(GA, Dec. 2017)
The weird and wonderful world of hospitality is often
stranger than fiction. Here, Giovanni Angelini recounts some
bizarre but true stories that will amaze, amuse, shock and delight…
(Names and identifying details have been changed
to protect the privacy of individuals and properties)
RED-HOT FERRARI CRASHES IN THE LOBBY
A customer arrives at a hotel driveway in a flashy, brand new, blood red Ferrari. Proud as punch of his new expensive motor, he asks the valet to park the car – very carefully, of course! – in front of the hotel so his friends, who are attending a function at the hotel, can admire it after the event.
The valet reassures the customer he has parked many expensive cars in the past. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus – you name it, he’s driven it. Confident in the valet’s abilities, the customer hands over his keys and enters the lobby. Little does he know all hell is about to break loose.
The valet, going through the motions, puts the car into gear, presses the accelerator, and sets off – in the wrong direction!
Having mistakenly put the car into reverse, he whizzes back towards the hotel, jumps the curb, smashes through the windows of the hotel lobby, narrowly misses a group of guests, and rams straight into the car’s owner, injuring him in the wacky-races-style process.
After the dust settles – and police and insurance have been involved – it turns out the valet’s driving license has actually expired. Cue a very expensive situation for the hotel.
DRUNK GUEST IN WRONG BEDROOM
A hotel in Asia running at almost 100 percent occupancy is marking a great day of business. Its restaurants and outlets have been packed all day, and now, in the evening, its Grand Ballroom is teeming with well-heeled guests attending a black-tie Anzac Day Celebration Ball. The spirit of Bacchus is flowing strong, and glass-after-glass of red, white and sparkling wine is being happily consumed by the crowd.
Shortly after midnight, a well-distinguished, well-dressed, but very drunk Aussie man leaves the ballroom and takes the elevator to the 7th floor. He stumbles down the corridor and tries, without success, to open the door of room 703.
The night butler (because we had floor butlers, in the good old days…) asks the guest if he is Mr so-and-so (the guest, being so drunk, doesn’t quite catch what the butler is saying). The guest nods in agreement, and the butler opens the door with the master key. The guest staggers into the room and collapses on the bed, fully clothed.
So far, so good – but far from it…
Room 703 is actually occupied by Mrs. Richardson – a North American who is a frequent guest at the hotel. Renowned for her difficult and demanding personality, she is referred to as ‘Mrs. Bitch’ by staff who have suffered her bluster (not to her knowledge, of course).
Well, it turns out that prior to coming to the hotel on a business trip, Mrs. Richardson had been having a huge row with her husband who had accused her of cheating on him. It had been a terrible fight – curses and allegations had flown thick and fast – and Mr Richardson felt very guilty indeed.
In fact, Mr Richardson felt so guilty, two days after his wife’s departure he decided he would travel to the hotel to try and make it up to her. So on the morning of the Anzac Day Celebration, he calls her to let her know he will be coming to see her.
Mrs. Richardson informs all concerned at the hotel (including the floor butler) that her husband will be arriving later in the evening and he will stay with her in her room.
At about 10.30pm, Mrs. Richardson takes a hotel limousine to the airport where she hopes to surprise her husband. Unfortunately, she just misses him, and Mr Richardson instead jumps in a taxi. On his way to the hotel, he stops off at a street vendor and buys a bunch of flowers.
Mr Richardson arrives at the hotel, checks in, heads to room 703, opens the door, and, well, let’s just say he’s not too pleased to find a drunken Aussie man splayed across the bed.
Neither is Mrs. Richardson, who arrives back at the hotel shortly afterwards and – unsurprisingly – goes into full Mrs. Bitch mode.
She is absolutely furious with the staff for failing to recognize her husband, allow a stranger into her room, and add additional, unnecessary pressure to her recent marital woes.
With Mrs. Richardson’s fury continuing to escalate, the GM is called at 1.15am and he arrives soon after at the hotel.
Where to start?
