Thursday, May 9, 2013

Toronto Zoo -- and Delta Hotels -- Here We Come!!!

I'm absolutely giddy with excitement, and I'll bet you think you know why. Cause we're going to the Toronto Zoo, right? Wrong! Well, right...but still wrong. I know, I'm not making much sense right now, but I did warn you that I'm giddy with excitement!

The story starts about two weeks ago, with an email from Bear's school. Their end-of-the-year class trip is coming up, and the school wasn't sure what to do about it. Three classes are headed by school bus to a large festival, which sounds like a lot of fun, but probably wouldn't be a good fit for Bear. For one, he's terrified of school buses, so a three-hour round trip probably wouldn't be a great idea. Second, this particular festival only runs for a few days, so it will attract every school for hundreds of miles. The result will be mass chaos -- very noisy chaos -- which, again, will not exactly add to poor Bear's enjoyment of the day.

The school desperately wanted Bear to be able to participate in the trip because he's worked so hard this year, but they were torn because they weren't sure if it would be a good idea. Hence the email. What do you think, they asked? I had to admit that it sounded like way too much for him to handle, even if I tagged along. Instead, I suggested that I would keep him home that day and do something really special with him. The question was what to do that would be special enough to compensate for missing his trip.

As it happened, TheODDDad came home that night and cheerfully announced that he had worked enough overtime to take a day off, but it had to be taken in the very near future. POOF!!! A light went off! (Or did it go on...and does a light make a "poof" sound? Maybe it does when you blow a bulb, which would mean the light went off. Anyway...I had an idea...) I suggested that he take off the day of Bear's trip and that way we could do something really fun just the three of us, which he was all for. From there the idea grew.

By the time we finished brainstorming (which means me spending hours on the computer researching ideas and then reporting back), we were headed to Toronto with both boys to visit the Toronto Zoo. The Delta Toronto East has a package for under $200 that includes a one-night stay and entrance to the zoo for a family of four. I know, right??? They even have a pool and two waterslides -- a big one and a little one. Way cool!

So now comes the good part. When I made the reservations, I requested an extra cot in the room. Bear and Stitch have never slept together, and I wasn't sure this was the night I wanted to try it out. I figured they'd sleep much better in separate beds, which would make for much happier children the next day. Turns out that an extra cot is $25. Ya...I don't think so.

Instead I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained. In researching the hotel (because you know I have to research everything), I came across the name of the guest services manager, so I sent him an email. Here's what I wrote:
Hi Azhar,

I just made a reservation at your hotel. My husband and I are treating our two sons to a day at the Toronto Zoo thanks to the great package you’re offering. My sons are 3 and 7, and my eldest has mild autism. My son’s end-of-school trip is that week, but they’re going somewhere that simply won’t be conducive to his needs. He’s worked so incredibly hard at school this year (his challenges make school extremely difficult for him) and we didn’t want him to feel left out, which is why we’re headed to Toronto.

My son’s autism means that he’s extremely sensitive to noise and to touch, among other things. For this reason, I asked if we could have a cot in our room so that the kids don’t have to sleep in the same bed, but I was told it would be an extra $25. I was wondering if it might be possible to waive that fee. I’m not asking for a cot for convenience or because we’re squeezing an extra person into our room, but because my son is going to be overwhelmed enough from all the excitement and we need to make things as comfortable as possible for him in order for him to be able to function. I also wondered – and I realize this might be a little difficult to predict – if it would be possible to have a room on a quiet floor.

I also thought I would mention that the menus for T.W’s Bar on the Delta web site aren’t working. My son has to eat gluten-free, so I was trying to see what kind of options might be available.

Thanks so much for your help, Azhar. I look forward to hearing back from you.

My hope was that we would get the fee for the cot waived. If they were feeling really generous, maybe they'd go so far as to throw in an in-room movie. Instead, I received the following email this morning. Hang on to your hats.
Good Day Ms. Wright,
I would like to take this opportunity and thank you for considering the Delta Toronto East as your choice of accommodation in Toronto. I can personally assure you that my team will do their very best to ensure you along with your family have a truly relaxing and renewing experience.
Ms. Wright, I can understand the extra pressure on you as well as your son during the school year and to reward him we have upgraded your reservation to a beautiful 1 bedroom suite compliments of the hotel. While the bedroom has a king size bed, it is equipped with a sofa bed in the living room and I will arrange for an additional cot complimentary.
Thank you for bringing the menu section to my attention, I will follow-up with our Food and Beverage manager however our culinary team would be delighted to arrange a special Gluten Free meal for your son during any meal, simply inform your server or order taker and our chef will work his magic.
If there is anything else we can do to make your stay more enjoyable please feel free to contact me and I will be delighted to assist you. Hope you have a wonderful day ahead.

As if that weren't enough, he emailed me a few minutes later to ask for the boys' names and their favourite snack, because "we want to do something special for them."
Funny, he thinks he's doing something special for them...he has no idea what he's just done for us.
P.S. No, I wasn't compensated for this blog post. They have no idea I'm writing it -- I just wanted to draw attention to something really nice that someone has done for my family.