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Monday, May 6, 2013

Dickinson, North Dakota / Hampton Inn & Suites

Weekend, 1-night, king suite #431

Status perks and check-in
I made our reservation at this hotel only one day prior to check-in when we decided that we did not want to stay in Williston for two nights. I again requested a studio upgrade on the top floor in my online comments. At check-in, I inquired if we had been able to receive a top floor studio upgrade. The agent said that we were in a regular king guestroom on the 3rd floor. I asked if we could have a studio upgrade to the top floor. After checking the computer, she said yes, and made us new keys.

Guestroom
Déjà vu! This guestroom was very similar to the last two Hampton Inns we had stayed in. The biggest difference in this guestroom was the walk-in shower. We prefer a walk-in shower to a tub/shower, so we loved this difference.

The kitchen area looked sleek with the black cupboards and countertop. The only item not provided was a roll of paper towel like the Minot Hampton Inn had provided.

The desk, bed headboard, and other decor/accessories in the guestroom were also black.

There were roll down shades on the windows, although the shade in the living room area did not come down all of the way. The couch in this guestroom did not have any throw pillows, like The Hampton Inn in Minot.

The guestroom was comfortable; however, it was not as clean as the guestroom at the Minot Hampton Inn. There was not anything seriously wrong with the guestroom cleanliness. It just did not look like as much attention had been given to it.

There were a few maintenance type issues in this guestroom. I talked with the front desk agent about them at checkout, and I expect everything has been corrected by now. 

The most serious thing, for me, was that the guestroom door did not latch properly. After we had gotten settled, I noticed this when I wanted to go join my husband in the pool room. I jiggled, pushed, and pulled the door many different ways, and I could not get it to latch. Nor could I get the deadbolt lock to close from the inside when pressing on the door. When my husband returned to the guestroom, he initially had the same problem. After more persistence by him, he was able to get the door to latch. I was also able to shut the door on my own after he got it working. The door was very heavy, and it must not have been lined up right.

The second thing we encountered, was that the fan on the HVAC unit did not work properly. The unit started, and then it made a horrible loud noise, so we had to turn it off. The outside temperature was comfortable the evening of our stay, so we did not have a high need for air conditioning or heat. 

The last problem was that the table lamp in the living room had a bad connection. The lamp went on and off, and I had to move the cord around to get it to stay on.

When I told the front desk agent about the guestroom problems at checkout, she apologized, and said that she would have the problems taken care of. She then said that she would not charge us for our stay since we had experienced so many issues. She said that she would talk with the manager and email me a new receipt. I said that whatever she could do would be fine. I would have been happy with a discounted or half price room rate, since the problems we encountered did not totally ruin our stay (after my husband fixed the guestroom door).

Breakfast
Food items in the morning included sausage biscuits and gravy, imitation scrambled eggs, canned fruit pieces, fresh whole fruit--apples and bananas, pastries and breads, Yoplait yogurt, cold cereals, oatmeal with many toppings--slivered nuts, different colored raisins, and cinnamon sugar, coffee, tea, three flavors of juice, and two milk choices.

Pool area
The whirlpool tub and pool were both warm, and the area looked clean. The whirlpool tub was a good size.

Fitness center
I did not use the fitness center, although I did get some water from the water cooler in the room. I observed four cardio machines with cardio theater, a weight machine, and hand weights. In addition to the water cooler, the room contained a flatscreen TV, sani-wipes, a scale, and towels.

Business center
The business center contained two computers with a laser printer, a stapler, and miscellaneous office supplies. I did not have any trouble printing our boarding passes and an area map. There was a telephone in the room, although it did not work.

Laundry room
The laundry room was conveniently located below us on floor three. The machines were in good working order, although I thought $2 for a load was expensive. There were two laundry baskets in the laundry room; however, they were not clean.

Area dining
We walked across the street to Sanford's Grub and Pub to eat shortly before 5:00 p.m. The food was acceptable; however, the service was some of the worst I have experienced. Our dining experiences in North Dakota this trip went from one extreme to the other.

We waited a short time for a table when we arrived, even though the restaurant was not very full. I overheard the host ask if a server could take our table, and after she was told no, the host told us that most of the servers do not arrive until 5:00. Waiting for a table was not a big deal; however, the service went rapidly downhill from there. 

After we received our beverages, we did not see our server again for 10 minutes. Two tables of guests who arrived after us had already placed their food orders before our server reappeared. If we had seen another restaurant nearby, other than fast food, we probably would have left instead of waiting.

After we placed our food order, we waited 20 minutes for our food. We had ordered the Hobo sandwich and Pants on Fire burger, so we did not order anything that should have taken a long time to prepare. My husband ordered a second beer while we were waiting for our food, which our server never brought. Someone else brought our food, and when our server checked on us about 10 minutes after that, my husband asked him about his beer. The server brought the beer right away after the second request; however, he offered no apology, and we were almost done eating by then!

We were still at the table after we were done eating, because my husband was finishing his late-served beverage. Our server brought our check and processed it; however, he never cleared away our used plates. Unbelievable! Used plates and debris between us did not make a pleasant atmosphere for us to enjoy our time together.

Based on this experience, I would never dine at a Sanford's Grub and Pub again.  The food was pretty good, although it was not so good that I would think about trying another location. The menu was clever looking; however, this also made it difficult to read. The fact that this restaurant did not have more staff before 5:00 p.m. did not make much sense to me. This restaurant is located near several hotels, and it is located very close to the central time zone, which is one hour earlier.

Overall
When I think about our experiences in Dickinson--the hotel guestroom problems and the dining experience, I am reminded about how much customer experience and perception impacts a business. Because of our dining experience, I will never visit a Sanford's restaurant again. On the other hand, the way our hotel problems were handled gave me a different feeling. It is amazing that one individual can have such an impact on a business's bottom line.

I received an email from the Dickinson Hampton Inn less than 24 hours after checkout with a zero balance folio. I did not expect to receive our stay for no charge, and what this hotel gave me far exceeded my expectations. The fact that they did this, made me think that they take their customers seriously, and therefore, I would want to stay there again the next time I am in the area.