A hotel in Switzerland under fire for issuing ‘racist’ memo to Indian guests

Hotel Arc-en-ciel advised Indian guests not to take the buffet food to the room, not to share meals with other guests.

A recent viral video that showed Indian guests getting caught stealing hotel items in Bali triggered controversy in India and abroad. While many Indians acknowledged that Indian tourists have received a bad rap in the West for misbehavior, many others argued that the family caught stealing in no way represented Indians in general.

However, confirming that Indians may not be looked upon as the best guests by hotel staff around the world comes another shocker. Recently Indian industrialist Harsh Goenka, who is the chairman of $1.43 billion RPG conglomerate posted on Twitter a memo he noticed at a top resort in Gstaad, Switzerland.

The memo posted at the Arc-en-ciel hotel and signed duly by its manager Christiane Matti listed a list of do’s and don’ts specifically for Indians. It warns Indians not to try and pack the breakfast buffet from the hotel and ask them to pay for lunch bags instead.

In what may seem rather inappropriate to many Indians, who religiously use cutlery at their home for almost all meals, there was also a pointer that asked them to use cutlery, perhaps insinuating that Indians eat with their hands. Among other offensive things was a reminder to not talk loudly in the hotel and in its balcony to maintain peace in the hotel.

The restaurant also advised Indians not to share meals meant for one person and instead pay for the accompanying guests.

Goenka attached the letter in his tweet and also wrote that he felt humiliated and outraged. He wrote: “Reading this notice I felt angry, humiliated and wanted to protest. But a realization dawned that we as tourists are loud, rude, not culturally sensitive. With India becoming an international power, our tourists are our best global ambassadors. Let’s work on changing our image!”

Soon as the tweet got noticed, the hotel was slammed for its “racist policies.” Many argued that European or American guests may behave in the similar manner but Indians are often racially profiled. It may also be noticed that Indians remain one of the largest groups of tourists to Switzerland. The country remains among the top tourist spots for non-resident Indians, too.

The hotel has since then apologized and pulled the notice.

Have you ever felt treated ‘differently’ by the hospitality business as an Indian American or as an Indian in America? Write to us at zofeen@americanbazaaronline.com we would like to hear your experiences


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