Who is this drunken Aussie man in the wrong bed, and without any documents on him? How to pacify Mr and Mrs. Richardson in these highly unusual circumstances? Why did the butler open the door for the Aussie man? And so on…
Not only did the drunken Aussie man have a similar surname to Mr Richardson, he was actually staying in a hotel across the street in exactly the same room number. He was so drunk he could not tell one hotel from the other.
Once sober, he wrote two long apologetic letters – one to Mr and Mrs. Richardson, and one to the hotel personnel. He also offered some compensation, but this was refused.
As for the true Mr and Mrs. Richardson, they ended up in the Presidential Suite for the rest of their stay, one lunch with the apologetic and embarrassed GM, and their entire stay for free.
The hotel embarked on lots of language training – particularly how to differentiate the letter ‘R’ from the letter ‘L’ – but with very little success.
It’s all par for the course of working in hotels.
SPOILED SNAKE SOUP
Throughout North Asia there is a belief that snake meat helps to keep the body warm. This makes Snake Soup a particular favourite during the winter months of December and January, with many Chinese restaurants serving this delicacy to appreciative diners. The more poisonous the snake, the more superior the soup, apparently – which also makes the reptile-infused broth more expensive.
With this in mind, on one winter’s morning a few years ago, the famous Chinese restaurant of a fancy hotel ordered two dozen venomous live snakes to be prepared and served in an important banquet the following day. The snakes arrived at the hotel inside a hessian sack (tied at the top), and were placed in a safe corner of the kitchen awaiting the chopping board the following morning.
When the first Chinese chef reported for duty at 6am, to his dismay he discovered that the hessian sack was partially open – and all the snakes were gone!
The entire management team was called to an emergency meeting.
Where, exactly, could the snakes be? Spread out throughout the hotel? Escaped via the kitchen drain? Somewhere safe (it simply being a bad joke by one of the hotel staff)? Or were they stolen? And who would steal 24 poisonous snakes?
The most serious concern, of course, was the safety of hotel guests and staff. The team also wanted to avoid any bad publicity.
But should they call the police and ask for their help? Or seek assistance from the animal protection office?
In the end, the intrepid employees decided there was only one thing they could do: Go snake hunting.
Summoning all their bravery, and armed with sticks and other snake-poking objects, the duty staff scoured the hotel from top to bottom in search of the slithering fugitives. But not one snake was found.
Despite placing an order for more snakes that same morning, the Chinese restaurant was unable to prepare and cook the prestigious soup in time for its banquet. Even worse, the problem would haunt the hotel for weeks – with petrified staff far too wary to venture into the hotel’s darkest corners alone. And who could blame them?
Still – it would certainly be interesting to see how a snake moves across an expensive, shiny marble floor. Wouldn’t it?
EXPENSIVE INDISCRETION IN THE SWIMMING POOL
In one fancy hotel a drunk couple caused quite a stir when they went for a 2am dip in the swimming pool and began having a really good time – think full sex with lots of loud moaning – much to the shock of guests with balconies overlooking the pool.
With the noisy lovemaking session captured on CCTV, security was soon dispatched to the pool to get the copulating duo out of the water and out of sight.
Upon receiving their marching orders, the couple, totally naked and seemingly unflustered, parted ways and sauntered in their birthday suits back to their rooms.
A quick investigation by an alert assistant manager found that both of the guests were married – but not to each other.
The pool was promptly emptied, cleaned and the estimated cost was debited to the room of each offending guest. This led to some nasty words at the check-out counter as the cost was the equivalent of a two weeks’ stay.
When management offered to call the police to sort things out, both guests immediately apologized and settled their bills in full. Both took with them a copy of the in-house video – which had perfectly captured their late night ‘swim.’
Talk about making a splash.
EASTER BUNNIES ON THE RUN
A top-end city hotel renowned for its annual Easter Bunny Buffet (Easter Sunday) thought it was onto a winner when its innovative chef suggested they create a small garden, complete with 12 live rabbits, in the hotel’s foyer for families to enjoy.
