Three Mackinaw City hotels being investigated for deceptive practices with guests

MACKINAW CITY, MI – State officials have accused three Mackinaw City hotels of misleading customers by offering rooms that weren’t available.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a “notice of intended action” to the Beach House Hotel, Crown Choice Inn & Suites, and Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront on Wednesday.

An NIA is usually sent to a licensee indicating a department’s intent to suspend, revoke, or deny renewal or issuance of a license.

Public complaints allege instances where consumers booked rooms at hotels that, while advertised as available and the reservations ultimately confirmed, were in fact closed without notice to the consumer.

Upon arrival to the closed hotel, the consumer is directed to the Hamilton Inn and given a ‘substitute’ room with non-comparable amenities, state officials said. The complaints also allege consumers who decline to stay at the Hamilton Inn are denied refunds citing a 72-hour cancellation policy.

The refunds are denied even though the consumer was not made aware of the original hotel’s closure at any time prior to the consumer arriving in Mackinaw City, according to the NIA.

“Tourism is part of the life-blood for the economy in northern Michigan,” Nessel said in a statement.  “Whether it’s our residents enjoying a long weekend, or visitors coming to experience our majestic sand dunes, beaches, lakes or ski slopes, it is important that all consumers are treated fairly so they look forward to sharing joyful stories with future visitors.  My office will not tolerate actions that threaten our reputation in the tourism industry or harm consumers.”

Nessel also shared evidence gathered during the state’s investigation into the hotels which included a department agent booking a room at the Crown Choice Inn for Nov. 10.

The online reservation was for a “2 Bed Queen Lakeview Balcony Room” and included “access to 17 indoor pools” and “indoor waterpark admission wristbands.” Although the agent made the reservation on Nov. 4, he did not receive email confirmation until Nov. 9, the day before his stay and outside of the 72-hour cancellation window.

On Nov. 10, the agent arrived to check in at the Crown Choice Inn but found the hotel entrance locked with a sign on the door directing people to check in at the Hamilton Inn.

At the Hamilton Inn, the agent advised staff he was there to check in at the Crown Choice Inn. After being asked to wait for staff to finish the daily audit, the agent returned approximately fifteen minutes later and was advised that the Crown Choice Inn’s waterpark was closed for cleaning and his reservation was moved to the Hamilton Inn.

When the agent indicated he wanted to use the waterpark, staff advised that it was closed for cleaning, there were no other waterparks in the area, and it was past the point where the reservation could be canceled to receive a refund.

The hotels have until Feb. 18 to respond and take appropriate steps to address concerns brought forth by Nessel’s office.

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