The Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach Friday issued an apology to a group of Black customers who complained they were being asked to sit outdoors although there was plenty of room inside the luxury resort.
Maria Baietti posted a video on Facebook Monday of the encounter with a manager at the hotel. She said her family and three others went to the resort Sunday for lunch and drinks.
“We ordered drinks as soon as we arrived and requested to be seated inside,” Baietti said in the Facebook post. “The outside area had zero umbrellas for shade. The manager on duty, Timothy, told our party we would have to sit outside.”
Baietti said large and small groups were seated inside and being served, but many were not wearing masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Her group was wearing face coverings.
“So we asked Timothy the logic in this madness,” she said. “He then was very rude and aggressive in his tone when we wanted an explanation as to why `we had to sit outside’ when a few feet away from us inside people were enjoying food and drinks?
“(It) was clear-cut discrimination. Our whole group was African-American, to be very clear.”
Baietti accused the manager of continuing to “unprofessionally escalate the situation.”
The video shows the manager turning to one of the guests recording the incident on a phone saying, “Go ahead and record all you want.” Then he held up his name tag and said, “Here’s my name.”
As the group continued to ask why they had to move and why he was getting upset he said, “I react to the way our guests react.”
Baietti said he called security and demanded the group leave the hotel.
“It was very embarrassing and appalling,” Baietti said.
The Montage issued this statement:
“We are aware of an incident that occurred this past weekend when a family visiting our resort felt unfairly treated because of their race. The family’s experience does not reflect the conduct or high standards we expect of our employees, and we extend our heartfelt apologies to them.
“We are committed to learning from this experience and doing better. We will be taking immediate corrective actions, including enhancing the training we provide our staff to ensure they always deliver highly personalized service according to our values of respect, humility and grace.”
Baietti and Montage executives did not respond to requests for further comment.