Portofino Bay Hotel not for this man

Smooth Silky Goofy

Earning My Ears
Mar 29, 2001
I booked a eight day, seven night vacation, the first night at Portofino the next five at the Hard Rock and the Last at Port Orleans(trip report to follow) We paid in advance, we received a comformation for our rooms, the money was taken from my credit card. When we arrived at the PBH to start our first Universal vacation(always a Disney guy) we were rudely treated by a check in clerk who would not tell us why we didn't have a room, we were given a form letter by an asst front desk mgr who said they were over booked and would relocate us to a hotel 15 minutes off site. I advised him that was not an option I had a room that I paid for so I was booked to stay there. He then said we can not kick people out of their room if they want to extend their stay. He again offered me a room at at hotel(where their big atrtraction was a duck parade in the lobby) and a cab ride there. I asked for the General Manager Mr. Brian Johnson, Mr Johnson told me there was nothing he could do that he can not make people leave even if they did not have a reservation for that night and he already took my money for the room in advance . He also offered to refund my money and ship me to an off site hotel. He said I had a one nite stay at the PBH and they were giving preference to people with longer stays first. I told him I have five nights at the HRH and he didn't even try to get me in there. This man has very little customer service skill and wanted me off the phone, he did not care if he was destroying my vacation. The Asst manager was trying to usher me out of the hotel as soon as he could so there would be no scene made. I was not even able to look around the hotel. I go to Florida at least 3 or 4 times a year and I will never stay at the PBH. They were rude and unprofessional. I would advise everyone to reconsider if you want to stay there, if you have a problem they do not want to help and if they overbook due to a convention they do not look out for the little guy. They destroyed the first leg of my Universal experience right away, and lost any chance of referals, If they want to compete with Disney they should take a better customer service stance with their customers.
I would say to you what you would no doubt say to someone who had a bad experience at a Disney hotel: one incident is not the entire story.

I have stayed at PBH several times and have never had less than a sterling experience. So go figure.

Another thing worth noting: your problem occured because A LOT of other people wanted to stay there too. That says something about how successful the hotel is. They must be doing something right.

Also, the Peabody Hotel (the one with the ducks) is one of the world's great hotels. It's the traditional haunt of high rollers in town for conventions and the like. My guess is the room rate at the Peabody was higher than the rate you paid at PBH.

FWIW, PBH has become a major choice for corporations hosting special events, conferences, etc. Much like the Swan and Dolphin. That's the main reason it's so frequently fully booked or overbooked. And, just like the Swan and Dolphin, the hotel manager is not going to risk this VERY valuable business to satify a tourist with a one-day stay. Sorry to sound brutal, but that's just a reality of the business world. I'm sure if I'd been in your place, I'd have gotten the same bum's rush.

Of course, none of this excuses your bad customer service experience. You could probably leverage this bad experience into a very nice experience with room upgrades and the like on a return visit, which I guess will never happen. Too bad far all concerned.
I agree with Kelly - if you are ever relocated to another hotel ALWAYS ask "What can you do for me" before you accept the walk. Get it in writing, and get the names & titles of who you talked to.

You could potentially be offered free room & tax, upgrades and/or free meals for your inconvenience. I agree that being walked is never the best way to start a vacation, but if you negotiate you can make lemonade out of lemons!!
I have to agree with kelly, I would've JUMPED at a chance to stay at the Peabody.. but that's not your problem.

I would have a paper trail as long as my arm to make sure I got some retribution for this matter. I had a problem not quite this bad at the All Stars Music Resort back in September but enough to ruin my taste for all Disney resorts.

I have since gotten phone calls and promises to make up for the mess. I intend to go back onsite with Disney but NOT to that particular hotel.

I certainly hope they pay you back for this nightmare. Let us know what happens.

BTW, where did you eventually stay?
1) Hotels can not force a guest to leave in most US states (though I thought that was not the case in Florida, but I guess it is). Once you are checked in to a hotel, most states have laws that prohibit the hotel from forcing you to leave as long as you keep paying your bill. Maybe they had a lot of people doing this (sounds odd to me though, but it happens).

2) Minimum compensation you should expect for being 'walked' is a complete refund *and* your hotel stay payed for at a comparable or better resort. (The Peabody is very nice, but I would have asked for the Grand Cypress personally and settled for the Peabody). That is the minimum, and you should also be able to negotiate a free meal and such if you're so inclined to negotiate a little.

