by Max Brantley
A couple of weeks ago, the Times' Insider column reported about a few kinks in the opening days of the state's new showcase lodge at Mount Magazine State Park. A short-handed staff caused the headline chef to depart, for example.
Apparently everything isn't ironed out completely just yet. We just heard from a couple that had reserved a room for two nights this weekend, almost two months ago, and reconfirmed yesterday. Today, they were informed there was no room available, that the lodge was overbooked by dozens of rooms. They were offered one free night at some future date. Our informer is en route to Eureka Springs instead. We called for reservations to inquire and were switched to someone "better able to handle" our question. That line was busy.
UPDATE: A reader sends a note indicating on his experience:
I've had a reservation booked for months to stay at the new lodge this weekend on Mount Magazine. They called me this morning, right before I was getting ready to leave for a restful weekend on the mountain, to say that their reservation system had overbooked hundreds of people over the next few weeks and that I don't have a room. They hoped to appease my outrage by compensating me with a free night some other time.
I'm sure the incompetency on the mountaintop is not helping our tourism industry. I have no idea how they are determining who receives the double-booked rooms and who is turned away.
Sounds like I'm not the only outraged tourist who was hoping to enjoy the Butterfly Festival.
Stephen J. Binz, Little Rock
Later, after some phone tag, we talked with park superintendent David Flugrad. Explanation: reservations software the lodge had bought from an outside supplier had been updated, unbeknownst to the lodge, and the change produced overbookings of which the lodge wasn’t aware. He said that produced an overbooking of seven rooms this weekend, but he said he understood that, while there’d been some concern about the July 4 weekend, he wasn’t aware of future overbooking problems. He said the lodge had been able to satisfy most of those overbooked with comp rooms and new dates.
”If it was something we did, we’d own up to it,” Flugrad said. “But when you’ve got something you haven’t been aware of that’s a software problem …” He added, “Sometimes, I wish we could just go back to books.”