TV news show sting alleges NYC hotels weren’t following coronavirus cleaning procedures

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Major hotel chains have announced special cleaning protocols in light of the coronavirus, but a television news show investigation is raising questions about whether they are being followed.

The syndicated news show “Inside Edition” aired a report Monday that alleges two of the three hotels it checked in New York didn’t thoroughly clean rooms or change bed linens between visits. It identified them as the Hyatt Place Times Square and the Hampton Inn Times Square Central. A third hotel, the Trump International overlooking Central Park did better, but wasn’t perfect.

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“Inside Edition” said its producers checked into the hotels and spotted pillows, bed sheets and bath towels with a harmless, washable spray that becomes visible under ultraviolet light. The producer mussed up the bed and room to make it appear a guest had spent the night. A clear, washable gel was applied to other surfaces that would commonly be touched by hotel guests, such as the TV remote control, thermostat and desktop.

After checking out, producers checked back in to the same rooms the following day under different names, the show said. They wielded a UV light to see if it would reveal the otherwise invisible tags on the items that had been marked by the show the previous day.

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At the Hyatt Place Times Square, the markings appeared on bed sheets and pillowcases, which “Inside Edition” said shows the linens were not changed between stays. The gel was also visible on the TV remote, the report said.

Hyatt said it takes the report seriously.

“We are deeply concerned by the situation,” said a statement relayed by spokesman Stephen Snart. “When we learned about this, we promptly contacted the hotel’s owner and required them to take swift action to address this.”

It said it has “no tolerance” with properties that don’t comply with its enhanced cleaning standards in light of the pandemic.

When it came to the Hampton Inn Times Square Central, the producers found invisible markings on the sheets and a pillowcase, the remote and thermostat. 

The TV show "Inside Edition" found two of the three New York City hotels it checked appeared not to have changed bed linens, despite concerns about cleaning as the coronavirus rages.

Hilton spokeswoman Laura Ford said she couldn’t comment until she sees the report. But Lisa Giaimo of OTO Development, which owns the hotel, said the statement sent to “Inside Edition” about a lapse in procedures came from her company. It blamed the housekeepers.

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“An internal investigation revealed that our housekeeping team relied on a visual inspection of the room’s cleanliness to determine which areas received attention, deviating from our protocols,” the statement said. “This is a violation of our standards to thoroughly clean each room. Both our housekeeping team and management apologize for this mistake and we are retraining our team members to reinforce our procedures.” 

The sheets had been changed at the Trump International Hotel, but one of the pillowcases had not, the show alleges. The TV remote didn’t appear to have been wiped and an invisible handprint left on a surface as part of the test remained.

The show said a Trump Hotel spokesperson disputed the test, saying after an internal review that the findings were “categorically false.”

Though hotel chains promote that they have amped up their cleaning, some travelers say they are taking along their own pillowcases, bringing along disinfectant wipes or using other techniques to stay safe at hotels. 

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