My Miami hotel didn’t open in time: Here’s how IHG handled my reservation

Yesterday

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I’ve been looking forward to reviewing Atwell Suites, IHG’s newest brand, since we first learned about it in May 2019. Since then, I’ve been keeping an eye on the brand’s launch property in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, which has seen its opening date postponed repeatedly.

In late February, though, I noticed IHG was selling rooms at the Atwell Suites Miami Brickell with check-in on March 15 or later. So I booked a stay for March 22-24. Unfortunately, the hotel did not open in time for my stay.

What happened when I showed up at a not-yet-open hotel? Read on to find out!

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In This Post

How IHG handled my reservation

As my stay approached, I noticed IHG stopped selling any rooms at the Atwell Suites Miami Brickell until April 15. I’d booked a rate that only offered free cancellation until seven days before my stay. So, eight days before I was set to check in, I reached out to IHG public relations asking whether the hotel would open by March 22. Then I waited to hear back.

A few days later, after the free cancellation deadline passed on my reservation, an IHG public relations member replied to me, saying the hotel was slated to open on March 24. That was supposed to be my checkout date, though. The public relations member asked for my confirmation number, which I provided, noting that I expected guests with reservations at the Atwell Suites would be accommodated at a nearby hotel until the property opened.

I also mentioned to my IHG contact that, outside of my communication with her, I hadn’t received any messages from the hotel that would make me think my reservation wasn’t going to go ahead as I’d booked.

To add another layer of confusion, two days before check-in, I received the following email that seemed to confirm my stay at the Atwell Suites.

Email from IHG
(Screenshot by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

What was going on? Would the hotel, in fact, be open? Would I show up at an empty building?

The day before I arrived in Miami, the IHG public relations member reached out to say my room was swapped to the Hotel Indigo Miami Brickell, which is in the same building as the Atwell Suites. She seemed surprised that no one else had reached out to me yet about the change.

I responded, thanking her for the update regarding my stay. But I also expressed concern about not receiving any indication (besides my communications with her) of my stay not occurring as booked. I asked her whether IHG was accommodating most guests with Atwell Suites reservations at other hotels and, if so, whether they’re getting any compensation or property credits. I didn’t get a response to these questions.

When I arrived at the Hotel Indigo, I noticed signage for both Atwell Suites and Hotel Indigo. However, the entrance to what I assume will be the Atwell Suites lobby was blocked off by a luggage cart. I went to the Hotel Indigo desk and handed over my driver’s license to start the check-in process.

The front desk agent went through the typical steps without any comment. When she printed a sheet for me to initial in several places and sign, I noticed my IHG Rewards number was missing.

I asked the agent to confirm my IHG number was on the reservation. She said it wasn’t, so I looked more closely at the sheet and noticed I didn’t recognize the confirmation number. The nightly rate also looked higher than I’d originally reserved with the Atwell Suites, so I inquired about the total cost of my stay.

Hotel Indigo Miami Brickell check-in
(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

She quoted a number about $100 more than the rate I’d reserved.

I replied that the rate was higher than the one I’d booked and that my confirmation number was different. She first tried to argue that the rate was correct. But when I showed her my Atwell Suites confirmation, she excused herself from the front desk area.

The front desk agent reappeared about 10 minutes later to ask what the total cost of my Atwell Suites stay would have been. Then she returned to the back office. A few minutes later, she came back and said the rate I’d reserved (for the Atwell Suites reservation) would be my rate. She also gave me two breakfast vouchers worth $25 per day.

Once I got to my room (on the top floor of the Hotel Indigo, immediately below the Atwell Suites’ lowest floor), I noticed I had two overlapping reservations showing in my IHG account. And indeed, both reservations stayed in my account — I even earned IHG points and nights for both stays.

I also received a “Thanks For Staying At Atwell Suites Miami Brickell” email after my stay at the Hotel Indigo. Luckily, I’ve only been charged for the Hotel Indigo stay. At least, so far.

Email from IHG
(Screenshot by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

I suspect I received special treatment since I’d contacted IHG’s public relations staff regarding this stay. Between getting a room with a great view and how I got what I’d requested once the front desk agent visited the back office, I suspect there were notes on my reservation. But, I’m not sure why I had to present proof of my original reservation at check-in to receive the rate that I’d booked rather than one that would have had me paying around $100 more.

