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Hotel Horrors: Don't Let This Happen to You

Carol Sottili

Are there any resorts or hotels left that aren't catering to big groups?

Last weekend, our small family reunion (31 Kennedy kin - no, not those Kennedys) gathered at a nice resort in the Poconos. But our stay became less than pleasant when a huge wedding party took over the resort, getting first billing and better attention.

First, our group got kicked off the front porch for the wedding's cocktail party. Then, as the reception moved to the tent on the lawn, we were all subjected to a bad DJ, and guests who were definitely overserved. One guy rolled out of the tent onto the lawn. Then another threw a M-80 explosive device onto the lawn where we had just finished playing whiffle ball with the kids.

But the topper was when a couple of the drunken louts pulled my cousin out of his car in the parking lot and beat him up. After the reception, they carried the groom up to his room and the rest of the inebriated group planted themselves on the porch until after 1 a.m., keeping the entire hotel awake. And the next morning, the elevator smelled like puke.

So where was the hotel management during all this? Not very concerned with our complaints. They didn't even want to call the police to report the assault (we called them). I can only assume that weddings are this place's bread-and-butter. One of the hotel employees told me they hold a wedding there just about every weekend from April through October. So if word would get out in that neck of the woods that the hotel took a hard line against the wedding antics, perhaps business would dry up.

It made me think about all the other, albeit less dramatic, times that we've been inconvienced by large groups in hotels. Like the time we went down to Myrtle Beach not knowing it was biker's week. Or the group of child beauty pageant contestants and their mothers who took over a hotel in New Jersey. And who can forget the youth church group that roamed the halls all night that time in New York.

My advice (and I intend to start taking it):

*Ask the hotel if any groups are booked when you make your reservation. Ask how large the group is, and whether their stay will affect your ability to use the hotel facilities. And ask for the group's name. If you know you can't stand dogs, and the hotel is entertaining dog show contestants that weekend, you may change your plans.

*Call the area convention and visitors bureau to find out what events are scheduled during your planned stay. If the nation's cheerleading team championships are being held in the convention center, drawing thousands of teens, and you're looking for a quiet getaway, you may want to change weekends.

By Carol Sottili |  May 30, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili
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Don't forget that some colleges use hotels as overflow housing, especially early in the academic year. I was on a business trip in the fall and discovered the place populated primarily by 18 year olds. They were well-behaved the one night I was there, but it wasn't a weekend.

Posted by: E | May 30, 2008 8:32 AM

A lot of show dog clubs use hotels for the annual conventions. I remember when my dog club had its annual convention in Atlanta. There were over 300 dogs at the hotel. I won't forget the poor woman who was at the desk asking for a refund as she was highly allergic to dogs (and it showed!)

Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2008 8:44 AM

Also, do not hesitate to call the cops yourself if there is a problem at the hotel. Last March I was at a hotel in Orlando that got very rowdy after 2 a.m. When I called the front desk to ask them to do something, the young lady responded "They threatened me!". I called the sheriff's department. It was taken care of within a 1/2 hour.

Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2008 8:46 AM

The theme of overserved and obnoxious wedding guests at hotels seems to be consistent wherever I travel lately. I am a rowing referee and have been on the road nearly every weekend since early April from Boston to Atlanta and every Saturday there is a wedding. Don't get me wrong...I like weddings and wish the happy couples all the best, but this nonsense is out of control. I have gotten used to staying out of the hotel bar after 9pm, but nothing makes me angrier than to hear drunken conversations in the hallway (or banging on someone's door) at 2am when I have a wakeup call at 5:15am.

Posted by: More Cowbell | May 30, 2008 10:05 AM

Get over it Sotilli.

You forgot to mention why they pulled your cousin out of the car and beat him up. Im sure there were words exchanged and it got heated. Ever think that some people took offense to 31 of your family members being there?

If you dont like groups, stay home.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 11:03 AM

My, blog comments really bring out the best in humanity, don't they?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 11:37 AM

Just to clarify, my cousin has slight developmental disabilities that make him painfully shy. Sometimes he just needs to be alone. He was sitting in his car listening to his iPod when they yanked open the car door and said, "Ya wanna fight?" He said, "I'm not looking for any trouble." But they pulled him out and beat him up anyway.
But that's his side of the story. I must assume that since you are sure words were exchanged and it got heated, that you were there. Perhaps you should contact the state police to clear things up.
As for not liking groups, I must admit to having an aversion to stinking drunk groups of thugs.

