09 Jul2009


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.




  1. sister says:

    OMG, they should refund your entire hotel charges, all five rooms. Not a great intro to your crew of the pleasures of world travel…

    Jul 9, 2009 | 9:52 am


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  3. dee bee says:

    hmmm… i often read your blog during my lunch break, like right now… not a very appetizing topic.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:11 am

  4. betty q. says:

    OMG, I hope you had your belongings fumigated, MM, baka may STOW-AWAYS in your luggage!!!!

    Thanks for the heads up, MM…I will tell hubby to check mattress, headboards, pillows, night tables for those creepy crawly buggers as he always travel as well!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:19 am

  5. GayeN says:

    One word…goosebumps…
    the hair on my nape is literally standing!

    While I was scouting for a HK hotel a couple of months ago, I considered Marco Polo but good thing we didn’t choose it in the end…we might have ended in the same “itchy and yucky” situation..

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:23 am

  6. Ging says:

    now im scared. im leaving for singapore tomorrow and will bring along anti-mosquito wipes to apply before sleeping. that should keep away bedbugs as well.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:31 am

  7. silly lolo says:

    Lesson Number Eleventy-nine: Never, ever suffer in silence again! Always, always speak up. Remember, you snooze–you lose!
    It is not like they just missed replacing your bath towels, the suckahs actually attacked and caused bodily harm. I would have gone ballistic!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:34 am

  8. Marketman says:

    Bettyq, no kidding. When I got home last night I showered and shampooed twice hoping to remove any stragglers. And all wash was put in hot water and dryers. If they don’t feast on blood for a couple of weeks, they die I think. This really is awful.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:34 am

  9. Marketman says:

    silly lolo, trust me, my letter will not mince words…

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:36 am

  10. Cris Jose says:

    Bedbugs… yuck… I think I have not seen one in .. well ages, let alone be bitten by one… and to think it’s thriving in that hotel?… better warn my friends…

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:48 am

  11. Rico says:

    Careful though. You might have accidentally imported those bed bags back to your home. I suggest you also check your beds and clothes, and suitcases too!
    We have an upcoming trip to HK in December. Good thing we saw this!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:49 am

  12. Edwin D. says:

    4 Star, 5 Star doesn’t matter as bed bugs is rampant now these days even over here in the States.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:59 am

  13. mojito drinker says:

    ick!!! hope you feel better MM.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 11:02 am

  14. francor says:

    wow. I didn’t know HK had $125 rooms still. Bedbug discount. Joke!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 11:20 am

  15. ragamuffin girl says:

    I know Marco Polo Gateway is extremely popular with Pinoys due to location and sometimes (promo) prices, but there are many new boutique hotels sprouting up in HK which I think tourists should try. By the way MM did you eat at Nishimura at the same hotel? I think their Japanese set lunches are good value for money.Not the best Jap there is in HK, but for the price and serving portion you get filled up, ready to face another day of shopping, walking and haggling:)

    Jul 9, 2009 | 11:25 am

  16. betty q. says:

    On a lighter note, MM…those buggers surely can smell you by a mile and can detect you are well fed and have good tasting blood!!! Baka nag-imbita pa sila ng kapit-bahay!

    On a more serious note, MM, I hope you and your entourage get blood tests done and send the bill to Marco Polo…all 11 in your group!!! What do you think Doc Connie C.?

    Jul 9, 2009 | 11:26 am

  17. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    WOW!!! It’s a pity that Marco Polo Gateway has let their guard down. I always preferred them for their bigger rooms and convenient location. I hope they do something quick or they will lose further business.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 12:02 pm

  18. acmr says:

    Yuck surot!

    I read about this and agree with another poster, there is an epidemic of bed bugs here in the U.S.

    Good to wash clothes in hot water, but I imagine that if you have cloth suitcases, that would be hard to clean/disinfect. Patay if you have hitch hikers! How do you save your suitcases and make sure they are not infested???

    Good luck!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:02 pm

  19. Fred says:

    mmm… now Im getting a strong urge to scratch my arms.

    You might want to air out your mattresses regularly, also a good drying out under a hot sun should help.

    An anti bed bug device would make a killing in the shopping channel.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:03 pm

  20. Mila says:

    MM, bedbugs are now considered an infectious agent by public health officials around the world, there’s been widespread concern in the US about increasing number of bedbug cases all over the country, the increase in global travel is the culprit in this case. I don’t think we read too much of it in the Philippines since most places have them there, or it’s just one of the many buggy problems to deal with. Unfortunately, bedbugs don’t die off too easily, and the adults and eggs can live for months without any food (ie our blood), so they could return time and time again. The only solution will be to replace all your beds, fumigate like mad, and keep a vigil. I hope you won’t find any infestation, tell your crew to also inspect regularly.

