Island Issues

Residence Inn By Marriott On Sadler Is The Hotel From Hell

Residence Inn By Marriott On Sadler Is The Hotel From Hell

My brother-in-law and his family experienced a memorable Memorial Day weekend they won’t soon forget.

Following a more than 1,000-mile drive from Texas, David Pickering – wife Linda’s brother – his wife and 10-year-old grandson, arrived on Amelia Island Saturday evening, May 29, at the 2301 Sadler Road Residence Inn by Marriott only to be told by a surly front desk to hit the bricks. There’s no room for them at this inn they were bluntly informed.

David had booked and prepaid his reservation there six weeks earlier through Expedia. Realizing during the drive that he would probably be arriving between 7 and 9 pm. he called the Sadler Road hotel directly twice en route telling them he was delayed and would be arriving around nine o’clock or a bit later due to traffic congestion and storms. Both times hotel personnel answering the phone assured him that his confirmed and paid for room would be ready when he arrived.

“We won’t even be looking for you until after 9 or 10 pm tonight,” was the comforting message he received from the person answering the hotel phone during his 2:35 pm call.

When he pulled in with his sleepy crew at 7:50 pm the front desk told him they didn’t have a room and to go away. Explaining that he was assured on the phone twice by Fernandina Beach Residence Inn personnel that his prepaid reservation was secure had no impact, just the opposite.

A hotel clerk told David that Expedia had cancelled his reservation. “Nonsense”,  said David. Expedia was the only party involved making any effort to accommodate him. Expedia agreed, saying it not only didn’t cancel it, but it had no authority to cancel the reservation and that the only parties that could cancel would be David or the hotel. Is it possible that the hotel on a busy Memorial Day weekend, knew it could charge an exorbitant rate and dropped David’s $180 per night week-long reservation to extort a $300-$400 or more nightly fee from another traveler?

When he asked to talk with an owner, manager, or someone in authority the scenario turned even uglier. He was told there was currently no one in authority available. David then plopped down in a lobby chair saying: “OK, I’ll wait.”

Shortly thereafter the police arrived. According to the police report “Angela” a “front desk” hotel employee called the cops saying: “There is a white male here who refuses to leave,” in effect accusing David of trespassing. Four Fernandina Beach cops approached him in the lobby saying they had been summoned by the hotel to remove him – the trespasser – from the hotel.

David Pickering acknowledging to Fernandina police that he has been accused of trespassing by the Residence Inn.

At this point Marriott’s Sadler Road Residence Inn had all the appeal of Alfred Hitchcock’s Bates Motel and “The Shining’s” Overlook Hotel.

We offered to take the exhausted travelers in despite the fact we already had a house full of visiting cousins. We had couch space if they were up for that we explained.

They declined our invitation as by this time Expedia had come to the rescue with a temporary fix in Kingsland, Georgia. Since it was Memorial Day weekend everything on Amelia Island and most places nearby were fully booked.

David is accustomed to dealing with police, ne’er-do-wells, and belligerents. He’s a former Assistant District Attorney for Tarrant County in Ft. Worth, Texas and currently in private practice handling criminal and civil law cases.

During the entire unpleasantness he stayed calm, controlled his temper, and coolly explained his situation to the local cops. According to David, the police were polite, respectful, helpful, and supportive, concepts totally alien to employees of the Residence Inn.

David and I have a copy of the police report and nowhere does it indicate that he was at fault or caused trouble. It only reports that a Residence Inn employee named Angela called the cops to report a person trespassing on their property, who is “upset because he can’t get a room.”

I called the Residence Inn Thursday and asked to speak to the general manager to hear their side of the story. Jen Scott, who identified herself as the assistant general manager, refused to talk to me, telling me the general manager was out of town for the week.  She never indicated that anyone would get back to me nor did she advise me who I should call. Apparently this hotel and the folks that run it are confident that abusing prospective guests and clients has no impact on future business or their bottom line.

If you have a relative or acquaintance you despise, and they ask you to suggest an Amelia Island Hotel, the Residence Inn on Sadler Road is the place to send them.

***

One Of A Kind: If I were one of the 100 U.S. Senators there are only a small number of colleagues I’d want to hang out with including Senator John Kennedy (R, LA), who would be number one on my list.

Sitting at a bar quaffing a beer with Senator Kennedy you’d hear witticisms such as this when he commented on Chuck Schumer’s latest multi-billion-dollar boondoggle: “The bill sets aside $120 billion for foreign aid. I don’t know why we have to give money to countries that hate us. Why can’t they hate us for free?”

He also told FOX’s Sean Hannity the other night that the evil little gnome, Dr. Anthony Fauci, flip flops more than a banked catfish and that Biden sold out the United States like a sack of potatoes.

