Alison Foumier, a New York business woman is suing Starwood Hotels and Resorts for handing out her room key to a man pretending to be her husband. In a terrifying account that will have solo travelers across the country triple-checking their deadbolts and additional latches, this drunken pervert used the key to enter Ms. Foumier’s room and proceed to grope her as she slept. Is there anyone whose skin hasn’t crawled into an uncomfortable, scrunched position? Thought not.
The safety of travelling business women has been a hot topic recently. A Copenhagen hotel created an entire women-only floor, where even the male manager isn’t allowed except for emergencies. At the time, I questioned whether women really felt this concerned with their hotel safety. After reading this story, I have more appreciation for hotels that take women’s safety seriously. Obviously Starwood has some things to learn.
Foumier’s initial tale is one that many business travelers can relate to. She was having a drink in the hotel bar, when a male patron started to harass her. He possibly thought he was flirting, but obviously she wasn’t reciprocating. So Foumier decided to go back to her room to get away from this man. Then, a common travel occurrence in the hotel bar becomes a nightmare. That’s when, she claims, he went to the front desk and pretended to be Foumier’s husband. Without checking the guys identification or calling up to the room to check, the hotel issued the man a room key and went about their evening. And Alison Foumier was awakened by a drunk man trying to grope her as she slept.
To compensate for the hotel’s alleged negligence and horrible safety standards, Alison Foumier has enlisted the help of Gloria Allred, the famed victim representative. Whether the presence of such a high-profile attorney will help Ms. Foumier’s case is yet to be seen. The hotel has not refuted these claims, though they are just now looking in to the matter. Starwood Hotels released a statement saying,
“The safety and security of our guests is our first and foremost priority. It is company-wide policy to ensure proper identification is shown and verified before distributing a key to a registered guest’s room. We are taking this allegation seriously and are working with the hotel in question to understand the facts and any breach of security that may have contributed to this very unfortunate event. “
No matter what happens with this lawsuit, it definitely bring safety concerns for travelling business women back into the news. And it may prompt a few more hotels to start offering female-only floors, simply to provide peace of mind to ladies travelling alone. What do you think? Do horror stories such as this make you question your business travels? What precautions do you take to stay safe when travelling?