    Here’s an article published a few years back about the bugs: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/nyregion/27bugs.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5088&en=f7f15575aed107ab&ex=1290747600

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:04 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    Fred, we usually get a dust mite buster once or twice a year, now I will speed up their regular visit as they use these powerful machines to vacuum dust mites out of beds, upholstery and rugs. acmr, our suitcases are out in the sun drying out. If bed bugs are IN THEM, and they don’t eat blood within a couple of weeks, they will die hopefully. But if somehow they do make it into our home, my dream revenge would be to purchase live head lice from people squatting all over the countryside and bring thousands of lice in little vials to dump on the management’s heads at the Gateway… of course that’s only dreaming…. :)

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:07 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    Mila, ARRGH, you are killing me. They can last for months without blood? ARRGHHH. If its any consolation, if you now google “Marco Polo Gateway Hotel Hong Kong” or “Gateway Hotel Bedbugs” or “Marco Polo Hotel Bedbugs” this post appears in the FIRST PAGE of the search. At least thousands of potential guests will have an opportunity to read about the problem before they make any hotel reservations. As Silly Lolo says, don’t KEEP QUIET in situations like this. I AM PISSED.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:09 pm

  23. Fred says:

    the urge to scratch gets stronger after your read the wikipedia entry :


    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:10 pm

  24. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    MM, Perhaps you should also copy furnished the Hongkong Tourism Board and the Hongkong Health Department.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:25 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    Artisan, you are thinking exactly like I am at this point. Philippine Association of Travel Agents as well.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:27 pm

  26. Cindy says:

    Oh No Marketman! My husband and i are booked at the Marco Polo HongKong Hotel at the end of this month!Am now tempted to cancel. Can those creepies crawl their way from MP Gateway to MP HonKong?

    Jul 9, 2009 | 1:59 pm

  27. dragon says:

    My fellow dragon breathes fire…watch out!

    Do keep an eye out for itch hikers within yourselves, clothes, nooks/crannies of any of your travel stuff…

    My sympathies….

    Jul 9, 2009 | 2:03 pm

  28. dragon says:

    The synthetic pyrethroids are often the main chemicals used for control in Australia, however these are not very effective and can even repel the bugs. The carbamates and the organophosphates are far more effective for control, but may not be recommended for use on mattresses (check the label). Non-chemical approaches to control include the use of vacuuming and steam. Infested clothing can be washed in hot water and dried on the hot cycle of the clothes drier. Delicate materials can be placed into the freezer. Pesticides will need to be applied in conjunction with any non-chemical means of control. Good housekeeping practices and a reduction in possible harbourages such as cracks and crevices will discourage repeat infestations. As bed bugs are cryptic in their habits, complete control is often difficult to achieve with the first Nite, nite, don’t let the bedbugs bite!treatment. This is especially so with heavy infestations and thus a post control treatment evaluation is always advisable.

    Plus this site should help:


    Jul 9, 2009 | 2:08 pm

  29. myra_p says:

    I stayed there for the first time ever last year and did NOT like my stay. Never again. I really prefer the newer small boutique hotels on HK side, at least they don’t have that old-hotel smell and stained bathrooms, yuck.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 2:36 pm

  30. luna miranda says:

    yuck talaga! i once stayed at the Marco Polo Gateway, and didn’t get bitten (baka mas mabango ka MM :D). but i had the same experience in a Baguio and Cebu hotels. and one time, i suspected i got the bites from a PAL flight from Sfo. in that Baguio hotel, caught-in-the-act ko ang bed bug, so when the hotel manager tried to deny they have bed bugs, i asked him to go into my room and see the dead bug on the floor.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 3:23 pm

  31. Gener says:

    Nasty Bites!!! This should be controlled before you went up to that hotel? this shows how dirty that hotel is! This bedbugs are pests of the past?? As shown on your arms,,that was a terrible and very ridiculous bites, i experienced being bitten in one of the hostels in Monte Carlo but not as worst as yours!! Some has to be done on travel agents around the world…WARNING!!!BEDBUGS ATTACK!!!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 3:25 pm

  32. Tricia says:

    Me & my family are long time customers of Marco Polo Gateway but this year, I have taken a liking to W Hotel in Austin Road. But when I can’t get a good rate, I go back to Marco Polo Gateway like our quick trip last month at USD98 per room per night inclusive of airport transfer & outside breakfast. We requested a room in the topmost floor at 16/f. We did not have any problem.

    Gateway is really a sleep & shower kind of hotel. But the bedbugs are something. I have to warn my sister in law who is checked in at Gateway now till Sunday!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 3:47 pm

  33. ariel says:

    Last year I read an article in the newspaper USA Today that there is a rise of bed bug incidents. When I traveled for business I used to carry this ultra violet light, you will surprised how dirty the bed covers and sheets are. I always have this habit of asking for new sheets even if I have to give a tip. One time I made a DVD video using my mac of how dirty this hotel is and they had cockroaches in one of the cabinets. I showed the DVD to the manager of the hotel and he refunded my night stay and I booked right away in the Marriott.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 3:56 pm

  34. sanojmd says:

    mmmm. what you have MM on your forearms are classic sign of bed bug bites.. they tend to leave a straight row of skin bites just like what u had in the photo.. maybe aside from your letter you could atleast send photos of your bites and the other guests who were also victims of the bugs… that’s appaling.. a 4 star hotel with nocturnal insects infestation on their beds.. holey dooley!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 4:31 pm

  35. Marketman says:

    sanojmd, sent them the email and yes, with photos and link to this post.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 4:42 pm

  36. denise says:

    hey MM…bed bugs are like mosquitoes here in dubai….it has been the bane of my almost one year stay here…i’ve also googled them time and again…and no known pesticide can totally eradicate them (we’ve had pest control twice and changed mattresses twice also) and actually from one other site i stumbled upon, they can live up to a YEAR! without food… and your bites are far worse than what we get (i guess you have an allergic reaction)

    and hope no stow-aways came home with you!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 4:55 pm

  37. marissewalangkaparis says:

    My 2nd daughter who used to travel frequently brought some bedbugs home to Singapore and she had to spend a lot to fumigate and change mattress. She’s so fair and so the bites were really,really bad.
    I understand this has become a curse for hotels and frequent travellers nowadays. We really have to be careful in the hotels we stay at.
    Yikes…am itching all over just thinking of them..This spoils travelling fun….

