Bedbugs!! Avoid this hotel! Warn TripAdvisor.com. Hoteliers are finding that ads posted on popular travel review sites can be disastrous for business. One luxury hotel saw its five-star rating on Yahoo! Travel plummet to one star overnight when guests reported sharing their bed with bedbugs. Increasingly, distressed guests whose sleep has been disturbed by the tiny blood-sucking pests are leaving the hotels on Internet sites and filing lawsuits.
Dedicated to travelers’ accounts of bedbug attacks in hotels, with directions and maps. Concerned hoteliers feel unfairly trapped. Although hotels have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of their guests, it is usually the guests who bring bedbugs to a hotel.
With expert hitchhikers, bed bugs travel to hotel rooms in the guest’s luggage and take care of the cleaning. Bedbugs are pests that feed on human blood. Difficult to detect, the adults are reddish-brown and the size of an apple seed, but the nymphs are microscopic and almost translucent. Although bedbugs do not transmit disease, their bites can cause itching, red hives, psychosomatic stress and severe allergic reactions.
When their original meal ticket runs out, bedbugs crawl into or near cracks in beds, behind dishes on walls, inside clocks and under carpets to wait for their next victim. They crawl through electrical and plumbing pipes and air ducts looking for new prey, infecting adjacent rooms. Maids may inadvertently spread bedbugs throughout a hotel wing in cleaning carts. It doesn’t take long for a few bed bugs to become a major infestation.
Increasing bed bug infestations in all 50 states led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to declare a bed bug epidemic in April. Pest control companies have reported a 71% increase in bed bug complaints since 2001, according to a survey by the National Pest Control Association (NPMA). Hotel outbreaks have become so numerous that the NPMA and the American Hotel and Lodging Association are jointly hosting a National Bed Bug Symposium on Aug. 25 in New Jersey and Aug. 27 in Seattle.
You don’t have to stay in a hostel to encounter bed bugs. Bed bugs are so prevalent in luxury hotels and respected national chains. “Just because a motel (looks) clean and expensive … doesn’t mean they don’t have bedbugs,” Derrick Bender, a faculty assistant at the University of Maryland’s Cumberland Extension Office, told the Cumberland Times-News. While staying at a $300-a-night luxury hotel in Annapolis this summer, Bender and his wife were attacked by bedbugs.
Juries and judges have sided with bed bug victims when cases go to court. In the landmark 2003 case (Matthias v. Accor Economy Lodging), the Toronto brothers received a $382,000 jury award against the Motel 6 after sharing a room with bedbugs. In 2006, a Chicago couple sued a Catskills resort for $20 million, claiming that more than 500 bedbug bites left them physically and mentally scarred. “I was miserable,” plaintiff Leslie Fox told the Associated Press.
“I felt like my skin was burning and I wanted to rip it off.” In 2007, New York opera star Allison Trainer sued the Hilton hotel chain for $6 million after suffering more than 100 bedbug bites at a Phoenix Hilton Suites. “They were all over the bed and the duvet and the pillows, and I pulled out the sheets and they were everywhere,” she told ABC News. In 2008, a guest at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in San Francisco received a $71,000 settlement, the largest to date, after 400 bedbug bites left her with a disfiguring skin condition.
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