ft. lauderdale : part 1 : hotels, urine and chronic halatosis.

So last week I went to Ft. Lauderdale, sans kids, to see my friend Jennifer Ann Swartzwelder Brittingham, or Jen for short.  It was her 40th birthday celebration, and in addition to the fact that she is one of my dearest friends who puts the fun in funny, her sister told me we were going to be surprise roasting her.  I booked my hotel and flight immediately.

I got a flight/hotel combo on Southwest for 3 nights and headed down Friday to Monday.  I got in Friday morning, and her Mom insisted on picking me up at the airport.  I felt like a kid, “Hi Mrs. Swartzwelder!” as I buckled into the front seat of her Prius.  Kathy is also a very funny lady, and also has the biggest boobs I have ever seen.  We chatted up a storm on the way to the little beach hotel.  She pointed out all the good places to eat along the way and dropped me off so that she could quickly head back home to make 8 lasagna’s, 8 baked ziti’s, and god knows what else for the party.  All while probably watching 6 grandchildren and making handmade party favors.  She’s like that.

I was so excited for a few days of sleeping in, lying on the beach, reading books, and catching up with old friends.  I waved goodbye to Kathy and rolled my carry-on up to the entrance of the hotel.  As I entered the lobby, the overpowering smell of fresh urine hit me like someone starting a surprise pillow fight from behind your door.  Fffwwwhap!

Have you ever been to a little kids indoor swim school?  Where it’s ultra humid and wreaks of chlorine so bad your nose stings?  It was like that, but with pee.  Did one hundred people come in and mark their territory?  Did they use buckets of stale piss to clean with instead of Clorox?

It was 12:00, and I held my nose and asked if there was any way I could possibly check in early.  The girl with no olfactory glands at the counter informed me that the computers were not working so I could not check in until 3:00.  No worries I informed her, I was prepared, I had on my bathing suit under my clothes and after all, the hotel had a pool and a Tiki Bar Restaurant so I would just hang out there or on the beach until 3:00.

“The Tiki Bar Restaurant has been closed for 2 years now.”  I was told, even though their website advertised nothing of the sort.  In fact, it boasted wonderful food and drinks served there, with happy people enjoying a nice shaded lunch by the pool, overlooking the beach.  When I told her of this, she was perplexed, and was not aware that they had a website.  I was off to a great start!

Here is their website, check it out for yourself!  www.lauderdalebeachsidehotel.com

Looks great, right?  Nice little beach hotel!  Not only was their Tiki Bar Restaurant closed, but the Damon’s they advertised next to them had been empty and out of business for some time as well also.

Fuck it, I was here and I figured I’d just hang out on the beach until I could check into my room.  I was fearful of what it might look like, but trying to stay positive, I attempted to trick myself into believing that I had experienced the worst of it and the room was probably fine.

After 3 blisteringly hot hours starving on the beach, I returned promptly at 3:00 to check in to my room.  She gave me my key and directed me to the building across the street, the one not on the beach at all.  I dragged my shit over there and entered another pissy smelling building where I waited about 10 minutes for the elevator.  When I arrived at the door of my room, it looked as though someone had recently tried to break into it with a crowbar.  The mismatched room numbers were misaligned and nailed on with someone’s happenstance hammer.

I entered the room.

I exited the room.

Now keep in mind I am a sweaty hot mess who has been traveling since 5am, and sat on the beach for 3 hours, and has not eaten a morsel since about 9am.

I dragged my rolling carry-on like a mother dragging a kid who has gotten on her last nerve.  I went back across the street, and now had to stand in line for the one receptionist working the desk.  When it was my turn, I told her that the room looked nothing like what was pictured on their website, which contrary to popular belief they did actually have.  I told her about the door, and the fact that the room was a humid piss locker and did not even have sheets on the bed or pillows, just a comforter made of polyester and semen.

Just picture a hooker motel in the worst part of town that charges by the hour and you’re getting warm.

She then handed me another key and told me, “If this one’s not ok then just come back and see me.”  Sounds so encouraging, doesn’t it!  This room was in the same building, so I took the skuzzy elevator to room number two.

Seriously?

Let me start by saying that the level of humidity combined with the smell of bodily fluids and ancient cigarette smoke actually fogged my glasses.  It felt more like a prison cell than a hotel room.  Again, no sheets or pillowcases, and every single sticky dusty thing from the sofa to the television was at least 30 years old.  It was as if you could contract Herpes, Emphysema and Scabies all at once just from standing there.

Back down to the reception desk, I must have looked like I was ready to actually kill someone because people in line looked scared of me and backed away slightly.  In a very loud agitated voice I spoke up over the line of people and said, “I’m sorry, your rooms are completely unacceptable and totally disgusting.  I want to be checked out and refunded in full, I will be staying at another hotel.”  At this point it was a new guy at the reception desk, and he did not possess a customer is always right attitude.

He waved me to the front of the line and asked in an incredulous tone, “What’s wrong with the room?”

“Are you serious?” I asked him?

“Yes, I am, what is wrong with it?”

This was my invitation to unload.

“How about the fact that your website boasts a restaurant that has not existed for 2 years?  Or how about that it smells like a piss locker in here?  How about the fact that the rooms look NOTHING like what you advertise on your website?  How about there are not even sheets or pillowcases on the beds?”

He actually rolled his eyes at me.  Fucking rolled his eyes, as if this were The Four Seasons and I was complaining that the sheets were not made of spun gold.

With a very smart-ass attitude, he told me he could not refund my room, and that I would have to go through Southwest where I booked the trip and request a refund from them.  He said this with a look and tone that said good luck bitch.

I then turned to the line behind me as if I were the keynote speaker at a seminar.  I informed each and every one of them that the smell that they smelled right now only intensified inside the rooms, rooms that didn’t even have sheets under the crunchy polyester semen stained bedspreads.  I then advised that there were many other hotels in the area with reasonable rates and polite employees that did not smell like piss.  I went so far as to graciously offer them the available rates, names and numbers of these hotels, as I had just called through them booking my new room.  It made me feel much better about the debacle.  Helping others.

Husbands and wives looked at each other skeptically, a few people actually left the line and followed me outside, taking me up on my offer to give them hotel price and availability information.  It was a wonderful fuck you moment.

I got into a nice cool cab and began my ride over to The Sheraton Beach Hotel with my not-so-English-speaking Haitian cab driver.  Did I mention that he had chronic halitosis?  That’s right, after finally escaping the smell of acrid piss I was now forced to endure the overpowering stench of his breath that was now infiltrating the taxi.  It smelled like he ate an entire chicken a week ago and forgot to brush.  It didn’t help matters that he was apparently very sleepy and kept yawning, releasing more of his toxic breath.

It was now about 5:00 as I walked up to the reception desk.  It was like heaven.  A most courteous gentleman greeted me, I told him of my horrifying experience prior to checking in, and he said, “You know what Mrs. Fulks?  We have a beautiful corner suite on the 10th floor with views of the ocean, I’m going to upgrade you into that room at no additional charge.”

He flashed a genuine smile, slid my key gently across the counter, and told me to relax and enjoy my stay.

to be continued…

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