Monday, July 06, 2009

Room Block Drama

When I first got engaged I tried to think of all the potential issues and roadblocks which might pop up in my wedding planning process so I could spend extra time on those issues and head off any problems in advance. I never ever thought,however, that I would have to spend any significant amount of time or mental energy on setting up room blocks. Who knew?!

Mr. NationalHarbor's primary and extended family come from a very small town in Pennsylvania. I have visited the town several times and it is very different from DC. Things are a lot slower and A LOT less expensive there. I tried to take that into account when we first started making the list of possible hotels for guest accommodations. However, our venue is right near the National Harbor and after driving there ourselves and getting confused trying to navigate the roads near the venue I thought it easiest and best to choose hotel accommodations that were directly down the road near the harbor and contracting with a shuttle to bring guests to and from the hotels to the Oxon Hill Manor for the ceremony and reception and back home at the end of the night. That way no one gets lost in the dark at 1 a.m. trying to navigate DC roads and bridges, no one drives drunk and everyone can relax. Mr. NationalHarbor and I got a great deal with the Gaylord National at the harbor for room blocks and we blocked off rooms at the Marriott at the harbor as well.

Unfortunately, very very few of Mr. NationalHarbor's out of town relatives want to stay at the hotels where we have room blocks. They are scouting for their own hotel deals on the Internet and in some cases are finding very cheap hotels in which to stay. Mr. NationalHarbor's mom is now calling asking where certain parts of the city are because his relatives want to stay in the cheaper hotels and drive in. Almost all of their choices however are in sketchy areas that I would not recommend them staying in. I know they want the savings and I realize we are in tough economic times but as I said his relatives are from a very small town and I just don't think it is a good idea for them to be driving in certain areas of the city late at night after the reception. Mr. NationalHarbor and I are the only ones who know the city and after the reception we will be....."occupied" so I am not sure what they will do.

Additionally, of the relatives who are electing to stay near the Harbor-- very few want to stay at the Gaylord for the weekend. Everyone wants to stay at the Marriott even though it is only $20 cheaper than the Gaylord. I think they are looking at the pictures online and are steering clear of the Gaylord and opting for the Marriott thinking the Gaylord will be just too expensive. Now we have exhausted the room blocks we set aside at the Marriott and although the Gaylord has plenty- Mr. NationalHarbor's mom wants us to choose an additional hotel or get the Marriott to set aside more rooms- which they won't. I already called and asked. The other hotels in the Harbor are even more expensive than the ones we chose for the wedding. DC is a very expensive town and I am sure there is sticker shock for his relatives when they see how much the hotels are per night- but we can only get so much of a discount.

I am unsure what to do in this situation. We of course appreciate their coming to our celebration and we are looking forward to sharing our day with them and I am very excited that so many of them are coming. I like all of his cousins and love his childhood friends. This aspect of the planning though is just becoming way more involved than I thought it would be. I know that the economy is putting a strain on everyone but I also want everyone to be safe and sound after the reception.

Anyone else have difficulty in this area? Any suggestions?

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Blogger Miss Fairfax said...

hmm I have not started tackling that yet! we went and visited the hotel we want, and spoke with a manager about it, but haven't gone through the process of setting up the room blocks and we're no where near the point where guests will begin making reservations. I hope it goes smoothly - until your post I was definitely not imagining that part to be any big deal. Just settling out the guest list itself is so stressful, I'm not looking forward to hotel issues.

Monday, July 06, 2009 1:10:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

You may want to contact the Gaylord and explain that you were able to secure rooms at the Marriott for $20 less per room and are wondering if they might honor that rate. In this economy, most hotels are willing to bend in order to remain competitive in the market. Don't explain that the room block at the Mariott is full, simply explain that you really love their property and the amenities that are offered and would very much like to "push" your guests to stay there.

Monday, July 06, 2009 1:12:00 PM  
Blogger Only One Heidi said...

omg yes. Mr GP's mom wanted us to push and push for cheaper rates. We were offered $107 @ the Cap Hill Suites and then they renegged saying that the girl who offered it wasn't supposed to and is no longer employed there. The hotel has been HORRIBLE to deal with.

However, I, like your fiance, have family that come from Small Town Vermont and are very...dare I say...cheap. Luckily I sent an email with the room rate at the hotel we ended up getting a room block at (navy yard marriott) and most of them are staying there.

It's tough to deal with but you need to reiterate that you have negotiated a reasonable price and you really feel that it's easiest if people stay there and get your parents and fmil to encourage them to do the same (my fmil found a better rate at the marriott that she encouraged her pals to use).

It's frustrating but unfortunately theres not much you can do. However, if you do use a shuttle, perhaps have it make multiple stops on a route? I saw a girl who had a shuttle that made stops at multiple hotels - if they're all close (hers were all in downtown dc) - that way you minimize people who need to drive. Just a thought :) Good luck!

Monday, July 06, 2009 2:03:00 PM  
Blogger MissNationalHarbor said...

Wow! Good to know. Thanks Miss Gallery Place I thought I was the only one who was experiencing this drama.

Thanks for the ideas everyone. I will try and call the Gaylord and see if I can haggle. I will also see if I can steer people closer in to see if I can have the shuttle pick them up and bring them to and fro. I did not think of that-- I was too busy being overwhelmed! Thanks! :)

Monday, July 06, 2009 3:48:00 PM  
Blogger Cassandra B said...

Another thing to consider about the Gaylord: they charge a resort fee of $15 per day per room. If people stay two nights thats really $70 difference from Marriott. Not to mention that parking there can be a bit much as well. $28 per night to valet and I think $18 to self park.

Have you looked into the other hotels at National Harbor. I think Residence Inn is directly across the front courtyard.

Good luck

Monday, July 06, 2009 9:31:00 PM  
Blogger DCKate said...

We had a similar situation. What we ended up doing was booking an additional room block at a nearby "budget" hotel. That way at least everyone is pretty much in one of two places, and we can easily provide a set of directions from the budget hotel to the wedding.

If that's not an option, I think you should probably just drop it. They're adults, just because they're from a small town doesn't mean they can't take care of themselves. Enjoy your wedding and don't spoil it by worrying.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 12:07:00 PM  

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