The truth about light-fin­gered ho­tel guests

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - LISA ALLEN

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.’’

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