When a Confirmed Hotel Award Reservation Isn’t Honored

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I’ve made no secret about how much I enjoy the Olympics, and I especially enjoyed my trip to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Naturally, as soon as that trip was over I started planning for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.  Those games are actually just one year and three months away, which isn’t that far out in the world of planning trips on miles and points.  I even wrote some about some tips and pointers for others who are interested in attending those games primarily on miles and points.

Due to some compulsive checking and good luck, I had secured some reward nights at both the Radisson Blu Resort @ Congress Centre in Sochi and the Park Inn by Radisson Rosa Khutor during the Olympic Games in February 2014.  I secured these award rooms online using Club Carlson points earned primarily via the “Big Night Giveaway”.  I was super excited as that meant I would have some time staying in the actual city of Sochi near the Olympic Village, and then some nights on the mountain near the downhill sports.  I had also been able to use Club Carlson points at the Olympics in London to stay at the beautiful May Fair Hotel, thus saving me a ton of cash.

A few weeks went by and everything seemed fine.  The award availability online quickly dried up, but my reservations seemed safe.  I then received emails a couple weeks apart from both hotels stating essentially that the reservation could not be confirmed (although I already had email confirmations for both) due to:

Greetings from Radisson Blu Resort & Congress Centre, Sochi!
My name is X and I’m Assistant Director of Sales in our property.
Let me thank you for received booking from you from X. Regrettably we cannot confirm this booking for you. Please kindly find enclosed the letter of apology from our General Manager.
We would be very glad to confirm new booking request from you in any other convenient date.

Should you have any questions or comments to the current matter feel free to contact us any time convenient for you.

Thank you and best regards.

The attached letter then goes on to say:
I emailed back saying I understood that the Olympics were an unusual situation, but I had confirmed reservations that I made with points, and I would like alternate accommodations.  I also contacted Club Carlson and asked if they could assist, and what the policy was in terms of hotels being able to cancel confirmed award reservations.  I know that a few others who made similar reservations are having the very same back and forth with Club Carlson and these specific hotels.
I have gone through this cycle of communicating with the hotel directly and with Club Carlson a few times without making any real headway.  The response is typically something like “we will look into it and get back to you soon”.  Admittedly, I should be doing better about putting more pressure on them to come up with a solution, but haven’t yet had time to do much more than send a few emails.  I’m not yet done following up with this issue, but I am now curious as to whether others have had a similar issue.  I am thankful that I have never personally had an issue with a confirmed award stay being honored before, but unfortunately I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has had this happen.

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  1. Just write them back and tell them you are with the Olympic committee 🙂

    Seriously it sounds like they booked the whole hotel and booked the guests. I would fight it but kinda on par with this hotel chain.

  2. @MP – Here’s what I would do: First, secure alternate bookings as a Plan B. Then, get back to the task at hand. Since you have plenty of time, you should start with “nice” emails where you’re absolutely firm, but you give them alternate options on how to fix this, obviously the number one option being to reinstate your bookings. Include copies of your confirmations, etc. As time progresses and their emails continue to be evasive, get more aggressive in your tone and perhaps make a call or two, though always follow-up with an email in order to have it in writing.

    I’m sure that in the end you’ll get something, though it doesn’t seem like it will be your rooms. probably just your points back and some “gesture” like more points. Other options should be that they pay for your accommodations at nearby hotels of the same star rating. Good luck!

  3. What is there policy? Are ther rooms capasity controlled? I have had trouble booking award rooms when I have seem the room available for cash.

  4. Unfortunately, you have three strikes working against you 1) It’s Russia (actually this is three strikes by itself) 2) It’s the Olympics and 3) it’s a Carlson property. As others have noted, publishing this on your blog may help you personally but most travelers would be SOL.

  5. As was discussed in the thread that I started on flyertalk (I’m Skinsfan0521), I was also in the exact same position. I came to an agreement with them about getting my points refunded (already completed) and them giving me some bonus points. The GM said that he couldn’t actually post my bonus points yet because they can’t post points from the property until it is actually open (supposed to happen around mid November).

    So, just today I was thinking that I need to check to see if the hotel has opened yet and if so, send another request for my points. I will be doing that this morning and sending an email.

