The truth about light-fingered hotel guests
MOST of us do it. We pilfer shampoos, milled soaps and quality tea bags from hotel bathrooms and ship cabins. But hoteliers reckon filling your suitcase with the contents of the bar fridge, taking the $250 binoculars from your guest suite and ‘‘borrowing’’ the Bose sound system is taking things a bit too far.
When hotelier Joost Heymeijer opened the glamorous Emirates-owned Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa northwest of Sydney nearly four years ago, the last thing he expected he’d have to deal with was pilfering — even though he had research showing more than 90 per cent of guests take items from their hotel suite.
‘‘[But] to my big surprise we do get this problem,’’ Heymeijer says. ‘‘Anything that is not bolted on to the wall or the floor has the potential to walk.’’
To be clear, the Wolgan Valley housekeeping team doesn’t have a problem with guests taking soaps and shampoos, but it’s another matter when they ‘‘borrow’’ the room’s shoehorns, towels, umbrellas, robes, coathangers, ashtrays and the $550 Huon pine wombats that sit on your bedside table and are used to indicate whether you want your bed linen changed.
They are also not that impressed with those who take the entire contents of the bar fridge — even if it is included in the rather hefty tariff.
‘‘I am a hands-on general manager. When I drove some guests to their car and lifted their bags, I noticed the bags were very heavy and there were lots of clinking sounds,’’ Heymeijer says. ‘‘These guests had cleaned out the mini-bar, taking the Cokes, white wine, beer, etc. The mini-bar is inclusive, so I could not say anything.’’
And it’s not just the bar fridge contents that tend to go walkabout. ‘‘Sometimes people go for long walks and we will give them a backpack and good quality LED flashlights, and they [take them away].’’ So how does Heymeijer deal with it? He calls the guests on their return home and asks if they would like to pay for the ‘‘borrowed’’ item. ‘‘I am not afraid to charge.’’
The French Accor group also cops its fair share of pilfering. But it is about to institute a scheme that will be familiar to those who have travelled to France and the US. Bar codes will be attached to mini-bar products and also to towels. If they are taken by guests, the cost will be charged to their account.
In good news for those who like popping the odd Hermes or L’Occitane toiletry into their bag, Accor accepts that and prices it into the room rate.
Has Wolgan Valley Resort’s Heymeijer ever taken anything from a hotel room? ‘‘Depending on the quality of hotel, I will take a cake of soap or shampoos. But [those items] are there to be taken.’’