    Jul 9, 2009 | 5:50 pm

  38. Batangueno says:

    Heto po isang magandang website tungkol sa pagiwas sa surot sa inyong paglalakbay:


    Sir MM sana naman po ay gumaling ang inyong mga kagat ng surot at kung may nadala man kayo sa Pinas ay tuluyan silang mamatay sa inyong washer at dryer.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 7:21 pm

  39. Rebecca says:


    So sorry to hear about the bedbugs!

    You may want to post your experience here:


    Jul 9, 2009 | 8:06 pm

  40. Connie C says:

    Hi MM. My sympathies. As a person who seem to be more attractive ( or tastier like you ) to all sorts of insect bites I have kind of gotten used to the suffering, or I would miss out on the pleasures of gardening or travel and the world out there. I am still recovering from tick and chigger bites from these nasty inhabitants in my Maryland garden. I am just being more careful now. Fortunately, bed bugs are not important disease vectors like ticks.


    I like to check Travel Advisor every time I travel to check on hotel bug alerts and generally avoid the big hotels preferring more the smaller inns or Bed and Breakfast.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 8:21 pm

  41. Ally says:

    New York hotels have been infested by bed bugs too. I guess unless they are made aware of the problem, they don’t do anything about it. Gee, it sounds so medieval but it occurs everywhere and anytime.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 8:45 pm

  42. MIguel says:

    I got the same bed bug bites when I was in HK 3 months ago – The Hotel was The HongKong Disney Hotel !!!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 9:11 pm

  43. Vicky Go says:

    Bed bugs are a problem even at posh hotels & yeah, you can bring them home. And yes, you should report to the hotel so they do something about it. Let them know you have a “blog” & you’ve posted something on this & that you’ll post same on a popular travel blog (expedia might sponsor one or Globe Trotter or something from the Travel Channel) to warn fellow travelers. They don’t want bad publicity. They should get moving fast! In this age of twitter, facebook, IM’s & texting – things like this cannot & should not be kept a secret!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 9:11 pm

  44. natie says:

    Yuck…i use Travel Advisor, too, Connie C..great site

    Jul 9, 2009 | 9:33 pm

  45. CCA19 says:

    Marco Polo Gateway is our favorite hotel everytime we are in HK. It has the best location for shopping, Star Ferry, ferry to Macau, etc. But after this, I will think twice in booking at the Gateway.

    I also noticed in our last stay (May ’09) that most of the Filipinos are placed in the lower floors and the Caucasians on the top floors. It made me think that there maybe some discrimination here. We all pay their published rates so why put us in floors 4-7. I havent seen Filipinos being booked in the upper floors. Just thinking out loud.

    Hope your itch gets out soon, Market Man!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 9:50 pm

  46. Lor says:

    I have such a horror of bedbugs, and am so terrified of bringing them home with me after a trip that I wash all my clothes in hot water a few times, and put backpacks/bags/suitcases inside clear/white garbage bags, seal it up for a week or so and see if there are any creepy crawlies. I dont’ want them in my house as they’re SUCH a pest and near impossible to get rid of.

    I’m so sorry so you and your guests were bitten. I hope the hotel makes reparations.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:12 pm

  47. Lou says:

    Bedbugs are back, they have them in 4-star hotels here in Chicago too.

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:17 pm

  48. silly lolo says:

    CCA19: Another example of the fabled “meek and mild” Filipino! Puhleez speak up and speak out folks!
    You should get what you paid for, not what they decide to give you. For all you know, the Staff was told to assign the less desirable lower floors to Filipinos because “they never complain”. It would have been simple for you to say, “Not acceptable. I want a room above the 10th Floor”. A reasonable request, don’t you think? Just avoid being totally obnoxious and you’ll be surprised how easy it is.
    But then again, obnoxious can be fun. I sometimes like to be obnoxious just to watch them sweat!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 10:54 pm

  49. Alana says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Jul 9, 2009 | 11:23 pm

  50. myra_p says:

    silly lolo, that happened to me — I checked in and they put me in one of the lower floors with the old yucky rooms. I called the front desk, and insisted on a room change, esp since my package specified an automatic upgrade. I’m like, this is an upgraded room?? Get me outta here asap. I never even removed my shoes before they came up and escorted me to a newer room on the upper floors. But even if I got what i wanted with minimal fuss, I don’t think I’ll stay there again. I prefer HK side hotels — smaller but new and usually with free wifi. The better to surf marketmanila with :)

    Jul 10, 2009 | 12:39 am

  51. Mia says:

    hi marketman,
    sorry for your experience.
    i don’t think it’s marco polo hotel alone. a few years back my family stayed at the hk disney hollywood hotel for 5 days. there were 23 of us (my mom’s 60th birthday treat) and we were in 9 rooms. most of us in all 9 rooms got bed bug bites. i had 44 bites and spent PHP6000 in dermatologist fees and medicines. i wrote to the hotel. they replied that there was nothing in their rooms that would cause it. the following year, i brought my family and stayed at disney hollywood hotel again (my mistake). prior to this, i wrote them a long email reminding them of what happened and they said they would prepare for it. they upgraded our room, made sure it was de-bugged and disinfected. 2 days later, my 2 year old son and i had bites on our legs and feet. i checked the mattress and found little brown spots…they said those were not bed bugs. hay!!!
    i was in hk in march and june too. i stayed at royal park hote — no bites!!! i did get bites from the mong kok market and the airport carpet. it must be everywhere.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 1:16 am

