A tale of two hotels

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was staying at Tarrytown House. I had expected to be there again tonight, but I’m not, for several reasons.

One is the weather — the Tarrytown House is on a rather hilly road, and I didn’t really want to have to drive down it if the snow that’s predicted materializes.

But the more important reason is that I didn’t find the Tarrytown House to be particularly suited for me. During the week, it mostly caters to conferences; during the weekend, it describes itself as a romantic B&B. And I probably would have enjoyed it if I were there for either of those purposes. But as a lone transient business traveller, I found the hotel to be a bad match.

Last night, I had four choices for dinner. Drive a mile or more off-property to the nearest restaurant; have a cold sandwich in the bar ($10 or so, plus a drink); have a hot sandwich or meal through Room Service ($18 and up, plus a $5 delivery charge and a 20% service charge); or have the dinner buffet ($45, probably plus a service charge). I chose the sandwich in the bar and got away for just under $20.

But I thought I’d be OK this morning, since IBM’s hotel guide claimed that breakfast was included. I got to their restaurant just before they closed at 9am, grabbed some fruit and cereal from the buffet, and sat down. After the waitress had poured my coffee, she asked for my room number and came back with the news that breakfast was not included; it was $15. But when the bill came, I found that there was another mandatory 20% service charge, so, with tax, I was on the hook for $19.33. For cereal and fruit and coffee.

I was not happy, to say the least. And I went back to the room, packed, lugged my suitcase up five flights of stairs (did I mention that the hotel doesn’t have many elevators and it’s built on a hillside?), and checked out. But I did ask to speak to the manager.

He was very courteous, told me that the problem was with the IBM hotel guide, and, eventually, agreed to credit me the cost of breakfast (though I’d already closed out my bill, so I’ll have to wait and see if the credit appears). He did offer to upgrade me on a future stay, “perhaps with your wife” — and if I were going to be in the area with Diane on a pleasure trip, I might consider taking him up on the offer. But I don’t have any plans to stay there again for business.

Tonight, I’m at the Summerfield Suites in White Plains, a short hop from I-684. Breakfast is included; so was a social hour with wine and beer, salad, and cookies. The fitness center is pretty good; and domestic phone calls are free (versus $2 for the first minute for local and 800 calls and $6 for the first minute for long distance). And I’ve got lots of space.

I’m still not happy about probably having to fight the snow tomorrow morning (and I took advantage of the laundry facilities here, just in case….), but the only fix for that would have been for IBM to have built headquarters in a decent climate. And there are some battles that even I know are futile to even think of fighting.