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11/05/2012

Sandy Strikes and WE STAND STRONGER THAN EVER!

This last week I lost power like many in my area, at home and at work. Most of my staff is still without power at home, myself included. I have no spare rooms to offer my team as I normally might because we do not want to displace local folks with no power that are still staying with us. I’ve personally thrown away more than $500 worth of food that has spoiled at home and an estimated $2000 worth of food that has spoiled at the hotel. Along with my team, we have worked harder than ever to insure our guests comfort, safety, & satisfaction.

In spite of it all, I have experienced the most rewarding week in my entire career because I’ve seen complete strangers from out of town “step up” to the plate and offer the less fortunate help and assistance both financially and with the delivery of goods.

It started last week when a wedding party guest canceled his room at the last minute and he was surprised to find we were being flexible with our otherwise pretty demanding cancellation policy on weekends.

We’re a small, independent hotel and canceling rooms at the last minute hurts us since we usually don’t have an opportunity to rebook the room. When I explained we were not charging for the cancellation because we were delighted to have a room become available for a local family that’s been displaced due to “Sandy” he said he’d been watching the news and was a bit embarrassed that didn’t even think about the real impact. He then said, “Please charge me and allow me to pay for someone’s room from the area that really needs it.”

In the next 48 hours that happened three more times and may business partners insisted on doing so as well. I also decided to offer a free room for each that was paid for by gestures such as this and now, just a few days later, I am receiving things like gift cards for Starbucks, toiletries, non-perishable goods shipped to us for neighbors in need, and even donations of as much as $300 to apply to guestrooms for locally displaced guests by people that weren’t even guests. They had simply heard about or read our Facebook page of the activity and were drawn to help.

I remain no less than amazed at the resilience and empathy of our brothers and sisters nationwide to help take care of our own. I will continue to assist our displaced neighbors and friends. I won’t whine because I have no power at home yet. I will simply be grateful and feel blessed that I live in such a great country that when the rubber hits the road, we’re not republican, independents, or democrats. We’re Americans and we share the same desire to take care of each other & rebuild at times of crisis such as this.

Ed Reagoso, 
General Manager
The Wilshire Grand Hotel

Star Ledger Article

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