Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hospitality Industry Crime Risks: Pennsylvania Hotels Victimized By “Con Artist” Who Checked In, Charged Meals To Room And Then Left Without Paying

“…the man who passed as a hapless hotel guest was actually a skilled  con artist who claimed he had been robbed of his wallet to persuade  receptionists to let him have a room…he promised to pay the next day, offering a phony bank  statement as proof that he was good for it…”

Larry Raymond grew accustomed to the high life during his short stays in the  city’s finest hotels, where he dined in restaurants, patronized gift shops and  enjoyed a cup of Starbucks coffee now and then. He ran up hundreds of dollars in tabs — police said he spent more than  $1,500 at the Uptown Marriott — and had it all billed to his room.

But Mr. Raymond never settled up. Mr. Raymond’s lavish run came to an end late Wednesday when police arrested  him in Room 216 of the Cambria Suites in Uptown less than an hour after he  checked in. He told a manager his wallet and credit card had been stolen.

Mr. Raymond, 55, who has no permanent address, spent Thursday in the  Allegheny County Jail. Court records show he was unable to post $50,000  bail.

“He’s a nationwide con artist,” said Detective Jack Mook of the city’s Zone 2  police station, who began investigating Mr. Raymond’s suspicious stay in  Pittsburgh last week when the security director of the Omni William Penn  Downtown told him about a guest who claimed his wallet was stolen and skipped  out on a $753 bill.

Read more:

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Theft

Hospitality Industry Health Risks: New York Hotel Evacuated And Guests Taken To Hospital After “Potent Chlorine Fumes” Accidentally Released

“…A lifeguard who was mixing chemicals at an Upper East Side hotel pool accidentally unleashed potent chlorine fumes that forced  a partial evacuation of the building and injured five Wednesday…Four people were taken to New York Hospital and a  firefighter was rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital with chlorine inhalation after the 8 a.m. incident…”

All were in stable condition after the release, which forced hotel staff to  clear the lobby and lower level, according to Bill Pierce, the hotel’s director  of sales. FDNY Deputy Chief Dan Donoghue said the fumes came from the basement where a  lifeguard was mixing chemicals.

“The chemicals were stronger than the lifeguard thought,” Donoghue said.  “There was a reaction and basically we have a heavy odor of chlorine.”

One of the victims was the lifeguard, according to the FDNY official.

Read more:

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Issues, Health, Injuries, Liability, Maintenance, Pool And Spa

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Hotel And Restaurant Owners Should Maintain “Employment Practices Liability Insurance” And Institute Complaint Procedures To Reduce Employee Lawsuits

 “…these suits catch employers by surprise since, even if they terminate an employee for a business reason, every separated employee can claim discrimination on the basis of a protected class such as race, gender or sexual orientation…”

Employers who can afford it purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to protect their businesses.

In the last three to four years, HR lawsuits have been on the rise, and unfortunately, there does not seem to be any end in sight. The U.S. Department of Labor reports the number of lawsuits related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, alone, increased 35 percent in three years. And this is only one small area that an employer can be sued. The following steps can be taken to minimize lawsuits:

  • Your employee handbook must contain broad and multi-tiered complaint procedures so employees have sufficient recourse when they feel victimized by harassing or discriminating behavior.
  • Provide annual employment law training to all of your supervisors and require them to sign acknowledgments.
  • Educate your employees at the time of hire – during orientation, for instance – about the avenues open to them should they have a problem and need to complain.
  • Most critically, take prompt remedial action when someone complains. In other words, do something about it within 48 hours or less of receiving the complaint. It is best to seek legal advice when such a complaint occurs.

