On Behalf of the Hotel
Cars & Bars is a storytelling series compiling specific moments, mundane and exotic, from my work as a valet and bartender.
Last night, Megan Fowler [not her real name] wrote the following in the Comments section of the hotel's Medallia online response portal:
Upon arrival, we noticed that the bottle of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay was already opened and nearly empty. We reported this to the front desk immediately and did not receive another bottle or an apology for the error.
On behalf of the hotel, but certainly not sanctioned by the hotel, I wanted to respond with a Letter of Apology.
Dear Ms. Fowler,
Thank you kindly for taking the time to draw our attention to this strange mishap. As a Valet Attendant, I can say: we usually receive rather bland comments like "Great stay. Shower pressure too hard" or "Online checkout did not work after repeated attempts" or "Height of desk chair to desk not quite comfortable. Suggest adjustable chair height."
Typically, we in the valet booth peruse these comments during bits of downtime in between parking and retrieving cars. So believe me, we genuinely welcome the mishap, however absurd, because in part it makes the downtime that much better. But enough about me.
As you are undoubtedly aware, our city was violently struck by a snowstorm totaling anywhere from 6 to 15 inches, depending on the meteorologist and/or the local television station's relentless need for ratings. Although some people find snow remarkably beautiful—due to, I suppose, its poetry-in-motion when free-falling from the sky, the purity of its otherworldly white, or the sense of serenity it brings to average days filled with anxiety, fear, and other forms of soul-anguish—the staffing issues caused by a snowstorm are simply too difficult for most hotels to overcome.
If that sounds like an excuse, well, it just might be. Your opinion is valuable! But I'd ask you to please consider it a reason more than an excuse.
Furthermore, in writing you, I wanted to make it clear that I certainly don't consider this incident a problem. We have been asked repeatedly, almost militantly, by the hotel powers-that-be to think of these moments as opportunities, not problems.
And this is an opportunity to be completely honest with you. The temps we had working on the day you were treated to an already opened/nearly empty bottle of wine were incredibly frustrating to work with. That's too polite: they were really miserable. I mean, really miserable. Seriously, these people couldn't execute a proper amenity drop-off to save their lives.
Please be assured that our hotel goes to great lengths to train the regular, full-time staff to open the complimentary bottle of wine, take a few sips, and leave the rest for the guest. In fact, I have it on good authority that the department's mantra with regard to all amenities is: "Leave the Rest for the Guest." It has a nice ring to it, if you ask me.
Moreover, and how can I put this, a bottle of Robert Mondavi—despite the Napa Valley prestige and the proclamations of the winery's website—is not especially special. Although, to a temp, there is certainly no discriminating, right? Wine is wine is alcohol.
Anyway, upon the next time you find a bottle of Robert Mondavi literally lacking, may I suggest the following. Pickup a bottle at the Target store down the road. They also have wine in a box, if you prefer. Or, if you're lucky, you can find Robert Mondavi at the 7-Eleven, which is also a decent place for thoroughly cooked hot dogs, late-night snacks, and the like. Our hotel's shuttle service is happy to take you to either location as long as it's before 8:53pm (hotel employees are allowed to clock out precisely 7 minutes before the end of shift).
My wife also tells me that empty wine bottles are apparently quite the re-purposed rage. Many people in the First World are using them to craft-up their dining rooms or living rooms. Perhaps, in this case, you could think of our poorly executed amenity drop-off as an opportunity for you—a When-Life-Gives-You-Lemons-Make-Lemonade kind of thing.
With or without snow, let me happily say: I look forward to seeing you the next time you visit. On behalf of the hotel, we will gladly park your car in our convenient garage (for a fee, of course). If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to reach me at 866.412.3796 [not my real number].
All the best,
Nathan F. Elmore
Valet Attendant, Guest Services