Little did they bank on the antics of a group of four hardworking, hard-playing businessmen on the night before the big buffet.
This group of gregarious chaps had been staying at the hotel for about a month, and they had proved themselves big fans of parties on the weekend.
On the night before the Easter buffet, they returned to the hotel at around 3am, happy-drunk after a night of drinking, and they spied the rabbits in all their fluffy glory.
Without hesitation, they scooped the bunnies into their arms and placed them all in the elevator. They then pressed the buttons for every floor and sent the carrot-loving critters up on their own.
Every time the elevator door opened, one or two of the rabbits jumped out and started roaming the corridors.
After a couple of hours, guests began reporting encounters with rabbits outside their doors. The confused and scared animals had left droppings everywhere. Some guests were amused; many were not.
What’s a hotelier to do? What were the staff doing at 3am to totally miss what was happening?
While this can be taken as a joke, one white rabbit was never found (and was most likely stolen). At least the four businessmen did pay for the shampooing of the carpets.
WELCOMING 21 JOHN SMITHS
Can any hotel handle 21 registered guests under the same name, on the same night, without any inconvenience? The whole organization must be really well prepared…
One very large hotel complex found itself in this dilemma when 21 John Smiths from different parts of the world and various industries – business people, conference participants, tourists, airline staff etc. – booked to stay at the property. Some indicated their company name/affiliation, some didn’t, and the worst were the ones who intentionally gave the wrong information and purpose of visit.
Cue lots of confusion and angry exchanges when wives called their husbands to have the phone transferred to the wrong room (and answered by a woman – “what are you doing in my husband’s room!?”) as well as bills being sent to the wrong room, deliveries going to the wrong room…just all kinds of wrong, really.
In situations like this you will always find a guest who will try to take advantage, and much worse is when employees try to take advantage too.
An old couple calls the concierge to say that their in-room microwave isn’t working. This puzzles the Duty Manager because the couple’s room isn’t supposed to have a microwave. After speaking to Housekeeping and Engineering, who both confirm this, the Duty Manager goes to the room to find out what’s going on.
The old woman opens the door and states, again, that their microwave isn’t working.
The Duty Manager asks where the microwave is. The lady leads him into the room and to the wardrobe. She opens the door, and points at the in-room safe.
The Duty Manager, somewhat amused, says: “Ma’am, this is a safe, not a microwave.”
The lady replies: “I don’t care what brand it is, I just want to warm my soup.”
ALIVE CRUSTACEAN IN THE IN-ROOM SAFE
An Asian tourist staying at a luxury beach hotel was down by the sea one morning when he caught a large crab, with plump, long claws, which he clearly planned to cook in a mini rice cooker he had brought to the hotel with him.
He took the crab back to his hotel room and hid it inside the in-room safe. Later that day, while cleaning the room, the room attendant, who had been trained to report anything unusual, heard something moving inside the safe and immediately contacted his supervisor.
The supervisor questioned the guest and asked him to open the safe in front of the hotel personnel.
When the guest opened the safe, the crab fell out, scurried across the floor, and grasped the guest by the toes in its oversized pincers.
The guest shrieked and kicked the crab under the bed. In a fit of heightened emotions, he threatened to sue the hotel because he said he should not have been asked to open the safe, and he said it was the hotel’s fault that he had been bitten on the foot.
He was not aware, of course, that catching crabs or harming sea creatures in this particular location is forbidden, and if reported he could face a fine of USD500 plus community service involving beach cleaning.
On top of this, the guest was reminded that the purpose of the in-room safe is not for keeping or hiding live animals.
The guest did not support the hotel’s suggestion to call the authorities to help solve the matter, and he soon became very apologetic.
With the situation under control, the scared-but-heroic crab was soon taken back to the freedom of the beach.
