You Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar

Drawing by Larissa Marantz

True, and I put that old adage to test yesterday when I had to complain to The Palace Hotel about my mother’s reservation this week, that I made for her back in September.

Back up….Mom wanted to be in the city the whole week, to shop, see the kids, celebrate, and oh, did I say shop? She’s stayed at The Palace before and likes the location, across from Saks and easy stroll to Bendel’s. She’s always had a standing invitation to stay with my sister and even at a private club, but she said The Palace was fine and she’d do that again. Only change, she wanted a room with a grab bar on the tub because their tubs are pretty deep. Not too much of a hurdle.

I called back in early September and spoke at great length to a reservations clerk explaining what I wanted. She seemed unfazed about the request and said mom could have a handicapped room. I said that mom is not handicapped, doesn’t need wheelchair access, but only really wants to be able to get in and out of the tub with assistance. She assured me that the handicap room would be perfect as they do have grab bars in the tub.

I explained this to mom and she said, okay, book it.

Fast forward to Sunday when she checks in, with my sister and brother-in-law there to carry the bags and get her to the room. This is where the fun began. NOT.

They took her to her room and come to find out that it’s a roll-in shower, no tub at all, and since my mother doesn’t take showers, this was a problem. Back downstairs. Three managers, three more rooms, all with showers only as handicap option, the managers then come to the conclusion that there are no rooms with bath tubs with grab bars. It’s either the wheelchair access shower or the regular room. Hard to believe that no manager KNEW this and wasted mom’s time showing her three different rooms.

They settled back at the first room, and the staff found a chair she could sit in while using the mobile shower head. Not exactly a tub but she accepted it. What else could she do?

Meanwhile, my sister is texting me as the chaos ensues and I look like the total stoop for making the reservation and ensuring mom there’d be a tub yet not being with her when the problem occurred.

Monday morning I got on the phone and asked to speak with a manager. Here’s where the honey comes in.

I explained the problem, told the manager that the reservations clerk to whom I spoke was fabulous in understanding what I wanted and assured me it was possible. I complimented the reservations woman even. I went on to say that this was a huge embarrassment for me, a huge disappointment for my mother, and a huge hassle for my sister. I emphasized disappointment and embarrassment. I explained at no time was anyone angry, more frustrated that no one knew at the time of the reservation that there are no grab bars in any room with a tub. Knowing that from the get-go probably would have changed mom’s mind about where to stay.

The hotel manager was excellent, apologized profusely. They’ve credited mom one night already and I suspect they will do more but I didn’t ask for any room credit – they did that on their own. I did ask them to comp her room service breakfast every day, which they agreed to do without hesitation. They know they goofed.

I laid it on thick when I said to the manager had it happened to me, I probably wouldn’t have been bothered but that it happened to a 98 year old, well, that’s huge. And wrong.

The manager to whom I spoke said she’d be on duty all week and would oversee mom’s stay personally. Fair enough, I feel a bit better but mom did say it wasn’t quite the same taking a tub in a chair as it is at home. Sigh.

4 thoughts on “You Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar

  1. I can’t remember ever seeing a tub grab bar in a high-end hotel. All the Hiltons and Holiday Inns have them. It must be an aesthetic the high end hotels feel is not appealing. Hardware stores sell suction cup grab bars so for next year, she can go prepared with her own.

    Good for you to get the hotel to acknowledge it was their mistake.

  2. Nicely handled. Is/was that the Helmsley Palace? We used to stay there (in the 80’s), or the Stanhope. One time we had an enormous suite at the Helmsley Palace–dining table and everything. But the Stanhope won’t, with the provision of stretch Benz and driver. Oh, the eighties! My dad was lending monies (probably buying bonds, I was little. He was not a banker) that paid 18%. Can you imagine?

    Fwiw, our quote of the day today is “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”

    1. Yes, the old Leona hotel. It’s had a couple of iterations of owners, now owned by a Korean consortium, Lotte, and a majority of the front desk staff is Korean (or was the last time I stayed there). I don’t care who owns it as long as it is run well. We’ve never had a complaint in all the years we’ve stayed there but it’s a shame the first time is during my mom’s stay.

      The Stanhope was the “it” hotel back in its day. I thought I heard it went condos, a project that died, or ran out of money.

Comments are closed.