Tag Archives: Customer Relations

Crazy for Cubana Cuisine!

Signage of La Cubana restaurant.

Over the last few weeks, my friends have expressed a fondness for Cuban food, so I decided to take them to a Toronto, Cuban restaurant that I had recently been introduced to. The restaurant, named La Cubana, currently has two locations – each with slightly different menus. For their first visit, I took them to the one which I had visited, on Ossington Avenue.

The experience I had there was different from anything else! From the minute you walk in and see the decor, you can tell that it is different from normal restaurants. The main dining room is set up with an old-style lunch counter, complete with a bar and high chairs. There is nice Cuban music playing in the background, adding to the relaxed and open atmosphere.

The menu is simple and straightforward, and includes many types of pop, Cuban sandwiches, meal plates, appetizers and desserts. Bread and buns are baked fresh, in-house, and everything is served hot, fresh, and quick. The food is always properly cooked and well prepared, with diverse (and tasty) flavours.

On top of that, the servers are all extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and able to provide detailed descriptions of the various dishes and recommendations.

Near the end of our dining experience, the restaurant ended up having a problem with the internet and consequently, it affected their credit card machine. The bill took 10 minutes to produce, and the servers, empathetic to our situation, took a drink off of our bill.

For a taste of Cuban cuisine without travelling, check out La Cubana!

La Cubana
416-537-0134
www.lacubana.ca

 

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Putting the Sunny Into Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Last year I wrote about Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre when my father was taken there after a car accident. Fortunately, my fathers visit only involved a short stay in the emergency room. In more recent times, my aunt fell and broke her hip and was transported to Sunnybrook by ambulance. Unfortunately, this was not a three or four hour visit but ended up involving surgery and a stay as an inpatient.

During this time, I saw firsthand how Sunnybrook’s outstanding service and commitment to health care extends far beyond the emergency room. Whether it be the Emergency Room nurses, the orthopaedic surgeon, the ward administrator, ward nurses, dietitians, and a host of other staff, Sunnybrook takes it upon themselves to ensure extra special attention and care is taken for elderly patients. The staff went above and beyond accommodating special requests such as finding my aunt food that would meet her needs, answering my numerous questions and taking the time to provide me with updates so that the family would feel as comfortable as possible.

Perhaps the most surprising sign, of how in tune Sunnybrook employees are with the needs of the people who come through their doors, can be exemplified by my interaction with the security guard working in the emergency room. While most security guards would have just sat there being seen and not heard, this gentleman said, “I hope your day gets better,” as I was leaving. His comment clearly showed compassion when dealing with people and it demonstrated that he understood if somebody was in the ER, they were probably not having a great day.

In a time when health care professionals consistently blame a lack of government funding for an inability to do their jobs, I never once heard such comments or got that feeling from any of the employees working at Sunnybrook.

The only thing that could have made my experience better would be better parking rates and longer business hours at the Tim Hortons in the hospital!

To the Sunnybrook Medical Team, thank you for all you do!

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
416-480-6100
www.sunnybrook.ca

 

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Putting the Home in Homewood Suites

Orlando Airport Homewood Suites by Hilton

At the end of my vacation, my daughter and I ended up stranded in Orlando, when our flight was cancelled, due to poor weather conditions.

With my rescheduled flight not leaving until the next evening, myself, along with thousands of other stranded travellers began looking for hotel rooms.

Although we were initially directed to a 1-800 number, that involved a long on-hold time, one of the airline employees recognized my increased stress level given the late hour of the day and my young daughter being on the verge of tears. The employee quietly suggested a few specific hotels that took good care of stranded passengers, and as a result, I called the Homewood Suites.

I immediately called the hotel and was surprised at how quickly they answered the phone. Despite it being after two in the morning, the employee was friendly, helpful, and provided me with a very reasonable stranded travelers hotel rate.

Once we confirmed the reservation, the employee asked me if I needed a lift to the hotel and sent a shuttle to pick us up. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by name and checked in within two minutes. The gentleman working was able to anticipate our needs before we even had to ask. He then offered to store our bags at the front desk while we ran out to grab a quick bite, and he let us know he added a late checkout to our account so we could sleep in the next morning.

