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New + Venue Rant - The National

Hi Ladies!

I have been lurking for a while and posted here and there. My name is Whitney and I am getting married on May 7th, 2011. Planning has been fast and furious since FI and I only got engaged 2 months ago and I am doing everything remotely from Washington, DC.

I came to Miami in October to visit venues and we booked the National Hotel in Miami Beach. I loved the deco feel and the space out by the pool. The wedding coordinator seemed knowledgeable and organized and we got our contract signed within a few days.

Unfortunately since the day I signed my contract absolutely everything has been downhill. The customer service we have received has been downright atrocious. When I reached out to Michael Knapp to book a block of rooms for my guests I did not receive any response. Between myself, my mother and my fiancee, we emailed him three times and left him three voicemails over the course of about three weeks. Finally, I called the front desk and asked to speak to a manager who might be able to sort this problem out for us. I was simply connected to Jamie Lipman. When I called back again to ask for the name of the general manager, I was told there is not one at the moment and was once again connected to Jamie Lipman's voicemail. When I asked Jamie to help with the situation she claimed that he had never received any of our messages, which I find extremely hard to believe. Even at that point the only response we got was an email from Jamie offering us rooms at $199. Still no response from Michael and no details about the terms of the room block (what type of rooms? How many?). I find it hard to believe that in the current economy a hotel would basically turn away almost $10,000 in additional business.

Fortunately, we had no trouble finding a hotel that was responsive and offered us a good rate on our room block and have booked with the Sagamore Hotel next door. I would have loved the convenience of getting ready at the National and having my guests stay on property, but they made this next to impossible.

I was ready to simply move on from this problem and maintain my relationship with Jamie, when I received a call this week from her letting me know that she is no longer with the National. When I asked for a new contact she gave me the name (but no contact information) for Alex Pellegrino. This afternoon, I called the front desk of the hotel and asked to be connected to Alex Pellegrino. After several minutes on hold, I was transferred to Jamie Lipman's voicemail. When I called back and asked to speak to someone responsible for weddings and events that actually works for the hotel, I was put into a generic voicemail box.

At this point I am extremely concerned about my wedding. I have not been able to get anyone on the phone at the National beside the front desk staff. I sent a long email detailing everything and asking for an explanation and remedy for the situation to every single email address I could find. I am just at a loss about what to do. I can't get anyone on the phone there! And I need to coordinate things with my other vendors and need a contact!

What else do you think I should do? I am sooo stressed out and nervous that the whole thing could fall through!

Re: New + Venue Rant - The National

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    edited December 2011
    wow Whitney, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience!  I know I had trouble getting in touch with the catering manager at one of the venues I'm looking at booking only to find out that there was a huge convention going on the week I was trying to call her. 

    I did a little digging and was able to find the following info for Jamie.  I don't know if you've tried this number or email yet but here they are. Good luck!  P.S. I looove DC! I visit my future in-laws in Arlington every Christmas.

    The National Hotel
    Jamie Lipman (Catering Sales Manager)
    1677 Collins Avenue
    Miami Beach, FL 33139
    www.nationalhotel.com
    direct ph: 305.423.7279 e-fax: 866.310.7422
    email: jlipman@nationalhotel.com
    Wedding Countdown Ticker ">
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    edited December 2011
    Thank you so much!!! Unfortunately Jamie left the National (I think she quit!) so that is the source of all the trouble :(.
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    Rainbow17Rainbow17 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011

    Thanks for sharing your story!  I was thinking about the National for my rehearsal dinner, but have decided not to go with them due to your story.  Staying away from drama!

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    edited December 2011
    Definitely stay away! Something is up there I think with no GM and the wedding coordinator leaving.
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    twinkle82576twinkle82576 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Have you thought about getting a wedding planner? Since you're planning a destination wedding a planner would be able to take care of these vendor issues for you. She/he can show up at The National and handle things in person. Maybe it's not in your budget, but it's a thought.
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    edited December 2011

    I agree with the idea of hiring a planner, I can't imagine how stressful it would be to plan from DC and not be able to get in contact with anyone.  I hope you can resolve it.  Welcome to the boards :)

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    edited December 2011
    First off... Welcome to the board! Congrats on your engagement!

