Well, it’s a new year and I find myself with many new things to talk about. But before I fill you in on our latest investigations or begin waxing about things like the ZPF (Zero Point Field), Deja Vu, and the myth of linear time, I want to handle a bit of business I have been putting off for many months. I really thought I could get away with saying nothing but, I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my mouth shut. So, in light of the new year, and new beginnings and, more over, in light of regaining my freedom of speech, let me tackle an unsettling incident our team had the displeasure of experiencing. (If you were wondering at some point why we weren’t posting anything regarding our visits to our favorite location, this will help to explain why.)
In April of last year a friend of ours, who had a long-standing contract with the Queen Mary in Long Beach regarding paranormal research, assembled a group investigation. He went through all of the proper channels, but, at some point, there was a miscommunication. Though it was set up months in advance, he received a call the night before the investigation notifying him that the price of the event had increased by a whopping one-thousand dollars which he would be expected to provide before the investigation took place. Not only did they call the night before, but they called right before the offices closed for the evening leaving him little opportunity to call them back and discuss the matter. HE had to scramble to find someone he could talk to about the last-minute circumstances. After many calls, he was finally able to connect with the manager of attractions who informed him that his contract was void. As if it wasn’t unprofessional enough to change the terms of the agreement at the last-minute, the manager then proceeded to haggle over the price.
The next day when we all showed up for the investigation, we were greeted with hostility from that manager. Hackles rose on both sides as this manager mishandled the situation. As he handed out wristbands (This was a first. We all felt as though we were under house arrest.), he refused to field any of the group’s questions citing the fact that it wasn’t his job to “perform” for us (Yes. Those were his words). He informed us that if any of us were unhappy with the circumstances of the day’s event, he would be happy to refund our money and escort us off of the ship. Instead of diffusing the situation by making sure that the issues were resolved, he spent the better part of an hour (time we just paid for) butting heads with the more vocal members of the group. Before leaving, he told us that if any negative comments showed up on social media sites, we would be banned from the ship.
He was worried about us, yelping, facebooking, tweeting or blogging about our interaction with him. And his solution was to penalize us. That situation was an opportunity for him to show how well he could do his job and instead of seizing the opportunity, he demonstrated the depths of his ego and the lack of his managerial skills by fueling our anger and threatening our freedom of speech. Had he done his job, he could have had a large group of people flood social media with positive comments regarding the stellar customer service they received while aboard the ship. It happens for Disney all the time.
What he did not understand is that “performing” for us IS his job. He willfully passed up an opportunity to form a solid relationship with a group of writers, artists, archaeologists, historians, engineers, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives of varying ages, otherwise known as the ship’s demographic. It’s called damage control, an elementary skill at which this manager spectacularly failed.
Personally, I think the fear of bad publicity is just a cover. All of our complaints could have been quelled easily enough by a better attitude and some patience. Customer service. That’s business management 101. So why would a manager go out of his way to piss off a large group of people and make them not want to return? One word: Accountability. When five million dollars is allocated to hotel room improvements which consist of flat screen TVs and I-pod docking stations instead of keeping the ship from sinking, we complain. When industrial meat slicers are hanging out in the restaurant kitchens on original Art Deco dining tables, we complain. When the original cork flooring is torn up or red paint is spattered all over interior halls, we complain. And when they define a ballroom as having been restored because they tore up the original parquet flooring and replace it with cheap carpet, we complain. That probably makes us a huge pain in the ass to have around. Unfortunately for Evolution Hospitality, we aren’t going away.
What happened that day was small in the grand scheme of things. But it was representative of the same attitude exhibited by the other management companies that have come and gone. Evolution Hospitality had a chance to show they were different and instead, they proved they were the same if not worse than those that had come before them. It showed that they are not above unethical behavior. It demonstrated a management philosophy that values short-term monetary gain over laying a solid foundation for long-term growth. It painted the picture of a company willing to blame their numerous bad Yelp reviews on the customer instead of taking responsibility for their own poor choices. Above all else, it confirmed that, once again, a team has been hired that values its ego more than it values the ship’s reputation as a Southern California vacation destination and respected historic landmark.
I spent last year trying not to write about this. I skirted the issue numerous times because I felt I was unable to properly capture the scope of it with my words. I worried that I would offend someone or that management would find new ways to punish us for telling the truth. But no more of that. This is my new year’s resolution. I am going to write about things I feel are important. And I am going to do so with all of the passion I possess. That passion is a blessing for both the reader, and the ship. Once it dies, that is one less person who cares about what happens to her. It is one less person who stops fighting to fix the holes and the leaks and the faulty wiring. It is one less person who brings other people on board to spend money. And it is one less person to keep the memory of what the Queen Mary once was and the hope of what she could be, alive.
Written by: Heather of EVP of SoCal
It was recently brought to my attention that a historical location that is very near and dear to our organization is once again being mishandled by its management group.
The Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach as a “floating” hotel/ museum and is registered as both a historical site and a historical hotel:
National Historical Registry
RMS QUEEN MARY *** (added 1993 – – #92001714)
Also known as HMT QUEEN MARY
Pier J, 1126 Queensway Hwy. , Long Beach
Historic Significance: Event
Area of Significance: Military, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History
Period of Significance: 1925-1949
Historic Function: Defense, Transportation
Historic Sub-function: Naval Facility, Water-Related
Current Function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture
Current Sub-function: Hotel, Museum
Here is the purpose of the National Historical Registry noted from their website:
The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Queen Mary is also listed on the website of Historic Hotels of America. This is what they have to say about the Queen Mary:
The Queen Mary
Los Angeles, California
Rich in history, The Queen Mary® is renowned as the grandest ocean liner ever built since her maiden voyage in 1936. These early years distinguished the majestic steamship as the only civilized way to travel for high society’s elite, and instantly drew the attention of celebrities like Fred Astaire, political figures like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
It is quite clear that our country on a whole recognizes the historical importance and significance of this grand ship.
So why is it so difficult for the ship’s current management to get with the program?
Time after time we’ve heard complaints that there is no money to restore her to her former glory. We’ve been told that making changes like including iPod docks in all of the staterooms is a valid way to stimulate the ship’s revenue. Some improvements have been made in the last fifteen years. A huge section of promenade decking was re-finished and replaced a few years ago by a former management company.
This ship is a virtual roller coaster of management companies. Each one swears that it’s bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than it’s predecessor.
It’s ultimately assumed that everything the previous company did is wrong and that the new team must start over from scratch. The management companies they hire are only experienced in managing a hotel. The Queen Mary is much more than a hotel. It’s an experience. And the experience that the customer is getting leaves much to be desired.
If you come to the Queen Mary for the first time today, you will be disappointed. If you are planning to stay in a stateroom reminiscent of the opulent 30’s & 40’s you can lay that dream to rest. What you will find is late 80’s decor covering up what’s left of the 1930’s interior: cheap carpet, ugly bedspreads, chintzy window treatments, along-side beautiful 1930’s fans that no longer work.
As you roam the decks you’ll find sad displays haphazardly assembled with no regards for the integrity of the historical documents and artifacts inside. They are dusty, and often littered with rat fecal matter.
You will also find poor patch jobs in the ceiling where water damage occurs. The beautiful wood paneling which Winston Churchill himself told the soldiers during WWII mustn’t be touched is now showing the wear of its 76+ years at sea, and still awaiting restoration.
The Spa which inhabits some of the ship’s former suites has a decrepit & lackluster sign pointing the way to your “luxury” services.
If you overlook the staterooms and hallways and look instead towards the ship’s restaurants, I have some good news and some bad news. Sir Winston’s is the premiere restaurant on the ship…and for good reason. The restaurant manager J.B. is amazing. He’s been with the ship for over 10 years and truly understands how to accommodate his guests, giving them the grand reception that they would expect from a luxury liner. You will however, pay well for this privilege.
The other restaurants on the ship are poorly managed with mediocre food at best. Imagine a Denny’s ….in Compton…at midnight and you’ll begin to get a grasp for what they offer: over priced, over cooked, under whelming food. The service is slow and surly. The prices average $15 per plate. Oh, and by the way, if you thought you could just sit by the window while you sip your morning English Tea and pretend you’re in South Hampton, think again. The only tea you’ll find on this English ship is Lipton’s. The Duchess of Windsor is turning in her grave at this very moment.
The Queen Mary is also touted as a museum. It’s true. There are scattered exhibits (which are poorly maintained). But the guides really understand her history, architecture and art. They keep her spirit alive and are some of the nicest people I’ve met aboard the ship. They stay, not because of the great pay, nor do they stay to support her ever-changing management. They stay out of loyalty and love for this Grand Lady.
Now, so far this might just sound like another bitter yelp review(of which there are plenty). But, it was a recent find from a fellow investigator that prompted this blog post.
In an attempt to draw in a bigger, more diverse audience and make some cold,hard cash the management has decided to let a team of motocross performers loose on the ship.
Yes , you heard me, ON THE SHIP.
This is wear I had posted a link to the YouTube video. It has since been made private.
This video demonstrates just how much these management companies understand about the property they are running.
After the video started receiving some unfavorable press there was a comment posted by one of the riders:
“All this was taken into consideration prior to filming. We worked long and hard with the Queen Mary to preserve the integrity of the ship. The locations that were used were places that had already been remodeled or altered. No historic or original locations were used. The idea was to make something cool to bring attention to such an awesome ship. There was no more harm than the average foot traffic from tourists”.
If you know the ship at all, you understand that areas like the First Class Pool, the engine room, and boiler rooms are indeed original and historical areas. While they weren’t doing burn-outs on board, the weight and pressure of the bike is damaging and disrespectful. This isn’t the type of attention or the type of event that the ship needs . I don’t blame the riders. I blame the management for, once again, sending the wrong message to the public.
It’s time for the company who manages her to show that they understand the difference between RENOVATION and RESTORATION. She is an important part of history and instead of updating her, she needs to be brought back to life.
A friend recently posted this information for those of us who like to become more active in helping The Queen Mary:
If you want to voice your concerns and speak out about the horrible mistreatment of the Queen Mary, send an email or call the following:
Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal – The Queen Mary is in her district (she is also counsel person for district 2), so she should be watching out for the damage being done to historic landmarks on 2 levels. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Suja.Lowenthal@longbeach.gov, ph:562-570-6684.
Mr. Milford Wayne Donaldson – Head of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). They can take a more active role in trying to stop the management where we can’t. You can read more about the SHPO and get further contact information here:http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21755, email@example.com, ph: 916-445-7050.
If enough of us speak out and demand they do something, there is a good chance they will. Please spread this information to as many people you know and get them to write or call in too.