Park Hotel Alexandra apologises to guests on stay-home notice after complaints of dirty rooms
SINGAPORE — Returning residents who are now serving their stay-home notice at a hotel in Queensway have complained about poor hygiene standards in their allocated rooms where toilet bowls were not flushed or there was urine on the floors.
- Guests serving stay-home notice at one hotel found that the rooms were in unsanitary conditions
- There was faecal matter left unflushed, and dust and hair on the carpets, for example
- One couple with two toddlers found their room too small
- The hotel said that bigger rooms cannot be given unless subject to the authorities’ approval
- STB said that it has received special requests from people serving notices
SINGAPORE — Returning residents who are now serving their stay-home notice at a hotel in Queensway have complained about poor hygiene standards in their allocated rooms where toilet bowls were not flushed or there was urine on the floor.
These unwelcomed sights were discovered when guests first entered the rooms. They had to check in to serve their 14-day stay-home notice as part of Covid-19 regulations after their overseas travel.
The complaints came from at least four guests from the Park Hotel Alexandra, who were interviewed by TODAY on Monday (Sept 21).
When approached, Park Hotel Alexandra said that it is “disappointed” to hear about the shortfalls in the cleanliness of the rooms as well as service.
“We sincerely apologise for the unpleasant experience the affected guests have had,” it added.
Ms Tan Yen Nee, hotel and sector manpower director at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said in response to TODAY’s queries that it will continue to work with hotels to ensure that these dedicated facilities for people on stay-home notice “adhere to the proper hygiene and service standards”.
HAIR AND DUST ON ROOM CARPETING
Upon returning to Singapore from France last Friday, Mr Sony — who did not want to give his full name — checked into his room in the Park Hotel along Alexandra Road opposite Queensway Shopping Centre.
What he first noticed was that the toilet floor was mouldy and the carpet in the room had hair and dust on it.
When he opened the lid to the toilet bowl, the 53-year-old, a permanent resident who works in the finance industry, noticed that there were faeces in there.
That was when he demanded to switch to another room, finding it “impossible” to stay a minute longer.
In the second room, the toilets were clean but there was a teaspoon that had been used and not washed.
He suspected that the hotel did not clean up the room after the previous guest had left.
“You do a 14-day stay-home notice to protect your family,” Mr Sony said. “But then you’re put in a hotel that’s not disinfected, and if the previous guest had Covid-19, how do we feel?”
Mr Kolar (not his real name), an employment pass holder staying in the same hotel, said that the first thing he noticed upon checking in last Friday was dried urine on the floor around the toilet bowl.
The 32-year-old, who works in the sports industry, and his wife had both flown in from Europe.
Like Mr Sony’s room, the carpet in his room had hair and dust. There were also coffee stains on the table and a used cotton swab lying on a shelf above the bed.
“It is a pandemic, so what I expected was for something clean to be cleaner… this is just shocking,” Mr Kolar said. “The Singapore standard is high, but this is not Singapore standard.”
He and his wife asked to switch rooms, but the hotel directed them to a self-help portal under the Ministry of Manpower for persons on stay-home notice to address their request. It was only on Sunday night that they got the green light, but by then, they had already spent two hours disinfecting every inch of their room with alcohol and wet wipes and were reluctant to leave.
No hotel employees are allowed into the rooms to do cleaning when guests are serving stay-home notices, due to concerns of infection by the coronavirus.
Mr Kolar said that other guests who had switched rooms had to clean a dirty room all over again by themselves.
Explaining that he did not want to be identified for fear of losing his employment pass, Mr Kolar said: “In my country, I would just get out (of the hotel) and (head back to my residence)... but if I do this here, our employment passes will be revoked and we will have to go back to our home country.”
Individuals who breach their stay-home notice may be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Regulations, with first-time offenders fined up to S$10,000 or jailed up to six months, or both.
Park Hotel Alexandra said that the authorities have sole discretion in assigning hotels to people who have to serve their stay-home notice.
“So while we are not in the capacity to change that, we will continue to extend our assistance with their requests… and render any support they need.”
It is now investigating the cleanliness issue and is “eager to rectify the lapses and avoid any recurrence”.
“The health and well-being of our guests is very important to us and we have since put in place extra checks to ensure that the rooms are acceptable,” its spokesperson said.
“While we have extended a change of room as and when they are assessed, some of our guests have declined.
“Nonetheless, we are reaching out to them personally to make things right and address their concerns over cleanliness and comfort.”
For guests who want to raise similar problems, the hotel would like them to call its dedicated guest hotline, the spokesperson added.
ROOM TOO SMALL, DIETARY NEEDS NOT MET
Apart from cleanliness and hygiene standards, two other guests found their room in the hotel too small for their family.
The wife, a dependent’s pass holder, spoke to TODAY but did not want to be identified because she did not want her husband’s job to be compromised. He is an employment pass holder working in the IT sector and they had returned from India and checked in last Wednesday.
The couple, who have twin boys who are only two-and-a-half years old, had asked for a suite but the room was smaller than what she had expected, with no space to fit a crib. One toddler fell off the bed while sharing the bed with the parents.
The couple also spent an hour cleaning the entire room, but said that wet wipes were insufficient to clean the curtains and the carpet, which were still dusty.
“It is great mental agony,” the wife said, adding that she is diabetic and had informed the hotel of her dietary requirements but they were not met.
Park Hotel Alexandra acknowledged that there were some guests who asked for more space but their rooms are all similar in size.
“The only larger room is a suite, but we are not at the liberty to allocate them because the release of those room types needs the authorities' approval.”
As an alternative, the hotel has offered to keep the guests’ luggage and belongings elsewhere.
The hotel also recognised that its guests have various dietary requirements and it would ask for their preferences and accommodate their needs.
“In this instance mentioned, it is regrettable that there was an oversight,” the hotel’s spokesperson said.
‘THEY ARE DOING THEIR BEST’
One guest from the hotel, Mr Eugene Wee, who has been serving his stay-home notice there since last Friday, said that hotel employees are doing their best to adapt to the crisis and he is sympathetic to its shortcomings.
However, this is not to say that the 39-year-old had a five-star experience at the hotel either.
The room was “smaller than anticipated” and Mr Wee, a managing director at a non-profit organisation, found “quite a bit of dust” at the bottom of the bed.
He believes that he developed a minor allergic reaction as a result of it.
When told of the matter, the hotel sent a vacuum cleaner with some gloves to his room. His allergy subsided after he cleared the dust.
“I’d reckon that if the hotels are charging at full rate, the cleanliness and service should also match up.”
Other aspects of the hotel’s service were up to standard, Mr Wee said, and he could sense that the staff members were doing their best.
“The hotel made intentional attempts to put (personal) messages each day along with the bento (meal) boxes… that was a wonderful touch,” he said. "The front desk has (also) been most helpful thus far.
“I believe that everyone is doing their level best, as all businesses are struggling to adapt through this crisis in one way or another.”
Ms Tan of STB said that stay-home notice facilities such as hotels are given guidelines on handling common enquiries and requests from guests who have to serve their notice.
Some examples of special requests include allowing caregivers to opt in and stay with members of the family who need care, catering to special dietary requirements and arranging for pets to stay together in a pet-friendly hotel.
For families with children, hotels will give priority for interconnecting or family rooms, Ms Tan said.
However, special requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and are accommodated when they are safe and possible to do so.