An open letter to Starwood Hotels –
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I note with irony the words on the Dining webpage of Sheraton JFK Airport Hotel:
Actually, Sheraton, I would go very hungry. I called you when my recent Delta flight to Mexico was cancelled due to an erupting volcano. (I kid you not. It happened! Here’s the BBC news report: click here.) I asked if you could prepare a gluten free menu so my celiac daughter and I could eat safely at one of your restaurants. Then I painstakingly explained what that meant, while shooing said daughter off the luggage belts in the baggage claim area. Your rep said: “hold, please” and then “no.” Then I asked if you knew of any nearby restaurants that could serve me. Your rep said: “no idea, probably not.”
You lost the $269 in revenues that night, as we searched for a hotel to stay close to Kennedy Airport, hoping to catch an early flight the next morning. (Unlike many others, fortunately we did. We could have been stranded longer….) You lost the price of an overpriced hotel dinner for four, or at least your cut from your on-site restaurant’s take. And you lost a bit of our respect.
No worries, we stayed at the Hyatt Place in Garden City, which was cheaper but involved a rental car and a drive (that we were hoping to avoid). We ate at Houston’s in Roosevelt Field Mall, which was a short walk from the hotel. We had a very helpful waitress and a great meal, and we flew out the next day. Houston’s Facebook page now gets my “like” instead of yours.
Sheraton folks, I don’t hold a grudge. I know you’ve shown commitment to gluten free in other locations, and that you have the interest and infrastructure to support gluten free dining. But hey, I’m in this for the long haul, and I might get stuck at the airport again (and again). How much more money are you willing to lose on me and other potential customers who may be celiac or gluten intolerant, as well as my/their accompanying families and friends? Maybe it’s time you take a fresh look at some of your menus?
Anne Marie Segal
P.S. Hyatt has been extremely accommodating to our family in multiple locations, although I did not check whether in Hyatt Place in Garden City offers gluten free meals, since there are at least three (and quite possibly more) gluten free restaurants within a few short blocks of the hotel.