Hotels and your health: how much can you control?

Bed in the Landmark Hotel Resort during an October 2010 stay (Source: Brenda Agner)
Bed in the Landmark Hotel Resort during an October 2010 stay (Source: Brenda Agner)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - When you go to a hotel, you expect it to be clean, but have you ever considered who inspects the hotel room you where you stay?

After a customer called WMBF News with concern over this issue, many of you wanted us to dig deeper.

"It is very frustrating," said Brenda Agner of her alleged dirty hotel room during an October 2010 stay at the Landmark Resort Hotel.

We first met Agner a few months ago, when she showed us pictures she took during a stay at the local hotel.

"First thing that I do when I go into a hotel or resort is flip the mattress, because I have a bad back," said Agner.

When she flipped the mattress, Brenda says what she saw took her breath away.

"It was red, and had brown around the outside of it, but it looked like blood."

According to a Myrtle Beach Police Report, however, the stain was not blood, but still enough to be a concern to Brenda.

Now after pushing for answers, the Landmark Hotel is ready to give their side of the story.

"Can you understand why seeing this would be a concern to any guest," asked WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely.

"Sure," replies Landmark Marketing Director Matt Klugman, who says they took action.

"This mattress has been destroyed and certainly not something that we'd expect a guest to stay in and certainly not pleased that a guest found this situation," admits Klugman.

Landmark employees say it's possible a previous guest spilled something on the mattress and flipped it to hide the stain.

"We generally don't have a situation where a guest would come in and flip the mattress, as we made the bed...The appearance of the bed was clean when the bed was made, so it was certainly a unique circumstance and something that we're looking into addressing and dealing with," adds Klugman.

Agner says when she called the front desk that night to complain, the employee moved her to another room, but she says the staff didn't seem to sympathize with her fear over the situation.

"We want to make sure we do whatever we can to make sure that doesn't happen again, and that goes along with training the employees and evaluating procedures, and doing so continuing forward. That's a continuing process," said Klugman.

We showed the pictures to State Representative Alan Clemmons.

"They have every reason not to come back; I doubt that I would too, given the way that mattress looks," said Clemmons.

He understands Agner's concern, but doesn't like the idea of bringing back South Carolina DHEC inspections, which WMBF News learned were discontinued more than 16 years ago, largely, DHEC says, because of cost.

"I don't see anything dropping through the cracks of the private sector... I think it's easier for something to drop through the cracks of government than the private sector," said Clemmons.

Klugman agrees.

"Would you welcome another set of eyes to check out the status of the hotel?" asked Maely.

"Well at this point DHEC has the ability to come into a property and do an inspection," said Klugman.

However, when it comes to routine state inspections, he says customers won't look at a state report card as much as they look online for other guest referrals.

"With Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter and all the means that people now have a voice, I think that actually steers properties in the direction to try to make sure things are well kept and in order for guest stays," said Klugman.

Frans Mustert, President Oceana Resorts and Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Ethics Committee Chair says service like that which Agner says she received reflects more than the attitude of a single hotel.

"I mean, it reflects on the entire Hospitality Association," said Mustert.

In addition, Mustert openly welcomes the DHEC inspections.

"You're just not talking about a clean room, you're talking about sanitation and a health issue, and I think that should be the whole state's concern and it certainly should be in our case... tourism is our most important economic engine we have," said Mustert.

Agner eventually got a full refund for her stay at the Landmark, but she says independent hotel inspections may be the only thing that will bring her back to Myrtle Beach.

Landmark managers say their good reviews far outweigh their bad.

"We were certainly upset that we had an unhappy guest in this particular instance," said Klugman.

We learned at least six states, including Florida, do have state mandated hotel inspections.

Clemmons says he would discuss the concept of state wide inspections, but with the budget deficit, he says he'd rather see DHEC inspectors focus on more threatening issues than hotel cleanliness.

The Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality-Chamber Ethics Review Committee is reviewing its policies. Representatives tell WMBF News they have sent a letter requesting DHEC inspect the Landmark Hotel.

WMBF News will Keep you updated on the results of that request.

For now, your primary options if you discover a problem after talking to the manager are to file complaints with the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Ethics Committee and the Better Business Bureau.

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