Me and my wife have visited Fiesta Key Campground several times in the last few years, looking to experience what the Florida Keys have to offer, and I was definitely a customer (not anymore), and believe me, during our last stay there, their General Manager didn’t fail providing us with an experience!
I am a retired United States Air Force Officer with over 33 years of dedicated service to my country, and can’t deny that I have never been so humiliated and discriminated in my life. I felt like we were punished for being Hispanic, and that is not only not fair, but a very unjust and prejudicial treatment.
To make a long and painful story short, the general manager denied our visiting guests the opportunity to get together with me and my wife and other friends staying at the campground. We asked for them to be allowed to visit us and were denied the opportunity; we asked to allow them to go to the restaurant so we could meet with them there and were told that they knew that we were trying to “sneak-them into” the campground and that “there were more restaurants down the road.” When I complained about that attitude, I was asked if I wanted to check out and get a refund, which was extremely rude and discriminatory.
I contacted the restaurant manager and the owner and was told that they have problems with the campground general manager attitude and disrespect to some restaurant guests, denying them the opportunity to visit the restaurant.
While consumers are not a protected class (such as age or gender), businesses should be concerned with treating patrons with dignity and thankful for their support. I know that it is not uncommon for companies to refuse to serve someone even if they’re in a protected group, but the refusal can’t be arbitrary and can’t be applied to just one group of people. To avoid being arbitrary, there must be a reason for refusing service and you must be consistent. There could be a dress code to maintain a sense of decorum, or fire code restrictions on how many people can be in your place of business at one time, or a policy related to the health and safety of your customers and employees. But you can’t just randomly refuse service to someone because you don’t like the way they look, dress, or speak.
I suggest that Equity Lifestyle Properties, Inc., the owners of Encore RV Resorts and Thousand Trails RV Campgrounds, take a note from the Starbucks racial incident and make sure that their employees receive formalized training and learn what discrimination looks like, so they can avoid committing discriminatory acts in the near future.
We will definitely not be going back to Fiesta Key! I know that probably their general manager won’t care about it, but businesses always need to remember that one satisfied customer will attract a few other customers, but one dissatisfied customer will be the worst advertisement any company or corporation will have.
We are not asking for an apology for us, but I wish they offer one to the people who were treated like criminals at the gate only for trying to be good friends and enjoy a good time with us…or was it because we are Hispanic?
José M. Cintrón, Lt Col (R), USAF