It was a simple enough trip. A business traveler, on the way home from a few days of meetings in a remote city, is stranded by way of an airline with the reputation of rarely getting passengers to their destination, let alone on time. The option of two hotels are offered, and the Sheraton Airport Hotel Tempe, near Phoenix, is selected -- after all, it's a Starwood hotel, the same company that owns the Westin and other properties. By no means the highest of the lodging food chain but by no stretch unusually horrible. The idea of forgoing the airline's options and selecting a separate hotel was considered, but it was late and had been a long day. The flight was delayed, then had mechanical failure, then ran out of food after keeping passengers on the runway for over two hours. The stay at the hotel would be less than eight hours, less than the average work day.
It wasn't surprising afterward to read the reviews online about the hotel being "dirty," "in need of cleaning" and "lice infested." That was the near exact experience. One guest shared that they found a pair of men's underwear in plain sight in the bathroom, clearly due to the room they were in never being cleaned. Another talked about there being hair in the drain of the sink. In fact, many reviews referenced the hotel being filthy and poorly maintained than anything else. It was stunning that the airline would put its passengers in such a dirty and poorly managed place.
It's not the first horror story you've heard about business travel. Today entrepreneurs and executives aren't just being hit by airlines cutting back and increasing costs, security measures and other obstacles, but dirty hotels, bed bugs and a whole host of other things. The Sheraton is an example. Here's what you can do about it:
1. Google search all hotels before you stay in them, and include the words "lice," "bed bugs," and "scabies." Fortunately sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp give candid details about the experience consumers have, good or bad. While bed bugs can spread to even the cleanest hotels, there are a bunch of sites dedicated to alerting travelers of hotels that may have infestations.
2. Take note of the room, bed, etc. the minute you get in. While you may have a particular hotel you like to stay in and are confident in its management, the hotel an airline puts you in might be another story. Regardless, take stock of the room the minute you walk in, including foul odors, dirty surfaces, etc. If the room doesn't seem up to par, ask for another immediately.
3. Invest in a hard case suitcase. You've got a better chance of protecting yourself and your items from bugs and other problems with hard case luggage over fabric and other materials. While bugs can still get in by way of zippers, etc., they won't be able to sneak through fabric fibers, etc. There are also luggage and travel bags that seal in your clothing and bags available online and in stores.
4. Do not unpack, and do not put your suitcase on the floor. A lot of people immediately unpack their clothes in their hotel rooms, or throw their suitcase on the floor. Avoid this, as clothing in drawers, etc. can be exposed to insects, while suitcases on carpeting can suffer the same.
5. Act immediately. If you feel something crawling on you in the bed at night, chances are there is something crawling on you. Immediately get up, remove your clothing and take a hot shower. Put the clothing in the sink so that nothing else you own is affected, then have it bagged in a sealable bag and if you can, keep it out of your luggage. Immediately ask for a new room in another area of the hotel.
Do not bring your suitcase or any of its contents into your home once you've returned. Either leave it in the car for a few days (the heat or cold should kill most bugs) or remove everything from it and wash immediately in the hottest water you can. Items that can't be washed can be frozen -- the duration needed to kill a bug depends on what kind of bug it is.