  52. Mary Lee says:

    Eeeeewwwwww!!!! Yuck. & Ouch.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 2:13 am

  53. johanne says:

    i have been exposed to bedbugs 3 times, once in manilla, once in hong kong and once in new york. i have learnt my lessons the hard way, with many bites. now, when i check into a room, i inspect the bed, mattress, and area around the bed. i never put mu luggage or backpack down on any surface except a hard surface like the desk or luggage rack and i always bring an allersac travel sheet, it has saved me from bites on 1 occasions when i found a few bedbugs on the outside of the allersac. the hotel in manilla refunded my room rate but not in hongkong. in ny i actually got a refund when i showed them the bites and got a free night at any of their hotels in the state.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 2:29 am

  54. RGM says:

    Last time I was in HK, I stayed at the Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers. It’s right beside Marco Polo Prince and right beside the shops! Most importantly, no bed bugs, for 600 HKD.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 3:48 am

  55. maricar says:

    OMG!!!! am going to marco polo getway on august……how do we prevent bed bugs??????

    Jul 10, 2009 | 4:53 am

  56. peanut says:

    Eeeeewwww,my hair are standing on end!HATE creepy crawleys.
    We are going to Hongkong at the end of the year and we are booked at the new hotel in Causeway.A friend of ours who works in hongkong recommended this to us as this is just brand new.My husband’s cousin and sister stayed at the Novotel last year and they didn’t have any problems.Hope this helps would-be travelers.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 6:13 am

  57. hchie says:

    Booked 4 rooms and stayed there last year. For the rates they charged us, the hotel was utterly disappointing. The only saving factor was it’s location. Never again.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 7:26 am

  58. lurker says:

    I was an unfortunate victim of bedbugs while staying at a Marriott hotel in southern Florida. At first I thought I was just allergic to the detergent they used for the sheets but a friend of mine joked that it might be surot. After googling what bedbugs are and what they looked like, I searched around my bed ang found a big one under my pillow. Nagfreak out talaga ako. I caught the bug and marched straight to reception. Even the receptionist freaked out when I showed it to her.

    It occured to me that the hotel might accuse me of bringing it with me so I insisted that they inspect my luggage. They didn’t find anything. The hotel upgraded my room, paid for the laundry of all of my clothes and didn’t bill me for the days I spent in the infected room. During a chat with the manager, he revealed that bedbugs are a problem in Florida and these were carried over by travelers from Latin America.

    As a consequence of the ugly bite marks, I didn’t get to enjoy the famous beaches of Florida. :(

    Jul 10, 2009 | 9:08 am

  59. Fred says:

    I think sleeping on a papag (bamboo cot) will become fashionable again. Less nooks and crannies for surot to hide out.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 10:48 am

  60. bagito says:

    Eww! MM, don’t bedbugs have that particular, can’t-miss-it “surot” smell? Was it not noticeable when you first got in the room? Grabe, kawawa naman your arms. :(

    Johanne, thanks for mentioning Allersac. I didn’t know about this and since I’m allergic to dust mites, I think I’ll get me some of these travel sheets and better be safe than sorry.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 11:14 am

  61. ghia says:

    That’s horrible! and they’re not exactly a cheap hotel. they better reply to you. now im getting paranoid about future trips… they shouldn’t get away with that. you book better quality hotels precisely because you don’t want to be having these experiences. I’m very interested in knowing what actions they will be taking, if any.

    please update us. this is just despicable! considering it has happened to many others.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 11:34 am

  62. homebuddy says:

    Those are nasty bites indeed! When I get insect bites (insects just love my blood, I guess) the only thing that helps with the itch is to blast it with a hair dryer… try it to get instant relief and the swelling subsides. Hope this helps, I know its really quite irritating.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 2:07 pm

  63. j. says:

    As someone who works in the hospitality industry, my hotel chain has the housekeepers inspect the bed when they pull the old (dirty) linens off the bed. We keep an eye out, because of the outbreak two years ago. They do like to hitchhike, and we have guests who check in from other countries, straight from the airport. I am not saying it’s your fault by any means, the staff should have been very dilligent. But it would be very helpful to tell the front desk while you were checked in, so as to resolve the matter in a much more befitting manner. To minimize your discomfort, to help bring to light a serious matter, and to show you their customer service skills to entice you to come back (IF you would…I wouldn’t, their housekeepers should have seen the infestation a while back if they were really doing their jobs!). I do agree (with Sister) that they should give you a refund, and an acknowledgement that they made a mistake.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 2:46 pm

  64. j. says:

    to clarify, it was not an outbreak at our hotel chain. It was the east coast outbreak that hit the newswaves…

    Jul 10, 2009 | 2:47 pm

  65. Jun b says:

    Oucchhh !!! Not a pleasant way to have on a 4 star hotel.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 4:09 pm

  66. nunosapunso says:

    Eleventy Nine.. Itch hikers.. haha
    one of the reason why I loved this site.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 4:19 pm

  67. Marketman says:

    J., I completely agree with you, I should have said something while there. I usually do at hotels, restaurants, etc., don’t know why I decided to keep quiet this time around. It’s only after I figured out others had also been bitten and that they were indeed bedbug bites (I have only been bitten once before) after returning to Manila that I made sure to write to them. And frankly, if you google bedbugs at Marco Polo Gateway, there are some stories from other folks who stayed there and they are possibly even more horrific than our experience… I never thought to check out the hotel that way BEFORE we booked there… will remember to do that next time. Now Mrs. MM and I are looking up the infrafred lights to take with us on trips… :)

    Jul 10, 2009 | 4:26 pm

  68. Gerry says:

    I once saw a device, using liquid carbon dioxide that turns to snow when applied, to kill all kinds of pests . It seemed pretty cool since it was non-toxic, and was just using cold temperature and maybe the suffocating nature of CO2.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 4:39 pm

  69. Connie C says:

    Homebuddy, interesting that you would get relief from the blast of hot air. Dermatologists generally advice cold compresses or cool baths for itchy lesions to constrict blood vessels and reduce the edema. Cornstarch powder also helps.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 5:53 pm

  70. Aji says:


    I remembered I was a victim of bed bugs in a hotel in Bulacan while doing field work. My arm got really infected that I had to take antibiotic shots because my doctor for internal medicine said the bites were really deep and infected the tissues.

