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2012-06-21

Tourists 're-routed' to Kerrville

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The Bandera County Courier has said it once and apparently it's time to say it again - "Caveat Emptor."

This time it's in reference to reservations still being taken for rooms at Bandera's Old Texas Square.

Although the complex has been closed for years and essentially destroyed by a fire, the reservations desk apparently lingers on - and on and on.

Earlier this month, a contingent of tourists from Great Britain visited the Hill Country. With an eye to staying in the Cowboy Capital of the World, they surfed the Internet for available accommodations, landing on the website

http://www.texassquare.com.

According to William Turner, a member of the party, the website showed up on many Internet searches for the area. In an email, Turner noted, "They are using the Kerrville numbers as the booking connection as well as the link associating it with their motel in that area, which has an almost identical name."

The group arrived in Bandera at 9:30 pm in May in a rented Winnebago only to be directed to the Big Texas Inn, located at 2105 Sidney Baker Street, in Kerrville, very close to the Interstate-10 exit.

Only after after "enquiring in the gas station" did Turner and his friends learn that Old Texas Square had been destroyed by a fire two weeks earlier. However, it should be noted the complex had closed for business in 2011 after being essentially repossessed by the lending institution.

"A complaint was immediately made to the night manager on arrival (in Kerrville) who referred us to his day manager and the booking person - a middle aged lady called Linda - first thing next day," Turner continued. "I personally spoke to her on this matter and her explanations were derisible and an insult to any person with a modicum of intelligence."

One explanation tendered by the manager of Big Texas Inn regarding the "mix-up" in accommodations was that the "website had refused to remove their telephone number even after it was sold." Another, according to Turner, was that the phone number for reservations had remained unchanged after the hotel complex had been sold [sic].

In fact, the Bandera complex formerly owned by Jerry Reed was not "sold." Officials with Ozona National Bank took possession of the complex in January 2011 after prevailing in eviction proceedings against the owner. The complex, which includes a hotel, bar and restaurant, has been closed since that time.

A disgruntled Turner continued, "The suggestion (by the Kerrville manager) that we could have cancelled and booked in at another Bandera motel was derisible because the Visa cash paid on booking would not have been refunded and because there was nothing available at that time of night for a party of eight persons who had been on the road all day."

After complaining long and loudly, the party was reportedly credited one night's stay on their credit cards.

"I do hope you expose their sharp practice in misleading and diverting tourists who booked to attend and stay in Bandera [and to spend their money within the county] to be diverted to Kerr County," Turner continued, offering the names and addresses of the people in his group who were duped by what he considered a "bait and switch" operation. "A total of eight persons can verify the fraudulently sharp practice of this hotel."

For the record, when clicking on the website, www.texassquare.com, information regarding the hotel complex at 703 Main Street remains available. Photos tout the "John Wayne " and "Pancho Villa" rooms, "mouth-watering" mesquite grilled Angus steaks at Texaritas Mesquite Grill and Steak House and the "gorgeous new cantina, Tequila Ritas." Snail mail to the complex is directed to PO Box 704 in Bandera, but the hotel's telephone number, 830-896-1711, is in Kerrville.

However, unsuspecting tourists from across The Big Pond would not be aware the telephone number was not in Bandera. As Turner pointed out, "No out-of-towner or visitor-tourist would have or could have known that."

On Friday, June 15, the following email was sent to Big Texas Inn from the www.texassquare.com website:
"The Bandera County Courier was recently contacted by a man traveling from Great Britain, who booked a room in the Old Texas Square hotel using information available on the still-active website http://www.texassquare.com/. "

"According to the man, he had clearly stated he wished to stay in Bandera and was led to believe he would be.

However, after arriving at 9:30 pm, sometime within the last two weeks, his party was redirected to Big Texas Inn in Kerrville. "

"According to the man, he expressed his displeasure to several staff members at Big Texas Inn - without receiving satisfaction."

"Would you care to comment on this?

Thank you for a timely reply to this inquiry."

A follow-up email was sent on Monday, June 18.

The Courier received no reply to either enquiry.

Aside from being angry that they had been diverted to Kerrville after a good faith attempt to reserve hotel rooms in Bandera, Turner and the rest of the visitors found their short stay at Big Texas Inn distinctly unappealing.

For additional reviews on Big Texas Inn, visit the websites,

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g56079-d1127805-Reviews-or30-Big_Texas_Inn-Kerrville_Texas.html#REVIEWS

and

http://travel.yahoo.com/p-hotel-359470-big_texas_inn-i.

From the sound of some of the reviews, the British visitors would have fared better if they had just camped out in the remains of Old Texas Square. At least they would have been in Bandera.