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Hotel Blames Bad Coffee on Native American Employees

The Best Western at Lake Powell blamed bad service on its Native American employees in an online post.

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.

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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.