    WOW... I can't believe this!!! Not a great way to start off your wedding planning!! I'm sorry to hear you're having such a horrible problem with your venue. I also suggest hiring a planner, if it's in your budget.There are quite a few reputable and affordable planners down here who could help resolve situations like these!
    :: Lynette & PJ :: 1.22.11 :: For Sale ::
    image
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    edited December 2011
    That was my #1 choice for Miami - Jamie seemed so professional and on top of things. I'm so shocked!! Sorry to hear you are going through all of that... :(
    Photobucket
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    edited December 2011
    Thanks everyone! We are hiring Karla with Stylish Events as our coordinator, so hopefully she will be able to help!
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    meredithk313meredithk313 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Hi Whitney--we are getting married at The National too and I have had similar anxiety this week! Jamie is leaving to start her own wedding planning business and has been at the hotel for several years, so I don't think you should take it as a sign that things are terrible there. Have you spoken with Jim Ruiz? He was the one who helped us put together a room block and might be of some help to you. We are also hiring a planner to make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day, but keep us posted if you hear anything from the hotel!
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    irwin3138irwin3138 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I read your post over the weekend and have been thinking a lot about it. I too had a terrible time getting my venue to work with me and of course....it happened to be the only one I fell in love with so I kept hanging on for dear life giving them lots of second chances. I'm sorry you have to go through it. It honestly made me even start thinking of eloping! Then whenver I complained everyone told me i should get a wedding planner. If they weren't going to call me back what would make them call my wedding planner back! I just wanted to sign a contract! I was like do you all seriously NOT want my business. We seem to be on track now, but I am cautiously optimistic. I know everything will work out for you and it will be a beautiful day! try not to worry too much and as my sister says keep your eye on the prize!
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    edited December 2011
    Meredith - it's good to hear from another National bride! I didn't know she was leaving to start her own wedding planning business, but that isn't a surprise, she seemed good. I just hope they hire someone else that knows what they are doing :).

    Irwin - that makes me feel a little bit better! Good luck with your planning too!

    I spoke with someone at Preferred Hotels today (the management company) and they are helping me sort everything out, so I am trying to relax and think positive thoughts!
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    ywenckerywencker member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Dear all,

    I have just come across your comments on this website, so I have hastily registered in order to be able to reply. (I just left you a voice mail Ms. Van Wyck).

    I remain at anyone's disposal for any further enquiries and happy to expand on the phone at anyone's convenience what the National has recently experienced.
     Things are back to normal and below:

    Director  of Sales & Marketing
    Alex Pellegrino: apellegrino@nationalhotel.com
    Ph +1 786 239 7531
    Alex is currently  away on a business trip and will be back on the 29th.
    Jamie has left us last week her replacement should join us shortly.
    Our Director of Food and Beverage
    Jaid Abdel Jaidabdel@nationalhotel.com  Ph +13054799446

    Rest assured that a team of professionals is dedicated to provide the very best guest experience in what remains one of the nicest wedding venues in South Beach.
    On a positive note, we do appreciate feedbacks and would welcome anyone's positive feedbacks on past events at the National too:)

    Sincerely,


    Mr Yves Wencker
    Owner General Consultant
    T-1.786.999.6023                                                          F-1.866.808.6327C-1.786.208.4886ywencker@nationalhotel.com                                           www.nationalhotel.com___________/">www.nationalhotel.com___________1677 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 
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    ywenckerywencker member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Preferred is no management company FYI...
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    JamielipJamielip member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Hi Whitney and Company-

    I was just made aware of this posting and wanted to sign on immediately to reply.   The reality of the situation is that people come and go from hotels often.  I spent almost three unforgettable years at The National Hotel.   It was time to move on.   The most incredible and cherished part of my job is the relationships I built and maintain with my clients.   It went above a professional level and became very personal.   My brides , past and present, are my number one priority and were treated as such every single day while at the hotel.   Since my departure, I have continued to make myself accessible to every couple contracted at the hotel.   Meredith and Whitney, I continue to be there to support you and assist you with anything you should need along the way.  You both have my contact information.  Please feel free to continue to be in touch. 

    Best,
    Jamie Lipman
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    piccolanoviapiccolanovia member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Hello everyone.  I am a NY bride having a destination wedding at The National Hotel next month, January 2011.  I totally identify with both Whitney and Meredith.  I am writing, however, to share good news.  I’ve had nothing but immediate and very pleasant conversations with Yves Wenker and his staff.  In fact, my parents traveled to Miami this past week and personally met with Mr. Wenker and Jaid Abdel.  They were very pleased both with the venue and its staff.  My mother and I have been there twice this year.  She noted that she saw a lot of improvements both with the hotel and its staff.  In fact, my parents were invited to see the set up of a large wedding (180 pp) that took place there this past Saturday.  Both my parents were impressed with the service and professionalism of the staff.  Knowing this has eased my nerves and I am confident my wedding will be a success.  For all you destination brides, I highly recommend working with event/wedding planners.  It’s worth it. I enrolled the services of www.nelsoncruzevents.com/">http://www.nelsoncruzevents.com This entertainment company provides top notch entertainment in NY, Boston and Miami.  Having Nelson on my side during these past two weeks has kept me sane.  If you need any vendor recommendations, please feel free to ask.  I did A LOT of research and am quite confident I hired the best.  Best of luck to all you brides!!
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