Tuesday, August 23, 2011

LNC Selects Hyatt Regency In Columbus, Ohio As Site Of 2014 Libertarian Party National Convention

On Sunday, August 21, 2011, the Libertarian National Committee voted to select Columbus, Ohio as the site of the 2014 Libertarian Party National Convention. The convention will take place June 27-29, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus located at 350 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Chuck Moulton, Libertarian National Committee Vice-Chair 2006-2008, wrote the following regarding the selection of the Hyatt Regency Columbus as the site of the 2014 LPUS National Convention:

In my opinion this hotel was not appropriate for a national convention. Transportation from the airport to the hotel and vice-versa was expensive ($25 cab the only reasonable option…no Super Shuttle; no hotel courtesy shuttle; $2 bus is infrequent, difficult to navigate, and requires several transfers). There were not enough elevators for the hotel rooms. I’m skeptical a high traffic vendors area will be implementable given the meeting room layout. The meeting space is so large that there will probably be other events running concurrently.

Dr. Tom Stevens, Chair of Empire State Libertarians, said he is "particularly concerned with the growing bed bug problem present in Franklin County, Ohio, where the Hyatt Regency Columbus is located".

BadBedBugs.com has reported the following regarding the bed bug problem in Franklin County:

According to 10 TV News in Columbus, Ohio there has been a growing bed bug problem in Franklin County. There have been two major infestations of bed bugs within the county but the Franklin County Board of Health unveiled a task force in hopes that it will decrease the amount of bed bug infestations.

According to an exterminator who lives and works in Ohio, Andrew Christman, business has been extremely busy due to cases of bed bugs. Within a month the company he works for sees around 30 to 40 bed bug cases. Christman expects the cases to double within the next year. 10 TV News reporter Andy Hirsch also mentioned that the Ohio Exterminating Company had nine service calls for Thursday alone.

The Franklin County Board of Health...wants to avoid what is happening in Cincinnati, which is a huge bed bug epidemic. Bed bugs are found everywhere from homes, schools and even fire and police stations...Luckily bed bugs don't cause any diseases but their bites are noted as extremely itchy and in some cases painful. Scratching may also cause and infection.

Though exterminators on the east side of Franklin County have reported to gain control over bed bugs experts still agree the overall problem is going to get progressively worse unless something else is done.

Full story found here: 10tv.com/live/content/local/stories/2008/10/30/story_bed_bugs.html?sid=102

On August 22, 2011, Atlguy096 from Atlanta, Georgia left the following comment about his recent stay at the Hyatt Regency Columbus:

Stayed at the hotel for three nights this past week...After the first night, I woke up and my legs were itching. Same thing after the 2nd night. After the third night I woke up in the morning and my arms had red bite marks and they itched like crazy. From doing research and finding out in the news that Columbus hotels has been infested with bed bugs, I believe the bites and itching on my arms and legs were from bed bugs.

I called the hotel the evening I got home to tell them that I thought my room was infested with bed bugs. I asked to talk to a manager or the GM, but the woman who answered my call said she would let housekeeping know and I could call back in an hour. I did call back and spoke to the same woman (Mahogany) and was told housekeeping said there wasn't a problem and they hadn't received any other complaints. She was very non-chalant and didn't really seem to care about the situation. At that point, I figured it wasn't worth trying to get a manager to talk to since her attitude spoke volumes.

I am leaving this review as a warning for potential travelers to Columbus, OH to be very careful and let the hotel know immediately at any sign of bed bugs in your room.

The following report was posted on November 3, 2010 on BedBugRegistry.com about the Hyatt Regency Columbus:

September 20-21; 18th floor. I experienced strange bites which I misidentified as mosquito bites. I returned to Toledo and later learned that I had acquired bed bugs. Luckily, I caught the problem early. My landlord is currently working with exterminators and I have a follow-up treatment scheduled in two weeks. The Hyatt Regency..is the likely culprit...This is the only place I have slept other than my apartment.

Dallwyn Merck, Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Queens County, said he "is concerned about safety and cleanliness issues at the Hyatt Regency Columbus as well as some of the other issues raised in the comments posted at TripAdvisor.com by former guests of the hotel". Excerpts of some of those comments are:

When there is a big convention, the elevators become unusable (10-15 minute waits), forcing you into the dingy, loud, dark stairs. The staff is obviously too thin to handle a big convention (especially bell boys and valets), and the bars and restaurant get overwhelmed by conventioneers.

This is an older, renovated hotel. There are over 600 guest rooms, but only 4 elevators, enough said. If there is a conference, etc., going on, you're going to wait, and wait, and wait! I'd advise asking for a lower floor so you can take the stairs.

Our only problem was the elevator service. This hotel is not set up for a "full" status with multiple people in each room, as there was this weekend...waits for one of the four elevators could approach 10 minutes. The stairs were an option, but being as I was on the 17th floor, not much of one for trying to get up to the room. People figured out on the lower floors that it was quicker to hop on an elevator going up and then they were guaranteed a spot going down. So even on the 17th floor the elevators wouldn't stop going down because they were already full...the waits usually started around 10 or 11 in the morning and continued until late at night. 

We were going down to the lobby, and a group of my friends got on an elevator. I wasn't ready and I told them that I'd meet them down there. Then I get a call saying that they were stuck in the elevator, but that they had been pressing the button and I shouldn't worry. 25 minutes later I get another call from them saying that they called the operator at the hotel, and that the hotel responded with, "stop playing around kids...there is no broken elevator." I went to the front desk at this time and told them that my friends were stuck in an elevator, and they said, "there is no broken elevator." My other friend went to get an adult to tell the hotel, and then they believed them. An hour later someone from maintenance finally arrives. An hour and a half later, they get out. This was unacceptable. The event that I was at this hotel for is held here every year, and letters have already been written to the event's director asking to have the event held at a different location next year, because the treatment from the staff was just wrong. I hope the manager of this hotel thinks long and hard about the way his/her staff is trained.

