‘I was shocked.’ Severn man says he didn’t know how to react after Quality Inn refused to let him stay because his family lived in the area
A local family is angry about what they call an “outrageous” policy that prevented them from staying at Orillia’s Quality Inn and Conference Center on Woodside Drive.
Dan Harris, a Severn Township resident, had planned to take his family, including three children under the age of 6, to a hotel on Dec. 14 for a “mini-vacation” to enjoy the pool.
“My kids like to swim, so I thought, ‘Why not take them to a hotel in town that has a pool?'” Harris said. “I thought, ‘Why not go to a hotel to keep it local?’ They won’t be stuck in the car for a long time, and the hotel has a pool.”
Harris said when she asked about the possibility of early check-in, citing that she lives nearby, she was informed that local residents cannot stay at the hotel.
“He said, ‘We don’t offer rooms to locals.'” I was taken aback. I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “He said…that the local residents staying here have a history of vandalizing rooms and breaking things in rooms before leaving.”
Although hoteliers said the policy was discretionary and not a complete ban on local guests, Harris viewed the policy as potentially discriminatory.
“That’s outrageous. It’s completely ridiculous and if you think about it that way, it could even be… discriminatory,” he said. “You are discriminating against local residents living within a 30km radius.”
He said the family was offered a day pass to use the hotel’s facilities in lieu of overnight accommodation, but decided to take them to another hotel in the city.
He also expressed concern that such policies would discourage people from shopping locally.
“There’s a big movement, not just in this region, but everywhere in Ontario and probably everywhere in North America, to stay local or support local,” he said. “How can we stay local and support local if our local places won’t allow it?”
Melanie Brown, Orillia Hotel’s general manager, noted that the Innkeepers Act allows hotels to withhold guests, and the policy is a “guideline” for front desks that will be strictly enforced. He said it was not a measure.
“It’s not really discriminatory, it’s discretionary, just like in almost every other service industry where people are denied service based on their behavior,” she explained.
“It’s not difficult, but generally speaking, if you’re in an L3V postal code, the front desk staff will ask you to ask a little more detailed questions about your accommodation needs, carefully, discreetly and sensitively.” ”.
“This helps potentially prevent damage to property like what has happened in the past. When locals stay, they sometimes just have a good time instead of staying for a long time.”
Brown noted that this policy has been in place since before she became general manager, and said that when damage occurs to the facility, it is usually not caused by people visiting from out of town.
“We have a serious homelessness and vagrant problem here in town,” she says.
“…people who are trying to do no good tend to stay wherever they can. Unfortunately, people’s life situations and choices can lead to other problems such as damage, drug use, and bothering other guests. It may occur.”
“Honestly, we rarely have any problems with people from out of town. They’re not here to party, they’re here to enjoy a family vacation. Or you’re here to participate in a perch festival.” Or you could go to a golf course or a ski resort. ”
However, Mr Brown admitted Mr Harris and his family should have been allowed to stay at the hotel.
“I emailed (Mr. Harris) … to address his concerns and seek to alleviate his legitimate anger and frustration at his … treatment,” she said. “If I had had that conversation with him, I would have gladly had him and his family come and stay. Unfortunately, I’m not here when that conversation took place. Could not.”
She said she spoke with front desk staff to reiterate the purpose of this policy.
“We do not discriminate against local residents. All we need is for those who have a home around the corner to understand the purpose for which they need accommodation,” she said. “We apologize for how this situation turned out, and we never intended for him to recover from that moment feeling like that.”