Protecting Your Hotel Property During Awards Season

By John Welty Practice Leader, SUITELIFE, Venture Insurance Programs | February 18, 2018

It’s Hollywood awards season, and celebrities are parading down red carpets donning designer dresses, suits and fine jewelry worth thousands to millions of dollars. To attend these sought-after events, many are staying in hotels – with suitcases packed to the gills full of high-value items. Admiring all of this luxury from our humble television screens, those of us in the industry may think of what protections hotels have in place to protect these big-ticket items and whether these protections are being properly utilized.  

The subject begs several questions. Is the hotel safe deposit box regularly and properly used? To what extent does a hotel use a commercial policy to cover guest property, such as cash and other high-value property? Do hotels need to consider special coverage floaters for high wealth guests staying with them, or do the high wealth guests need to be informed about obtaining their own special coverage?  

The subject brings to mind Kim Kardashian’s 2016 Paris hotel theft and what kind of coverage and protections a high-profile celebrity likely traveling with items valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) should have in place for a hotel stay.  

Innkeepers Legal Liability 

When a guest checks into a hotel, he or she has entered into a contract with the hotel. Within this contract, the hotel has a number of obligations. The guest has agreed to stay at the hotel through the payment of a room rate, and the hotel has agreed to provide the guest with certain services and obligations and has in turn, taken on some legal liability.

When staying at a hotel, they expect the hotel operators to provide a safe and secure environment on the hotel property. The hotel is the guests home-away-from home and, as such, the hotel has a greater burden of care than most other businesses have toward their customers. When a guest’s valuable property, money, or baggage is damaged, lost or stolen, guests turn to the hotel for relief. Minimum limits for this coverage vary according to individual state statutes and code requirements, but limits are typically $500 to $1,500. Broader crime coverage is also available. This particular coverage would likely have been brought into play after the Kardashian incident, assuming her dresses, jewelry and other articles were worth significantly more than the average person’s. 

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.