    He also offered to work with the committee in charge of all the hotel rooms for the Olympics to see if he could get me a room on my specified days, but I don’t have any real hope that anything will come from that.

    Side note: In further discussions with him, it isn’t actually the “Olympic Committee” that is the problem. It sounds like in Russia, there is a committee (separate from the actual Olympic Committee) who is in charge of all the hotel rooms for the area around Sochi for the Olympics. He says that all hotels in the area will be under the same restrictions as they are, but I can’t check that out yet because other hotel chains don’t seem to have booking available for those dates yet.

    Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to let you know what my situation is.

  6. This is exactly why I have no sympathy for the companies that get stuck with mistake fares. They just don’t give a fcuk otherwise.

  7. This Russia, we are talking about and Sochi in particular + Olympics. Of course, hotel wants to make a profit from Olympics and prefer to sell rooms instead of giving them for “free”.

  8. not sure what you were expecting? you made an award reservation which will generate $0 revenue for the hotel during what will be quite possibly the biggest event the hotel will host in its lifetime…

  9. I’m going to Russia in April, I haven’t booked my rooms yet, but I’m planning on staying for points. I hope I don’t have any problems. :/

  10. It’s Russia, if you didn’t bribe the officials in charge, you aren’t going to get a room. Not that you could anyway, since you don’t know who to bribe, and there are lots of people who can afford to outbid you. The local Mafia do know who to bribe, and will resell the rooms to the highest bidder, taking a nice cut of the transaction.

    I’d concentrate on Brazil 2016 if I were you, since Brazil only gets a Bronze for corruption, whereas Russia always gets the Gold. :>}

  11. I’m not the only one in this situation with Club Carlson properties in Sochi, and I don’t think that the hotel in Russia gives a fart that I have a miles and points blog. In fact, I think others have made much more headway on their situations than I have with mine. Regardless of the special event, a confirmed reservation is a confirmed reservation in my book…though apparent a different book is at play here. 😉

    Will post an update if/when I get a resolution. Thankfully, time is on my side here.

  12. As others have mentioned, it’s Russia, Russia, Russia. Here they do away with all the rules. It is all about the $$$$$$$. Based on what they charge foreigners to see the Peterhof grounds, palace, etc., if I ever sold ANYTHING to a Russian, it would be at 10 times the going rate. It would be an understatement to say they are generally all greedy, selfish and surly bastards! I hope it works out for you in some way but I sincerely doubt it —–

  13. MommyPoints, as a Russin, I would say that there only cash has a a value. Miles/points – I believe they never heard about it, and even if they do, they don’t give a damn about your status, unless you are Hollywood star or billionaire. Olympics in Sochi is a big event for them (in terms of making a profit, even “from the air”) and they will do everything to sell every possible room. I am sorry, but this his how everything works in Russia.

  14. Russia is another world, entirely. Listen to Sergey in the last post. They don’t care if you legitimately made the reservation. You would have to bribe someone to keep that reservation. If they see the travel blog, they will likely laugh and just not care.

    I have been to Russia. If you drive in Russia and get “pulled over” for a ticket, you PAY THE COP. Right then and there.

    Other than that, the food is great…….and so is the drink! People are nice, in general. If you get a chance to try the black caviar, or the vodka, do try!

  15. You were bumped by a rich former Soviet. I suggest trying to just get the points back and trying for Brazil in 2016. I am going to that one if I can–my first if lucky.
    That said, this case could also be taken to the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine OMBUDSMAN section and see if they can help! Write ’em!
    I am serious on both points… with the assumption being that unreasonable folk need to be prodded in order for you, a reasonable folk, to get what you paid for (points or money). You have to treat this as though it were some scammy prepaid company holding your funds up for 2 months on some gift card miles scheme we all do, and fight hard balls out to get it back! Good luck!

    • Contacted them via Twitter but no luck….they always say “looking into it” and then radio silence. I’ll keep trying though. 😉

  16. It’s a pretty southern location for a winter Olympics. I think their weather problems will put Vancouver to shame. Get some compensation points and bag it. Alternately, get the Russian mafia to threaten the U.S. Airways BOD into reinstating the Grand Slam.

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