(Foreword: I sent this letter to the Santa Barbara Hotel Group from two different emails two weeks ago and waited for a response before posting this review. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The Encina itself sent me a canned response of "next time you come we hope your experience is better."
This was my experience at the Encina Lodge August 7-9, 2020. We as a family have stayed at this location many many times before over the years as it is always a reliable place to lay our heads. However, I was appalled at the lack of safety measures and also the corner cutting on amenities during this pandemic.
First, why is there no contactless check in? I stayed at two separate hotels in the days leading up to this stay and both offered touch free check in AND checkout. Why not a big chain like BW? When I entered the lobby to check in both of the people behind the counter were not wearing masks. One was on the phone and the other filing, and she put her mask on to come help me but I couldn't believe they were sitting next to each other on the phone at the same desk mask free. How many spoken particles were in that room when I entered? I had to pass my credit card for check in (really? I gave it online?) and received my keys. When I remarked "oh, second floor?" The receptionist laughed and said: "You said you wanted quiet, but it's near the pool, so, um, yeah." Whatever that means.
Speaking of the pool, there was no cleaning of chairs, no spacing the tables and lounges for social distancing, and no limits on numbers of people entering. At the other hotels we used they had a schedule and slots to sign up for the pool to limit interactions. They wiped down chairs between guests. Best Western doesn't have enough workers to wipe down surfaces during this health emergency??
When we entered our room (259) the cleaning staff were finishing cleaning next door and we asked them where the pull out couch sheets were. I was surprised that we booked the room for three people and the couch was not made up already. I have to make up my own beds in a hotel now? They told me they were in the closet (they were not... I had to call down to get some delivered) and what they delivered was a sheet and the thinnest coverlet I have seen. Like a throw. I dug through all the drawers (all empty). No extra pillows for the beds, nothing. I attempted to nap on the fold out couch the next day with my daughter and was shocked at how saggy and terrible the bed was. I actually apologized to her and told her I'd never put her on that bed if I had known.
The "full kitchen" advertised had so little amenities as to be laughable. No nonstick pans (how do you make eggs with no nonstick pans?) No wine glasses, no tea kettle, no water pitcher, the tiniest 8 inch cutting board. It took several minutes to find the light switch buried behind the microwave. No way could I have cooked more than the grilled cheeses I did. The ants started to pour into the room the moment we put a wrapper in the trashcan (through a crack in the ceiling of all places) and we fought them the rest of the days we were there.
The bathroom showered was so clogged with calcium that it sprayed everywhere and the automatic motion sensor light that blares on when you enter the bathroom is obnoxious. It is perfectly easy to flip on a switch should you need light. The air conditioner was ancient, and only in the living room. It was impossible to run it while you slept as the creaking noise was deafening. The bedroom was at least 15 degrees hotter and didn't have a fan nor did the television work. The carpet was stained and bathroom counter chipped. Everything seemed in poor repair.
Again, we had to face to face check out and AGAIN when I walked in employees were not wearing masks. They slipped one on to help me, but I was so disappointed.
We didn't even bother to complain. We left knowing we will never return. After all the years we've stayed with you, this was an utter disappointment on so many levels. From basic room repair to simple health measures.
Liz Rodriguez, Other at Best Western Plus Encina Inn & Suites, responded to this review
Thank you for taking time to share your impressions about your recent stay with us. I would like to begin with a genuine apology for the lack of an appropriate response to your emails. I am working on tracking down your original email to see where it may have fallen through the cracks. Your feeback is very important to us so we want to ensure that this does not happen again.
As we welcome our guests to the Best Western Encina Inn & Suites, we are committed to providing you with a safe environment carefully following expert protocols to protect against COVID-19. We have redefined our cleaning and safety protocols starting in our public spaces and high traffic areas and include:
* Cleaning all surfaces with increased frequency using recommended cleaning and disinfecting agents.
* Hand sanitizers are available at hotel entrances and front desk reception areas.
* Signage in public spaces will remind our guests to maintain social distancing.
* Partitions have been added to our front desk to provide an extra level of protection to our guests and hotel team.
In our guestrooms we have increased our cleaning protocols to ensure all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with recommended cleaning and disinfecting agents.
* Electrostatic sprayers with disinfecting mist are used in each guestroom in preparation for our arriving guests.
* Food and beverage services are continuously adjusted in accordance with current food safety recommendation.
Our dedicated team members are thoroughly trained on all protocols, wear personal protective equipment, and screened daily for health and wellbeing. We will be sure to review these protocols with each of our team members to ensure a safe, comfortable, and confident environment for all our guests.