I have stayed in the Garden Inn dozens of times. In fact, it was my absolute number one choice of hotel. The location is not the only reason for that. The staff there has always treated me more than fairly. Far more, in fact. There have been many times, when, exhausted from a night of dancing, my friends and I sought the soothing joy of the jacuzzi. But it was closed of course, because for some reason, establishments often close their pool area after the dark. That's when the vampire piranhas come out, I suppose. But the management and security staff at the Hilton Garden Inn let it slide on a few occasions. And my respect and adoration for them went deep.
This weekend, that adoration disintegrated violently.
This weekend, that being in the middle of Gasparilla, I did not expect to acquire a room. I thought more enthusiastic party-goers would have already snatched away all the rooms. But I lucked out, and got a reservation. When I arrived there, the hospitality staff treated me kindly. Even went out of his way to comp me for parking, when he saw that I was a state employee but he could not give me the room discount because the overbooked status would not allow the procedure. It was with a happy, easy heart that I set out to meet my friends at the castle to celebrate the birthday we specifically came to celebrate. I did not even enter the room before sallying forth.
When my friends and I returned from the castle, it was with high spirits, despite the fact that not a single member of my party had been drinking. On our way back to the hotel, I recall passing by an SUV that had a few clearly drunken ladies outside of it screaming about how they were not going home with apparently the men who had brought them. We chuckled and passed by. This is Ybor after all. This is Gasparilla even!
Upon entering the hotel room, Drew, whose birthday it was, set up his music station. I didn't think too much about it, because, after all, this is Ybor. However, before a single song could end, we were intruded on by an extremely condescending security guard. He made it clear that we would have to turn off the music, or we would be asked to leave. Naturally, we were all disappointed, but we acquiesced and turned off the music. Everyone was bummed out and some were considering leaving because we couldn't enjoy ourselves the way we hoped.
Things went from sad to outrageous and tragic when one extremely idiotic member of my group accidentally turned the music back on. We at least four of our group immediately told her to shut it off, but the damage was done, because no more than 10 seconds after the music was accidentally switched back on, did we hear the ominous, angry knock.
Yes, 10 seconds. There can be no doubt that the guard was standing in the hall, waiting outside my door for the disturbance to reach the critical level he was waiting for and he could demand that we all leave. Of course we begged, we pleaded. He was hearing none of it. So with a mix of sadness and anger, we departed. Having been in the hotel room for no more than 20 minutes total.
As we passed through the lobby, some of my group pleaded with the lobby attendant. He apologized profusely and mentioned that there was a corporate executive in the room next to ours. And if the hotel wasn't completely booked, he would have just moved us to a different room. Naturally, I asked him if I would be charged for the room, and with a shrug, he told me I would have to take it up with the general manager, John Sullivan.
The next morning, I called John Sullivan three times and was directed to his voicemail three times. Eventually, in the afternoon, he called me back, and was less than accommodating. He reported to me that droves of guests were complaining about the horrendous noise coming from our room. The guest across from the hall allegedly said "louder than any nightclub". That is, of course, insane. But honestly, despite the fact that this is the partyiest hotel of Ybor, despite that it was Gasparilla, I did not begrudge the staff that they needed to ask us to leave. Even that they were fiercely ready to spring to kick us out. What I do object to is the fact that I was required to pay for the service that I was not allowed to enjoy.
When I brought this up to John, he countered with the fact that our disturbance caused him to lose business, thus I did not deserve my room fee returned. I warned him, that this act of disrespect against me would lose him more business, but he would not be moved.
Please my friends, I beg you. If you find injustice in my story, do me a favor and send John Sullivan an email. Tell him how he is wrong. Tell him that he will lose your business and the business of your family and friends.
I never wanted to disturb anyone, but I think the Hilton Garden Inn took my punishment a bit too far.
John Sullivan, General Manager
Michelle Cardamone, Director of Sales
Hilton Garden Inn Tampa/Ybor City
1700 E. 9th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605