|By Ellena F. Morrison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Aug. 30, 2004 - GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Glitzy glamour and high-dollar decorations inhabit almost every inch of the sprawling Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine.
But some guests say the $480 million hotel falls short in one critical area: cellphone signals.
"Hello? Hello?" said John Ramirez, frustrated from trying to call his New York office while visiting the Texan recently. "Everything is coming through garbled."
But few complaints have been filed. And, judging by the number of people who appear to be talking to themselves at the hotel, most cellphones work just fine, hotel officials said.
"Our ultimate goal is to make sure we have great services," said Texan General Manager John Imaizumi, conducting an interview via his Nextel cellphone while walking through the hotel. "My connection is great. I am on it all the time."
Signal traffic, tower conditions and bad weather all affect how easily a call goes through, telephone company officials said.
"Anytime you have a hotel with a lot of underground facilities and a lot of large space ... that impedes the signal," said Jimmy Duvall, a Verizon Wireless spokesman. "That's the reason we worked so hard at the Gaylord. We wanted to make sure we have the best coverage."
AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless have signal towers at the Texan.
Sprint, Verizon Wireless and Nextel have equipment inside the hotel.
T-Mobile has a signal tower less than a mile away, Texan officials said.
During convention breaks, attendees flow into the center's hallways with flip phones and headsets, searching for a quiet spot to make a call. And whether it's a quick call home or a business deal, a working cellphone is vital, said Pat McMahon of Oregon.
"Everyone in sales needs one wherever they go," said McMahon, adding that he has not had a bit of trouble.
Hotel rooms, elevators and some lobbies are the most common trouble spots mentioned by guests.
"Sometimes it works, but not always," said Nanda Renu, who was attending an insurance conference last week. "Other than my room, it has worked fine."
Even before the convention center's concrete walls dried, Texan officials were cognizant of the need to guarantee that cellphones worked inside.
"This whole site was void of service because, literally, there was nothing here," Imaizumi said. "It was a big issue to me to make sure we have coverage for our guests."
If guests encounter a cellphone problem, they should inform a Texan employee, hotel officials said.
Or they can just use a land line.
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