Food standards need to improve at the Hilton Hotel, Auckland Emergency Management admits, after Kiwis quarantining there complained of cold, vomit-like meals "you wouldn't give to your dog".
The five-star hotel, which only joined the Government's COVID-19 managed isolation programme over the ANZAC weekend, has been bombarded with complaints from guests frustrated by the quality of food they've been receiving.
One guest, who asked not to be named, arrived at the Hilton Auckland after a work trip to Texas. He and his colleagues are "pissed off" at the meals, all but one of which he claims have been cold by the time they're delivered.
"From the first day I arrived, the meals were all cold. Everything's cold," he told Newshub.
"[On Wednesday] morning we had mashed potatoes and peas served for breakfast... Last night it looked like vomit with a few pieces of meat in it - it was supposed to be risotto.
"[We're] getting served meals that are cold and also meals you wouldn't feed to your dog, [but our] complaints fall on deaf ears. We would like to know what the Government is paying these hotels to cater these meals for us.
"At the end of the day we are still guests at the Hilton. Never experienced prison food, but l guess this is what it would be like - you get what you are given, take it or leave it."
He says guests have been complaining about the food every day, and he recently witnessed an entire family "going apeshit" at hotel staff. He and his colleagues were told that kitchen staff would be asked to "see if they can change things".
On Thursday, Auckland Emergency Management disputed the man's claim there had been only one hot meal, but admitted the standard needed to improve.
Kate Crawford, Group Controller, told Newshub that menus have now been handed out to quarantine guests while it meets with hotel management to investigate the complaints.
"We are disappointed to have received these complaints and believe that we can work through these issues with the hotel’s team," she said.
Crawford pointed out that the managed isolation programme was a "very different" experience for hotels, which have seen significant changes to their normal guest and hotel management, including the provision of mass catering options.
But she conceded guests are also in a different and unusual situation, and Auckland Emergency Management would now be working to ensure the Hilton "makes [their] stay as comfortable as possible".
Auckland Emergency Management says its expectation is that guests will receive three nutritious meals each day, and while the Hilton can’t accommodate everyone’s tastes all of the time, options would be provided to manage special dietary requirements.
Guests are also allowed to access services like supermarket and takeaway food delivery at their own discretion.
Hilton Auckland didn't address the food complaints directly, but in a statement told Newshub the wellbeing of its guests was "of paramount importance".
"As Hilton navigates the COVID-19 response, Hilton Auckland is doing its best to provide a hospitable environment to guests that are in 14-day self-isolation," said Scott Thomson, General Manager of Hilton Auckland.
"We are continuing to review our operational processes and procedures to enhance the service provided in conjunction with Auckland Emergency Management.
"As the wellbeing of our guests and Team Members is of paramount importance, we have also implemented strict self-isolation guidelines and have taken additional measures to make our cleaning, hygiene and operational protocols even more rigorous."
Other Kiwis quarantining at hotels in Auckland have also been complaining of poor food and conditions.
On Wednesday, a guest at the Crowne Plaza who suffers from Crohn's disease said her dietary requests had repeatedly gone ignored. Another recent arrival at an Auckland hotel told Newshub he'd been taken for a supervised walk with a fellow guest who'd tested positive for coronavirus.