When 2019 started off with a beloved toy gone missing and a child in tears, the January blues hit hard for Anna Pickard.
The San Francisco-based creative director had just arrived from a family vacation in sunny Hawaii when she made the awful discovery that someone hadn’t made the flight.
Sutro, her son’s teddy bear, had been left at back at the five-star Grand Hyatt Kauai, where they’d been staying.
As anyone who’s ever lost a favorite toy knows, sometimes that’s just the sad end of the story. But Pickard didn’t give up.
“We just had many tears when we realized my son had left his teddy bear in the pull-out bed in the room,” she wrote in an email to the hotel.
To her relief, Pickard got a positive response from Julien Woerpel, the Hyatt’s housekeeping director. The hotel staff had found Sutro, along with his furry companion Kauai, a newly purchased toy Hawaiian monk seal.
Woerpel, a father of two children aged one and three, says he was touched by Pickard’s email and empathized with the situation.
“Anna was so nice and I fully understand how distraught kids can be when they realize their bear buddy is missing,” he tells CNN Travel.
Woerpel decided to put a light-hearted spin on the situation and, with the help of Rachel Bower, the Hyatt’s assistant executive housekeeper, help Sutro make the most of his extended stay.
“Rachel and I thought we’d make it fun and show that his bear was just having so much fun on his Kauai vacation that he wanted to stay longer,” he explains.
The swanky Grand Hyatt Kauai, situated on the golden sands of Poipu Beach, prides itself on good customer service — but Woerpel and his team took it to another level.
Lucky bear Sutro became a true VIP guest, taken on an adventure around the resort with his escapades and experiences documented in a series of heartwarming photographs — all sent back to Pickard to reassure her son.
“He suddenly sent the wonderful email with all the images,” Pickard tells CNN Travel.
The photos depict Sutro and Kauai visiting the laundry room, hanging out with the employees who originally found the toys. The pair then spent time at the hotel spa where Sutro even got a manicure.
Their vacation is pretty envy-enducing. Sutro and Kauai got to experience everything the Hyatt has to offer, lounging in a fancy cabana, going for picturesque walks around the resort and chilling by the pool.
“We took him all around the resort where he met staff, helped do landscaping and laundry, got a spa treatment and finally checked out before heading home,” says Diann Hartmann, director of marketing communications at the Grand Hyatt.
Pickard posted the images on social media — and this adorable tale of the kindness of strangers set the Twitterverse alight.
Meanwhile, Pickard left a postcard on her son’s pillow from Sutro, explaining that his bear had loved his time Hawaii so much, he’d decided to stay a couple of extra days, but he’d be back very soon.
The moral of the story? It’s always worth sending a friendly email and being polite to hotel employees.
And yes, a lost toy is upsetting, but it’s also possible the teddy bear’s having the vacation of a lifetime.