Aside from my emails with IHG’s public relations staff, I received no contact from IHG regarding my Atwell Suites reservation as a regular customer. It’s difficult to say what would have happened when I arrived at the hotel if I hadn’t contacted the IHG public relations staff before my stay. Hotel Indigo might have honored my Atwell Suites reservation … or I might have been out of luck and scrounging around for another hotel at the last minute.

It’s also possible that I would have needed to pay the higher rate the Hotel Indigo check-in agent quoted me, or spend hours on the phone with IHG customer service hoping to resolve the issue, which would have been frustrating.

Related: Should you stay at a new hotel right when it opens?

IHG’s guaranteed room promise

I got what I asked for at check-in: the rate honored and vouchers to cover the breakfast that would have been included in my stay at the Atwell Suites. So, if my editors hadn’t asked me to write about my experience, I would have just moved on without much more thought about it.

However, as I was researching this story, I found that IHG has a guaranteed room promise that states:

Booking on IHG.com is the best way to guarantee your room. If for any reason your reservation cannot be honored, IHG will provide you with a room and transportation to another convenient and comparable hotel. And, we’ll pay for the full cost of the first night’s lodging price, plus tax. Any advance deposit will be refunded to you.

So, IHG should have provided me with a room at a nearby hotel, which it did. But IHG also should have paid for the full cost of my first night.

I didn’t know about this guaranteed room promise during my stay, so I didn’t ask for IHG to cover the first night. And, as I feel like the result of IHG accommodating me at the Hotel Indigo and providing breakfast vouchers was fair, I’m not requesting reimbursement after the fact.

That said, I seemingly had a much better experience than some other guests who made Atwell Suites reservations. Multiple travelers who report having reservations at the Atwell before it opened left concerning reviews on Google. Here’s one example:

Google review of Atwell Suites Miami
(Screenshot from google.com)

I can’t confirm the authenticity of their reports or whether they booked directly with IHG and hence would have been eligible for the guaranteed room promise. But, based on the experience, it seems that calling IHG customer service was unhelpful (and time-consuming) and that IHG refused to provide a room at the same price at a similar property. One traveler even reports that IHG canceled his Atwell Suites stay just two hours before check-in.

Related: Walked from a hotel? Here’s how much compensation you’re owed

What to do in a similar situation

In my situation, I’d reached out to IHG Rewards’ public relations as this stay approached to ask whether the hotel would open before my stay. I didn’t get a solid answer while I could still cancel free of charge, so I decided to go to Miami and see what happened

But most travelers don’t have access to public relations staff. I would have been less willing to head to Miami if I hadn’t known TPG would pick up my last-minute hotel bill if it came to that.

Here’s what I would do in a similar situation on a personal trip:

  • Cancel the stay within the free cancellation time frame.
  • Call or chat with customer service agents and request accommodation at a similar property at the same rate ahead of time.
  • Book a backup reservation that’s freely cancelable until 6 p.m. on the day I arrive (and then aim to arrive at the potentially closed hotel by 3 p.m.).
  • Just show up, but research last-minute backup options ahead of time.

The easiest and least timing-consuming option will be to bail on the stay while you can still cancel for free. Of course, the downside of this option is that rates at other hotels may be much more expensive by the time you rebook — especially if you’re traveling during a busy time.

The hotel should freely cancel your stay even once you’re within the cancellation period if the hotel isn’t open. But I’d rather avoid calling customer service, as it can take a long time to land an agent that can help with complicated issues.

Related: What to do if a hotel cancels your stay because it won’t be open in time

Bottom line

Although I’d been hoping to check out the new Atwell Suites, I ended up staying at the Hotel Indigo instead and, luckily, everything worked out. I confirmed my original paid rate for the stay and was given breakfast vouchers as compensation, which I think was fair in my situation.

However, I suspect my experience may have been different if I’d not been in contact with IHG’s public relations before my stay. I find it concerning that I received no information (except from IHG’s public relations team) regarding my Atwell Suites reservation and that the reservation was even confirmed two days out by IHG via email, even though IHG knew the hotel wouldn’t be open for my stay.

The Atwell Suites Miami Brickell finally opened on March 30, so I’ll be heading back to Miami soon to check it out. Stay tuned for my follow-up story on actually staying at the hotel … unless something else happens to go wrong with my reservation.

Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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