Senator Kennedy also disclosed the fact that tucked away in Schumer’s latest spending fiasco of 1,500 pages is a $500,000 set-aside to study how long it takes a panda to poop.

Senator Kennedy is running for reelection next year and hopefully the folks in Louisiana are smarter than the nitwits in New York and California that keep electing morons, and Louisiana and America will benefit from six more years of this man’s wisdom.

***

Brace yourselves city taxpayers!

You Bought It! You Got It! Nassau County has made it abundantly clear that Fernandina Beach is on its own paying for the upkeep of its city-built facilities. “Go pound sand,” they told the pathetic Fernandina City officials with their begging bowl extended at a recent joint session.

That means the $70 million tsunami of impending costs to maintain the marina, golf course, shoreline stabilization, waterfront park and all the other parks, the Atlantic Recreation Center, Peck Center, MLK Center, ballfields, beach walkovers,  City Hall, on and on — is the sole responsibility of city taxpayers.

Folks, this translates directly into higher property taxes for you, me, and everyone else within the city limits. Don’t like it? Then tell your city commissioners and Big Spender city manager, that created this financial catastrophe.

My insider source who knows more than most about such things hereabouts provided an analysis of the city’s current economic calamity and estimated what city management’s ineptitude will cost property owners.

He estimates, the property tax rate will need to go up by at least 0.91 mils to cover this. “Now this is not a one-time increase, like the conservation tax, this increase will last for many, many years, “ he explains.

“Living within the city limits will be the ‘privilege’ of those who can afford a city tax increase of this magnitude,” predicts my local sage.

So can’t the city sell some of its nonperforming assets to lessen the financial burden on residents?  Nope, he says, “The recent Charter amendment makes this impossible. So we have boxed ourselves in with no way out other than opening our checkbooks even wider.”

Welcome to the new Fernandina Beach.

Just how bad is it? Really bad he explains.

“Regarding the marina/FEMA, bringing the marina enterprise fund into balance (income pays all expenses) will require that the marina produce at least $4 million revenue/year which is $1.5 million higher than the marina has ever produced,” he calculates.

“So, in the spirit of controlling property tax, another $1 million or more in new revenue needs to be found fast.”

Some folks say that the new Brett’s lease (in 2024) will produce significant income but not nearly enough. And major repair work is needed before any new tenant will sign up, costing more than the lease will produce in the early years.

My source says marina transient slip rates must increase significantly starting in October, and new revenue sources must be started pronto.

The “waterfront park” land must be put to financial use with new businesses cited there, either owned by the city or leased to private enterprise with revenue sharing.

The tax payer outlook for city residents is gloomy he summarizes saying: “Finding $1 million in new revenue is not going to be easy, but if this is not done, the marina enterprise fund will not balance, meaning continued high subsidy by city residents for years to come.”

With folks such as Big Spender City Manager Dale Martin, the pompous gasbag Chip Ross and oblivious Mayor Mike Lednovich stumbling around city hall the outlook is more than bleak.

***

Speaking Of City Mismanagement: Two volunteer local sports correspondents reporting from the Fernandina Beach Golf Course write that the situation with the $500,000 Top Tracer golf game appears to be a mess.

The two fledgling golf scribes met with a couple of  employees of the golf club who told them that Top Tracer has been down since last Wednesday due to wiring connections and their reaction with the salt air. The duo added that there was no sign of anybody doing anything to fix the situation when they were there Tuesday.

“One of the employees told us that when Top Tracer was operating, they had only 5-6 people per week that actually paid the $40 per hour to use it,” the two said.

“The actual site still looks like a construction site,” they said. “Very few frills have gone into this project. Still no food or beverages available at the site or bathrooms.”

“From a business point of view, this looks like a poorly thought out and managed project, with little or no professional oversight,” they added. “I don’t think that any experienced financial person ever would have signed off on a project like this with an ROI that probably would not register.”

Someone needs to account for the $500,000  that has been invested the two city residents opined.

***

Yeh! Well, Oh Yeh! Steve Beckman resigned as head of Fernandina Beach’s much-criticized Building Department last week and is leaving the job firing over his shoulder.

In a front-page News Leader article announcing his departure Beckman blamed everybody but himself for the chaos surrounding his controversial function including contractors, builders, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. The only group that failed to make his list was the Sisters of Charity. He also outlined what he said were a variety of programs he says he instituted.

As local developer, entrepreneur, author,  and investor, Pat Keogh says, Beckman took the heat for doing the bidding of his city overseers who applied state law and collected fees in such a way as to generate unlawful income for the city.

More about all this at a later date.

***

Help Wanted: If you’re one of those not too bright recent Woke college graduates holding a worthless degree in Lesbian Studies, Puppetry Arts, or Black Studies you might want to consider Marxism as a full-time career if you already haven’t.

