When you see it happening…

June 17th, 2013

I am currently in Israel and witnessed an unfortunate event in a hotel last week. This could have happened in any hotel in any corner of the world so I removed the identifying details from this post. This letter was sent to the corporate office of this hotel chain and I hope everying who reads it decides that they are responsible for reporting, if not stopping, events appear to be abusive of others’ rights. The age might change but the principle doesn’t.

To Whom It May Concern,

I was a frequent customer during my travels in the USA in recent years. Currently a tourist in Israel, I am staying in more modestly priced accommodations, but still look to your chain for the quality of your business centers. I’m sorry to have to offer less than praise for my recent experience at your hotel in Eilat. I am writing to you since your properties are so well known that you have an even larger responsibility for ensuring your guests are well treated in a safe environment.

As usual, I enjoyed the efficient and pleasant demeanor of the your staff for several days. The front desk generously offered permission for me to receive several packages at their concierge desk since I expected to continue using the center. On my third day at the computer, I had trouble with my asthma due to some kind of ventilation problem. The computer was just below a sprinkler and there were some odd fumes which led me to relocate to a different business center. There was still the issue of my packages arriving, made difficult by customs. The problem became more complicated when I witnessed and reported some suspicious activity taking place in the main lounge of the lobby.

On the date a package was to be delivered, I was enjoying some mineral water by the lounge area when I observed three fully dressed female children in the charge of one middle-aged man and two older adults. I first observed the man insulting one of the older children verbally (“You’re shit!”). A moment later, a younger girl was on his lap with her top pulled down about her waist (she’d been fully dressed), squirming as she was tickled for a prolonged period of time. Finding this to be questionable behavior, I approached him and asked if that was his daughter. He said no, he was an uncle. I objected to his handling of the girl and he then changed his story, saying he was the father. I spoke with the older woman with the group and she said she wasn’t the mother. At that point, I requested that a bar tender ask security to intervene.

Your security team behaved with the utmost propriety and discretion although the man in question kept objecting to your supervisor’s inquiries. He pointed to the three girls and said “Shuk” (‘market’, in Hebrew) and “T” (meaning unknown). I was informed later that these adults were grandparents and an uncle, the child apparently being an orphan. While I would have preferred having a social worker look into this matter in greater detail, security decided the matter was sufficiently explained. Since guest requests are taken seriously in your establishments, security relayed the familys’ request that I be ejected from the premises. Of course, I left peacefully.

The hotel called me the next day to advise me my package had arrived. When I went to pick it up, a front door security man named, ‘____’, refused entry to me. When advised of my errand he refused to get my package from the concierge or allow me entry to retrieve it myself. I was forced to threaten to call the police and he told me to do so but I was not to enter the hotel. This resulted in an unpleasant exchange but I finally prevailed upon him to go inside to speak with the concierge. The concierge personally brought my package out to me and seemed disappointed in the fuss created for no reason at all.

I am an American woman in my fifties. As a former teacher, I am required to report any suspicion of child abuse. It was purely the concern of an adult for actions which I’ve never before observed in the lobby of any one of your hotels. Apparently, I suffered some discrimination in this unit for my actions and hope that there will be an inquiry into the management pertaining to ____’s behavior. Certainly a branch in Eilat Israel, would have one of the higher standards of behavior required among your staff.

I would also like to take this opportunity to suggest offering some training to your staff in the very sensitive area of handling possible human rights violations among your guests. My suggestion is that each branch develop a arelationshp with a social worker from a woman’s shelter and another from a local child welfare agency. Suspicious activity can lead to a discreet call being made to one of these parties for their immediate attention or to review tapes of suspicious behavior if no immediate danger exists. To announce this policy, your facility might make it know that you are ‘family oriented’ and prepared to assist anyone with concerns for their personal safety at any time.

Thank you for your hospitality in the past and I look forward to future stays in your hotels

Barbara Rubin

Categories: Letters

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