    Hope you can share your letter to us!

    Jul 10, 2009 | 5:55 pm

  71. Cecilia says:

    Interesting but scary! Thank you for all the commenters’ tips!
    Will definitely keep in mind.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 7:42 pm

  72. THELMA says:


    Jul 10, 2009 | 9:56 pm

  73. evel says:

    i agree with thelma.

    Jul 10, 2009 | 11:57 pm

  74. maddie says:

    oh no. this can solve a mystery we had the last time we went to Hk and stayed in that hotel. my daughter had a strange rash (looked like welts) that we thought was because she ingested something she was allergic to. could it have been bed bugs!!!

    Jul 11, 2009 | 12:29 am

  75. eej says:

    Just got back from a 2 week vacation then saw MM’s post. Plain glad, we didn’t experience the same horror after hopping from one hotel to the next. Eek!

    Jul 11, 2009 | 1:42 am

  76. Lou says:

    I’m shocked Marco Polo Gateway lets this happen. It’s unforgivable in any hotel, but they’ve got a few stars to their name.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 7:12 am

  77. Lee says:

    A foodie’s blood for a gourmet bedbug.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 7:30 am

  78. Marketman says:

    Lee, HAHAHA! If I could find the darned bug I would grill him/her in a flash…

    Jul 11, 2009 | 10:27 am

  79. Adoree says:

    Hi, MM. My daughter was also beaten by bedbugs 2 years ago. We stayed at both Disney Hollywood Hotel and Marco Polo Gateway. We thought she got them from Hollywood Hotel since it manifested a day after our stay there and we were already at the Marco Polo Gateway. Because of this post, I’m thinking she must have gotten them at Marco Polo Gateway. Hmmm!! Never again! Thanks for sharing, MM.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 12:05 pm

  80. Tricia says:

    I guess it’s high time for Marco Polo Gateway to do a major renovation. We’ve been staying in this hotel since early 90’s and it’s very much the same until now. I guess I love going to Marco Polo Gateway not just because of its location but for the memories I have of this hotel and that of Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel down Canton Road.

    Louis Vuitton & Gucci has done a lot of makeovers since early 90’s that it’s probably time for Gateway to do the same. I bet after doing so, room rates would surely go up.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 12:53 pm

  81. Ms. D. says:


    3yrs na ako sa Abu Dhabi, last Feb till April i suffered too much from this bedbugs, i had no choice but to stay in this flat kc mahirap mag hanap ng accommodation dito. it was creepy experienced, hindi ka makatulog and even at work it feels like something is crawling all over your body. I washed my clothes and beddings with hot water and put Detol. I did the same this when i transfered to a news flat. Washed everything with hot water. Left my matress and my cabinet didn’t bother to bring them with me. Thanks God am Bed Bugs free now.

    Pero meron talagang kagatin ng surot =) i never had bites but i see 1 or 2 before in my bed.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 3:35 pm

  82. CCA19 says:

    Silly lolo: There are times when increasing you blood pressure and stressing yourself specially when you’re on vacation is not worth it. Besides I just noticed them placing Filipinos on lower floors but not 100% sure so I’m in no position to complain. For all I know, they may have placed some in the upper floors. I’m not in the reception area 24/7.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 4:10 pm

  83. Ms. D. says:


    sabi din po. na wag daw tirisin kasi lalo dadami.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 4:12 pm

  84. homebuddy says:

    Connie C,
    It always works for me whatever the bite. It gives me almost instant relief and believe me I’ve tried everything.
    Its really funny though that in my desperation one time, I even tried putting birds eye chili on the bites…..hehehe!

    Jul 11, 2009 | 5:41 pm

  85. Susie B says:

    MM, bed bugs make the front page of the New York Times….http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/11/health/11patient.html?_r=1&hp

    I remember when the Mandarin opened off Hyde Park in London..they had bed bugs as well!

    Jul 11, 2009 | 7:37 pm

  86. Lava Bien says:


    You can actually look it this way, they’re doing us a favor by booking us between 4th-7th floor because if you google (or bing) around you’d find that the safest floors are the ones between 2nd-8th floor in case of terrorism, fires etc. Those floors are reachable by the fire truck laddder safely, anything above that, need a parachute.

    Just an FYI.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 9:18 pm

  87. emy says:

    I wonder if you checked underneath you bed during your stay? I checked in that hotel several years ago and everything SEEMED okay. I misplaced my swiss army knife and crouched on the floor to look under the bed and what I saw could make one’s skin crawl.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 9:55 pm

  88. Tricia says:

    I agree with Lava Bien. When we had our kids with us on a trip last year, I requested for a suite on the lowest floor possible and they put us on 4th floor. But when it’s just me & my hubby checking in on any hotel, I ask for the highest room they could give us.

