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HOW TO SPOIL BUFFALO CONVENTIONS, IMAGE

For the past few years, I have been proud of the way Buffalo has tried to fight the negative publicity it often receives. My husband and I have enjoyed many trips to area landmarks, attractions and events that take place in and around Buffalo.

But try as they may, the planners just can't seem to hit the mark when it comes to accommodating tourists and satisfying their needs.

At the end of August, I attended the Women of Faith Convention, along with 31 other women from my church. I was in charge of purchasing tickets and making reservations for the group. We voted to stay at the Buffalo Hyatt.

Months before our departure, I confirmed our reservations with the Women of Faith and the Hyatt group-reservation representative. I received written confirmation from the Women of Faith and the hotel where we were booked for six rooms that would accommodate four women per room, with one other room sleeping two people.

One week before we left, I again called the Hyatt and was again assured of rooms. However, this time I was told we would probably not have two double beds per room, but would have one king-sized bed and cots would be brought in. This was acceptable.

The disheartening effects began when we were forced to wait one hour for tables at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, which I had contacted three times prior, only to arrive and be told that there were three buses ahead of us.

When I arrived at the Hyatt at 6:45, I stood in the midst of a sea of angry people, all being told that there were no rooms. I was confident that when I reached the desk I would have no trouble, because I had the confirmation numbers in my hand. After an hour and a half of standing at the counter, I was finally able to secure rooms with one bed in each, but no cots. At 11, we returned from the convention (of which we missed the first 90 minutes) and were forced to again stand at the desk and beg for cots. At 1 a.m. we gave up, and called for sheets to put on the floor.

The convention sessions were uplifting and rewarding, and we truly enjoyed visiting the lovely new Marine Midland Arena. However, did any of the planners stop to consider that 10,000 women, all trying to use the restroom facilities, might cause some problems? Last year in Pittsburgh, "porta potties" were lined up outside the arena.

It becomes difficult to be a Buffalo booster when one is treated in such a humiliating manner by a hotel that presumes to offer its patrons prestigious service. The letter of apology from the Hyatt's general manager, offering to upgrade my accommodations during my next stay at the Hyatt, is as ludicrous as a world-class hotel charging a patron $111.90 to sleep on the floor.

When hotels, restaurants and arenas prove to visitors that they are just insignificant numbers, tourists find other hotels to stay in, other restaurants to patronize and other cities to visit.

Betty Wickham Gowanda

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