I was amazed at this clerk’s obvious lack of intelligence. What did she expect me to do? If I am calling from my room, asking for my shirt, would she not presume that I would want it brought to my room (just like that damn bucket of ice!) or did she think I would have preferred to put on the shirt in the lobby?

That seemed to be theattitudeof many of those who work at the Doubletree: the just-too-slow valet, the overwhelmed front-desk clerk, the waitress unable to find the key to the beer cooler. Again and again, the staff of the Doubletree tried but failed to deliver winninghospitality. I mean, how many hours after one calls room service to let them know you are finished with a tray will said tray have to sit in the hallway? Why bother alerting room service in the first place?

What’s horrible is that the staff of the Tallahassee Double Tree is usually the best aspect of my stay. After all, who designed that monstrosity of a building? It has as much architectural character as a bomb shelter,of which, from the little amount of light peeking through the hotel I can’t help be reminded. The rooms are as inviting as the cells of Abu Ghraib, with paper thin carpet and less-than-nondescript design elements.

All for, remember, $297 a night. Three hundred bucks — half a week’s salary for most people in this country — for the pleasure of being displeased.

Looking out of my hotel room, I see two other hotels — the Aloft and the Hotel Duval — which do such a better job at taking care of their guests than the Tallahassee Doubletree Hote doesl. At pretty much half the rate. After so many frustrating nights at the Doubletree, I decided to stay at the Hotel Duval and was immediately impressed with their property. At $139 a night for about the same size room featuring many more amenities. There is an efficient valet service, a much better in-house restaurant, a better bar, a more inviting staff, etc., etc., etc.

But the Doubletree Hotel stays in business because it is two blocks away from the Capitol, rather than the Duval’s six or the Aloft’s four and so it able to charge twice as much for half as much hotel.

Which leads me to why I believe the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel is ruining Florida’s state government…

Hundreds of visitors to the hotel are there for state government, for one reason or another…legislators, staffers, lobbyists, association members, industry leaders and experts, etc., and all of them are subjected to the lukewarm hospitality of this hotel, which, in turn, puts each of them in a less-than-ideal mood, which they bring to their work in the Capitol, thereby infecting the entire building with bad juju.

Imagine a world where everyone gets a great night’s sleep, as I did at the Duval, and is sent on their way to do the people’s work with just a little more pep in their step, like those commercials for Holiday Inn Express. Perhaps then budgets would get balanced, bills would get passed, government would be more efficient and rainbows would shine down from above.

Instead, I am still waiting on that bucket of ice.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.