    I would have to agree with CCA19’s observation about floors 4-7 because my sis in law and her hubby was given a room on the 5th floor for this stay in Gateway.

    Jul 11, 2009 | 11:12 pm

  89. Sam says:

    So sorry to read about the bedbug bites you got from a hotel stay in HKG. Yes, the bugs strike everywhere, from the barest inn to the tony hotels!! Simple reminders that I try to follow: upon return from travel, all bags remain outside the bedroom and travel clothes, both soiled and unused, are bagged and washed and before storage. Try to bring your own sheets when possible and check all nooks and crannies, even at the Four Seasons :D

    Here is a link to the NYT article on bedbugs, published 7/10/09.

    Get well soon!!

    Jul 12, 2009 | 4:20 am

  90. thelma says:

    in the same article that i read, the writer says that the top bedcover is often dusty and could have crawling bugs because it could have been used by so many guests before you. Oftentimes, the the top is used again and again and what the housekeeping only changes daily are the white sheets and pillow cases. it is therefore, best to remove the top bed cover during your stay….

    Jul 12, 2009 | 4:57 am

  91. Evelyn says:

    This seems to be a global problem now, at least it is in Toronto and New York too http://www.toronto.ca/health/bedbugs/index.htm. Let’s hope you didn’t pick up the bugs and transported them into your house.

    Jul 12, 2009 | 6:07 am

  92. Upstate New York says:

    It is yucky! I feel itchy and scratchy just by looking at those welts. And definitely, you should have reported that right away so they could’ve done something; maybe a free stay or discount or whatever. Just wonderin’ how are your welts now? Are they gone?

    Jul 12, 2009 | 9:21 am

  93. Jody says:


    Some very expensive hotels (550+ a night) here in New York City have had the same problems with bed bugs.The bed bugs do not discriminate and they can be found in the South Bronx and on Madison Avenue. It is truly a modern day epidemic.

    Apparently they travel in your clothes and get into suitcases and travelling bags ect.

    Some people advocate that one should throw out all materials that have been exposed to the bed bugs.

    Thank you for your blog post


    Jul 12, 2009 | 9:25 am

  94. Jody says:

    Excuse me for posting again.

    I have just picked up todays New York Times and there is a half page in the Business Section devoted to Bedbugs.(page B6)

    Apparently the best weapon one can use on the Bugs is a Hair Dryer.

    Apparently the only sure way to kill the bugs is to expose them to high temperatures.

    I find it truly curious that the New York Media are now focusing on this new enemy; when I arrived as an immigrant in New York City, over thirty years ago, the newspapers used to frequently do articles on rats.



    Jul 12, 2009 | 10:29 am

  95. bijin says:

    those bugs have pretty good gnashers and suckers!

    Jul 12, 2009 | 5:31 pm

  96. Marketman says:

    Upstate New York, bites are getting scabby and will eventually heal I suppose. At least I am not keloidal and won’t scar too badly. If they were on my face it would have been worse. As for your question you placed on the Anthony Bourdain post, I generally try to remain faceless as the blog is about the food and the other experiences, not about me for the most part. It isn’t relevant who I am, just what I blog about. It was a rare occurence for a few recent television shows that I agreed to have my face included… as long as they did good for Philippine cuisine or food in general, I was happy to help…

    Jul 12, 2009 | 10:00 pm

  97. Beth says:

    A few years ago our helpers’ room got infested with bedbugs probably transported from the clothes or bags of one of the new helper.They didnt tell us at once but when they did I freaked out when I turned the linens over and saw these little bugs crawling around!Spraying with insecticide didnt work. We had the whole room professionally fumigated. No if or buts,we threw all fairly new 6 inches uratex mattresses and pillows!Had all their linens and clothes rinsed in hot water and for a few weeks the helpers had to sleep in “banigs” because we wanted to be sure that when we buy new mattresses the room is indeed bedbug free!These bedbugs thrive in dark humid places so now, we tell our helpers to air their matresses and pillows under the sun at least 2x a month.Thank God the infestation was confined to just their room and didnt infest the whole house!

    Jul 13, 2009 | 1:07 pm

  98. Liv says:

    Hi MM,

    Have you received any response yet from the hotel? My fiance and I stayed there a couple of weeks back, and did not go through the same experience as you (lucky us!).

    Jul 13, 2009 | 3:45 pm

  99. Marketman says:

    Liv, yes, I have received communications, written and verbal, from their VP of Operations for the whole hotel group, and am in the middle of discussions. They have engaged two exterminating companies to inspect the rooms we occupied and both sides are awaiting the results of those inspections before finalizing discussions. I am pleased with the results so far, and will update readers when this is finally resolved. Since bedbugs apparently do not have to feed more often than a couple of times a year, it is very possible to have dozens of bedbugs in one’s bed and not necessarily get bitten every night… ugghhh. :(

    Jul 13, 2009 | 4:30 pm

  100. Francis Ngo says:

    I am an avid reader but a first time commenter. I just felt I have to say something after viewing your bed bugs post.

    IMHO this kind of rantings are best posted in another blog that may be aptly titled Marketman’s Personal Rants. I know you own the blog and you can post whatever you want to post. But don’t you think you also have some responsibilities to your readership who may not find it appealing to see and read your personal rants let alone see a disgusting picture of your bed bugs bites? This blog is obviously your weapon of choice whenever you feel you and/or your family have been disadvantaged. Well you do have a wide international readership base and it is indeed a good place to express your personal vendettas against the companies and/or persons that have wronged you. I just find it sad that you an obviously well-off and educated person will taint your beautiful food and travel blog with these out of topic posts.