3) If the PBH was sold out, I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts the HRH was also. In my four trips to USF since the HRH opened, the HRH is always more booked than the PBH (as evidenced by either being totally sold out or lack of any discounts at the HRH compared to the PBH).
The peabody was a duck hunt . they gave ma a $99.00 room that needed cabs back and forth to the parks there was a red carpet in the lobby for a duck parade I had to wait for an elevator because one was reserved for the ducks, and I do not go on vacation hoping to get bumped for a few crumbs or ducks to be thrown my way. when you book a $300 room to start your vacation and you are sent packing to a duck village it is a bad experience , and that is not the way to do business. what makes theses hotels popular is the word of mouth and the individual customers not the once a year company, and let me tell you they did not know how to keep a customer Happy I had six nights if you add in the HRH not one night but they cared more about getting me out of there to help the next customer on line then getting it done right. the HRH hotewl people were very nice but the PBH were stuck up and did not care. When they are having a slow season they beg people to stay with deals and such but when it is busy they do not care.
What I would have minded most was losing FOTL!!!! Having just got back from our first experience with FOTL we will never go back without it.:)
I am just shocked to find out that we can go on a vacation to a hotel like the PB, and be told you can't come in. I bet the fact that you had a one night stay was one of the reasons you were bumped. Our soccer team went to Virginia last year and they gave away our rooms to another group and only had kings, and most people had families of 4. They wanted us to walk and go to the Motel-6, which was not at all like the hotel we booked. We insisted on staying in the king rooms the first night, kids on the floor, moving the next, and called and wrote the hotel chain. They ended up comping 12 families for the one night. Our major complaint was not the lost of the rooms, which was bad enough, but the treatment we got from management after driving 5 hours. They just wanted us out of their lobby. Unless you go through that you can't imagine how it feels. I'm very easy going, and ended up very upset. I thought ours was an isolated incident. I would hate for it to happen on a Disney/Universal vacation.
One question: Did you check in very late in the day? We did. Maybe there's a lesson in this!:confused:
I don't know where you are from or what time of day you checked in, but if I was on one of my trips to Orlando from NY and they tried to pull that on me I would definitely give them the hardest time in the world. The Peabody is not an acceptable replacement in my opinion.

This is what I suggest doing should anyone encounter this in the future:
1. You should tell the manager you will personally wait in the lobby all day waiting to see if someone decides to check out of a room.

2. The Peabody is not Portofino Bay. I am shocked they did not even offer you front of the line privelages or a future upgrade or dinner or anything! In my opinion the only slightly comparable hotel to Portofino Bay in the Orlando area is Disney's Boardwalk. Unless they were willing to put you at a deluxe Disney resort, nothing else is even remotely comparable to the PB quality and experience.

It seems like they were trying to push you out of the hotel so that you would not see anyone else checking in or out. I believe that the longer you make the situation last and the longer you refuse to accept their shoddy Peabody offer, the better chance you have of getting decent compensation for this unfortunate incident.

Please send letters immediately to Loews, to Portofino Bay, and to Universal Vacations. They need to know that this is not the right way to treat customers in the event of a sellout.

I also do not buy the line that they cannot control people staying longer. When I wanted to extend my stay for one night at Hard Rock Hotel last month, the clerk at the desk had to check in the computer to make sure they had availability before he would extend my stay.

Obviously Portofino Bay was simply oversold. While overselling is a standard practice in the travel industry, Portofino Bay knows exactly how many rooms are sold 5 nights before your stay because that is when your reservation is non-refundable. In my opinion they knew they were overbooked by a certain # of rooms and tried to talk people with the shortest stays into taking the Peabody.

While this makes business sense to accomodate guests with longer stays before those with short one's, for a first class hotel they definitely did not properly compensate you for the switch.
Wow! Our experiences could not have been more different. I've stayed at the PBH 3 times, and have always been treated with courtesy and respect.

You should defenitely write a letter to the general manager of the hotel.

The one time I wanted to extend my stay they said they couldn't because they were full.
Glory Days you are right on , it was the worst. They wanted me out of there the asst manager was walking me out to the taxi when I was on the cell phone with the asst mgr. I was there early in the morning. I took an 6:00 am flight out of New York as I couldn't wait to enjoy my time off. They knew they were over sold days in advance because they had a list of letters already printed to give when you tried to check in , but yet they did not have the respect to let us know ahead of time but they kept everyone's money all the time until you had to get a refund for the room. Glory Days they do not care about the little guys at all they just sold me a bill of goods , the asst mgr thought it was insane that I thought about changing over my total vacation to Disney. they had an attitude like I was not paying and they were doing me a favor by sending me to the "DUCK VILLAGE". It was a shame and put me in a non-vacation type of mind set:(
I am appalled at the treatment you received. If we are obligated to cancel within 5 days of our stay or lose our deposit, then they should be obligated to inform us "before" we arrive that the hotel is overbooked.

I think it is very poor PR to be known for spoiling peoples vacations. What if you had plans with other people who were staying there...and made those plans
months in advance? These hotels are starting to get like the airlines with their overbooking.

From what I've heard on the board....Disney does not let you stay another night if the hotel is booked up. And why would I want to spoil someone else's vacation just so I can extend mine anyway?

My DH and I are going to the PFH hotel next week for 3 nights and there had better be a room for us. I booked it over 6 months ago.

I would bet that you weren't the only one that day who got bumped outta your room ressie....especially if it was a convention. There were probably quite a few people who decided to stay longer.

If it's a law that you can't make a person leave...then I think the hotels should be obligated to inform those who want to stay another night, that by doing so, they may be taking a room from someone else who has pre-existing reservations and planned their vacation there.

