Yesterday, I posted that I had been charged by the Willard IC for my free annual night: I Got Charged by InterContinental for a Free Night!
Today I received this email.
Good evening Mr. Shuman,Thank you for contacting us through WebGuru [I have no idea what it is, I just called IHG and they opened the investigation]. Please accept my apologies on behalf of the Willard team for having failed to direct the room charge accordingly. I understand that this has caused quite some frustration for you and I am sincerely sorry for all the inconvenience we have caused. We have processed the refund to your MasterCard ending in —-, in the total amount of $421.91.Should you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me back.Greetings from our nation’s capital!
Front Office Operations Manager
So, all’s well that ends well? Sure, but I’ll wait till the refund hits my CC account for the final verdict.
End of Update
It was a fun weekend. We stayed at the historic Intercontinental Willard, a five-minute walk from the White House. Hit a snag at the check-in, as we had booked a queen room with one bed, and the room didn’t have a pullout couch, which got me upset quite a bit, since the booking agent had assured me it would. Was told at the check-in that I would have to pay $30 a night for the rollaway bed for the kid. I tried to call the IHG rep, who contacted the hotel on my behalf, but to no avail due to the full capacity. I decided not to push it further for the following reasons.
- I’m a mellow guy.
- I’m not an Ambassador, and my Platinum status normally means nothing at IC.
- I paid zero dollars for two nights at the property that runs over $400 a day.
- Technically speaking, I didn’t have the right for the second free night to begin with as my free night expired a month ago. It was an IHG courtesy.
So I made peace with the fact that we would have to literally step over my kid (because, boy, the room was that small!), but the next day they called and moved me to a double room! That was nice and proactive on their part. Kudos to the management for accommodating me when they didn’t really have to.
Last time we were in Washington 12 years ago, before my daughter was born. The weather was horrific and we didn’t see much due to the never-ending rain. This time the weather truly cooperated. Friday was supposed to be rainy, but the rain had stopped by the time we arrived at the Union Station. The weather was nothing short of fabulous up until our departure.
We relied heavily on Uber during our trip for the rides to the zoo and Georgetown, and it worked out great. Their rates in Washington are about half of New York’s, and our rides ranged from $12 to $14. Sadly, my promotional $20 discount had expired (don’t know why, since my wife’s discount is still there). Anyhow, I can see how Uber can be a great alternative to taxis at less expensive markets.
We used the hop-on—hop-off Big Bus 24-hour pass. For my next visit, I might book the bus for 48 hours. It’s not cheap, but it does include a lot of extras, like a river cruise, walking tours, etc. I can see ourselves using it for a ride from and to the Union Station, to Georgetown, the zoo, Arlington, etc. The routes are very extensive, and I thought the narration was fun, too.
Amtrak is great between NYP-WAS, although the Wi-Fi was flaky on my way to Washington, and didn’t work at all on the way back. I rode Carolinian there and Northeast back. The trains’ interiors, seating, and the lounge car menu were identical. The ride clocked in at around 3.5 hours; I would say Amtrak is unbeatable on this route. My drive to Washington would take about five hours, but here on the train, I can work, read, or just relax. I don’t see any reason to fly or drive.
I booked our Amtrak ride for 24,000 points (for three people). If you can book in advance, you might want to pay cash, so cheap it is (could be $220 for two adults and a child). Unfortunately, we procrastinated, so by the time we decided to book the train instead of driving, the price had jumped to about $450, so we used the points. It was fast and painless. On the way back, we wanted to take a later train, and the agent arranged the change in a heartbeat for no extra charge. Excellent customer service!
All in all, I loved Washington. Even aside from all the historic sites, it has great architecture, fantastic (and free) museums, the beautiful zoo, and excellent restaurants. We didn’t really try to cheap it out on the food and attractions, so our final tally, including taxi to NYP, Uber rides, tours, and food came to around $450. What can I say: free travel costs money, no arguing about that. 🙂