On Christmas eve last year, Delaware couple Matthew Senge and Deb Bennett decided to plan something nice for a group of homeless people living not far from their home in Wilmington. The couple who had earlier founded the Road to Redemption Ministries decided that they would gift six homeless people living under an Amtrak bridge a night to remember. The couple planned to gift all six of them a stay at the city’s finest five star, luxury hotel — the du Pont. The six homeless people included two men, a woman and her three children
According to WDEL, the couple called up the hotel, told the reservation staff about their fabulous plan — just to make sure that it would be okay with them. The plan was to book a two-bedroom suite for all six homeless individuals. The hotel staff thought it was a “wonderful idea.”
“They were blown away; they thought it was a wonderful idea,” the staff told Senge via telephone.
Soon, the $639 suite was booked in his name and later, a confirmation email popped into Matthew’s inbox that talked about the confirmed reservation for December 25, 2014.
With the confirmation from the hotel in, Matthew gift wrapped the letter and drove to the Amtrak bridge to hand the surprised people the awesome Christmas gift. The six of them started to make preparations for the grand day.
“They were blown away,” Bennett said. “One woman, she cried.” She added, “I used to be one of them, I used to live under a bridge after losing my house to a fire in 2012.”
However, on Christmas morning, as the guests planned their getaway, Senge received a call from the hotel informing him that the reservation had been cancelled. There was no email. The cancellation came in from one of the hotel staffers who called them up and reportedly said they could not honor the reservation for the homeless people.
“What if one of those people rapes or robs one of my guests?” the staffer reportedly asked Senge.
Later, the hotel spokesman Brendan McEvoy told WDEL, “I think all of us were purely focused on the safety of our hotel guests, and that was why the decision was made.”
He further added that the hotel did not allow guests without an ID to check in. However, since the reservation was made in the name of Senge, there was possibly no need for the homeless guests to show their IDs to the hotel staff. Worse, it was later revealed that all six homeless people selected for the stay did indeed have photo IDs.
After local news website WDEL published the story about the way in which the luxury hotel behaved, it quickly went viral on social media. In the comments section of one of the original articles at WDEL, the manager of a rival luxury hotel in du Pont offered 10 rooms to homeless individuals for a night at no charge.
After the hotel started receiving negative publicity about the way in which its staff conducted themselves, its rating on several websites like Yelp and Facebook took a pounding. On Facebook for example, it is now rated just 1.5 stars by people. Realizing the need for damage control, the hotel has now come forward and issued a new statement and has confirmed that it would indeed provide stay for six individuals this very weekend.
“We apologize for the misunderstanding regarding a hotel reservation under Mr. Senge’s name, which was cancelled on December 25, 2014. Respect for People is a core value of the Hotel. That extends to everyone, including the homeless. Like all major hotels, we have a policy of requiring IDs from guests, and our employees followed that policy. We have invited Mr. Senge’s guests to the Hotel, as early as this weekend. If the guests do not have IDs, we will work with them to address that.”
It is unclear if Senge has taken up the offer from the hotel. Do you think it is too late for the hotel to do damage control?
[Image Via Hotel du Pont]