Why did Hard Rock Hotel have to check the computer for availability before they would extend my stay?

The logic here is dumb. The hotel obviously has the right to refuse someone who wants to stay longer.

The person who wants to stay the extra night at Portofino even though they are sold out should be going to the Peabody. Not you, the customer who booked your room at Portofino weeks in advance.

You did not fly down from NY to stay at the Peabody.

I would even go so far as to write the Florida state Attorney General's office about your experience and inquiring if this law even exists.

You should have given them a dose of NY Attitude!!!!

I did work in the reservations department for a large hotel company for awhile. There are several points that this topic brings up:
1) While they technically can make people leave the hotel, they would basically have to evict them; same as they would an apartment renter. Sure HRH can say "You have to leave", but if the person won't, they cannot legally go into the room and throw their bags out in the hallway. HRH would have to go through an "eviction" process.
2) It is a very common practice to overbook hotels by as much as 5%. For example a 500 room hotel may sell as many as 525 rooms. There is a very good chance that at least 25 rooms will be no-shows. Everyone does this- Universal, Hilton, SHeraton, Days Inn, even Disney probably. I know that doesn't make it right, but it is a standard indusstry practice. Usually it doesn't matter because a)enough people will be no-shows or b) you are staying at a Days Inn and they bump you to a nicer hotel. Obviously when you've got a reservation at one of, if not the nicest hotels in Orlando, pretty much any bump will be down.

Anyways, yes I am sorry that that happened to you, and it would definatly ruin a trip. The people who are saying you should report HRH for bad business practices, however, I think that would waste your time, as this practice is apparantly (and sadly) perfectly legal.

I would have demanded a private shuttle to and from the parks and a handful of FOTL passes to last me the days intended to stay in the park. Afterall, isn't that why we make reservations for onsite hotels? I think it stinks that hotels place us in a "first come first serve" situation because they are afraid to say NO to people who refuse to leave when their stay is up.
Logic needs to be used in these situations. Don't throw their stuff in the hallway. Simply make it so that their room key doesn't work past 1pm. Then when they go to the front desk to question why their room key doesn't work, explain that their reservation expired that day and they must take their stuff and check out. Send a bellman with them to their room to get their stuff from the room and leave. The hotel can even offer to book them a fine room at the Peabody hotel, a lovely resort only minutes from Universal.

It is much more reasonable to tell a guest trying to extend their stay that the hotel is sold out then it is to deny a new guest with an existing reservation from staying in the room.

Even if the hotel overbooks by 25 rooms, they knew 5 days in advance that they were overbooked and should have called those people to let them know the situation so they could plan accordingly. However, in this situation, overbooking was not the excuse given by Portofino. The hotel said the reason was that too many guests wanted to extend their stays.

If Portofino Bay and Hard Rock hotel are sold out for key dates like July 4th and December 31st, does that mean I can book a room for July 3rd and Dec. 30th and just refuse to leave the room and get the extra night? If so, this silly practice has the potential to screw over many vacations.
you are right jon360 I wanted to stay my entire vacation at the HRH but they were full the 26,27th if I had to do it over again I would have just booked and extended that is what I will do from now on, That is the only way I guess and every major holiday book and extend. THE MAIN PROBLEM WAS THE UTTER DISTAIN FOR ME THAT WAS SHOWED BY THE PORTOFINO, THE ONLY THING THEY WANTED IS ME AND THE OTHERS THAT WERE BUMPED AND THERE WERE A LIST OF OTHERS OUT OF THE HOTEL QUICK AND WITHOUT A PROBLEM. THEY DID NOT CARE ABOUT MY FEELINGS OR ANYTHING ABOUT ME. THE ASST MGR LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS CRAZY WHEN I TOLD HIM THIS IS NOT A CORRECT BUSINESS PRACTICE. IT IS A SHAME.:mad:
Smooth.....they wanted you out before you and the rest of the unfortunate vacationers told their stories loud enough to the rest of the people standing in line. They just wanted to sweep you all under rug. This is really a bad business practice.

My husband and I are going to be there next weekend. Now I am going with this knot in my stomach wondering if our vacation will be tarnished by a similar incident and lack of regard for the customer.

I know I will feel uneasy about booking in the future if there are any more stories such as yours...and I think other people would feel the same way. You plan on something like this for months, and just don't want to hear that your hotel stay has been thwarted at the last possible minute (standing in line at check-in) gesh!
Silky Goofy,

That brings up a good point. If Hard Rock hotel or Portofino are sold out for any dates, this means that all one needs to do is book a room one night before the sold out date, then they can freely stay as long as they want even though the hotel is sold out.
Wow! Thanks for the heads up. We're planning our trip for November and were considering one of the Universal hotels for the first three nights. Guess we won't be doing that after all. If their attitude is such that only conventioneers are afforded acceptable customer service, then they can count me out.

And I was sort of looking forward to the parks, too. Oh, well, I guess I'll save my money for Disney...


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