I think the city of Miami and I just aren’t meant to be.
After last year’s grand adventure that went down with notable vacation-ruining contributions by Royal Caribbean, US Airways and the city of Miami, I was certain that my travel karma was golden this year. I figured things would be perfect since we were going straight to Miami and back again; no cruises, no connections, not a whole lot of room for complications, getting stranded or general unpleasantries.
12 of us (10 hotelies plus my two non-hotelie roomies) planned a trip down to Miami and booked 2 rooms at the Sea Coast Suites. Being savvy hospitality students (in fact, the savviest of savvy hospitality students — the student GM of the Statler Hotel — was with us), one would think that a $300ish bucks for 6 nights would be enough for a little red flag action in our pretty little heads, but no. Really, we figured we could deal with a slummy hotel and spend all of our leftover cash at bars and nice restaurants. And trust me, we did — and we had an AMAZING time on South Beach and even our flights with JetBlue were excellent…. but the hotel? Questionable. Very questionable.
The hotel was, like — a mixed use development, if you will — half condos that people rent year-round and half hotel rooms. We were Spring Breakers, so we weren’t really asking for all that much — a couple beds and some towels and we would have been all set. When we checked in to our HUGE rooms with full kitchens and 2 bedrooms and a balcony with an ocean view, we were happy campers. We even had a refrigerator to store our adult refreshments and big bottles of water! Awesome!
On Thursday morning, our happy camper sunburned, boozey sleep was interrupted at 9 am by something faint and annoying that sounded like an alarm clock down the hall. We opened the door to our room and, turns out: a fire alarm! Good one! We were plenty pissed to have to walk down 15 flights of stairs, but then when smoke was billowing into the stairwell around floor eight we picked up the pace a bit. We stood outside with the fire hoses and all that mess, some of us in ratty, gross clothing that was not really fit for public display, and we watched as a big ol’ chunk of the building (on the opposite side of the fire, no less) fell off and landed inches away from some other people. Oh, ok then.
Apparently, the police and firemen who were dealing with the fire also decided to do a little checky-check on other things around the hotel — and found out that hi, this was actually not licensed to be a hotel at all! Never had been! So hey, guess who had to legally peace out of the hotel the next morning? Yes, all the hotel guests. They moved us to a more expensive hotel down in South Beach and refused to pay for ANYTHING — we actually ended up paying more for that last night and weren’t compensated for, you know, having to pack up all our stuff and lose a whole day at the beach while we were busy a) fighting with them b) being told we were very aggressive when we were fighting for some sort of, like, explanation and c) watching a front desk agent cry (I told them I was a hotel reviewer, which, you know, is sort of true; they did not enjoy that).
I mean, okay. The story of the discussions that transpired between a group of 10 hotelies and a couple of assistant managers (who refused to speak to us until one finished her meeting, which we later found out was a scrumptious solo feast of chicken and rice in her office) is actually sort of hilarious. Another story for another time, kids.