My best friend and I decided to cross one off the bucket list this year and attend the Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale in Fort Wayne, from 4/10-4/13. As always, I relied on my ever-faithful TripAdvisor when choosing the hotel. This property received decent ratings, had a great AAA rate of $116.99/night and was one of the Vera Bradley "girlfriend getaway" hotels on visitfortwayne.com, so we were very pleased to book it. After flying from Providence to Indianapolis, then driving two hours from Indy to Fort Wayne, we were thrilled to see the hotel and finally settle in to begin our Indiana adventure.
So imagine our surprise when we got there to be told by AGM Terria, after front desk clerk Kierston (who was very nice throughout) was unable to find our reservation in the system, "You cancelled your reservation on April 8 (2 days before scheduled arrival)". This was a LIE. I never received anything from Best Western.com stating our reservation was cancelled, and why would we cancel it since we were obviously at the hotel? This was clearly a mistake on the hotel's part, and our reservation was cancelled in error by the hotel, not us. I told Terria that and she again accused us of cancelling; but to her credit, she went into the back room to try to resolve the issue and reinstate our reservation.
Since I wasn't very impressed with Terria's attitude, I asked Kierston if I could speak with Mike, the manager on duty, based on a plaque over the front desk stating this information (which incidentally never changed during our entire stay, so he must work 24/7). Kierston told me "Mike doesn't like to talk with people. He prefers to stay in the background and keep a low profile". These are very odd characteristics for someone employed in the hospitality industry at a management level, but I didn't pursue it any further-by that point we were hungry, tired and just didn't care. Meanwhile, again to her credit and true to her word, Terria did manage to reinstate our reservation and get us into a room. Although we greatly appreciated her tenacity resolving the issue, it could have been done in a more professional and less accusatory manner.
The room, 221, was decorated nicely and fairly clean. However,we did find plastic wrap and a penny on the floor, and the TV base was dusty. The shower stall floor and toilet seat could use some reinforcement as they both felt flimsy and unsupportive. The TV also sounded like the voices were underwater. On the plus side, the beds were very comfortable; we never heard much noise from the other guests; and the breakfast, consisting of cereal, fruit, muffins, bagels, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, mini-omelets, yogurt, oatmeal and a make-your-own waffle station was quite enjoyable.
This hotel is in a prime location and has such great promise because it's very accessible to everything-restaurants, the Coliseum, shopping and tourist attractions. However, when it came to marketing and cross-promoting local activities and businesses, it missed the boat big time. From 4/10-4/15, this hotel was full of women ready to shop and drop a lot of money in Fort Wayne over a five-day period. Yet, except for one brochure promoting the children's zoo which wasn't even open at the time, there were NO brochures about what to do in Fort Wayne. The travel brochures, which were shoved in a corner, mostly consisted of activities in Indianapolis, southern Indiana, western Ohio and southern Michigan. If we hadn't researched the city before we came we would have thought Fort Wayne was a boring place and simply would have driven the two hours to Indy for entertainment. The saddest part is that one of the managers, from what I understand, is Miss Fort Wayne 2018 and would be the perfect and most excellent ambassador for the city and all it has to offer her hotel guests. What better person to promote the hotel and the city in which it is located? We were also told by an employee that there was always a shuttle to take the Vera Bradley shoppers to The Coliseum, where the sale was being held, but for some reason, there was no shuttle this year-another marketing opportunity missed.
On a very positive note, one staff member that went above and beyond to make us feel welcome was Mindy, a breakfast worker. When we were checking out, Mindy personally thanked us for coming to Fort Wayne and spending our hard-earned money in the city and all its businesses, and hopes we choose to stay at this hotel again should we return next year. From a marketing standpoint, Mindy gets it. And she should be acknowledged for that.
Although the hotel had many positives (looking at you, Mindy!), the negatives stuck with us. If we choose to come back to Fort Wayne next year I can't confirm staying in this hotel again...but if we do decide to book it next year, you better believe I'm calling ahead to confirm my reservation. less