The next day I had an equally enjoyable experience with the other staff members who were friendly, helpful and extremely accommodating. My daughter and I also had time to walk around the grounds. The facility is beautiful with big and modern spacious rooms, a large, bright lobby area, and complimentary breakfasts, afternoon snacks and dinner (including some wines and beers).

I can certainly see why many travelers make it their first choice. While I can’t speak for other hotels in the chain, this location definitely puts the home in Homewood Suites.

Orlando Airport Homewood Suites by Hilton at Gateway Village
Email: Luis Arancibia
Homewood Suites Website

 

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Ja’ Makin me Happy…Patrice Bailey!

Photo of Patrice Bailey on one of her Falmouth Tours

Last year, I got to know Patrice Bailey when I began planning a day trip for my family to explore the area near the Port of Falmouth in Jamaica. Our cruise ship was docking there for the day and I wanted to plan an excursion to make the most out of our stay, since my research showed that the port was located in the middle of nowhere with nothing really around it.

While I was surfing the web for ideas, a tour guide by the name of Patrice Bailey kept coming up…and with great reviews, I decided to send her a short email. Within a few hours, I was communicating with Patrice by phone and email, and we made an arrangement to hire one of her colleagues to drive us from Falmouth to a beach in Montego Bay, since she herself was fully booked. When we arrived at the port, Patrice introduced herself with hugs all around before sending us on our way, with our tour guide. We immediately felt like family.

Our tour guide was really friendly and he even managed to give us a short tour of the area before taking us back to the ship. He also took us to a great local place for Jamaican patties, which was the icing on the cake!

Flash forward to 2017 and I gave Patrice a call when we chose a cruise revisiting Falmouth. Since we had developed more of a personal friendship over the last year, during our numerous email exchanges, I invited Patrice to lunch as a thank you for planning a great trip the year before. Patrice accepted the invitation but when we arrived, she surprised us with an entire day of fun filled activities.

Patrice took us on a tour of the area, which included the neighbourhood that Usain Bolt grew up in, as well as a couple of gorgeous lookout points. We then went to a secluded beach, where there were only a few other people nearby and you could see blue water and white sand for miles. When we were ready for lunch, we asked her about good, local jerk chicken. Patrice said, for really good jerk chicken, she would only take us to one place and that began our 45 minute drive to Scotchies… more about that in my next blog.

After our great lunch, Patrice showed us a few beach clubs that we can visit on future trips and took us back to the port where we hugged and promised to keep in touch.

Being in the hospitality industry, I typically make friends wherever I go, but I have met my match in Patrice. If you are looking for someone to make your experience in Falmouth amazing, Patrice Bailey is definitely the way to go. She is really easy to deal with, professional, reasonably priced and a barrel of fun!

Patrice Bailey Tours
1-876-509-7542
patbailey52@yahoo.com
www.patricebailey.com

 

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Putting the Fun in “Fundido”

Los Otates Restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico

As mentioned in my last blog, Cozumel, Mexico is one of the ports that I have had the pleasure of visiting during several cruises. Aside from scuba diving, one of my favourite things to do in Cozumel is eat at Los Otates, a local restaurant. Los Otates is an authentic Mexican restaurant, just off the beaten path, in an area that tourists rarely visit. If you didn’t know it was there…you would never find it!

I first learned about Los Otates five or six years ago while I was in Mexico with friends. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the restaurant on that trip, but my wife was lucky enough to eat at this hidden gem. She raved about it and since that time, I too have eaten more than once. I always look forward to returning.

If I was to take you to Los Otates, you would probably think I am crazy based on its curbside appeal… because it has none. The restaurant is a small hole in the wall that has a green tin roof and a chicken wire fence on the side to close shop. The sidewalk leading up to the restaurant is in disrepair but it is in a safe part of town and the food speaks for itself.

Los Otates is the kind of place locals go to after spending a night on the town. All the taxi drivers know it and everyone ends up there, since they are open until four or five in the morning. Really – you want great food? Ask a taxi driver. These guys know their stuff.

They serve some of the best Mexican food I have ever eaten. They make the guacamole right in front of you, and melt the cheese for their signature dip, Queso Fundido, as you watch. There food is always fresh, served hot, and delicious.