    Thank you for reading my comments. I am and will remain a fan of your FOOD blog.

    (PS. I am a Filipino-Chinese expatriate currently living in Vancouver, BC)

    Jul 13, 2009 | 8:12 pm

  101. Marketman says:

    Francis, I understand what you are saying, but it is my blog. And you are welcome to simply skip the post. Rants have been an INTEGRAL part of this blog from it’s inception. And in almost all cases, rants have yielded positive results either through warning off consumers, educating readers on how to address service issues, or getting responses from folks at the center of the rant. I would take the flip side of your views and say that I think I would have a responsibility of sorts to readers who may avoid a similar fate by reading this post. In almost all cases where a rant of this nature has been written, a previously and carefully crafted letter based on known FACTS has already been forwarded to the party in question. This is a completely free site and you can find posts within the blog you love, hate or couldn’t care less about. That’s just the way it is. And frankly, being well-educated and wanting to maintain a purely uncontroversial and rant free blog is not necessarily a logical association. But if it makes you happier, do stick to the food posts alone. But then again, I believe I have photos of whole skinned rabbits that offended folks at some point. Live frogs getting prepped for stuffing, goat’s brains, various innards, tongues, eels jumping out of frying pans, etc. which you may also find personally offensive. To each his own.

    Jul 13, 2009 | 9:38 pm

  102. krizia says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with the post, at least other people are warned, and some even learned a thing or two. There’s nothing wrong with being open-minded right. nwei, the managers of this hotel should really do something about it! asap :)

    Jul 13, 2009 | 10:06 pm

  103. sam says:

    Note to Francis:
    “I am invited to partake of the feast on a table, to be in the company of friends. Free to share and free to leave at anytime, but with much consideration to the graciousness of the host.” If I don’t like it, I skip it. Simple. No hassle. It’s MM’s blog. I know my place at someone’s table.Good day to you.

    Jul 14, 2009 | 4:23 am

  104. Beth says:

    AMEN, Sam. My sentiments too.

    Jul 14, 2009 | 7:10 am

  105. Gener says:

    There are restaurants using toilet bowls as chairs and toilet decorations around, special occations inside the jail and food prepared by the convicts, a temporary restaurant in the middle of cemetery for special occations too and NO complaints from anyone except they find a thrill! Bedbugs is a normal talks and no offence at all..I dont see any reason why we need not to talk here, We do offensive talking inside kitchen or dining room too??? whats the disgust?? Nothing!

    Jul 14, 2009 | 6:25 pm

  106. teny says:


    this is such a disgusting news. What do you suggest? how will we know now if teh room is infested?

    Jul 15, 2009 | 8:44 pm

  107. Marketman says:

    teny, from everything I have read, you need to strip your hotel bed of sheets and try and check out the mattress before you use it. Also, check your sheets in the evening before you sleep. Personally, I am bringing long pajamas the next time around! :)

    Jul 15, 2009 | 8:51 pm

  108. teny says:

    good idea MM. Now if only we had those white lights they used in oceans 13 :)

    Jul 16, 2009 | 6:09 am

  109. Reese says:

    OMG! My friends and I stayed in Gateway just last week, and one of them stayed in room 413! But none of us got bitten… Is it possible you got it somewhere else?

    Jul 16, 2009 | 9:56 am

  110. Marketman says:

    Reese, talk about possible close calls. As I told the hotel in my letter, the bites were from room rooms 407, 414 and 420. And since bedbugs sometimes only feed every FEW months, its possible you could be sleeping with them but they weren’t hungry…. :) It’s always possible the bed bugs were elsewhere, but we did all get bitten while staying at the Marco Polo, so the most obvious culprit was our hotel rooms. They could also be in airplanes, but our bites came out a day or two AFTER we arrived in the hotel.

    Jul 16, 2009 | 11:02 am

  111. Reese says:

    I see… Why did you keep yourself in silence? If the bites already appeared on your 2nd day of stay, how did you manage to sleep on that bed again? I would have immediately complain.

    Jul 16, 2009 | 12:37 pm

  112. Marketman says:

    Reese, actually, I wasn’t sure they were bedbugs, I have only been bitten once before, 15+ years ago! :)

    Jul 16, 2009 | 12:39 pm

  113. Janet says:

    The management should have all the rooms in the hotel inspected and not just the ones you complained about. Other rooms may have been infected too and not necessarily from the same source.

    Jul 16, 2009 | 4:54 pm

  114. James says:

    Interesting, I’m an American transplanted to the Philippines. I see here, too often, people NOT speaking up about problems. Just accept them. Don’t say anything. Don’t cause trouble.

    As a well-educated person, I believe it is MM’s duty to inform us of such things. Bed bugs are a health hazard. To say nothing means that others may suffer from this, too.

    Honestly, I would view such silence as morally empty, at best, and certainly an active of cowardice. Instead, MM did the right thing.

    If this picture offends, be glad you won’t be here next week when we butcher a couple of pigs.

    Jul 16, 2009 | 7:11 pm

  115. paul says:

    Ive been a regular customer of this hotel since i go to HK once a month on a regular basis. Never in my life that I got bitten by these bed bugs.

    I personally think that Marco Polo is an excellent hotel.

    Unless i get the bites you guys are referring, I wouldn’t mind spending top dollar in this hotel.

    Jul 17, 2009 | 12:19 pm

  116. Reese says:

    Hi MM! You mentioned previously that you are in the middle of discussions with their VP for Ops. Any development so far? It’s the great HK sale and my sister and I are planning to go. When it comes to shopping I love that hotel’s location!

