We’re staycationing at Renaissance Hotel in Richardson this weekend, but how we got there is quite a story.
Johanna and I celebrate the anniversary of our blind date to see Star Wars Episode One every year, that was May 21, 1999. Coincidently, in late May, Richardson hosts the Wildflower Festival with awesome throwback nineties and cover bands. It’s always on the Renaissance Hotel campus, and we’ve always dreamed of getting a room overlooking the alt-rock stage.
So that year for our “Johanna-versary”, I booked two nights at the Renaissance, bought Jo’s favorite craft beer, and hit up our favorite takeout, Snappy Salads. We arrived at the hotel after valet parking with a weekend’s worth of bags, craft beer, and fancy big salads. Walking in was welcoming and surreal to have pulled off the start of this wicked weekend.
I approached the check-in desk with Johanna. Excited to check in.
“What’s your name, sir?”
“Yes sir, I show that your reservation starts Monday night. Unfortunately, there is a big concert this weekend, and we’re all booked up,”
“Oh, no, I just got off the phone with reservations. They confirmed everything. The room is paid for. We’re here for the concert.”
“Yes, sir, the room is paid for, starting Monday night. Let me speak with our desk manager…Okay sir, our regular rooms are sold out, but we believe we can set you up in a suite until your reservation begins Monday.”
“Oh, that’s very kind, we can get this sorted out in the meantime.”
“Yes, sir, I’ve just been made aware you have a package awaiting your arrival. Would you like me to bring it to your suite?”
“How exciting, yes please, I wonder what it could be!”
It was a laptop computer and projector for a series of presentations Rick Williams from Dell Computers would be making the next week. It was NOT a Johanna-versary care package from our parents. They spent a while in the back room looking at the package and calling in various management and team members to discuss this unprecedented event: TWO N’ER DO WELLS WERE SOMEHOW IMPERSONATING A GUEST.
We didn’t stop at stealing a weeks worth of hotel suites and room service, though. We had tried to claim ownership of thousands of dollars worth of media and computer equipment delivered that day by Dell Computers. We, of course, knew NONE of this. We were just being patient, but growing a little concerned about the sinking faces on the growing team in the reservations office at the Renaissance Hotel. Suddenly, a wall of solemn employees returned to the desk.
“Sir, is your name Rick Williams?”
“Yes, I go by Rich, but my name is Richard Williams.”
“And do you work for Dell Computers?”
“No…I work for a startup downtown.”
Noticing security appearing from nowhere.
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to please leave the property now.”
There was no rock and roll that night. The salads wilted, the beer got warm, and the mood got dark, fast.
At some point that night, a third shift worker reconciling the reservations made a note that Richard Williams was a no-show that night.
Saturday morning, a manager reconciling the security reports with the no-show charges made the connection: We had a reservation, but Rick Williams from Dell Computers did too.
There had been a terrible mistake.
There was a hailstorm of direct communication. I wrote up what I understood at the time that had happened and sent emails to everyone from Renaissance Richardson management to the CEO of Marriott. Monday morning, the CEO Called the president for Renaissance who reached out to the general manager in Richardson, who called me.
His apology was warm, sincere, eloquent, and true. He had interviewed the team members, learned the mistakes made, and apologized for, and explained each step. He promised retraining, corporate-level policy change, and assured us this would never happen again. Then, he gave me his email and direct line and offered that they’d love to have us back some time, for a weekend stay.
”Renaissance Dallas Richardson Welcomes Rich & Johanna Back”
From: General Manager
To: Rich Williams
Again, so many thanks to you for the graciousness of how professional you were to tell us of the very poor reception experience you encountered last Saturday
at R Hotel. My apology to you and Johanna for the embarrassment and humiliation for what should have been a wonderful evening in celebrating your 15th anniversary.
I always enjoy speaking with our guests as it can be a real learning experience
and I must thank you for taking my call and the humor you maintained while we chatted. Since I have your e-mail now I wanted to let you know a reservation has been placed for you and Johanna to return next Friday, May 30th for two nights. Your accommodation, breakfast, and garage parking is with our compliments along with the warm hospitality one would expect from a Marriott Family Hotel. Should I miss you upon Friday, do not hesitate to ask for me on Saturday as I will be walking around the hotel while I engage and hopefully inspire some of our guest to explore the North Texas area. There is a great restaurant and antique shopping just one stop north of us on the DART rail, I hope the foot is better and perhaps your able to make that discovery.
Rich, there is a very special suite with your name on it but it’s a secret for now, the confirmation # for your reservation is: ########. We are excited to have you back with us so to unlock the mystery and I guarantee you, you’ll be a real hero with Johanna for the celebration of your 15th anniversary!
PS: Dark beer, Italian & Mexican, got it.
RENAISSANCE DALLAS RICHARDSON
We felt better. Shell-shocked, but the explanation made sense. Without looking through the rest of that night’s reservations, they unfortunately concluded we were guest impersonators.
We picked another weekend, if I remember a few weeks later to return.
We were greeted at valet with complimentary service and an employee escorted us to the desk.
Every employee from that awful night introduced themselves by name and kindly apologized for the mixup.
The team informed us we would be staying in the presidential suite, and there would be no charge for our stay.
The bathtub was big enough for four people. Am I a bath guy? No. Did I take a bath? Heck yes, I did.
A table in the room was lined with tasty craft beer.
The hotel chef sent us a note requesting our thoughts on a menu they’d prepared for our surprise in-room meal on Saturday night.
Meat and cheese plate
Beside the beer, on the table, a huge meat and cheese platter. We ate all we could, and refrigerated the rest.
The hotel comped all our room service, including the tips we signed for after the quick deliveries.
Our room had a board room inside it with a giant table where the chef served our surprise in-room gourmet meal. I was the chairman of the board.
One of the beers acted as a paperweight for a handwritten apology and thank you note from the first-class manager.
We bought a Royal Blood EP to play in the Bose Sound Wave CD Player.
Subject: Thanks from Rich and Johanna
Johanna and I wanted to send you a handwritten “thank you” note, but time has slipped by and we now find ourselves a week out from one of the most unforgettable weekends of our lives!
We want to thank you for the time and care your staff took to make sure every part of our stay was perfect. We were truly surprised by a number of special gestures and very much felt like a king and queen.
The specially-prepared dinner in our room was also a stellar cherry on top of our flawless stay. The development and review of our special menu was unparalleled in any dining experience we’ve ever enjoyed. The relaxation we experienced after we set down our forks from the creme brûlée and fruit-adorned peanut brittle can only be described as bliss.
Renaissance Hotels are now the official hotels of Rich and Johanna Williams and any subsequent endeavors we may experience professionally. We can’t wait to bring Charlie, Grann, Papa and the whole family to our next Renaissance destination!
So Many Thanks!
Rich and Johanna Williams
Rich & Johanna,
I am so glad that we were able to help to re-kindle what should have been right the first
time in celebrating our anniversary. Taking care of people and making them feel special is what we do
and it is so much fun to hear back to know so I may share with our ambassadors. They are just as excited
as you and Johanna. If you think you may have some interest for Wildflower next year, let me know and
I will set you up with a Friday night stay at a rate you can only say yes to. Thanks for sharing with me and
I wish you both, along with Grann, Papa & Charlie a wonderful Summer!
Your Friend, GM