Aside from the quality, you can’t beat the price! Whether it’s beers for a $1.40 US, or tacos for $2.50 US, you will leave extremely full without putting a big dent in your wallet. To put it in perspective, four of us stuffed ourselves silly, ordered beers and apple sodas and our bill only came out to $38.00 US. You just can’t beat that!

If you really want to experience authentic Mexican cuisine while in Cozumel, I really recommend that you abandon the tourist joints and head to Los Otates. They put the fun in “Fundido”!

Los Otatates
gerencia_mexico@losotates.com
www.losotates.com

 

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Dive with Martin… I Did!

Cozumel Scuba Diving and Contest Alert

Many of the cruises I have taken over the past few years have docked at a port located in Cozumel, Mexico.  When I visit the area,  I normally go scuba diving.   Cozumel is known for having beautiful diving conditions…so why wouldn’t I take advantage of it?

When I was there last year with my wife and daughter, we decided to book a snorkeling excursion, since neither of them scuba dive.  While there were dozens of local businesses to choose from, we chose to go on an excursion with Dive with Martin, since it was located right at the pier and they provide both scuba diving and snorkeling packages at a great price.

This year when we were returning to Cozumel, I decided to call Dive with Martin to see what kind of deals they could offer us.  Once again, they provided us with a better price than the other dive shops and even included the cost of the rental equipment in the low price.

I have been very pleased with Dive with Martin as a company.  They provide good quality equipment and fabulous customer service.  All of their instructors are qualified, competent, friendly and professional and they always take us to great dive sites.

As an added bonus, they let my wife and daughter come along on the boat for a nominal fee, so they could snorkel along the surface while my friend and I went drift diving.  To make my wife and daughter feel more comfortable, the captain of the boat kept moving the boat closer to them as they drifted away from the boat.  This was a nice touch and and truly went above and beyond to see to it that they felt comfortable and safe while snorkeling.

If you decide to make a reservation at Dive with Martin, they have an associate working in the United States who can help you book your reservation.  If you call… tell Paddie that David Lipton from Toronto says, “Hello”!

Dive with Martin
503-949-5985 (USA)
503-949-5985 (Mexico)
www.divewithmartin.com

Contest Alert:
Our friends at Mexico Xpertz are having a contest where they are giving away a trip to Mexico to one lucky follower.  To enter the contest click here.

 

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Sky High Customer Service

Recently Southwest Airlines was named as one of the Top Ten Most Admired Companies in the World, by Fortune Magazine. With that being said, I believe Southwest Airlines is a great company and I would like to share my recent travel experience with you. For transparency purposes, SQM does do business with Southwest Airlines and I know people who work for the company.

Years ago I started flying with Southwest Airlines because they had a reputation of being a low-cost carrier. Even though they aren’t always considered low cost, these days, I believe that the company still has a great reputation! Today they are known for providing travelers with very good customer service, empathetic employees who genuinely care about their customers and front-line workers who enjoy serving the public.

A few weeks ago I experienced Southwest Airlines recipe for success when my daughter and I became stranded at the Orlando International Airport due to bad weather. While we were waiting in line to speak with a Southwest employee, I noticed the staff made it a point to ensure that every customer was taken care of before the employees left the gate area. Considering we were all tired and upset, the employees did a great job ensuring each customer received the time and attention he / she deserved.

When I reached the front of the line, the employees made me feel like they cared about my situation and wanted to help. Together, the employees came up with a solution to get myself and my daughter to where the rest of my family was located (Buffalo). In addition to rebooking my flight as early as possible, they went above and beyond the call, to help me find a hotel for the night when they learned I was having difficulty finding one and noticed that my daughter was exhausted and upset. Within a few minutes they provided me with some contact information and I spoke to someone who gave us a very nice room and a special “stranded traveler’s” rate.

While there are many times in business where a customer is left feeling like they are just another number, I really felt like the Southwest employees added the personal touch to this difficult situation, making me feel valued and appreciated.

For those of you living in Canada, close to the border, I truly believe it is worth a short drive to the US to fly with Southwest Airlines. Southwest is a great company to fly with and I am confident that you will enjoy your travels.

Southwest Airlines
1-800-I-FLY-SWA
www.southwest.com

 

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