Let’s face it – it’s been a crappy year so far and most of us are looking to get away from it all for a bit this summer so we can pretend things are back to normal. (Pandemic, what pandemic?)
The hospitality industry wants us to get back out there too and they’re promising we’ll be safe with their ramped-up cleaning and disinfecting efforts.
But before you hit the road or lay down for a good night’s rest in one of the nation’s premier hotels, we’re here to warn you that things may not be as “safe” as they seem.
/ɡrōs/ (especially of wrongdoing) very obvious and unacceptable; blatant.
This word was repeated multiple times by an Inside Edition host during the course of an investigation at some of the most respected — and expensive — hotels in the U.S.
The investigation was recently conducted by an undercover team to find out just how well hotels are keeping their rooms clean for guests while we continue to ride out this pandemic.
Now, when I was much younger — and much poorer — I would take my kids on short road trips and have few options for accommodations besides Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn. (Yep, gross!)
But I expected these low-budget establishments to be gross. I brought my own pillowcases, sprayed down the remote and bathroom with Lysol, and made sure my kids wore socks when walking on the carpet. (And, yes, their socks were always black at the end of the night. Gross!)
As a bonus, they often still had coin-operated vibrating beds, and I’d sacrifice a couple of quarters to watch my kids erupt in giggles as they jumped around on a mattress I knew probably contained all sorts of things I didn’t want to think about. Good times.
But when you stay in an upscale, pricey hotel for the night, you expect things to be spotless. Snow-white sheets, steal-worthy toiletries, and fluffy white bathrobes.
I don’t think it’s too much to expect this type of cleanliness, especially when you’re shelling out a couple hundred bucks a night for some peace of mind.
But Inside Edition burst a very large bubble with its discovery that some of the “best” hotels in the nation are really, well, gross.
The undercover team opened their investigation by reserving rooms in notable New York City hotels, starting with the Hyatt Place Times Square.
Hyatt is big money and owned by the Pritzker Group, one of whom is Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois. So, you’d think there’d be nothing to worry about here.
The Inside Edition production team captured the investigative techniques on video (which is online if you really want to be grossed-out).
They applied an invisible blue-light gel to frequently-touched surfaces such as the TV remote, thermostat, nightstands, mini-bar, and door handles.
Then, in the place you’d least expect to not be cleaned – and the grossest if it’s not – they sprayed an “invisible, washable, and harmless” blue-light spray over a stencil of the Inside Edition logo on towels, sheets and pillowcases.
The team unmade the beds to appear as if they’d been slept in, crumpled up the towels, gave the room a lived-in look, and checked out.
The next day, they reserved the same rooms under different names (must have been a different front desk attendee or someone bad with faces) to see just how well these hotels’ extra cleaning protocols were doing the job.
The results were really gross.
While the desk in the Hyatt room had been wiped down and the towels were clean, the remote and other surfaces lit up like a Christmas tree.
And then, there was the bed. The Inside Edition logo was completely recognizable on both the sheets and pillowcases under the UV light. N-a-s-t-y.
When management was brought up to the room, obviously perplexed at having a mic and camera shoved in their face, they gave the rote answer you’d expect. “We’ll look into it.”
A spokesperson later stated that this one room was “not representative of Hyatt’s rigorous and enhanced cleaning protocols” in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Well, of course they’d say that. But it’s a little fishy that out of all the Hyatt’s all over the world, this was the one that fell through the cracks.
The poor manager was probably thinking, “Of all the hotel rooms in all the world, they had to walk into mine.”
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
Next up, the Hampton Inn Times Square. Second verse, same as the first.
When the team checked back into their same room, the remote and thermostat were awash in a blue glow – and the BEDDING HAD NOT BEEN CHANGED!!
When a manager was called to the room, looking like a deer in the headlights, he said he had to go get a higher-up manager to talk to the team. He never came back.
The Hampton Inn’s spokesperson played the same tune as the Hyatt’s — “…cleanliness is one of our highest priorities, especially during these unprecedented times…,” yada, yada, yada.
There must be a Management Manual of Excuses given to every hospitality worker, because it all sounds the same so far.
And here’s the kicker at the Hampton Inn: they say an “internal investigation” revealed that housekeeping staff “relied on a visual inspection of the room… to determine which areas needed attention.”
Can you imagine? What if this happened when you went to see your doctor for a checkup? “Eh, you look fine. That’ll be 500 bucks.”
Save the best for last…
Now, if there was ever a hotel you’d think was kept to the highest standards in the land, it would be the one owned by our POTUS, Donald J. Trump.
But it appears our President has been a little sidetracked fending off the left’s constant attacks and running the country, because what Inside Edition found at the most esteemed hotel in their investigation will have you agreeing with the producers…
…It was just gross.
Trump International Tower promises it all on a nightstand card stating that “guest rooms are immaculate” thanks to extra care during these troubling times. They even leave guests a “PPE welcome kit” for use while enjoying the city.
At $600 a night minimum for Trump International Tower, it’s pretty disheartening to see the results of the investigation.
I’ll start with the good news… housekeeping actually changed the sheets in the room. Whew.
But before you feel a sense of relief sweeping over you, the pillowcases still bore the bright blue IE logo. The thermostat, mini-bar, and remote had not been wiped down, which producers demonstrated could be done with a very light touch to remove the glowing gel.
This time, when management was called to the room, they didn’t even try to make excuses. They turned tail and walked off without commenting.
Of course, Trump Tower’s spokesperson released a statement about the investigation, saying they’re one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, how dare you!! – oh, and that the alleged results of the investigation are “categorically false.”
This isn’t the first time Inside Edition has conducted this type of investigation – in 2016, the team found that pillowcases and a bathrobe (eww) had not been washed for the next guests at Trump International Tower’s Washington, D.C. location.
And we can just imagine what Donald J. Trump himself would say if Inside Edition came calling at the White House:
“This is yuuuuge fake news. My hotels are the best — theeee best — just ask anyone. Anyone will tell you they’re the best. They’re always clean. Really clean. Categorically clean. I’m telling you. They couldn’t be more clean. Everybody knows it…”
Repeat after me: It’s somebody else’s fault!
Who really knows what goes on in any place of business when we’re not looking?
After all, if I worked in a ritzy hotel for minimum wage cleaning up after rich people who can afford a thousand bucks for one night, I might leave a few germs behind just to put them in their place.
And even in the best establishments, we’re all supposed to be watching our own backs by washing our hands and surfaces.
We do this at the grocery store when we wipe down our carts and bathe in hand sanitizer when we get back to our cars, right?
Having said that, it is both gross and absurd that high-end hotels can’t follow simple common-sense protocols like washing the sheets after each guest checks out.
You know these prominent hotels are hot-spots for honeymooners and couples on their anniversary trips – and I don’t even want to think about what that means any further.
If you don’t have your own portable UV light device (which I think may be a good investment in this day and age), then it might not hurt to wipe down the remote and bring your own pillowcase.
As my mom always used to say, “Never trust hotel bedding.” She’s a wise woman.
Just as the wealthy families and politicians who own these premier hotels know all-too-well, there’s no better tactic than making excuses and blaming others.
So wherever you lay your head this summer, remember it’s no one’s fault but yours if you don’t clean your own hotel room.
Because, apparently, they’re all just gross.