Hotel bedbug horror degenerates into a war of words

The Stanley Hotel is an historic resort in Estes Park, Colo., perhaps best known for inspiring Stephen King to write his horror masterpiece The Shining. And also, bedbugs — if Julie Kobayashi has her way.

Get those images of Jack Nicholson typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” out of your head. This spat reminded me more of the recent exchange between Elizabeth Becton and McBee Strategic. In other words, it degenerated into a needless but not uninteresting war of words.

Let’s start with Kobayashi’s side.

I stayed at the Stanley Hotel over Valentine’s weekend and instead of bringing back pleasant memories, I brought home bed bugs. I contacted the Stanley Hotel and they forwarded my claim to their risk management who denied my claim. I wrote a letter to the president of the corporation, Grand Heritage Hotel Groups who did not even respond to my letter.

This has been a nightmare for us. We had pest control treat our house three times and spent thousands of dollars on washing, drying, dry cleaning, replacing our pillows, and sofa. Do you have any suggestions?

I contacted the hotel on her behalf. It responded directly to her.

Persistence seems to be one of your stronger attributes, but the facts don’t substantiate the claim that you are making regarding your stay at the Stanley Hotel.

Your claim was denied from our insurance carrier after an extensive investigation was completed by an exterminator that concluded no evidence of “bed bugs” located in the guest room you occupied.

But let me reflect upon your timeline of events: You arrived at the Stanley on February 13 on the 14th you noticed 3 bites/marks on your left leg, but did not bring to attention of management of the Hotel. You and your finance returned home and you noticed more bites, but didn’t seek medical advice/attention until February 23.

The fact that you identify in your letters that you have 2 cats and a dog, may suggest a flea issue that result in similar bites. I can’t even begin to imagine how the alleged infestation happened at your house from your return on February 15, but since you didn’t acknowledge it while at the Stanley Hotel and didn’t seek medical attention until a week after returning home there is nothing further than I can offer.

Is it possible that Kobayashi’s bugs came from somewhere else? I asked her, and she forwarded her response to the hotel.

I did not bring the bites to the Stanley management’s attention because I did not realize that I had bed bugs since I have never experienced this before. I do not believe that most guests with three bites would immediately bring this to the hotel management’s attention. The claims investigator informed me that the Stanley already washed the sheets (and “washed the evidence”). However, the evidence is that I had bites the morning after staying at the Stanley.

Also, in Colorado we do not have fleas so my bites are not from our animals. In addition, fleas are not bed bugs. One of the reasons I finally did seek medical treatment is that the number of bites increased to various parts of my body.

If you are aware of the literature with bed bugs, they lay their eggs and it takes some days to hatch and then people experience numerous bites. My impression is that I brought the bed bugs from the Stanley and they infested our house, which is why we had to have pest control treat our house three times. I started out with three bites and then it spread to various parts of my body, which is a common pattern for bed bugs. In addition, it is now common knowledge that bed bugs are problematic even in the “upscale” hotels.

This experience has been a very stressful and costly for my family. We have accrued additional costs since I wrote the itemized lists. We had to replace two sofas because of continued bites. Perhaps the Stanley conducted an “extensive” investigation, although bed bugs are very difficult to find even by professionals. I would like a copy of this “extensive” report.

One can conclude that the bed bugs came from the Stanley since I had no bites upon my arrival, but woke up with bites the next morning. I think that this situation has been handled poorly and rather than taking ownership the Stanley is blaming me. When I wrote to Mr. Cullen, I expected a response, but instead had to enlist the assistance of the media to even receive a response.

So where does that leave Kobayashi? She can’t prove the bedbugs came from the Stanley.

In fact, maybe it was the other way around. Maybe you’ve seen the Steri-Fab advertisements running in the hotel trade magazines, which shows two well-dressed guests checking into a hotel under the caption, “Guess what your guests just brought in with them!” (Answer: lice and bedbugs.)

Kobayashi may want to take the hotel to small claims court. A judge might see this issue differently.

And The Stanley? It might want to call an exterminator — just in case.

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