It was a rough night at my hotel by LAX last night. A few different issues arose that could have been disastrous for the hotel. In the end, the hotel’s actions caused more alarm than I’m sure they intended and I ended up with almost no sleep.
First, the fire alarm got pulled and management made an announcement across the loud speaker that they were looking into this. This woke me out of a sound sleep when a deep voice came over the sound system in the hallway (though it might have been in my hotel room since the voice was very loud). “Looking into it,” they said. Should I be concerned and leave my room, or roll over and go back to sleep? I thought it was more prudent to at least get up and look out the window to see if I could see any fire or people leaving their rooms.
No, nothing looked amiss in the other part of the L-shaped hotel. I saw people in their rooms, one smoking out his hotel window, and no one appeared to be frantically preparing to leave their rooms. Since management said they were looking into the fire alarm issue, I thought there would at least be a short follow-up message that either all was ok, or not. But nope, no follow-up message.
I tossed and turned with thoughts of my escape route if there was a fire (I had chosen a higher-up floor to get easy access to the Executive Lounge vs. staying on floor 7 or below for fire-ladder access), how I’d take my laptop tote with me since I hadn’t done a hard-drive backup in a few weeks, and how I’d get dressed before leaving my room. It took awhile for the mind chatter to subside, but eventually I did fall back gto sleep again.
Second, an hour after the fire alarm incident, I was again abruptly awoken, this time by the phone ringing in my room. I tried to answer the phone next to me on the nightstand, but the portable handset didn’t work. By the time I got to the desk to reach the desk phone, the ringing had stopped. Most likely a wrong number, so back to bed I went again.
Third, just a few minutes after the phone call, a guy pounds heavily on my hotel room door. I asked what he wanted, but he didn’t answer… he just loudly pounded again. Then I hear him pounding on the neighbor’s door. Was there really a fire after all? Were they getting everyone to evacuate the rooms? I couldn’t find my robe fast enough so couldn’t open the door. Not that I wanted to open the door, but by now I was getting a bit freaked out. I grabbed the hotel robe off the back of the bathroom door and debated …. Open the door and take the risk that this guy shoves his way into my room, or keep the door closed and risk going up in flames? Neither option was appealing.
Since I had last heard the guy pounding on the neighbor’s door, I thought the risk low in opening the door for a quick peek. I didn’t see anyone in the hallway. No one was running out of their room due to fire either. I closed the door and went to the hotel phone (the working phone; not the dead handset). I dialed zero to get to the hotel operator. Ring . . . ring . . . ring. After about a dozen rings with no answer, I hung up. Were they all busy with the fire? What the heck was going on? I pressed zero again – and again no answer after about ten rings. I slammed the phone down. I was no longer freaked out, now I was mad. If there is a real emergency, the hotel should have been making a hotel-wide announcement or answering their phone directing people with what to do. If there was no emergency, then they should be answering the phone so we can deal with the safety issue of the guy pounding on doors.
Another look out the window at the other wing of rooms and all looked calm. I gave up trying to reach the hotel’s front desk. I gave up worrying about there being an actual fire. I gave up trying to figure out why some guy was heavily pounding on my door. And unfortunately, I gave up on getting back to sleep.
As for the hotel:
Why didn’t they do a follow-up broadcast to their initial message about the fire alarm?
Why don’t they routinely check the in-room phones to ensure they are working? (Lesson to me: Earlier in my stay I realized the portable handset wasn’t working and I didn’t report it.)
Why didn’t they answer their phones within a dozen rings? Or call back a guest when they see they’ve missed two calls?
I will talk with the hotel and update this post with their response.
In the meantime, what would you have done?
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