Thursday, August 02, 2007

But everything else was totally awesome.

Peter Kacheris
General Manager
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
P.O. Box 22653
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Dear Mr. Kacheris:

My husband and four children and I just returned from a week-long stay at Disney World and the Swan hotel. We chose to stay at the Swan because we are Starwood Gold Preferred members. I do not think this will be enough to sway our decision in the future.

When we arrived and checked in, I discovered some leftover snacks and drinks from the previous guest in one of our two rooms. I threw those things away and would not have given it another thought were it not for the rest of our experience.

Prior to arriving at the hotel, I had inquired about kosher meals. Your online form would not work properly, so I emailed the general info address with my questions and received three responses from three different people, none of whom seemed to have any idea that anyone else had contacted me. Two of those people, Leo Tarver and Barbara Hassey, ignored my responses. Fortunately, Alicia Waggoner wrote back and faxed me the kosher items menu and booked our reservations for a character dinner as well as meals in the hotel for Shabbat, when we would be unable to travel to any of the theme parks or prepare our own food.

When we arrived for our character dinner our first night in the hotel, we were disappointed to discover that the kosher meals were not adequately warmed – in fact, they were genuinely cold in the middle. In addition, although the entrees had different names, they were clearly the same foods simply renamed. We are seasoned travelers, however, and we ate without complaint.

When we received the bill, however, we were stunned to receive a bill for nearly $300. That is, frankly, an insane price for packaged food. We have dined in full-service kosher restaurants around the world for significantly less money.

I realize that the Swan does not prepare the kosher meals, but you should know that it reflects poorly on you to serve such dreck to your guests—and then to charge them so inappropriately. We immediately cancelled our Shabbat meal reservations and scrambled to make alternate arrangements that would fit our religious and dietary needs.

On our third night in the hotel, my daughter was ill at night. In the morning, I requested that the sheets and comforters be changed on all the beds, and I apologized profusely for the unavoidable mess. I was assured that everything was fine, and my daughter and I waited in one room while the other was cleaned, then went outside for some fresh air while the second room was cleaned. When we returned, we found that the beds in one of our rooms had been remade, but were now without comforters – those were only replaced the next afternoon.

A day or so later, I returned to the hotel with my young sons and was soaked in an afternoon rainstorm on the way into the hotel. We quickly made our way upstairs, and I dried my children off and went to the closet to retrieve the bathrobe I had been using, only to find it was gone, as was the one in the second room. Those were not returned for the remainder of our stay.

When we checked out of the hotel, we were told that because of the “extensive damage” we had caused to the rooms, they would have to be taken out of rotation and deep cleaned. Furthermore, the woman at the desk told us that every day, the housekeeping staff was forced to deep clean our rooms because we were such slovenly guests. Although the woman claimed to have photographic evidence of our destructive tendencies from each day of our stay, this was not produced. (I would also think it was a violation of your guests’ privacy to photograph their rooms without permission.)

Mr. Kacheris, my children may be somewhat messy – they do not pick up their laundry, and they leave their shoes in the middle of the floor—but even on their worst days they are not destructive, nor do they cause extensive damage to their surroundings. To be so unfairly berated was insulting, particularly because it is simply not true. Had your front desk woman had a specific complaint, she could have made that clear. But to be told that we were poor guests – this crosses all lines.

Furthermore, if there was such a problem with my family throughout our stay, why were we not made aware of it earlier? Why wait until we are checking out and rushing to the airport? Or is that simply a way to ensure that your guests have no time to argue and are forced to agree, simply to catch their planes?

In addition, I would hope that your housekeeping staff performed deep cleanings on all rooms automatically, if not daily, then certainly when a guest checks out. But upon reflection, and remembering the items I found in one of our rooms when we checked in, this is clearly not the case. Is this standard policy at all Westin resorts?

(Regardless, the irony is that my husband had come to the front desk to point out that you had not charged us for the in-room refrigerator we had requested. We are honest people, which is why your front desk clerk’s attitude was so galling.)

In the future, my husband and I will think twice before we choose a Westin resort, and I cannot imagine circumstances that would convince us to stay at the Swan ever again.




Scottsdale Girl said...


I would send that letter as high up the food chain as I could.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Ugh! What a terrible experience! It's infuriating to receive treatment like that. I agree with scottsdale girl, cc that letter on up the corporate ladder...

WriterGrrl said...

I figure starting with the hotel's general manager -- by snail mail -- is a good start. If his response is unsatisfactory, then I'll move on to the CEO of Westin or whatever. Really,I could have overlooked all of it until the crap they pulled at checkout. And the woman just kept repeating, "Well, the damage was extensive and we have to take the rooms out of rotation." UGH!

lisa said...

That is unreal! I can't believe you were treated so badly. I hope you get a profuse apology, it's the least you deserve. They should also refund that $300 meal.

ella said...

Oh, no, they di-in't! (Sorry, I've always wanted a chance to say that.)

Um...I'm glad that everything else was totally awesome, anyway. And can I borrow you the next time I need to complain about bad service?

Emily said...

WHoa....I was expecting a fabulous report of the trip and I got the letter. Wow. The trip must have been great, but I don't think I'll stay at the Swan....ever. Totally ditto the girls ahead of me...send the letter on until you get a response you are content with...a big, huge apology. Probably some refunds of some sorts as well.

All things aside, glad it went well!

mrsmanzana said...

Oh. My. God.

This makes "Yours is a Very Bad Hotel" look like peanuts. And I LOVE the title.

Meira (comments AT voirdire DOT org) said...

Wow. Just . . . wow.

I really hope they respond quickly and with huge presents to make up for all that. Unbelievable!

Andrea said...

Kudos for writing the letter! I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, only made worse by them telling you what they thought of you as guests.

And I'll keep this in mind if we ever go - don't stay at the Swan!

Can't wait to hear about the fun you had, though! :)

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira.(If you speak English can see the version in English of the Camiseta Personalizada. Thanks for the attention, bye). Até mais.

Xteener said...

Wow, I wouldn't go back there either. I love this letter though - you are guaranteed retribution. Good for you.

The Gwench said...

I so agree with Ella... they "di'in't" have to go there! I'm proud of your letter! Very well written for as bad of a situation as it was.

Other than that, it sounds like Disney was perfect for you and the family. I haven't been in several years but hope to make it there next year. We're all just grown-up kids, anyways! Best wishes....

Dee said...

Wow, that is messed up.

Love your letter--sorry your treatment by them was so crappy. That sucks....

Glad that everything else went so well on the trip. I'm thinking of going myself this fall or winter for J's first visit to "mecca" and I know where I won't be staying.