KEEP BORED PARTNERS AWAY FROM THE IN-ROOM MINI BARS
A businessman and regular visitor to a hotel is joined on most of his stays by a female companion (definitely a mistress). On one particular visit, on the second day of his stay he returns in the evening, exhausted after a long day of work, and pours himself a whisky on the rocks (a complimentary ice bucket is put in his room during the turndown service). After one sip he finds there is a strange taste to the whisky. So he opens another bottle from the minibar, with the same unsatisfactory results. Slightly annoyed, he tries a third bottle, and again it’s bad. By now, he’s a little upset and decides to take a shower.
While showering, his female companion, who was in the lobby sundry shop, returns to the room and very proudly tells the man that during the afternoon she invited a couple of female friends to the room and they enjoyed drinks from the mini bar – including three small bottles of whisky. To get away with paying for those, she says, her and her wily friends decided to fill the empty bottles with their own urine (which is a similar colour to whisky) and put them back on the shelf.
You can imagine the scene – the poor fellow totally loses his rag and starts shouting at the top of his lungs. His female companion is in tears. Other guests begin to complain and hotel security is forced to intervene.
The conclusion: A nasty, permanent goodbye to the woman, with her number forever eliminated from the guest’s “black book” – and yet another interesting hotel security report filed.
The moral of the story? A man will always pay the price for cheating on his wife. And, in this case, instead of figuring out how a women could collect their urine to fill up tiny bottles of whisky, it’s best to dispose of all glasses and containers and replace with new ones – as housekeeping did.
A senior executive embarking on a three-day business trip decides to bring his new and much younger wife with him to impress her and make her happy.
In addition to laundry, breakfast in bed, and other hotel services, he tells her that, if she wants, she can help herself to the in-room mini bar. She of course is impressed by all of this, and in particular how pleasant the employees are to her and her husband. In fact, she has never received so much attention.
During the day, when the husband is working, the young wife waits for him mostly at the hotel. On the second day, feeling a bit bored, she decides to do something for the friendly hotel employees.
So she fills up her handbag with most of the items from the mini bar and goes around the hotel giving them away to the employees. The mini bar is replenished soon after. Thinking that all of the items are complimentary, the wife repeats the process the following day. The employees feel a bit uneasy accepting these items, but they do not say anything.
As most of us know, of course, nothing comes for free in this world.
Upon checkout, all of the mini bar items are charged in full to the bill – not a small amount for a businessman on an expenses account – and the man is furious.
He has no idea of his wife’s well-meaning giveaway sessions, and he thinks the hotel is trying to cheat him. The Front Office manager and Director of Rooms try to calm the situation but the man demands to see the General Manager.
How to handle this one?
A brief investigation reveals the young wife’s gesture, which requires a sensitive explanation to the husband who is not amused at all.
The conclusion: The hotel charges all items at cost to the guest, who appreciates this and continues to return to the hotel time and again – always making fun of his wife’s naivety.
The moral of the story? Never forget to explain the rules of the mini bar!
INTERESTING NIGHT ENCOUNTERS
Hotels are used by guests to sleep – but hotels never sleep…
1. An enormous Texan man staying in a large hotel suite goes out on the town late one night and returns to the hotel after a couple of hours inebriated and accompanied by what appears to be a well-groomed and attractive woman.
There are a few arguments over the registration of what the industry calls a ‘joiner,’ and then the two of them proceed to the suite. Due to their antics, security is instructed to follow them via CCTV.
After about 20 minutes, screams and shouts start emanating from the suite. Security rush to the scene just in time to see the joiner burst from the room, stark naked with blood on her legs, being chased down the corridor by the Texan man, also nude, with a knife in his hand and shouting, “You don’t f*** around with a Texan man!”
Well, the well-groomed woman was not really a woman at all but actually a transvestite.
The Texan man could not accept being cheated this way and, as revenge, wanted to cut the penis off his fleeing companion. Apparently a small cut was made.
It took all of the security guards on duty that night to restrain the big man while several guests along the corridor opened their doors to enjoy the scene. One guest offered his bathroom robe to the joiner, while the Texan was escorted back to his suite in the buff.
