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..in my part of the world today. Busy busy busy, perhaps more time later. In the meantime, Andi's World is the name of her blog, but Andi's world is the DC area. Look to her for updates on the Hilton/Fran O'Brien's saga. (And unfortunately, some tragic news from the Patriot Guard.)
I'm getting CC'd on a number of emails sent to the folks at Hilton on this issue. Some examples (I've removed author's names):
Dear Mr. O'Boyle,Lex has a good idea:
Yourself and your organization enjoy liberties bought and paid for by our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. Your tenant, Fran O'Brien's, has offered substantial help towards fuller recoveries for those who've paid a price in blood for your liberties. For some reason, some people in your organization seem to have lost sight of the debt they owe to our servicemen.
You've been mentioned as one of the people who can help right this oversight on Hilton's part. As the father of a boy serving in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, deployed as the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Forward Operating Base Warrior outside of Kirkuk, Tamim Province, Iraq, I hope neither my son nor any else serving in Iraq or Afghanistan will ever need Friday Dinners at Fran O'Brien's to help restore his will to live after a devastating wound. However, should he or any of our other servicemembers ever need that morale boost and find it unavailable, I certainly hope that no one would ever be able to say that Hilton played a part in making it unavailable. I don't think I could hold any respect at all for Hilton if I were to hear that.
Please use whatever influence you have to help ensure that Hilton honors its debts and preserves its reputation.
While fully aware that I do not know all sides of the Fran O'Brien's story, I must say that my admiration for, and gratitude to, Hal Koster runs very deep indeed. I have spent much time outside the borders of our country; I know how great are the blessings of liberty; I know that only the men and women of our armed forces make it possible for my children to enjoy those blessings; and I know from having grown up in a military town with a wide circle of military acquaintances how real are the sacrifices those men and women make on our behalf and how cheerfully they make them. The contrast between Fran O'Brien's behavior and your own cannot help but reflect badly upon your own establishment and on the Hilton chain in general, even if your decision is defensible on business grounds: not every decision a man of character makes, is made on the basis of the bottom line alone, as Mr. Koster himself demonstrates every week.
As a consultant who has been platinum on multiple airlines simultaneously and who used to log over 250,000 air miles per year, I have stayed in my share of Hilton hotels in the past, but I must say that I expect that it will be a long time before the first phrase that pops into my head when I hear the word "Hilton" is anything other than, "Fran O'Brien's." Certainly the next time I pass through Heathrow I will not, as I did on my last pass through en route to Kazakhstan, choose your sister establishment as my place to dine and sleep.
Yours in regretful sincerity,
Dear Ms. Shepard,
As a travel industry professional with over 20 years in the business, I have long admired the Hilton brand as being one of the finest in the world, and have promoted Hilton to customers without hesitation.
However a matter has come to my attention which causes me great concern - if true - regarding Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse at the Capital Hilton. According to author Lt. Col. Robert Patterson (USAF, retired), the Hilton Hotels Corporation is not renewing Fran O'Brien's lease due to liability concerns resulting from the restaurant's laudable generosity - i.e., the owners provide free dinners on Friday evenings to severely wounded combat troops from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Apparently Hilton believes the potential liability issues from having wheelchair-bound soldiers crowd the facility is not as important as the enormous morale boost that these Friday dinners bring to the wounded patients.
This is very troubling for me, both as a career travel professional and as an officer in a state volunteer military unit, the Georgia State Defense Force. I would sincerely hope that Hilton has more respect for our American heroes than this story indicates.
And if Hilton is indeed worried about legal exposure, your organization should consider the consequences - and bad publicity - that could result from a ADA-based class action suit being filed by disabled veterans groups in response to the closure of Fran O'Briens.
You might even call or write your Congressman, and ask his staff whether or not a decision like this in any way goes contrary to the spirit and letter of the American’s with Disabilities Act. If it doesn’t (and it probably doesn’t), you could ask him to look into whether it ought to, at least in the specific case of Hilton Corp and Fran O’Briens. There is an election coming up, after all. What Congressman wouldn’t relish the opportunity to stand in front of the mic, flanked by wounded soldiers, in front of the corporate facade?
And don’t forget that it’s not just “Hilton” hotels. The Hilton “family of hotels” includes: Conrad Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites and Scandic Hotels.Posted by Lisa at April 14, 2006 05:49 AM
Just thought I'd let you know that the Army Ball for the Washington metropolitan area this year will be held at one of the Hilton Hotels in DC.
Methinks the Army might want to change its venue--I certainly won't be attending with my hubby this year.Posted by Lornkanaga at April 14, 2006 01:41 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)