For more:

Leave a comment

Filed under Claims, Insurance, Labor Issues, Liability, Maintenance, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Health Risks: Health Department Confirms Deaths Of Two Chicago Hotel Guests After Exposure To Bacteria Causing Legionnaires’ Disease

“…Health officials said Monday that two people have died of Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to the bacteria that causes it at the JW Marriott Hotel…”

Last week, the hotel issued a warning to all recent guests, and began the complicated process of notifying the 8,500 guests who stayed there from July 16 through Aug. 15 that they may have been exposed to the bacteria known to cause serious and sometimes fatal bacterial infections, ABC Chicago reports.

The bacteria, Legionella, spreads through the inhalation of contaminated water vapor, and can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a severe form of pneumonia, Fox Chicago reports. Symptoms include headache, chills, chest pain and fever.

The disease often mirrors regular pneumonia, and can only be confirmed by a urine test, infectious disease expert Dr. John Segreti told CBS Chicago. Dr. Kathy Ritger with the Department of Public Health told WBEZ that not all exposures lead to illness, but any recent guests experiencing respiratory problems should seek medical attention.

For more:

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Issues, Health, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Safety Risks: Multistory Hotels Face Increased Fire Risk From “Elevator Lift Shafts” That Provide “Ready Pathway For Toxic Smoke And Fire” To Travel Upwards

“…lift shafts provide a ready pathway for smoke and fire to travel upwards in multi-storey buildings.  Buoyant fire gases in a lift shaft can quickly fill upper floors, and there is much evidence to suggest that the majority of fatalities in such fires occur on higher floors significantly removed from the seat of the fire…”

Fires involving lift shafts pose particular risk in hotels where there can be large numbers of people, some of whom may be elderly or infirm, and in an unfamiliar place.  In 2007 alone, it’s estimated that one in 12 hotels and motels in the USA suffered a structural fire. 

That was certainly true in 1980 MGM Grand Hotel fire in Las Vegas which claimed 84 lives, the worst disaster in Nevada history.  In that incident, while the fire primarily only damaged the second floor, most of the deaths occurred on the upper floors, with elevator shafts and stairwells allowing toxic smoke to spread upwards.

It’s hard to overestimate the impact this fire had on both our understanding of vertical fire movement and on the building regulations to mitigate against fire risk.  The fire in a garment factory in a tall building claimed 146 lives, and directly led to new laws on building access and egress, fire proofing requirements, the availability of fire extinguishers, the installation of alarm systems and automatic sprinklers.

Under current fire safety legislation it is the responsibility of the person(s) having responsibility for the building to provide a fire safety risk assessment that includes an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be in the premises, including disabled people, and how that plan will be implemented. Such an evacuation plan should not rely upon the intervention of the Fire and Rescue Service to make it work.

For more:

Leave a comment

Filed under Fire, Guest Issues, Health, Injuries, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Safety Risks: Hotel And Resort Pool Drain Covers Must Comply With Federal Laws (Video)

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Issues, Injuries, Insurance, Legislation, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Pool And Spa

Hospitality Industry Property Risks: Missouri Hotel Roof Fire Results In “Severe Smoke Damage”; Costs Estimated At $20,000

“…(there was a) significant amount of smoke throughout the building…and damage in the lobby…estimated preliminary damage costs to be $20,000, according to the news release…”

A roof fire caused severe smoke damage at the Quality Inn in north Columbia on Tuesday afternoon. Kasey Ryan, a general manager and director of sales at the Quality Inn, said she thought the fire started between noon and 1 p.m.

“We noticed smoke in the lobby,” Ryan said. Guests lingering after a lunch meeting in the motel were asked to evacuate. Columbia Fire Department personnel arrived at the scene shortly after. Firefighters requested a second alarm roughly 20 minutes after their initial arrival, according to a news release. A dozen firefighters, five fire trucks, one ambulance and four police vehicles were present about 2:30 p.m.

Everyone safely evacuated and no injuries were reported.  “We’re just going to go through the process of cleaning up,” Ryan said. Ryan said she hopes the motel will be open in 24 hours, but a reopening date has not been set.

For more:

1 Comment

Filed under Claims, Fire, Insurance, Maintenance, Management And Ownership