A Best Western just outside the Navajo Nation is under fire for an offensive TripAdvisor post.

Hotel Blames Bad Coffee on Native American Employees

Sheena Louise Roetman

A Best Western Plus just outside the Navajo Nation in Page, Arizona, came under fire last week for allegedly posting an offensive response to a customer complaint on its TripAdvisor page.

An account named “Guest Relations Manager” responded to a negative review of the Lake Powell location, stating that the hotel “is working with a mostly Native population that have not had privileged education available in most parts of the country.”

The TripAdvisor response, allegedly from hotel management, has since been removed. Courtesy KPNX.

The response has since been removed, but Phoenix’s KPNX provided a screenshot.

“The hotel does our best to train them to improve their quality of life,” the response continues. “We hope our guests from outside the reservation can also introduce kindness to them as they are very nice people learning to service a more sophisticated and well-traveled public.”

Belinda Lee Barney, Navajo, told KPNX she had worked at the Best Western at Lake Powell for “about a year” and was upset by the remarks in the TripAdvisor post. She said she then complained in a Facebook post and, that same evening, she received a call from the hotel saying she was being fired.

Belinda Lee Barney, Navajo, says she was fired for speaking out against the offensive comments. Courtesy Facebook.

The Best Western Plus at Lake Powell issued the following statement to KPNX:

"The Best Western Plus at Lake Powell is dedicated to providing all guests a high-quality stay and experience. Equally, we appreciate and value our employees and the community of which we are privileged to be a part."

Best Western’s corporate office in Phoenix also sent the following statement to KPNX:

“Best Western values diversity and the fair treatment of all individuals. We are committed to ensuring guests have an exemplary experience at each of our independently owned and operated hotels. Having spoken to the hotel’s leadership, we have been assured that the comments were never intended to be offensive or demeaning, and that they truly regret that they can be misconstrued. The hotel truly appreciates being a valued member of its community.”    

Indian Country Today Media Network’s calls to both the Lake Powell location and Best Western’s corporate offices went unanswered.

The review, left by a “James G.” from Louisville, Kentucky, complained of a difficult check-in process, lack of hot water and bad coffee. 

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hammertime's picture
Submitted by hammertime on
a spoiled white man who has never had to take a cold shower in his whole life all upset because his card key did not open his room all upset because his coffee was french roast....... the hotel apologizes and claims that the natives they have working there are basically morons........and well traveled people have to understand what they are up against...... I guess the hot water and french roast coffee is all the fault of the natives...... then they go and fire a native worker who posts a remark on face book about how unfair the review was...... thats just special in so many ways....... .

Mau1's picture
Submitted by Mau1 on
I think this speaks to a much larger issue. French roast coffee in Navajo country. How horrible. I find it humorous that the creature who caused the whole ruckus is so easily discomfited. Survival of the fittest at it's finest.

Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison
Submitted by Jim Harrison on
NO DOUBT a professional complainer. I worked for 6 months for the 5th largest grocery chain in the US. A tidal wave every night of email complaints. No doubt there were some that were genuine. Many were pissy - picayune crap... But most of the personnel complaints were saved for two areas - the cashiers and the deli. Well guess where most the Blacks who worked these stores worked? As cashiers. And guess where most the minorities, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders (all with just the basics of English as a second language) - yep - the DELI. The complaints were ESPECIALLY PICAYUNE there... "They (the employee) didn't look up and smile at me! They didn't call me by name! They didn't speak very well! They seemed to not understand me!" Occasionally I would see an email from someone who was at least not CODING their racism - "why can't you get more of OUR PEOPLE behind the counter - that understand US!" Best Western - I'll be staying ELSEWHERE next time. Not because of your workers who are no doubt SERIOUSLY UNDERPAID but because of your crappy attitude about your workers.

NPReader's picture
Submitted by NPReader on
You all missed the point of the article. The point being the General Manager's blaming the Native employees for the issues the traveler raised in his complaints. The traveler or guy who complained never once mentioned Indians in his complaint, it was the MANAGER who replied to his complaint. That manager more or less said the Natives who work there are dumb and didn't know how to do their jobs, and blamed all the issues on them.