World’s Strangest Hotel Elite Check-In Benefit

As an elite member of a various hotel chains, one of the best parts of the check-in process is the arrival gift, or the amenity. All hotels have a slightly different approach, but the benefits usually include extra points, breakfast, a drink from the bar, snacks, or a local gift.

As many hotels are now trying to win over frequent travelers with promotions, giveaways, double points sweepstakes, etc., the treatment of those elite travelers becomes even more important to the bottom line.

Enter: The Holiday Inn Colorado Springs, Central.

We met up with some friends in Denver and headed down south to Colorado Springs, arriving for check-in around 11:45pm. The hotel lobby was empty and quiet, except for the one lone front desk attendant. She was busy on her phone behind the desk, but when we arrived she sprung to life and welcomed us to the hotel.

When we gave her our name, she seemed to know who we were, I’d imagine because at that late hour, most of the other guests had already checked in. After a few pleasantries she asked what I would like as a Platinum member for our arrival gift. The options were 300 points (yawn) or a bottle of water and trail mix (triple yawn).

For those of you who are NOT familiar with the Holiday Inn franchise, the “trail mix” is essentially an 8 oz. bag of sunflower seeds with 4 raisins and 2 almonds. It’s kinda gross. And lame.

I mentioned that I’d like the points, but if she had a bottle of water, that we’d appreciate it, as Colorado is really dry this time of year, if not at all times of the year. Frantically she started searching for a bottle of water but to no avail. The front desk was out! Nooooooo! What would we do with no bottled water!!!!!

Quick thinking agent to the rescue! She snapped her fingers and said, “I’ve got a solution, as you’re a Platinum and you deserve your bottled water.”

She reached into her purse and took out $4 and said, “Here, this will work to get you two bottles out of any of the vending machines in the building.”

Four Dollars

We refused to accept her money, as we really didn’t need the bottles of water THAT bad but she INSISTED that as a platinum guest they should have been prepared for our arrival with the bag ready to go. She also made us feel better because she mentioned that she would just let her manager know at shift change that she had to cash out $4 to us, so she wouldn’t be going without.

Talk about service! I’m still a little weirded out by the concept of a $4 welcome amenity, but as someone who works in customer service, I can nonetheless appreciate what she tried to do in order to make the stay just that much better.

Our review of the hotel and room will be coming shortly, so stay tuned for that one.

With that said, in the same situation, what would you have done? Knowing that she was going to get the $4 back in the morning when the manager came in, would you have accepted the welcome amenity of cash or just simply refused to accept and went up to the room?

What other really unusual arrival gifts have you been welcomed with? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. That is kinda bush league to be handing you cash. If she was really in it for the service, she should have told you that she will ensure it gets sent to your room, and go get the water out of the vending machine herself. This would not put the guest in an uncomfortable situation.

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    • So true! Or she would have reported to her manager and have water bottles restocked at the reception desk!

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    • ^ well, this was a Holiday Inn, not the St. Regis, so.. cut the clerk some slack?

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  2. My most unusual elite check in bennie happened at a Holiday Inn in Waikiki.. I had booked 3 contiguous free nights separately, each when I had accumulated the points. At the desk I asked them to keep us in the same room. Shortly after checking in , there was a knock at my door and a full box of chcolate covered macadamia nuts was delivered. This happened 3 times, and, yes, we ate them all!

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