2. Sleepwalking (somnambulism) is a common occurrence in hotels and can sometimes lead to very bizarre events. Take the case of one large city hotel, where the phone operators and front desk staff began receiving many confusing calls from hotel guests on the 21st floor in the middle of the night.
Security guards discovered that a middle-age woman, totally naked (and apparently a sleepwalker) had been going along the corridor and knocking on every room door. You can imagine the reaction of the guests upon opening their room and being faced with a glassy-eyed, unresponsive, naked woman. What’s more terrifying is that the woman disappeared from the scene when a male guest, at the end of the corridor, pulled her into his room, closed the door, and attempted to rape her. At this stage, the woman fortunately woke-up and began to scream, alerting the guards.
Paramedics and police swiftly arrived on the scene, and after several interrogations, the sleepwalker was taken to hospital, while the man who tried to rape her was taken to the police station.
The following morning, it took management a lot of time to explain the situation to guests staying on the 21st floor – particularly the female guests.
3. Have you ever been locked out of your hotel room naked or partially naked? For large hotels, dealing with situations like this is almost a nightly routine. As most hotel rooms have their entrance doors and bathroom doors next to each other, when sleepy guests wake to go to the loo in the middle of the night, oftentimes they unwittingly wander into the corridor and close the door behind them. Without a key, no clothes, and still desperate for the toilet, they are usually faced with an embarrassing dash to find a house phone to call for help – with the hope that no one sees them…
4. I guess we shouldn’t talk too much about the poor and embarrassed guests who wet the bed on a regular basis. While some admit it – and apologize to the maid with a generous tip – others go out of the way to lie and blame it on a spilt drink or other similar accident. The ones who demand that their wet bedsheets and mattress covers be changed at 2am – of course it’s not their fault their sheets are wet. Sometimes, humans are a strange breed.
5. How about the jealous wife who suspected her husband of having an affair with an out-of-town woman who was a regular guest of their local hotel? During one visit of the suspected mistress, the jealous wife arrived at the hotel at 1am and managed to activate two fire alarms forcing an evacuation of the hotel.
Her objective was to see if her husband was in the room with the woman – and in this case, she was right!
As all rooms had to be evacuated immediately, the shifty husband was caught on the scene wearing nothing but a hotel bathrobe, hotel slippers, and a complete look of shock – he was clearly not expecting to see his wife waiting for him.
Cue a very public and fierce fight in the hotel lobby, where police eventually had to intervene.
As hotels are very discrete in cases such as this, there was no interest to know what happened between the couple – the hotel did unfortunately lose the repeat custom of the mistress, though.
6. Every single night, the time between 9pm and 1am is when city hotels are at their busiest. Conferences, banquets, restaurants/bar business, late arrivals etc. But handling apparent trade of the “world’s oldest profession” is the most delicate function for hotel employees to manage.
Money-for-sex exchange has been around since the dawn of civilization and, like it or not, all hotels, from roadside inns to ultra-luxury establishments, are also patronized for this huge trade.
Hotel staff are trained to spot and report signs of trafficking and of child abuse, but in most cases these situations are hard to detect because the people involved move from place to place to avoid attention.
Different countries have different rules and regulations on handling prostitution, and in most cases hotels comply with those rules.
The majority of countries require that the joiner is registered at the front desk, and this has to be done in the most discrete way possible.
Arguments arise when guests try to be smart without realizing that hotel security staff and front desk staff are not easy to cheat.
While men try numerous tricks to sneak girls to their room, women are much smarter when bringing men to their rooms, such as heading straight to the elevators without any hesitation – much like going into a business meeting – and in many cases they get away with it.
Trying to totally stop hotel guests from bringing joiners to their rooms is simply mission impossible.
A hotel is not accountable for the morality and indiscretion of its guests. What guests get up to behind closed doors in their own time is entirely at their own risk, and their own responsibility.