When I began the Hotel Confidential series last year, one of the first things I made clear was that this wouldn't be an outlet for me to dish the dirt on celebrity guests. The thing is, I'm a firm believer in what some call the Hotel Code of Silence, and regardless of the juicy stories those encounters might have provided, they will all go with me to the grave. Well, except for one that you'll read shortly. My years in the hotel business supplied no shortage of outrageous stories, however, and it would be a real crime to not share at least a few of them here, while leaving out details to protect the "innocent." Besides, if I've learned anything from the existence of things like TMZ and the Kardashians, it's that this is the stuff that apparently we really want to read. So why fight it?
The Odd Couple and a Taser
The last thing any hotel manager wants to see in the porte cochere is a squad car, because it usually means the day is about to get real bad real fast. Late one evening, I had alerted the police to a domestic dispute taking place in one of our rooms. We had asked the guests to politely keep it down several times, which is about all a hotel can really do, and now it was time to bring in reinforcements.
I escorted the officers up to the room where we could hear quite a commotion. After several of their knocks went ignored, the officers instructed me to use the master key to open the door. Once inside we found two half naked people having an all out brawl in the room. The officers pleaded for them to stop, but just like the knocks on the door, they were ignored. Finally one officer says to the other, "Just go ahead and use the taser on him." But there was just one problem...
He was a she, and she was a he...
|No, they didn't say it...|
The Ball Player and the Super Model
Celebrities passing through the hotel was commonplace, but it wasn't every day I encountered the super model which resided in a poster on my college bedroom wall. I did a triple take with my eyes as she made her way to the house phone to call her boyfriend who played for an NBA team that was staying in house. I tried to compose myself for what I knew was coming next - her request for a room key to go see him. I think I managed a few words of English as I handed over the key, but it's all a bit of a fog.
A few minutes later the two emerged from the elevator on their way out to dinner. Shortly after they had walked outside, however, he returned to ask if our gift shop was open. It wasn't, and he was in a jam: his pants were too big, and she wasn't letting him go out without a belt. I asked what size he wore, which surprisingly was the same as me, so I took off my belt and handed it to him. It was a couple inches too small, but my colleague on the desk that night came through with one that fit. Relieved that his super model girlfriend would be seen with him in public, he handed us $160 and went on his way.
My colleague and I enjoyed a little surf and turf with the proceeds.
|Sadly, it wasn't Kate Upton. She was only 12 at the time...|
The Haunted Elevator
For a few months I found myself in the unenviable position of working a 4pm to 7am shift. Yes, this might have been about the time I changed careers, but I learned that a lot of weird things happen in hotels in the middle of the night.
At about 2am one evening I heard the ding of one of our elevators, and watched as the doors opened and closed with no one inside. The scene repeated itself two more times over the next hour, all three times on a different elevator. It wasn't until the next day that I realized how strange this phenomenon really was...
The elevators only dinged when someone called it by pushing the button. So who pushed the button?
|It may as well have been the Twilight Zone...|
"There's a Saudi prince in the restaurant tonight."
Nothing all that exciting really, except that said prince emerged about an hour later screaming at someone on his cell phone. It seemed that he was staying at one of our competitors and they failed to send a car to pick him up after dinner. In total disgust, he informed me that his security detail would be at the hotel shortly and we should have an entire floor cleared for him. He handed over his American Express, and I set to the unfortunate task of relocating two guests to another floor.
Everything was arranged within the hour, only our prince never came. A few days later we discovered why: it seemed that the "prince" was an imposter and had been arrested for identity fraud. He had somehow convinced American Express and yours truly that he was the 8th richest man in the world.
|This guy wasn't carrying a staff. That should have tipped me off...|
The Relocated Resident
One of the hotel's most frequent guests was a consultant that worked for a large technology firm. She stayed with us for 50-60 days at a time, making her basically a resident of the hotel during her visits. Even though the company paid for her room the entire time, she still went home on the weekends and left most of her belongings behind.
During one of her trips home, we found ourselves sold out on a Saturday night and overbooked by a single room. Eventually I was faced with a moral dilemma: walk the guest with a confirmed reservation to another hotel, or clean out our resident's belongings and rent her room. The room was messier than my college apartment, but we still decided it was worth the risk. We rounded up all of her personal effects - and I mean personal - rented the room, put it all back in place the next morning, and the guest was never the wiser.
And that, my friends, is how you book 251 guests into a 250 room hotel.
If there's any one thing that I miss from my career in the hotel business, it's all of the wacky stories that each day would bring. While I don't believe any of these tall tales occurred on the same day, they could all have easily happened on a random Tuesday evening. As any hotel worker will tell you, there's never a dull moment in the business. For some, the rush of the day-to-day activity in a hotel is like a drug and they can't get enough of it; for others it wears you down until eventually one day simply bleeds into the next. As it turned out, I was a little of both, and the stories that fill the book inside my head would easily make for a bestseller.
Enjoy Your Stay