Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Where Oh Where Is Our Hotel? (Subtitle: Riding Around in a Shuttle Van for Three Hours? Not a Fun Way to Start Vacation!)

So we just returned from a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean with stops in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Kitts. We went on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, which – lemme tell ya – is one friggin’ big boat!

We got a little sun (not too much, which is good for us pale faces), did a little sightseeing (and still had time for a little shopping, which is really good for us shopaholics), and ate and drank a lot more than usual (but not so much that we worried about hangovers or our clothes no longer fitting). So, all in all, a great time.

But our voyage did not begin smoothly.

We took a direct flight from Columbus to Miami and that went okay. I’d say it went “great” – but you know how it is when you’re wedged into a tiny airplane with many people and much luggage. You feel like a sardine and are quite grateful when the doors open and you can finally un-pretzel your legs.

There were eight of us traveling together – five adults and three small children. As in a 5-year-old boy and his 3-year-old twin brothers. We arrived in Miami at 8:20 PM, gathered our mega-pile of luggage and proceeded to the nearest shuttle to take us to Ft. Lauderdale and the Hyatt hotel we had pre-booked.

For future reference, please note that there are a LOT of Hyatt hotels in Ft. Lauderdale.

Once we got that mega-pile of luggage crammed into the back of the shuttle bus, the eight of us (plus the driver) climbed into the vehicle and prepared ourselves for the approximately 30 minute drive to the hotel.

Only it took M-U-C-H longer than thirty minutes.

Why? Because the driver was an idiot. Er, I mean, the driver got lost. Multiple times.

We told him from the start that we needed to take a small detour to a pharmacy as one of the twins was sick and a prescription had been called into a particular pharmacy in Ft. Lauderdale. So he managed to find that pharmacy and the dad jumped out and quickly fetched the prescription. 

We were all still relatively awake and anticipating our week-long getaway, so we were mostly in a good mood. We may have been getting a little hungry and the kids were getting a tiny bit antsy, but that was normal. Right? So the driver takes us a bit further to a Hyatt Place hotel and announces we had arrived.

Ah, relief and anticipation! I couldn’t wait to wash my face, brush my teeth and change into comfy PJs. I wanted to get to bed early so I would be fresh and well-rested the next morning to start our vacation.

Not our luggage cart. Ours was wayyy fuller! Ha!
Once all twelve (count-em!) suitcases and carry-ons were piled onto the luggage cart, we generously (and I mean REALLY generously) tipped the driver and then trudged into the lobby with our hotel confirmation sheets in hand.

That’s when it all started to fall apart.

The clerk haughtily told us we were at the wrong hotel. When we sighed in frustration and then asked if they had any available rooms he said, (a) no, and (b) we’d be paying a “cancellation fee” at the other hotel, which was basically the entire night’s rate.

Fortunately, the shuttle driver was slow to leave and we were able to flag him down and tell him his job wasn’t finished. He was probably cursing himself for taking the time to greedily count his tip instead of hightailing it out of there. But he grudgingly loaded all those bags back into the shuttle while we all climbed back into our seats and prepared for another short drive to the correct hotel.

As they say, “hope springs eternal.” Right?


Our hopes were dashed when the second Hyatt was still not the right hotel. This time we had only started to take the bags out of the vehicle when Vince told us to hold off; he wanted to make sure we were at the right hotel before we unloaded.

Meanwhile, one of the twins who was not feeling well vomited on the floor of the shuttle bus. Fortunately, I was in the row behind him and neither saw nor heard it so my sympathetic gag reflex was not activated. Big “whew” – as the shuttle driver was already looking a little panicked by this point.

And Girl Scout Jane had Wet Wipes at the ready so all evidence of barf was quickly cleaned up. (And, really fortunately, Girl Scout Jane wasn’t the one responsible for cleaning it up!)

Meanwhile, the driver was on the phone calling Dispatch to find out the exact location of our pre-booked hotel. He had that information, of course, because we had given it to him back in Miami and he even had the correct address on the GPS screen in his vehicle, so it was hard to fathom what his problem was.

Maybe he had never been to Ft. Lauderdale before? Maybe – like me – he was directionally challenged, but – unlike me – he didn’t know how to follow the GPS instructions?

Maybe we should’ve checked to see if he had a legitimate driver’s license?

Nevertheless, he climbed back into the driver’s seat and said he was certain he had the correct hotel this time. And off we went.

But that would be a big N-O.

This time we stopped in front of a Hyatt hotel where a formal wedding had taken place and men in tuxes and women in fancy gowns were standing out front.

Again, we opted to check to make sure we had the correct hotel before off-loading our luggage and the kids and ourselves, so Vince was the only one to exit the vehicle. But yet again, he was told we were at the wrong hotel!

By this point, it was almost 11 PM and I was royally pissed. I mean, come on. THREE wrong hotels?!  And two extra hours to get us where we were supposed to be?

I wanted to ask for our very generous tip back!

By this point, our driver had zero credibility with us and, even though there couldn’t possibly have been that many Hyatt hotels left in all of Ft. Lauderdale, we wouldn’t even let him try to figure it out. Instead, we grabbed a cell phone, hit the GPS app and directed the driver to the correct hotel. Sure enough, our fourth stop was finally the right one.

When I stumbled out of the van, I very nearly kissed the ground, but I thought that might be a little too melodramatic even for me!

But it truly was a great relief when I got to our room and was finally able to wash my face, brush my teeth and change into comfy PJs.

But our evening wasn’t over quite yet. We all couldn’t decide if we were more tired or hungry at this point, but hungry won – so we ordered pizzas and calzones to be delivered to our rooms. If I could remember the name of the restaurant I’d tell you because the calzones were THAT good. But, yeesh – eating food that late at night was crazy. And we didn’t sleep all that well. But we DID sleep.

And I was ever so grateful I wasn’t still riding around in the back of a shuttle bus!

So I figured our trip could only get better from there – right?!


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