We’re at the beach right now, and have been since Sunday. Its been a fantastic trip. Golf, resort pools, semi-private beaches, great food, sun, sand, and mirth. Ah, the mirth.
Oh, but the service! Sweet baby Jesus (yes, the one with the halo, Will Ferrell fans). Once you step off the resort grounds, the service drops off precipitously at the other attractions. I don’t quite feel like they’re herding us like cattle, but they’re definitely not that interested in each individual’s experience.
I guess I should never read a book about hospitality before heading out to a southern-fried, mass-produced vacation haven. But whether its the humidity, heat or six-hour golf round yesterday at Grande Dunes, I find myself infuriated, in a detached sort of way that doesn’t upset me much, at the apparent universal lack of attention to service.
THE BIRTH OF A CURMUDGEON? OR A DISCERNING CUSTOMER?
From the golf course where the attendant whom I had just tipped couldn’t bring himself to help me find a lost cap. . . okay, it’s just a cap, but it was an important cap to me. Why didn’t he give a rip? You know, for the kind of money I spent, and the kind of service I had gotten in the pro shop and grill room, I expected more. He wrote a crappy last chapter after his colleagues had all done a great job.
Yes, I am getting much more comfortable holding people accountable when they treat me like “just another customer.” I am not saying I am always right, I am just saying I am most often a reasonable person asking for help. In fact, I only really asked if I could borrow a cart to look for myself, but that would, evidently, have thrown the entire course into an uproar that he didn’t feel like sorting out. So off I went without my cap. Now here I am with the last word. Sir, you should have taken a Mulligan!
And then there’s the waiter at dinner tonight. The place, whose name rhymes with Chesapeake Grouse had that local flavor we wanted, great food, and several other great waiters across the room, but our guy? Way too busy with his other guests to tend to our needs.
After he brought us drinks, we watched him seat a party of eight next to us, serve them and get them out of the restaurant before we even had our takeaway boxes on our table. Not to mention, my tea glass stayed empty for at least half the meal. Anyone who has dined with me knows it takes only a couple sips for me to empty a 16-ounce glass. It takes most waiters or waitresses only minutes to realize I empty my glass really fast. Most servers recognize this, even at Applebee’s, and I am most amused when they just bring me the pitcher. Those are the folks who get the bonus tip: 25 percent. But not this stevedore tonight. He practically begged us to under-tip him, since he neither promised nor delivered prompt service.
ANOTHER BAD MOVIE REFERENCE
I admit, his situation was worsened because the hostess seated us in the corner, and everyone knows (help me out Dirty Dancing fans), no one puts Baby in the corner. It is for you to decide which of this gang of four is Baby. But suffice it to say, we were deprived of the prime view of the muddiest pond of stenchy water in the state. I think I saw gators running out of the water looking for better digs. What you really need to know about this is that it practically ruined dinner, until Baby realized . . . well, he or she was being a baby.
So it is, then, that I send this snarky post from the hinterlands. I am off to soothe my wounded spirit with a visit to our playground, the beaches of the great Atlantic Ocean. Actually, I am just going to the rocking chairs on the observation deck overlooking the zero-horizon pool, full of Marriott’s evidently-famous crystal clear special water. But at least I know that pool is surrounded by people who understand that good service matters, and that their customers are not just looking for a meal, or a room, or a dunk in the pool, but for an experience that compels them to come back.
We didn’t buy a timeshare, but we did figure out that companies like Marriott have caused us to desire, expect, and seek out a certain level of service. And its ever-more glaring when its absent.
I think I am entering my curmudgeon years. Stay tuned, it could be fun. Now where’s that sweet tea I ordered?