North Carolina Marriott Shut Down, Guests Locked Out Of Rooms

On Thursday guests were locked out of the Residence Inn Winston-Salem University Area in North Carolina.

The hotel had risked closure the prior week but had supposedly put together a financial rescue. That fell apart. Guests staying at the hotel were told on Tuesday that they’d need to check out by 11 a.m. on Thursday however people returned to their rooms Thursday morning to find themselves already locked out. The office was locked and no one was inside.

Some guests found their key cards no longer worked. They shivered in the parking lot as they waited for a locksmith to bring in tools and get them into their rooms to retrieve their things.

…”Marriott is on the name,” Henderson said. “We all trust Marriott, but how can Marriott not be informed? It seems like the corporation would have something in place. They could float this place until everyone could get out. We got notified two days ago about noon.”

Residence Inn Winston-Salem University Area, Credit: Marriott

One person staying on property reported spending hours on the phone with Marriott “trying to get the..chain to help.” The chain directed people to go into the office and get staff to find them somewhere else to stay. These were the employees who had just lost their jobs, and who abandoned the property early. Great strategy.

Marriott also reportedly stated “they were under no legal obligation to help” although eventually helped guests transfer to another Residence Inn.

Property owner Illinois-based Portfolio Hotels & Resorts is facing foreclosure of their propertise for defaulting on $10.5 million in loans issued in 2018. Portfolio employees reportedly had not been receiving their pay.

(HT: Reid F.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So why should I stay at Marriott properties? Many companies are over-extended, paying bills, just like average Americans, month to month. This is what happens when the deal looks great on paper and then reality sets in…..

  2. I see at least one of their properties us available to book on the Marriott website. Posting a link to their properties list might be helpful for readers, so they (we) know to stay away in case the same thing happens at another one.

  3. Come on, you guys. This is just “noise around the edges.”

    Or, Congratulations, you’ve been Bonvoyed?

    From the Portfolio website:

    Portfolio Hotels & Resorts manages franchised and independent hotels spanning the country, in both major urban and resort markets.
    SCP Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO
    Hotel Chicago West Loop, Chicago, IL
    Holiday Inn Express, Muncie, IN
    Residence Inn, South Bend, IN
    Fairfield Inn, Ann Arbor, MI
    New York:
    Radisson Hotel, Corning, NY
    North Carolina:
    Residence Inn, Winston Salem, NC
    Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, OR

  4. I can’t even imagine the horror of the guests while trying to find employees that fled the property as that Titanic was sinking.

    Worst job at Marriott now: Spokesperson.

  5. “Marriott also reportedly stated ‘they were under no legal obligation to help.’”

    That’s a good way to kill your brand. I seriously doubt any of those customers will ever book a Marriott again, regardless of who the franchisee was.

  6. So typical of Marriott. They are simply a branding company – not a managing company. When the shit hits the fan – they don’t care. That’s why the company is cancelling many of the Marriott Intl managed property contracts inherited from Starwood. They don’t want to be in the ownership or. managing businesss. This Is another reason why Bonvoy benefits are not available at many properties – they leave it up to the individual properties to abide or not abide.

    BUT….this is the trend with many Hotel companies that no longer own/manage the properties that carry their name on the building. However, at the end of the day it is the Marriott name on the building and they should have done something about this or been more helpful – at least for a PR reason.

  7. Front door locked or just left open and rooms locked? If so, would you call for help, like Marriott and the police then, if no results, break the glass with a brick? That kind of glass is hard to break.

    More likely, would a guest be sleeping Wednesday night then wake up and let other guest inside, perhaps those that left to eat breakfast at a restaurant?

  8. This is very surprising because:

    1) Typically banks immediately bring in an emergency management company. The bank that took control of the property is just as responsible here.

    2) Marriott’s problem is it does not manage the vast majority, like maybe 75-80%, of its properties across all brands in North America. Only internationally does Marriott manage a significant number of properties across all brands. But even then Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott, brands which previously WERE ALWAYS managed by Marriott, are being franchised. By contrast, Hyatt manages the vast majority of its full-service branded properties. Likewise for Hilton with Hilton’s best brands.

    3) I’m not sure Marriott had no legal obligation, at least if any of the customers were Bonvoy members, let alone elite status guests.

