As I set to embark on my 11 day trip around the world, I thought I would share an interesting story from a recent communication with the Director of Public Relations at The Four Seasons Vancouver.

I booked the property for a one night stay using American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts. The Four Seasons doesn’t participate in any loyalty programs, however, I wanted to stay at the property as part of my goal to review all of the participating Fine Hotel and Resort properties in Vancouver. I managed to find a decent rate that was identical to the best available rate offered through the hotel:

Four Seasons Vancouver Fine Hotels And Resorts Rate

Four Seasons Vancouver Fine Hotels And Resorts Rate

I’ve booked quite a few properties through this program, and have always been able to get early check-in. I decided to email the hotel to inquire about a noon arrival, as well as make a dinner reservation and inform them I would be traveling with my dogs. I did mention I wanted the early check-in to take a series of photographs prior to my guests arriving. I received a response back which was truly interesting. The reservations agent informed me there are no photographs allowed in public spaces, and I would need to receive special permission from their executive office. Here’s an excerpt from the response:

Please note that photography of our public spaces is not permitted without authorization from our Executive Office, so I have advised our Manager of Public Relations and Communications, Shingo Kido, to reach out to you directly.

This was a first for me, as I generally find hotel staff intrigued when I’m taking photographs throughout the property. Just recently, during my stay at The Fairmont Pacific Rim, I was approached by a curious duty manager. Upon telling her I was reviewing the property for my blog, she eagerly asked for a business card to share with their public relations team and asked if I would be interested in returning for a spa treatment. I declined, telling them I like to keep a low profile to ensure an unbiased review. She completely understood and asked me to reach out to her if I needed anything for the duration of my stay.

It took about three days for Kate Cooley, Director of Public Relations and Communications at The Four Seasons Vancouver to reach out to me. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with her response:

I am reaching out to you with regards to your upcoming stay at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver on January 26. We are very much looking forward to having you with us as a guest. I understand you had asked a question with regards to taking photos in public spaces at the Hotel for your website, pointswise.ca.

To ensure that all guests enjoy privacy during their stay with us, photos in public spaces are not permitted, particularly any photos that include guests. This policy is in place to ensure that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts provide a level of comfort, ease and security for all guests throughout their stay.

I’ll admit, I was completely surprised by the response. I have never heard of such a silly policy, and find that most hotels are eager for guests to take and share pictures on social media, travel review sites, etc. I honestly thought they just wanted to connect me with a PR manager to ensure my stay would be memorable, and worthy of a good review.

Humbled by what I had read, I emailed back asking if they would reconsider and make an exception, and assured them I would respect other guests privacy (as I always do) while taking pictures in public areas. Furthermore, I offered to photograph public spaces in the early morning or late evening to minimize the risk of disturbing other guests. I received a response back the following day with an update:

I wanted to let you know that I have connected with various departments regarding your upcoming visit and your desire to take photos in public spaces during your stay. We want to thank you for requesting to do so in advance and going through the proper channels. Based on your shared commitment to keeping guests privacy and security a priority, we have decided to make an exception to your request for photos. If you wish to take photos within the Hotel’s public spaces later in the evening on January 26 or early in the morning on January 27, ensuring no guests are disturbed or included in photos, you will be welcome to do so.

I have shared this unusual permission with various teams – Concierge, Guest Services, Hotel Management, Security, Front Desk and YEW – along with details of your stay and your photo. If for whatever reason, you are approached regarding these photos by a member of our staff who may fall outside of these departments you can confirm that you have permission from me.

Wow. Seems like a lot of work on their end to allow for a few photos of the lobby and pool. Certainly the thousands of pictures on social media and travel review websites didn’t receive the same special attention. Regardless, I’m relieved with the outcome and look forward to providing a complete review of one of Vancouver’s premier properties.