Posted by: Carol Sottili | May 30, 2008 11:58 AM

Obviously 11:03 am is just trying to stick up for stinking drunk groups of thugs. They need love too.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 1:16 PM

How awful about your cousin. Poor guy. Is it wrong of me to wish a swift yet acrimonious divorce on the hosts of that wedding?

Posted by: hh | May 30, 2008 2:35 PM

What resort?!? We need a name (so we won't stay there).

Posted by: Andy | May 30, 2008 2:51 PM

Do hotels require a substantial security deposit for large parties? Does the catering contract include hotel policies regarding drunken disorderly behavior? If I were managing a hotel, I'd have these in place.

Having a reputation for drunk and disorderly weddings is s great way to lose event bookings and guests.

Seems to me that if the wedding hosts don't cough up the names of the people who beat your cousin that you could bring legal action against either the hotel or the caterer for serving alcohol to inebriated customers.

Also letter from a lawyer to the bridal party might get their attention.

Posted by: Sasquatch | May 30, 2008 4:33 PM

I deliberately didn't name the resort because I didn't want this to be a "get even" blog. I related the experience to illustrate why we all need to ask questions before we head to any resort/hotel.

Posted by: Carol Sottili | May 30, 2008 4:55 PM

Thanks Carol for responding, and I appreciate your reasoning. But I would argue that such courtesies don't apply when your family member was physically assaulted and the hotel refused to do anything about it. Then it becomes a more immediate public safety issue. (And Sasquatch is completely correct about this.)

Anyway, hope your cousin is okay.

Posted by: Andy | May 30, 2008 5:38 PM

"A lot of show dog clubs use hotels for the annual conventions. I remember when my dog club had its annual convention in Atlanta. There were over 300 dogs at the hotel. I won't forget the poor woman who was at the desk asking for a refund as she was highly allergic to dogs (and it showed!)"

That happened to my brother (also in Atlanta) when we were on a school trip back in high school, and the hotel told him to pound sand. They let him sleep on a couch in the lobby if he vacated it by 5:30 AM. Nice, huh?

That's appalling about the cousin being beaten. Was the bartender who served these people affiliated with the hotel? If so, there may be a dram shop liability issue depending on the jurisdiction's laws.

Posted by: Rich | May 30, 2008 7:07 PM


cry a little more

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2008 3:59 PM

That is an awful story Carol. As a former Hotel manager, and a current part time bartender ( I know when to cut someone off)I will say that those are good questions to ask when booking. But also keep in mind, late bookings do occur.

When I looked up the Hotel I worked at on TripAdvisor, the really bad reviews centered around large events. One being St Patricks Parade Day, and another being a Tattoo convention. Currently the hotel I work at houses students on 4 floors and also the local arena football team. Relatively quiet groups. That doesn't leave a lot of rooms for other large groups. We happend to have lost the Tattoo convention because of the lack of rooms available. ( a really big $ maker for the staff, and some of the niecest people around)
So defintely call ahead. Some groups to add to the warning list are youth hockey and soccer teams ( When I was a manager I don't know how many times I had to chase kids back into their rooms who were playing hockey in the hallways.) My hotel did require damage deposits, for certain groups like Ski tours. Also if there is a Barbershop Quartet convention, be prepared to hear 4 part harmony all over the place.

Posted by: rja112 | June 2, 2008 2:26 AM


Ever notice that the obnoxious responders do not know proper grammar and mechanics?

Another Carol

Posted by: carol | June 4, 2008 2:52 PM

Also notice that tho obnoxious responders naively believe that not putting a name on their response means they're unidentified ... not being smart enough to figure out that this is YOUR site so you have access to that info. Immature, selfish AND stupid!

Posted by: Cynthia | June 4, 2008 4:59 PM

The story Scottili shares is one of the many reasons we prefer to stay in small boutique type hotels managed by the owners where staff know your name and you are unlikely to encounter large wedding parties, etc.

Posted by: Elena | June 4, 2008 6:46 PM

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