If you have any opportunity to stay elsewhere, do. If you can get your company NOT to use this hotel as their convention hotel, do. I came for a conference recently and although the location is close to the Arena District and Short North for entertainment and dining, this hotel allowed panhandlers to roam everywhere assaulting guests asking for money. Everyone in my group was approached 5-10X over two days --- in the elevators, at the bar, in the lobby, in the hallways. It was annoying and at night, scary. The staff either seemed unaware or didn't care. One night a man at the Sky Bar on the second floor sat down, ordered water, was brought a bowl of free bar snacks, and proceeded to ask everyone around him to buy him dinner and drinks. The waitress told him they didn't allow that kind of thing there, but it was obvious he was homeless, so I don't know why he was allowed to sit in the first place. It's too bad because the hotel is fine, but the security stinks and I would never recommend this hotel to anyone unless they enjoy being stalked and harassed.

I was in Columbus a week ago for work and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Columbus for five nights. First of all, I would recommend avoiding Columbus if you can. I had never been to there before, and was extremely disappointed with the "city". Columbus has been hit really hard with the recession and the city is bare, besides very angry homeless people (one walked up to us saying "I'm not going to rob you" while another yelled expletives at us). Walking around at 9:30 p.m. you will find nobody else is out except you.

When leaving the hotel and walking out the front of the hotel to go into the downtown area to go to a restaurant, we had three pan-handlers ask for money, within one block, and were a little aggressive...Even using the skywalks from the hotel to the parking garage, there are homeless/pan-handlers sitting in the corners and asking for handouts. Just be aware.

The parking situation at this hotel is ridiculous. If you don't opt for valet parking, you must trudge ten minutes ONE WAY to the public parking lot (Chestnut Parking Garage) across the street that the hotel uses. The skywalk connectors are creepy. I had my car broken into and vandalized. The Columbus police officer who responded to the call said that this lot has at least one break in a day. He felt that the lot was not safe.I wish I had known this prior to choosing to park there.

I stayed nine nights for a group and I literally had to re-make my bed each night - sloppy work. I called three times to get my room vacuumed and the bathroom floor cleaned without success. Twice I returned to my room around 4 pm and it hadn't been cleaned yet. There was water on the tile elevator floors 80% of the time.

Two foot long hairs in the shower found on my arrival. A sock from the last occupant left in a dresser drawer.

My bed was not made up properly (loose sheets), the first night and I had the soiled pillow cases from the previous guest that was not changed (believe me, I work with homeless and this does not bother me, but for what I paid I thought this is really bad). Our room was not "refreshed" the next day (garbage not dumped, towels not changed, nothing wiped). There were no signs in room indicating that they change sheets only every 3 days - which is good environmentally, but at least tell me!!! I had to phone room service to get new towels and have them at least wipe the place!

Complaints got no explanations - just that it shouldn't have happened. There is NO free internet access, that will cost you $9.95 per day. PLEASE - it's 2011, I can get free internet access at McDonald's but not the Hyatt Regency - connected to the Convention Center? The elevators are inadequate for accommodating guests at certain times throughout the day. You are not allowed to take a cart to your room to make it easier to pack your things - they will only let you use a cart if you let a bellboy bring it, ensuring you of having to spend money on tips. I wanted a cart to make things easier when they were going to move my room to a lower floor...and was not allowed to touch it. And when we checked out, they totally messed up at least one of our bills - not even having the right company name on the receipt and could NOT get it corrected. The breakfast buffet in the restaurant is almost $20 per person (prices for everything in that restaurant is absurd), and the food was cold and horrible - the guys who ate there refused to pay for it. And, in one case, instead of taking it off their bill, they put it on our company credit card - which the hotel was not given permission to use for food (only authority was given for hotel and parking). When I called them about it, they told me it was my problem and I would have to get the guest to call and have it transferred to his credit card (this is before I knew the meal was supposed to be credited) - I don't know how it is my problem when they don't even have authority to put those charges on the company credit card? And how about this - when I wrote a complaint letter to the manager, he called on a Saturday evening to respond (it's a business - why would you not call during business hours)? He left a message and sent an email saying he would contact me that week. He waited until Thursday morning and emailed me asking if I could talk that day, I said to call after 11 am and he responded he would. A week later he had not even called! And a carbon copy sent to the regional manager received no response. I now know why the customer service down the line is so poor. Customer service is horrible, hotel accommodations inadequate, and staff obviously can't do their job. I already have reservations for next year's convention at the Drury Hotel right next door - which I have heard nothing but good things about (and get this, FREE internet access, food buffets, and a hot tub too). I will never stay at the Hyatt Regency again!

To be fair, some of the comments left at TripAdvisor.com at the Hyatt Regency Columbus were positive ones but the negative experiences of so many guests cannot be disregarded.

In response to these concerns, Stewart Flood, LNC Region 1 Representative, said:

I voted against the hotel for reasons similar to those you listed: horrible elevator service and too large a convention facility. The rooms were clean and well kept, but Internet service was spotty. Cell coverage for AT&T was poor to unacceptable in the meeting rooms, with 3G service for an iPad unavailable most of the time (including in my room on the 19th floor). The hotel provided computer that was in my room was broken, so there was no way to get online. (It had an attached Verizon "Hot Spot" for the room, which was out of service because of the dead computer).

Unfortunately, we selected the hotel.

Perhaps the Libertarian National Committee should re-consider their decision to hold its 2014 Libertarian National Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio.

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