That Horrifying Hotel Experience

April 29, 2013 Travel

As a PR Consultant, I frequently travel accompanying clients, organizing press conferences, and covering events.

Last week, we visited Tagum City, which is approximately an hour away from Davao City.

My client took care of all the arrangements for this trip, including my flight and hotel accommodation. Upon arriving at the Raj hotel, it seemed reasonably decent. Our check-in process was smooth, although the hotel staff lacked courtesy and knowledge of the local tourism spots, which one would expect from someone working in the hospitality industry.

Upon entering our room, I immediately noticed the disappointment on my client's face. Our Php 1,500.00 room was exceptionally small, featuring only a single bed that wasn't even double in size, leaving less than 3 square meters of space for us to move around.

Given my experience with budget hotels and backpacker inns, I didn't worry too much about the room size. However, the comfort room was the deal-breaker. The toilet bowl was yellowish, and the tiles were stained, making it less than ideal for comfort.

So, my client notified her office that the hotel wasn't suitable for our upcoming celebrity guests, scheduled to arrive in two days.

We packed our things and decided to check out. In the hallway, we noticed a staff member appearing nervous, and we could hear raised voices. As it turned out, the owner was talking to the administrative staff of my client.

We patiently waited on the sofa to settle obligations and check out properly. After the phone call, he directed his anger towards us. For thirty minutes, it felt like we were kids receiving a scolding, but we remained silent, exchanging glances, transmitting our thoughts through eye contact.

He mentioned losing a lot of business due to accommodating our reservations, which I could empathize with, but it didn't justify his display of anger.

He eventually ordered (not suggested) for us to move to a larger room. After the tongue-lashing, we decided not to spend the night there.

I stood up, gathered our bags, and hailed a tricycle. My companion stayed inside the hotel lobby to settle the payment for one night.

Unfortunately, she bore the brunt of his wrath, enduring curses and even death threats.

After receiving the official receipt, we left immediately, fearing for our safety. In a tricycle, we sought another place to stay. Still shaking, we arrived at Tourist Inn, an excellent hotel, contrary to the Raj Hotel owner's claim that they were the only good hotel in Tagum City.

We opted not to involve the police as he claimed to have connections. Instead, we shared our predicament on social media so people would know what happened.

I contacted my former officemate from the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Tourism, Nanette Saludo, for assistance. A friend from the Tourism Press Corps, Mr. Buddy Recio, sent a message to Tourism Director Art Boncato Jr.

That night, sleep eluded me. The worst scenarios played in my mind. I messaged my business partner, insurance agent, and friends.

The next day, Tagum's Tourism Officer, Faith, called early and arranged a meeting between us and the City Administrator.

We learned that complaints had been received against that hotel, mostly on cleanliness. He convinced us to file a report with the police, which we promptly did.

The police officers from the Women and Children's Desk were apologetic, assuring us that Tagum City is safe. They provided a hotline number and offered security assistance, leaving us with the reminder, "barking dogs seldom bite."

I slept better that night. As of now, the hotel owner is still calling my client's office, seeking a reservation fee (which should be a cancellation fee).

Tagum City is a beautiful place. It's unfortunate that one hotel experience made it one of the scariest places in the world for me.

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