    4) I don’t understand how Marriott doesn’t do a better job getting on top of its franchisees. Surely, a bankrupt franchisee or management company was also failing to pay Marriott its percentage of the revenue and bookings. Marriott should have saw there were problems. Avoiding these kind of situations is part of the appeal of big brands like Marriott. This isn’t supposed to happen at brands.

  9. Shameful!!!! The United States Marriott Are Bad Marriott Hotels. Over Seas Marriott Are The Best. I am an Elite GOLD Member and every Marriott United States Hotel have been a disappointment.

  10. My mom stayed in a Residence Inn for several months when her house was damaged from a fire in the neighboring house. She met other people staying there. Often people at these kinds of properties have been displaced from their homes or on long term work assignments. In other words, these are there homes. I can’t imagine how much additional stress it would cause to have this happen.

  11. Marriott should have swiftly come in to relocate this guests to another property. That is common sense to avoid a huge PR disaster which it has now become. Bonvoyed again! If Marriott cannot get basic business practices right, how are they going to take care of you and me in the future? Hello Hyatt.

  12. Hilton now sucks, detaching themselves from any responsibility as ‘brand’ which to me a novice in hotel branding until 2 years ago when I brought home bedbugs from a Hilton property, or so I thought…. nope, FRANCHISED. So that confidence you have staying at a Hilton branded property is a bait & switch.

    Now it would seem so is Marriott. I think JW would be rolling over in his grave to know how downhill and detached Marriott has become from its name, when it’s ‘branded’ literally only in name…. leaving guests to believe like with Hilton, you are staying at a property protected by their namesake when in reality…. like I said, bait & switch.

    I guess a bunch of us now need to check out Hyatt

  13. is still taking bookings for certain rates in February! C’mon. Doesn’t anyone in corporate pay attention to the news? Is this one of the major hotel chains of a joke?

  14. Dear Gary,
    Is this the beginning of big sink for Marriott?
    Marriott appears to be over extended with too many properties. Its great to be the biggest, but…
    Marriott (Arne) got out of ownership with the 2008 financial crisis. Now they are a management company.
    But Marriott members still expect Marriott to be responsible for the properties with their name on the door. Which should include finances/appraisals of the owner/franchisee.

    The Street wants it, and the hotel chains are buying up AirBNB types and continue with new brands for expansion to please the Street. But…?
    So Gary, how long does Marriott have before turmoil?

  15. @WOW: I can think of worse jobs…spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein, who seems to be practicing bending over more and more each day.

    Of course, that job likely has commensurate pay.

  16. @Gayle Colvin: I suggest you stay at the Hilton in Cisco, Texas.
    There’s only one room because it’s a museum dedicated to the location of the first Hilton. Brand standards are enforced, but if you want to eat, you’ll have to go to Dairy Queen.

  17. @Anthony: Marriott has ceased being a hotel management company. Most of its properties are managed by other companies. Marriott is now a marketing company that sells a product (us, the guests) to hotel operators.

  18. Marriott should remove their name brand from these terrible owner operators. These US Hotels are really damaging the Marriott Brand. I wont stay in a Marriott Hotel in the US after experiencing terrible service, charging my credit card at the Marriott Courtyard in Las Vegas when I paid total cash for my stay. In Orlando they did the same thing at the Marriott Hotel. The Marriott Lives up to their Brand overseas.

  19. Being under “no legal obligation” is the same argument used, for example, with the illegal St Regis Bangkok. Recently on hunger strike in Bethesda in protest at Marriott corruption and whistleblower retaliation I was told this face to face by CEO Arne Sorenson. He told me, the brand name on the building means nothing; the responsibility is with the owner. This is absolute nonsense of course because irresponsibility of this kind places the Marriott brand at risk. Making matters worse, Marriott is renowned for not reporting risk factors to the regulator. Massive claims against the St Regis Bangkok dating back to Starwood days were ignored by Marriott during its merger due diligence processes. The Marriott cyber hack was a result of lack of proper due diligence. Karma bides its time! “Hypocrisy is the audacity to preach integrity from a den of corruption” — Wes Fesler

  20. Scary times when a whole list of properties cannot support a 10million dollar bond.
    As for Marriot, you may want to hire some AirBNB or VRBO analysts that specialize in disqualifying properties or owners that are fraudulent or develop apattern of providing an inferior product/rental unit. I am pretty sure VRBO will refund my payment if the rental became unavailable at any point during my stay.

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