Today in “if you say so, but I don’t believe that shit at all” news, a Sarasota, Fla., hotel is claiming that a racist note found by a black millionaire and his family during their stay over the Fourth of July was left by a previous guest, and was not directed toward the family.
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Art Ovation Hotel, a 162-room boutique hotel that is part of the Marriott’s Autograph Collection hotels, “immediately launched a thorough internal investigation” due to the “concerning nature of the situation.” After apparently going over the electronic memory of the guest room locks, the hotel concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that hotel staff was involved in leaving the note which read, “You’re a Nigger.”
The hotel said that the note “appears to have already been left in the room, likely by a previous occupant when the guests checked in and was not directed at the guests in any way.”
Frank Davis, 58, the father of the family staying in the hotel room gave a statement to the Herald-Tribune stating:
I am relieved to report that a person of interest has been identified by Marriott in the incident at the Art Ovation Hotel. The person of interest was a guest at the hotel who had been using the N-word to disparage Marriott associates and others at the hotel. The person of interest is also believed to be behind other lewd incidents at the hotel including unlawful fire alarm activation. Sarasota police have been contacted and provided with the additional details. At this time, it seems likely that no Marriott associates were involved in the writing of the note or its placement in the room. More details coming.
Davis, the president and CEO of the Horizon Group, was traveling with his family, including his 27-year-old son Michael, over the Fourth of July holiday when the incident occurred. The father-and-son duo had returned from breakfast and shopping when they saw the note on hotel stationary stuck to the lamp beside the bedside table, AL.com notes.
“I was stone cold for 30 to 40 seconds when I read the note,” Michael Davis told the New York Post at the time. “My first thought was, what did we do to deserve this? We tipped well, we were beyond nice to all the staff.”
The Davises contacted the front desk and local police and then opted to relocate. The Marriot refunded the traveling points that were used to book the stay and the chain’s vice president called Michael Davis to apologize.
Frank Davis acknowledged that he thought that his initial exchange with management at the hotel could have been better, but added that his interactions with senior officials were great following the incident.
“I think he could have been much more sympathetic with my son in the conversation they had initially,” Davis said of management at the hotel before adding: “I have nothing but positive things to say about Marriott corporate staff ... Their diversity and senior management folks are truly sincere.”
However, as a skeptic, I have a few questions about how this whole thing went down:
First of all, I’m assuming that since Davis is a millionaire (who donated a cool $5 million to his alma mater Bucknell University for a new building and minority recruitment) and this was a boutique hotel, I’m assuming the room the family stayed in cost a pretty penny. How is it that cleaning staff passed over this literal and figurative rubbish that was left stuck to a lamp in between guests?
Second of all, we’re supposed to assume that there’s random racist leaving “you’re a nigger” notes at bourgie hotels hoping that the next guest, or perhaps the next housekeeping person is black? (Okay, this part is a little bit more believable than it should be, but still.)
At the end of the day, I’m glad, I suppose, that the hotel took the incident seriously and launched an investigation and kept the Davises in the loop.
However, regardless, the hotel has promised to work on “reinforcing its sensitivity training with associates at all levels,” and work closely with the Sarasota Police Department as it continues to look into the incident.
“The safety and security of our guests is of paramount importance to us, and we remain committed to providing an environment where we all feel welcome. Again, we apologize to all of those impacted by this experience and regardless of the source of this note, we deeply regret that any guests of ours had to endure this situation,” a statement from the hotel read.