Friends take over Nashville hotel after employees leave front desk unattended for hours

A hotel room is shown. Guests at a Nashville hotel found themselves taking over as employees...
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 8:37 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) – Imagine showing up to your hotel on vacation and quickly realizing you’re going to be put to work after being met with a lobby full of angry customers, a phone ringing off the hook and no one around to let you in your room after a long night and a four-hour drive.

That was the reality for three Georgia residents who showed up at La Quinta Inn in Nashville on Sept. 13 to find no employees behind the front desk. Their experience, captured in TikTok videos, has since gone viral.

“When you arrive at the hotel and there is no staff, so you now have a new job,” one TikTok caption said. The trio of friends, Kenzie Brooks, Aaron Howard and Noorain Dobani, were in Nashville for an Arctic Monkeys concert for Howard’s birthday before having to get their hands dirty.

“We got to the hotel at 5 a.m., and no one was there except for one housekeeper, who didn’t really speak English,” said Kenzie Brooks in a phone call with WSMV4 on Monday. “No one had been there since 4:30 a.m. A woman gets off the elevator, screaming at us and screaming behind the counter that $600 had been taken off her card.”

Police were called. The woman was asked to calm down, and the premises were canvassed for Wyndham Hotel employees. No one was around. Brooks, Howard and Dobani asked the officer if they could just check themselves in.

“I’m leaving,” he said. “Do whatever you need to do.”

So they did. The group said they started answering phone calls from customers who said they had unauthorized transactions pulled through their accounts.

“The phones are ringing, and it just got insane,” Howard said. “More and more customers are missing money. We’re like, ‘We’re customers. We can’t look into the system for you.’ They did not want to hear that. They wanted to speak with our supervisor, so I told them my supervisor was Kenzie. They didn’t like that. It was a (expletive) show.”

At about 6:10 a.m., hungry, angry guests started showing up in the lobby demanding breakfast. Howard and Brooks have worked in the service industry, so they said they found the master key to the kitchen.

“We got what we could: yogurt, biscuits, waffles. We were not so successful with (the waffles),” Howard said.

But an employee of the Holiday Inn hotel, also run by Wyndham Hotels, arrived and helped diffuse the tense situation.

“At this point, we’re exhausted. We’ve been running this place for three hours. We just want to sleep,” Brooks said. “He was so thankful and grateful that we did what we did.”

The unusual hotel stay didn’t stop there. After finally getting checked in, the trio found a shocking surprise when they got to their room.

“A naked old lady is in the room,” Howard said. “I said, ‘This is our room’ and she said, ‘No, this is my room. I’ve been here for two weeks.’ We ran back downstairs and that’s when we (told the employee), ‘Honestly, this has been absolutely crazy. Is there any way we can stay at your hotel?’”

The misunderstanding led to the trio getting a room at the Holiday Inn for free. Overall, the friends said it was an entertaining experience and something they won’t soon forget.

“We find ourselves in funny situations all the time,” Howard said. “But we did not expect this.”

Wyndham Hotels said as part of a statement that the “unfortunate and unexpected situation ... in no way reflects our brand values or the great experiences our franchisees strive to deliver for guests each and every day.

The company also said the location is independently owned and operated and that the situation was caused when an employee left their shift in the early morning without notifying management. That worker is no longer employed at the hotel, and once the absence was discovered, “arrangements were immediately made to bring additional staff on-site.”

Wyndham Hotels also said hotel management is “working to address and make right any concerns from impacted guests, including the three individuals at the center of the story.”