Panama City Nightmare

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April 26th 2007
Published: April 26th 2007
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If you are traveling to the Gulf coast - Panama City to be exact - be very careful when you see the word “Resort” connected to the name of a particular hotel - the Sandpiper Beacon Resort to be exact. A discerning person would expect that very word connotes the best in accommodation. In the case of this "Resort" nothing could be further from the truth. If your stay happens to be problem free maybe you may enjoy a stay at the Sandpiper (that is if you can overlook a nasty environment and obnoxious staff). However; if you have a problem, be ready for some of the most uncaring, disrespectful, unhelpful, uncourteous staff you will probable ever encounter. I stayed at the Sandpiper Beacon Resort with my wife in April 2007. We usually go to the east coast of Florida but decided this year to go back to Panama City where we took our first vacation as husband and wife in 1984. When we arrived, we were tired from a long nine hour drive and overlooked some red flags. As we checked-in, dozens of spring breaker types were checking out and the atmosphere was hectic to say the least. I noticed that the staff was unapologetic, unwelcoming and exhibited an I don’t give a s&#% attitude. Also, we arrived prior to check-in time and were informed there was a $30.00 early check-in fee even though a clean room was available. Since we were very tired and didn’t want to wait another hour to check-in, we accepted the room with the additional fee. By the way, we were never informed that our credit card would be immediately charged - something I have never experienced in all my many years of business travel. The room seemed acceptable at first glance especially knowing not much time would be spent in the room. However; upon further inspection, (and unfortunately after we paid) we noticed the pillows needed to be replaced, the towels are cheap (about the size of a hand-towel), and there wasn’t any hand-towels, hair dryer, etc. The sliding glass door was difficult to open and the air conditioner was very loud. At that time, we didn’t mind because we were at the beach and were looking forward to a good time. Besides, they have you sign an agreement that there will be no refunds for early departure. So please, don’t let them have your card before you thoroughly inspect your room. On our second day, my wife and I were having a reasonably good time but that was about to come to a nightmarish end. As evening came on our second day, we had an early dinner and decided to visit the “Tiki bar” on the premises of the “Resort”. While playing a game of pool, we made friends with some other vacationers. It began to get cool after nightfall and my wife wanted some coffee. The bartender rudely refused to serve her coffee without any explanation. She decided to go to our room to make some coffee. After a half hour or so we noticed that my wife had been gone longer than expected. About that time, a security guard came into the bar and called out my name and told me that I was needed in the office because there was a problem with my wife and a receipt. I was alarmed and followed the security guard toward the office. Along the way, my wife met me and she was visibly upset. I asked what was going on and she said that an individual in the office told her that the hotel had no record of our registering and needed to see our receipt to prove we paid for our room. I told her I had the receipt would get it for whoever needed it. While on our way to our room, my wife told me that when she came to the room earlier to make coffee she found that she was unable to unlock the door and she began to fear that someone was in our room. She went to the office to inform them that she was locked out of our room and feared someone could be in our room. At that time, she was told of the hotel’s lack of record of our registering. My wife said she informed the person in the office that she couldn’t explain their lack of records but that we had a parking permit in our car and that she had a resort identification wristband on her wrist. My wife said she couldn’t get into our car to get the parking permit because she didn’t have the keys with her and then the office staffer said that the keys were on our kitchen table. My wife knew then that he had been in our room and became more upset. The desk clerk began to question my wife in a rude and disrespectful manner. He told my wife that she needed to go get me. She told him he should go get me. In a crass and demeaning tone, the manager suggested my wife go have another drink. My wife became more upset at the insinuation. She had been drinking bottled water the whole evening. As my wife was recounting the humiliating treatment she received, I was becoming upset but knew I needed to keep my cool. When I entered the “Resort” office, I heard someone say “he’s got a receipt”. As I laid the receipt on the counter, I told the desk clerk that I wanted his name, his immediate supervisors name and an apology for my wife. In a flippant manner, he said “apologize for what”. I told him for the humiliating treatment he subjected my wife to and being made to feel like some sort of thief. He said “I didn’t call her a thief” and I said that even though the word wasn’t spoken the accusation of some wrongdoing on our part was enough. I told the manager that whatever personnel or paperwork problems the “Resort” was having the situation was not our problem (he agreed) and that I felt the manner in which he was dealing with the situation was improper. As he was making a copy of my room receipt, with his back turned to me, he gave an apology lacking any genuine sincerity. At that time, my wife came back into the office and began telling the desk clerk that she had never been treated this poorly in any place we have ever stayed. In a belittling way, the desk clerk said he had a right to go into our room and to even lock us out since they had no record of our paying to stay. This statement only infuriated my wife further and upset me. In a raised voice, my wife said that we came here to have a relaxing stay and we were older quiet people and not a couple of young spring break partiers and demanded an apology. At that time, the desk clerk pulled out a two-way radio and called a deputy sheriff to the office and another individual behind the counter (a large man) sprang from his seat in a threatening manner as if we required restraint or to expel us from the office. Patti and I were in disbelief at this outrageous treatment. My wife started out of the office and I again requested the desk clerk give me his name and the name of his supervisor (names which I have since learned are bogus). He complied in a disrespectful demeaning manner telling me I could speak to his superior in the morning as there was no manager on site (I have since learned not having a manager on site is unlawful. Either they were breaking the law or were lying through their teeth). I was sadly mistaken when I thought I would get some courteous and sensitive treatment from his supervisor. This individual was worse than the desk clerk. The disdain in his voice was as clear as a bell. He spoke of my wife in a disrespectful manner (saying her behavior was uncalled for) and touted that he had a video of the whole episode and that was all he needed to see. Listen folks, just because you stay at a hotel/motel doesn’t mean you check your civil rights at the door. These people made a paperwork mistake and acted as if we were stealing the room. There was never an effort to diffuse the situation with an accommodating, sensitive approach. What would you do if the “Resort” you were staying in lost your registration information and handled the situation by locking you out of your room (saying nothing of invading your privacy by entering your room while you are out) and then treating you as if you have committed some criminal act? I have never encountered more incompetence in my entire life. These people don’t either know or respect the definition of the words accommodation, guest, courtesy, service industry, etc. and do not belong in the hotel/motel “Resort” business. Evidently, these people do not fear repercussion from their behavior because they get away with it. Since this occurred, I have read endless reviews from people that have experienced eerily similar treatment at this “Resort”. So if you want to take a chance that you won’t have a problem, by all means maybe the Sandpiper Beacon “Resort” is for you. But if you encounter a problem at this “Resort” be ready to be treated worse than you ever imagined you could be treated by people in the service business. STEER CLEAR OF THIS PLACE!!!


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