What is it that makes you know you can trust someone – even over the phone?

As part of the birthday celebrations, we went to the Marriott at Meriden (Forest of Arden). Before the visit, as usual, I phoned the hotel to discuss catering for my coeliac daughter.

I was put through to the chef, who not only knew what I was talking about, but – without being prompted – said that they would make gluten free gravy with no thickening for her if she wanted it, and that I should just make sure that the waiter on the evening knew which order was to be gluten free.

In practice, when we turned up for dinner, the restaurant manager came over to be sure that we understood which items were gluten free, and to reassure us that they could produce a gluten free version of the things she chose. In the end, she chose gravadlax (which sure enough came without the crostini that the others had) followed by trout with a clam and mushroom chowder, and then fruit dipped in chocolate. We all had the gluten free birthday cake that I had brought with us, and the hotel didn’t mind providing candles, plates, knives etc for us to use.

Well done to the Marriott – particularly to the chef who was so knowledgeable. He told me that almost every evening they had someone in the restaurant who needed a gluten free diet – which isn’t surprising, once you know how many people have been diagnosed. What is surprising, given our experience over the last 10 years, is how well set up the Marriott was for managing this without making a fuss.

How did I know I could trust him with my daughters health? Well, you never know for certain, obviously, but he knew the key issues and used the right terminology. He’d clearly come across it before, and wasn’t thrown into a state of panic. And then his staff followed through and gave us good service.

If they can do it, why is it so difficult in other places?