I know this is predominantly a food blog, and perhaps 97+% of all posts fall into that broad category. But it has also increasingly become a travel blog, chronicling the various trips MM and family have taken over the years for business and pleasure. It has also covered several issues with respect to customer service. So I apologize now to readers who might find this post an unappetizing diversion from recent food posts, but regulars will understand why I just had to write it. We returned yesterday afternoon from a four day trip to Hong Kong, and we travelled with a party of 11 people total, booked into 5 rooms at The Marco Polo Gateway, HK, a four star hotel property. After the first night, I noticed these extremely itchy welts on my arm (photo of my arm above, taken 3 days after I was bitten) and jokingly said to Mrs. MM that there must have been hungry bedbugs the night before. Not certain what the bites were, but increasingly alarmed at the spots forming and itch involved, I figured the mall or food would be adequate distraction. In the next few days, I would get bites behind my legs and elsewhere I would not want to photograph nor show another human being, and by the time we departed for the Hong Kong airport yesterday, I decided to ask everyone in our party if they had similar bites. It turns out that guests in 3 out of the 5 rooms (407, 413, 414, 420, 421) we took at the hotel had similar bites. And after confirming that they were indeed bed bug bites after our return to Manila, you can imagine just how incensed I had become. I never mentioned the bites while at the hotel, I suppose it’s one of those things that one tries to keep to themselves and suffer in silence. But with 60% of our rooms apparently infested, and worse, a quick google suggests that SEVERAL OTHER guests of this popular Pinoy tourist hotel had experienced a similar fate, then I just had to broadcast fair warning to the tons of Filipinos and other guests out there who intend to book rooms at this hotel…some of their beds have BED BUGS!!!
Bed bugs are these little creepy crawlies that leave bites similar to fleas. One of the tell-tale signs is that they bite in a fairly linear fashion, rather than a totally random way that mosquitos feed. The itch is unbelievable and depending on a human’s reaction to the saliva of the bed bugs, the inflammation and other skin reactions can vary from mild to incredibly uncomfortable. But the bottom line is, a hotel of this sort cannot, should not, must not even condone the whiff, let alone confirmed presence of bed bugs in their property. There is no easy way to kill bed bugs (place them in a freezer for 3 weeks or so), so infested rooms must have their beds and possibly even carpeting changed. We booked very tourist-priced rooms at the Marco Polo, but I don’t think any hotel should charge for a room infested with bed bugs! Disgusting. Utterly appalling. If you really want to get annoyed, google bed bugs and read about them in horrifying detail. At any rate, I am firing off a letter to the managers of the Marco Polo Gateway and will post their response when and if I get one. In the meantime, since thousands of you will read this post within the next week, please let everyone and anyone you know who is planning a trip to Hong Kong read this and other posts about bedbugs at the Marco Polo Gateway before finalizing their travel plans and booking hotel accommodations. I figure I have spent a good 2,000+ room nights all over the world in the past 20 years due mainly to work, and out of all those hotel stays I have only been bitten by bed bugs twice. The first time was some 15 years ago at a $3 per night room at a hotel in a remote island off of Bohol. And the last few days in a $125 per night room at the Marco Polo Gateway, Hong Kong. I will NEVER EVER stay at either hotel again. Yuck.
P.S. Read this link to an Opera “diva” who sued the Hilton Hotels for $6 Million in 2007 due to over 100 bed bug bites suffered at a Hilton Hotel after a six night stay.
PLEASE READ FOLLOW-UP POST AND THE RESPONSE OF THE HOTEL MANAGEMENT, HERE.