    Jul 21, 2009 | 9:59 am

  117. paul says:

    Yes, I would like to hear the result that happened during the investigation of the said incident. It would be better for us readers to know the side of Marco Polo also.
    I am planning to go there the following weekend and planning to stay in the same hotel as before. Thanks

    Jul 22, 2009 | 12:26 am

  118. kim says:

    My husband forwarded this partial journal from his blog community, and I believe it’s relevant to MM’s issue. There’s always 2 sides to a story:

    “We find it odd that as we had such a fantastic stay at the Gateway, which made this trip indeed truly remarkable, conversely a friend who owns a travel agency brought to our attention a recent development regarding an awful experience in the same hotel. We had read that blog.

    We must say, that must have been a totally isolated incident if it were even true at all. I mean what is the probability that of all the quests that are currently booked at that hotel only their room (or the 3 rooms their group occupied) would be infested with bedbugs while the rest of the hotel stayed clean and without incident? The most probable scenario is that the previous guest occupying the room or the adjacent one brought the bug to the room. If you check Wikipedia, the properties of bedbugs are to hide, climb onto walls or ceilings after they infest. So even if Marco Polo Gateway had changed the linen daily, the bedbugs (brought by the previous foreign guest) had remained on the wall and stayed day after day including during their stay, again if it were true at all.

    We feel that Marco Polo Gateway as one body shouldn’t be blamed or their reputation tarnished at all. For all everyone knows, it was them who inadvertently brought the bugs to the room.

    Personally… hands down we’d still recommend this hotel should anyone need to head to HK for business or pleasure!”

    Jul 23, 2009 | 6:20 pm

  119. Marketman says:

    kim, paul and reese, will try to post update post with Marco Polo’s response soon. Kim, as I say in the post, just 3 out of 11 guests in our party were bitten. That represented 3 rooms out of 5 booked on that trip, all on the 4th floor. All rooms had at least 2 people, so there were rooms were one guest was bitten, the other was not. Bed bugs have odd feeding habits, and only have to eat every so often, so they might be there, but you may just be the unlucky one that gets nibbled on… Apparently, the hotel bed bug issue is a global one, and in HK, other hotels have also experienced the same problem. I have no problem if others wish to stay at the hotel, I just hope they don’t get bitten. :)

    Jul 23, 2009 | 7:51 pm

  120. glossgirl says:

    Argh. I just saw this post now and I’m due to stay in that hotel in two days! wish I had seen this sooner. Hopefully, there will be no bugs when we arrive. :(

    Jul 31, 2009 | 3:51 am

  121. esquire says:

    Marketman, do you have your mattresses professionally cleaned regularly? Who do you call for such services?

    Aug 18, 2009 | 9:14 pm

  122. ces, philippines says:

    marketman, i just saw your post today as i was searching for a bed sheet supplier here in manila. i feel both sorry for what happened to you there in marco polo gateway and relieved too that you are sharing this with us. to me, i look at it as a way of informing and warning people. i read all the comments and i was surprised to find out that there had been many similar incidents in this hotel in the past. i am reading this quite late compared to the initial reactions you got. i thought that my story is still worth sharing.

    my husband and i always stay in marco polo whenever we are in hk, and that is like 2-3 times a year. last may (2010), my husband booked 2 nights in the hotel, and instead of getting our usual favorite room in the club floor, he opted to avail of the promo being offered since he will only stay for 2 nights and without me and the kids. upon getting there, he was given room 413. after the first night, he started to notice some redness on his legs, which he brushed off as they might simply be minor irritations. when he left the hotel and came home to manila after 2 days, the “minor irritations” had flared up, causing his ENTIRE left leg to swell. he went to see a doctor and he confirmed that they were bites from bed bugs and what he had was already an infection. my husband went through something short of a surgery, requiring a localized anesthesia shot on the leg area just so the doctor could work on removing the (sorry for the sensitive readers) PUS form the wounds. the doctor even prescribed antibiotics for my husband to completely quell the infection.

    anyway, when all of this was happening, i was in the U.S. and my husband kept it from me so i will not worry. he only told me the story when i got back, which was already a month after. so even if i thought of writing a complaint to the management of marco polo, it would have been too late and it would have been better if we had pictures to support our claims.

    also, i didn’t see any post about marco polo’s response to your letter or action towards the problem. was there any? or maybe you had another post about it? i just want to know what the hotel has done about this, especially since your case was already a year old.

    hope you can reply to my query. thank you again.

    Sep 13, 2010 | 1:29 am

  123. Marketman says:

    ces, the follow-up post and hotel response is in the link at the end of the article above. With so many others confirming bedbug bites on the fourth floor, I would have to think it is really a problem they have been unable to fix…

    Sep 13, 2010 | 9:11 am

  124. Kevin Osborn says:

    I stayed at the Gateway earlier this week for one night and got dozens of bites on my legs. I was on the 6th floor. I’m in HK once or twice a year -but last time for this hotel.

    Sep 24, 2010 | 7:00 am

  125. Marketman says:

    I say, in the end, the truth will emerge, with several readers from different countries and backgrounds now reporting having been bitten at the Marco Polo Hotel on the 4th and 6th floors, I would have to say there is definitely an issue that the hotel has NOT resolved. I know I WAS bitten by bedbugs, and apparently, so do several other guests of the hotel. It may still affect just a few of the guests, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

    Sep 24, 2010 | 9:16 am


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