Postcard Inn – Would you stay Here?
This hotel markets itself as a boutique hotel. We have stayed at some really amazing small hotels. Some hotels have been among the highest ranked small hotels in America. This one is kind of different. We’ll tell our story and share some pictures. Then you decide, would you stay at the Postcard Inn? If you would, at what price?
““Hip, affordable, and resolutely casual,” according to Travel + Leisure”
If I have a choice when traveling, I usually choose a smaller hotel and preferably not a chain. Doing this can be risky. There have been times that my wife has pointed out that maybe some of these hotels aren’t the best places we have ever stayed. We have also had amazing experiences too. A couple that come to mind are KaleaKilohana in Hawaii and the Hotel Julien in Dubuque, Iowa.
From St. Petersburg Beach Hotel and Accommodations “At this St. Pete Beach Hotel, no two rooms are alike. The perfect mix of drinking and dining awaits you at Postcard Inn, too. PCI Bar & Grill offers a variety of fare from our signature burgers and BBQ to our variety of fresh seafood dishes and a unique spin on classic American cuisine sure to please your palate.
When I am looking for a hotel I do spend a lot of time reading reviews by people who actually have stayed there. The glowing reviews by local CVB (convention and visitor bureau’s) or resort associations are often misleading so they should be disregarded. It is their job to promote local businesses.
This hotel seemed to get extreme ratings. By that I mean that people either loved it or hated it. Hmmm. That just piqued my curiosity. What is it that makes people love or hate hotels? Well, after owning and operating a small resort for 20 years I can tell you that you will never please everyone. Give some people a free drink and they will love anything. The next person is just impossible to make happy.
From their Twitter site:
I checked online for the rates and other information on the Postcard Inn. After finding the best rate I could, I saved the page on my computer. If you have read many of my travel tips, one of the best tips that I have found is going to the hotel and checking if there are rooms available. (you already know there are rooms) The next question is what is their best rate. More often than not it is higher than what you find online. Then I asked if they will match an online rate.
There are a few reasons for doing this. First and foremost if you are at a chain hotel and want to get reward points for the stay, you usually don’t get them if you book with a discount site online. You have to book directly with the chain. Another reason is all business. The hotel is paying the discount site a commission. By asking if the hotel will honor the discount price they have the opportunity to get a booking without a commission. You, the customer will get a good rate, the hotel property saves a commission. Win win. I have found that many hotels empower their front desks personnel to meet and sometimes even beat a discount price. Marriott, Holiday Inn, Radisson and Quality Inns have done this for me.
Back to the Postcard Inn. I arrived at the hotel and went to the front desk armed with my computer. The two people working were occupied, as in one was on the phone looking at a computer screen and the other was watching her. I was pretty much ignored for a good 5 minutes. Eventually there was a group of us waiting for service.
The “watching guy” finally looked up to see the crowd and then helped some guy who jumped ahead of the rest of us in line. (this was an omen for how things were going to go) When it was my turn, I asked if there were rooms. Yes there were. Will you honor and online rate. “No we won’t”. I asked if I should book online and come back. Yes I was told. I reminded the employee, who turned out to be the front desk manager that I would still get the cheaper rate and they would have to pay a commission and make less money. He wouldn’t budge.
Off to the car I went to book online. After getting a conformation number and reservation I went back to the lobby to get back in line. The next hurdle was that they didn’t have the reservation in their system yet so no deal. “It will take fifteen minutes to sync the computer systems” I was told. He took my phone number and offered to call me when the reservation came through. That was nice of him to offer.
We went off to buy some snacks at a grocery store and then stopped at a drug store for other necessities. No phone call, but it had been way more than 15 minutes so we headed back to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, there was no reservation yet so we asked if we could go sit by the pool until the reservation came through. “no problem” they said. Sure enough as soon as we sat down by the pool we got the call, the reservation came through.
As we were checking in, the issue of a resort fees came up. I forgot that this part of Florida loves their resort fees. Not in the mood to argue about this I surrendered and paid the resort fee. Well, at least all the “ammenities” will be available for us now, I thought. Wrong.
After we checked into our room we changed and headed to the beach. It is a beautiful beach. There were was a booth with a nice young man who was in charge of the chase lounges and umbrellas. I showed him my little green armband showing that I had paid the resort fee and asked about a couple of lounge chairs. Ten dollars a piece he told me. There must be some misunderstanding I said, see I have a green armband. The lounges and umbrellas are extra he told me. There must have been some serious stink eye coming from me because he told me “hey don’t shoot the messenger”. I could go back and sit by the pool for free he said. Hmmm. (I am not a fan of resort fees and really not a fan of nickel and diming guests)
I took a picture of the sign posted on the beach about the fees. Pretty steep to sit on a lounge chair. I talked to a guy from Boston the last morning of our stay and he was quite disgusted with the fees. He told me that for two chairs and one umbrella it came to just under $38 with taxes and fees.
The problem I have is that I have stayed in really nice hotels and this kind of stuff doesn’t happen, at least not this blatantly. When you book a room in a “renovated” boutique hotel you do have certain expectations. There is a picture above with the shoddy wiring. There is also a picture of the landscaping in front of the premium rooms.
Here is a picture that summarizes the shoddy work in our room. To be fair the bed was fairly new and comfortable. The room was very small. I noticed while working at the desk area that a picture above me had kind of a funky frame. Upon closer inspection, it was not a funky frame but rather another example of how this place was renovated. The picture was screwed into the wall. I get that. Especially in a hotel. The problem was when they painted the walls the painter was too lazy to take the picture down. Those are brush and roller marks on the top, bottom and sides of the frame.
Maybe I am just an old curmudgeon, but I would have probably been OK with this hotel if I hadn’t read the hype on the website about “trendy” and “renovated.” Knowing it was an old hotel but on a beautiful beach would have been fine without the fees. In my opinion, if you are going charge fees like a high end hotel you need to present a consistent and dependable high end product. This starts at check in with customer service. This is where my stay fell apart. Customer service was really lacking. I wonder how many other people have had this experience.
Would you stay in a hotel like this? It is on a beautiful beach. Maybe the answer is what you are willing to pay to be on this beach. As a consumer you have many many options. Do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you book.
Captain Dan’s Tips:
Keep in mind that there are miles and miles of beaches in this part of Florida. It is time consuming, but do research your vacation. Don’t rely solely on convention and visitors bureaus, it is their job promote businesses in the area. Sites like TripAdvisor provide a wealth of current reviews and opinions from people like you and I. Personally I would not go back to this place, but there were a lot of people who loved it. It is a subjective thing. That’s why I try to show the good and the bad in the pictures. You decide if this is a good deal.