Marxist Patrisse Cullors, who founded and recently resigned from Black Lives Matter, lives a lavish lifestyle owning three homes. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, communism’s noisiest old fool, has four. Both of these dolts prove that people with no particular talents can profit by taking up Marxism as a career.

Is this what Karl Marx had in mind?

***

Stop The Presses: Wildlife writer and zoologist Pat Foster-Turley, who bolted the News-Leader after almost 20 years because she objected to having her weekly column edited, has joined Fernandina Beach’s public relations team at the online Fernandina Observer.  Dr. Foster-Turley doesn’t have to be concerned about editing at the Observer, unless she’s critical of the city’s mismanagement, ineptness and bungling. The Observer’s two Thelma and Louise editors, Suanne Thamm and Susan Steger, only bother themselves with editing when they’re eliminating any mention of a conservative viewpoint or facts regarding the city’s chaotic government. Ms. Foster-Turley will be a bright spot at an otherwise worthless publication.

***

A Fish Tale: This past Wednesday, myself, brother-in-law David, his wife, Ginger, and their grandson, Max, hired local charter boat Captain Brian Soucy, of Semper Fi Charters to take us out on a half day fishing expedition. Brian, who has been guiding tourists and fishermen around the waters hereabouts since about 2008 , knows where the fish are hiding. We caught a variety of them, mostly whiting, some of the best eating fish in Florida. Due to their small size they are a chore to clean so we turned that over to Atlantic seafood and the next day seasoned them with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and Cajun powder before tossing them on the grill.  In addition to a couple of large sharks and the whiting, we also caught a glimpse of the Santa Maria (above), a replica of Columbus’s largest three ships, as it was sailing into the Fernandina harbor for a few days. You couldn’t ask for a more congenial, knowledgeable, and accommodating guide than Captain Soucy. If you or any of your guests want a full day or half day of fun call him at 904/505-3481 or go to semperficharters.com.

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18 Comments

John Goshco - 05. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Due to Dave’s routine hyperbolic response to everything in his life, it’s difficult to determine where reality lies. I will, however, add a bit of information from my personal experience.

Years ago, I discovered that the hotel phone number listed on Travelocity, Expedia and even the hotel chain web sites is not always directly connected to the venue you believe you have reservations with. Often times, especially after “daytime business hours”, you are connected to a Help Desk that may be hundreds of miles from your destination. It’s even possible that this may happen when the Night Clerk is momentarily away from the desk.

As a frequent “late arrival”, I have utilized the the following strategy. Before my trip, I usually make it a point to call the designated phone number and inquire whether I am speaking with an on-site employee or a designated off-site representative. I then request the “real” phone number for the local facility (and confirm its veracity). After arrival, I recheck with the front desk to make sure that I have all of their local numbers, in case I need to contact them during my visit.

No system is foolproof, but maybe this alert will help some of your readers avoid a bad experience.

Please follow up and let us know how your relatives fared.

Ron Barone - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Dave,
Our City Commissioners are too busy putting out fires that they, themselves, started, to be of any use in matters that impact the residents of this wonderful and historic island.

David Francis - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Dave. A must then get your brother in law one of those Walmart Amelia island,Grorgia towels!!!!!!!

Richard Norman Kurpiers - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

“Senator Kennedy also disclosed the fact that tucked away in Schumer’s latest spending fiasco of 1,500 pages is a $500,000 set-aside to study how long it takes a panda to poop.”

Fact check: The above is a lie. Fake news. The truth is, Senator Kennedy was upset because the spending bill included $80 billion for the National Science Foundation. He went on to say that the NSF is the same entity that spent $500,000 studying how long it takes for a panda to poop. In other words, there is no request before Congress to spend money on Panda poop. The study already happened.

Jenifer Steele - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

What has our little island come to in our absence. That sounds like NM treatment! Wait till we tell you all about that Dave. Looking forward to being back in August! And yes you told us so! 🙂

DAVID LOTT - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

C’mon Dave. Pat left the News-Leader for a much more serious issue than “because she objected to having her weekly column edited’. The editor demanded that Pat adopt a formal writing style (that you don’t use either) that she felt would negatively impact the personalization of her articles. To her credit and professional integrity, she has foregone a paid gig and submitting her stories to the Fernandina Observer free of charge.

So sorry to hear of your BIL calamity at the Marriott Residence Inn. The property is franchised owned (a company out of West Palm Beach) and not a corporate property, but Marriott is super sensitive about their brand reputation so contacting them at the corporate level should produce some results. I assure you that after receiving a call from corporate the assistant manager won’t hesitate to contact the general manager and interrupt their “vacation”.
I do have to call you on your double standard however. Earlier this year you refused to name a couple of the dining establishments that refused to allow a local group to meet allegedly because of their conservative positions on issues. But you don’t hesitate to rain down on the Residence Inn because a family member was involved.

