Three years ago, when my husband and I on a whim took a tour of the new Saratoga Springs Resort at Walt Disney World, we were immediately sold. We had done time share tours before, and I had always managed to find something wrong with the property, the way we had to vacation, or the high pressure sales pitch they give. Disney Vacation Club was different. The sales people really are more like guides than sales people. There was no pressure to buy, no bringing in a manager, only an offer of literature that we could take with us to look over, and a card with a phone number to call back with questions.
The property itself was sparkling. Everything was so clean it squeaked, and the rooms were bright, light, and welcoming. The kitchens contained everything you could think you need while on vacation, the washers and dryers are a life saver – and a money saver if you are flying with luggage restrictions, and everything just looked wonderful.
We’ve stayed here a number of times during the three years since we bought our first contract here at Saratoga Springs Resort. The first couple were magical. Having been vacationing where there was an annual pass holder rate or a bounce back offer – if not off site at a Marriott with reward points – this was a huge step up for us. Having all this room to spread out made vacationing feel luxurious. The staff was friendly, the rooms were immaculate, and we’ve enjoyed many happy hours here.
And then, it just started to feel like no one cared. Two years ago, my first mother daughter trip with just Brighid was marred when we checked in to find our Saratoga Springs bathroom had urine all over the floor. The immediate assumption was the toilet malfunctioned at some point, but after having maintenance come in to check everything, it was determined that no, someone had come in and peed on the floor. On purpose. And they wanted us to still stay in that room!
We’ve had other little things – toys left behind by other children that my children discovered under chairs or behind furniture. We found food left in the freezer once. A visit to the pool found no clean pool towels. Those were small things that made us feel like attention wasn’t being paid to things. Stuff was being overlooked. Are they rushed to turn the units over, or does no one really care?
When we checked in this visit, the first thing we were upset about was that I had asked to be in ANY section but Congress Park. This was not a specific request, like near the pool, near a bus stop, in the third room from the elevator on the the second floor in the fifth building on the right. Just don’t put me in Congress Park . It’s not that I don’t like Congress Park. The units are the same all over – I assume. It’s just that we have never been anywhere in the resort except Congress Park. In all of our visits here (and we now own 650 points, and can almost never get in anywhere but Saratoga Springs because of our last minute planning), we have never been put anywhere besides Congress Park. So, when we checked in, we were put in Congress Park. The rude clerk at the front desk – and yes, he was RUDE – when we asked if there was any other building available, never bothered to even pretend to check, he immediately just said, “no, nothing available”.
So off we set to our room, only to find out there was no electricy in either of the bedrooms, and no television working in the living room. WTF? A phone call to the front desk had a maintenance guy at our door in a few minutes, but you will never believe the big problem. There was a circuit that needed to be flipped, but the big problem was that someone had unscrewed all of the light bulbs in the unit. Seriously. Who does that, and why don’t the housekeepers know?
Working with Roseann Vanella at Super Suppers, I learned a little something. There are bars there, where our customers come in, prepare their meals, and pack them up to take home. When I first started working there, she said that when a customer comes in, the bar should always look like they were the first customer to use them. Why doesn’t Disney do that? Why should I not feel like I am the first person in this room?
On this visit, in our new room, because they did move us from Congress Park, we found dirty dishes, broken handles on the furniture, missing drawer pulls. The dishwashing soap was in a small bag, but it was open, so someone under filled and left the open bag, and that’s what we had to use for our dirty dishes.
And there’s an odor here I can’t figure out.
It’s sad to see that no one cares here. Check the dishes when a guest checks out to make sure the next guest doesn’t get dirty dishes. Call rude employees on the carpet. Hire people who want to do their job, be proud of it, and promote the brand to the best of their ability.
It’s not like we’ll never be back at Walt Disney World. Perish the thought. But I’m going to try harder not to have to use my points at Saratoga. This resort is too young to have these kinds of problems, and I’m truly saddened by that.