Unprofessional and unbecoming conduct by Westin hotels?

image westinIndian Food Freak has had the history of honest and candid reviews – anonymous or invited. There are very few forums who still take pride in giving honest reviews and our readers trust us because we represent the readers’ interest, and not the interests of any PR agency or any hotel.

So why this post? This is to share with you how leading restaurants and hotels try to control us by arm twist us so that they can influence what we write. They do not understand the free voice of social media. I just want to share with you one such experience where a leading hotel has stooped to an unprofessional and petty level

westin1I had received an invite from Lowe and Partners (A PR agency for Westin Hotels) to attend a culinary academy session with their new Italian chef.Given a Saturday and my holiday, I agreed to attend the session. However, next day I receive another mail saying that the event was postponed for unknown reasons. This sounded plausible so I informed my friend about it who is now one of our leading reviewers for Indian Food Freak. She had also received an invite for the same event since she is a regular patron at the hotel. When she double checked with her sources, she was told that the event was very much on as per the schedule. So it was very clear, for some reason I was not welcome there.


This got me thinking as to why they withdrew the invitation to us, even though we are the leading food blog in the country. And it did not take me long to realize the reason. In one of my recent invited visit to Westin Resorts Sohna the experience was extremely shabby and that was duly reported. The hotel’s big PR machinery did take a notice but refused to apologise, something which as a basic courtesy they should have done to any guest.

We try to keep our reviews completely unbiased. For example,  an anonymous visit to Prego at Westin got a rave review by us. So, here is a message to Westin Hotels. We will be honest about every review because this is what our readers expect from us. It is indeed unfortunate that you are unable to stomach honest negative feedback. We will do our job as reviewers, even if you don’t know how to do yours.

And to bloggers who are honest and courageous with their reviews, be aware. One bad review and this international chain will react badly to you too. Wonder if this is the international policy that Westin PR follows? We should check it out with them.

Finally, my friend and Indian Food Freak reviewer who visited Westin as a patron has done her review and we will soon publish it on our website. It is a good experiential note and we will not let our bias color the opinion of our reviewers. We will continue to do our bit for our readers, and never be biased with our reviews.



Food Critic and a Marketing Wizz who had a high profile career with leading MNC’s like HSBC, GE Capital etc, Pawan Soni comes across as a quintessential corporate employee. He left behind his successful career as the Vice President of a MNC... all for his love for food. He a WSET Level II wine connoisseur and a foodie who loves to eat anything under the sun. Besides being a food and travel writer for various food forums and magazines, he is the Founder and CEO of Indian Food Freak. As one of the initial bloggers who started his blog almost a decade ago, his website www.indianfoodfreak.com is currently one of the biggest food and travel blogs in the country. Pawan also conducts highly successful restaurant awards and recently concluded the 6th edition of The Big F restaurant awards. He won the best influencer awards in India by BBC Food Food Awards in 2018

  1. How petty that was! Well time for someone to learn to accept constructive criticism. Didnt expect this, from such a big chain!

  2. very few restaurants and hotels in India react the way they should to honest feedback …however big or small…but this takes the cake!

  3. It’s sad that a hotel of repute meted out this treatment to a blogger. There’s no point having a ‘review’ if the criticism can’t be taken constructively. And if a hotel’s expectation from a blogger is to write only all things good then they are better off having paid advertisements than reviews.

  4. I think it is unfortunate big brands or PR agencies behave this way. If I have a bad experience I don’t write about it, it is also my blogs format that I don’t need to write about every event, but to be un invited if you write a negative feed back is very bad PR machinery, I hope they take note…

  5. I hope that Westin realises their folly. Such bullying tactics are just not expected from a Starwood property. This is a case study on how not to do PR!

  6. Most unfortunate. I am sure if Westin had let you experience their hospitality at the event, you sure would have changed your opinion. Now yours is only reinforced.

  7. Dear All…Thank you for the comments. Just to update, I received a call early next morning after publishing this post from a senior communications director at Starwood Hotels that owns ‘Westin’ brand. Though she wasn’t earlier aware of the event and my experience but still she gracefully took complete responsibility of the happenings. I have met her once earlier and she was happy for bloggers who share their frank opinion. She was extremely apologetic of the entire episode and ensured to look into things and set them right.
    The hotel has fundamentals right but there are few people who give a bad name to the entire institution. Thanks!