We were booked in advance of our arrival in New Orleans to stay at JW Marriott on Canal Street on 2/14 on the night before our cruise. This is a 4star hotel with good recommendations online as I regularly research hotels, restaurants, etc before we leave home.
I had paid and confirmed twice by phoning the front desk during the week to let them know that we would arrive late (approximately midnight). When we arrived at the airport there was a "skeleton crew" working because, we were told, most employees had not shown up to work. We waited a long time for our bags and at 12 a.m. I called the hotel to confirm that we would be leaving the airport shortly. I was very nervous because it was our first trip to New Orleans and we had concerns about our safety there. I was also concerned because it was late at night, we'd been travelling all day, and we just wanted a good nights sleep in a safe section of town at a brand name hotel.
The woman who answered the front desk when I called at midnight said "Actually you won't be staying here tonight. We're overbooked." I thought she must be mistaken. She didn't realize I had already booked a room AND paid for it by credit card weeks before. I replied "Oh, I've confirmed and paid for a room. I'm already booked." She said "No Ma'am, we're overbooked. We have no room for you." I told her "But I confirmed my room already. You gave away my room?" She replied "Ma'am, we're overbooked. There are few rooms left in the city. If you take a cab here we can give you a voucher for another hotel and you can walk there. It's not far from here." Walk in a strange area of New Orleans with luggage after travelling 14 hours? At 1 am? To a hotel I know NOTHING about??? Really? I cancelled and requested a refund. As of 2/26 this refund had not been processed. Priceline intervened and refunded my money in full after a dispute was filed.
It has been 2 months since our trip. Since then, Marriott had the administrative assistant to the general manager of the JW Marriott in New rRleans contact us by phone to explain the policy. We weren't available by phone to discuss the policies due to our busy lives. However, after several emails back and forth, the resolution Marriott has offered us is that they reserve the right, per their policy, to rebook your reservation to another hotel with whom they have a relationship. That is IT!
It doesn't matter if you've paid. It doesn't matter that you called to confirm twice. You could arrive in a city that is new to you and be told at check in that you are being given a voucher and must relocate to a new hotel. No refund. Nothing complimentary. Not even the cab ride over to the new hotel was offered. Remember that we were advised by check in that it was just a short walk at 1 am with our luggage after 14 hours of travel.
Due to this official corporate policy, per the corporate office to my inbox, I would never again recommend Marriott to anyone. While corporate assures me that this is a "rare" occurrence, it seems to me that once is more than we could stomach. If we were just going to take our chances finding any old hotel room when we arrived in town, we certainly wouldn't pre pay and pre schedule a room with them!