I share the concerns about the financial viability of the TopTracer facility and trying to get what the “budget” for the facility is from the Finance Department. I used the facility back in late April on a Monday afternoon and was the only person there (besides the attendant) during my one-hour slot. When asking about the scarcity of users I got the “you should have seen it yesterday” response. While the only game in town to some degree, I thought the $40/hour/bay is high. I called the TT facility in Jacksonville and they charge $10/hour in the evening and only $5/hour during the day. Food & beverage service consists of soda and beer you get out of a refrigerator case and crackers / cookies out of the bins above. You can have the attendant place an order from the grill for menu items there, but I have no feedback on the quality of service or food quality when received. The lack of turf in front of the bays and between the facility and the parking area certainly gives that unfinished appearance. I do hear that the manager they got from Amelia National to replace Steve Murphy is knowledgeable.

Chris Boelkes - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

In Dave’s defense, his story about his BIL’s experience was not evidence of a double standard, it is, in fact, a testament to his integrity. I have no doubt that if his BIL had asked him to not make his story public, it would not have been in this blog.

DAVID LOTT - 11. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Chris,
I guess only Dave knows. My recollection on the earlier events was that Dave knew the name of the restaurants that refused the business of the conservative group and he made the decision not to publish their names giving the reason as not wanting to hurt a local business. I don’t recall seeing that the affected group made that request, but perhaps I am mistaken.

Concerned Resident - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

It is frustrating that the city continuously rolls the dice with our money, then callously raises taxes to cover their bad bets, indecision, inconsistency, questionable asset management, and poor judgement. It is also disappointing to hear of the county’s decision not to support the city facilities that you identified above. If, in fact, those facilities are “the sole responsibility of city taxpayers”, perhaps they should be reserved for the sole enjoyment of city residents. Otherwise, it would be only fair and reasonable to charge non-city residents an equitable surcharge for their use rather than to saddle us taxpayers with the entire cost. For beach parking and other outdoor venues, use the same paybox system in place on the Talbot Islands.

Coleman C Langshaw - 05. Jun, 2021 - Reply

I totally agree with you.

I have long been an advocate of paid parking for non-city consumers. The only people who pay for parking in the City are the Taxpayers of the City. I live in the City AND the County, derive nothing from the County that the City doesn’t provide AND, I pay $3,375 per year to the County and pay $2,699 to the City for Ad Valorem taxes.
The anti-City only vendetta is puzzling and myopic, probably more personal than professional, in my opinion.

Bill Shaffer - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Another bell-ringer for Scott.

Gina Calogero - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

I worked front desk for Marriott, in of all places New Jersey, and even I, a Yankee, never ever treated a guest like that. It’s unprofessional and this incident should go all the way to the top in Marriott. When someone has a confirmation they get a room. The rooms are blocked. I don’t know what the heck those employees were doing and evidently neither do they. Let’s not forget their blatant lack of customer service. Disgraceful and embarrassing for Marriott.

Karen Selkirk - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

I like the Marriott hotels, but must admit that I am not happy with their politics. That said, the hotel is new and whether it’s a hotel or restaurant there are always issues during the opening month or two. So, was it wise to open shortly before a holiday weekend? If the answer is yes, then they should have sent extra corporate staff to deal with issues. Now, they must deal with a lot of bad publicity because I doubt there were many issues.

David Scott - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Karen, the Marriott hotel that treated the Pickering family so abysmally is not the new one on Atlantic, but the Residence Inn by Marriott on Sadler.

Susan Sinclair - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

We had an issue with Marriott a number of years ago. My husband wrote to Mr. Marriott at the time and we got a call from his personal executive assistant.
They were mortified at the treatment we received from the Marriott where we had booked, an employee who lied to us was fired, and we were told we can have a free night anytime at the hotel we had reserved.
I hope Mr. Pickering follows up on this.

John Callen - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Dave’- I wonder if the FEMA payments will amount to enough to build a nice set of gallows?

Coleman Langshaw - 05. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Mr. Callen, If that “gallows comment” is meant to be some local right-wing sense of humor, it falls very flat.

Bernard Martinage - 04. Jun, 2021 - Reply

Not surprised from Marriott . .. what would you expect from a company that proudly announced that they have suspended campaign contributions to lawmakers who voted against certifying the fraudulent win of Biden and Harris as President and Vice President.

Just like I haven’t spent a dime a Starbucks since they announced they’d hire 10,000 Muslims in retaliation for President Trump’s ban on travel, you won’t see me spending at Marriott for a long time.