The Blowing of the Wind (sor Court Hotel) in New Orleans

God, please keep me from sending this letter before my wedding!

To Whom It May Concern:

I have blocked off 30 rooms at the Windsor Court Hotel for my wedding party. As part of the wedding planning, I have had many interactions with your staff at the Windsor Court, as well as other competing hotels in your area. I have also had the experience of dealing with some of the other departments in the Windsor Court Hotel. When I have stayed at the Windsor Court, I have been exceptionally satisfied with the service I have received, from the Bellmen, to the Reception Desk, to the Room Service personnel.

However, in almost every stage of event planning, I have been astonished with the employees’ negligence and incompetence. Certainly, when I originally blocked off the rooms, the woman I spoke with told me that you “really didn’t need those rooms blocked off;” that they would be reserved even without my wedding, and that my patronage wasn’t very important or helpful to your hotel! This was my first of many, many unpleasant encounters with the Windsor Court staff. Each step of the way, the Windsor Court sales department has repeatedly (albeit silently) reiterated this statement through their negligence, disrespect, and disorganization. Apparently, I am not an important customer as far as your sales staff is concerned.

After the Windsor Court so graciously extended this favor of blocking off rooms for my wedding, which I was assured was of no significance to you, I expected to receive a written document of the contract. I had set up the group reservation over the phone and was told that I would receive an e-mail and a letter in the mail verifying the terms of the contract. No e-mail, no letter. After about a week and a half, still not having heard from your hotel, I called, and left a voice message for the woman with whom I had originally spoken. When she finally returned my call, she left me a voice message saying that she had been having trouble with the e-mails bouncing back. When I returned this call, it turned out that she must not have bothered to have written the e-mail address, and had recalled it incorrectly! Had she written it down when I had given it to her, she would have known that it was, not By the way, if she was having so many e-mails bounce back, why did she wait until I tracked her down to mention that? Shouldn’t she have told me right away that she was having difficulty with the e-mail? She had my phone number from when I had originally talked to her, I would hope.

This second bad experience was slightly frustrating, especially amidst the chaos of all of the other factors that are necessary when planning a wedding, but I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I accepted that she must be busy. She made a mistake. When I did get the contract, I immediately signed it and e-mailed it back.

A few weeks later, I had my third hang-up with this Windsor Court group reservation. I had received a letter in the mail, mentioning the name of the woman who would be in charge of any catering services for our planned event. According to this letter (see attached), I was to expect a phone call from her within a couple of days. The letter also listed a phone number in case I would like to get in touch with her before she called me. When I called the number, the operator told me that the extension I had requested did not exist, and that I must have been mistaken! Again, I was shocked at the incompetence and disorganization in such an “elite” hotel.

During this same phone call, I was transferred to another person, who told me that my event must have been assigned to an employee who had recently left the Windsor Court, and that I should be receiving a letter about this reassignment soon, as they had been sent out two weeks ago. I told her that that was probably not possible. If a letter had been sent out two weeks ago, I probably would have gotten it at this point! She assured me that I must have been reassigned, and that I should just wait to get a phone call from the event coordinator.

Needless to say, I did not get any phone calls from anyone.

I e-mailed the first woman I had spoken with, finally telling her how displeased I was with your services. I mentioned that I was shocked to get such poor treatment from a hotel that I had held in such high regards. She phoned me later that day, promising to get the manager from Le Salon to call me, as I was planning on having a bridal tea before the wedding. I was also interested in having a dinner for about 100 guests in the Windsor Court restaurant. She assured me that I would hear from the restaurant, Le Salon, and the Grill within the next couple of days. After a week and a half passed, I e-mailed her to let her know I had not heard from any of these people. She replied with an e-mail that served absolutely no purpose except to let me know that my patronage was ruining her vacation! Why hadn’t another sales manager been assigned to her responsibilities while she was away? Furthermore, if she was going to bother reading and responding to my e-mail, why wasn’t she providing me with any useful information?

My fifth bad experience involved the reservations for the tea at Le Salon. When I finally got in touch with Le Salon about the reservations I wanted to make for the pre-wedding festivities, it was completely on my own, with no help from Deborah Cuny. Because I was planning to have the tea for so many guests, it was important to me to have the details confirmed and agreed upon with the staff before making my invitations and guest list. I was told that it would be absolutely no problem. I asked if I could reserve an area for 20-60 guests ahead of time, and give Le Salon a month’s notice on the final number. They said that that would be no problem. I also wanted for each guest to be able to have separate checks, and order straight from the menu, instead of having to have them all order the same thing. Again, the woman with whom I spoke told me that this would be easy for them to manage, as they were accustomed to having large groups at the tea. I also asked if it would be possible for the hostess to check off names as the guests arrived, to make sure that the ladies who said they were with the Benoit-Raine wedding had indeed reserved their spots at the tea. I knew that this might be a bit much to ask, but she told me that they could handle the task. This pleased me, because I was concerned about some of my wedding guests deciding at the last minute to attend the tea. If this were to happen, they would take the spaces that had been reserved ahead of time. This would potentially cause a conflict, because those who had reservations would not have been able to attend. The woman on the phone assured me that all of these things would be fine, that I could go ahead and send out my invitations, and get back with them with my final number of guests, and then Le Salon’s staff would take care of everything else.

A month later, after having sent out the invitations to my guests, which included sample menus and prices, I received a very disappointing phone call from Le Salon’s staff. I was told that I would have to have all of the guests on one check, that the hostess certainly couldn’t handle checking names for reservations, and that all of my guests would have to drink from a selection of one or two teas.

This does not make any sense to me for a number of reasons. If Le Salon is as frequently booked as I believe, then why would having 6-10 tables on separate checks be so difficult for a waitress? Likewise, doesn’t the hostess ALWAYS check the names of the guests as they arrive at Le Salon? Why would it be so impossible to check whose names were with the Benoit-Raine block, or not even that, but to know that certain names would be at those 6-10 tables? And how could they possibly expect for this many people to all want the same tea and menu? And why did it take them a month to tell me it was not possible, when they had originally told me it would be no problem!?

If I had been told that these things were not possible (which they most certainly ARE possible, and not even difficult), I could have planned the event differently. This was handled incredibly unprofessionally. Fortunately, my wedding coordinator has agreed to check the names at the entrance (but I am still baffled by why a HOSTESS who is paid to check names at an entrance cannot). And I decided that I would simply reserve 7 tables under separate names to ensure that my guests would have secured reservations at Le Salon. Again, I managed to resolve the issue with absolutely no thanks to your disrespectful and negligent staff.

Because it has become so clear to me that my satisfaction with your hotel and my patronage as a costumer mean absolutely nothing to your employees, I have decided to make all of my unpleasant experiences with your staff as public as possible. Perhaps my wedding means nothing to your staff. Perhaps my lack of celebrity is sufficient handicap in your eyes to deserve such neglectful service. However, I plan to resend this letter, along with all of the attachments of contradictory contracts, annotated e-mails, and mail correspondences after the weekend of my wedding. However, instead of sending them to you, I will send all of these materials to every event planner, wedding coordinator, newspaper, and travel magazine in the greater New Orleans area. I will also post them on as many blogs and Internet forums as possible. I hope that you can redeem yourselves before I have completed my services with you, in which case, I will drop this issue.

I fully realize that your customers are not important to you unless they have billion-dollar budgets. Perhaps this will help me to get your attention.

animated gifs from Library of Congress photos

Kevin J Wier makes animated gifs using old photographs from the library of congress flickr account. ...