An Australian reader has sent us notes about their stay at the Hilton Fiji Beach Resort, a hotel where I have stayed once close to 10 years ago, and how they are struggling to handle all the guests who have tested positive for Covid-19.
The hotel has ran out of separate units used for Covid-19 positive guests since December, and negative and positive guests are mixed in regular accommodations. Guests were not informed that their “neighbor” was testing positive and quarantined inside the adjacent room/suite.
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We have tried to reach Mr. David Wells, an Area General Manager, by email, but he must be busy dealing with this Covid outbreak because we have not heard back from him.
Here’s what our reader has communicated to Mr. Wells:
I hope this email finds you well.
By way of introduction, I am a guest traveling with my family and a three year old unvaccinated daughter. We were allocated to Room REMOVED and now Room REMOVED after much insistence.
It has come to our attention that Hilton Fiji has failed to adequately protect its guests, and safety measures were not adhered to.
As an Australian, I am sure you are well aware of the quarantine hotel fiasco in Melbourne where COVID was spread to other quarantine guests via the centralised air-conditioning ventilation system back in mid-2020.
I am surprised that Hilton Fiji is risking the safety of its guests by mixing confirmed COVID positive guests with non-positive guests. To add on, we were not informed or aware of this until we discovered by chance that the neighbouring room guest was COVID-positive after witnessing medical personnel doing a further in-room SWAB test, and chatting with your staff.
I raised this issue to Amelia – Duty Manager – and Veer – Manager – immediately. However, from their responses, I note that there is nothing much that they could do or offer, and instead I was asked by Veer/Amelia “what do we want?” “We can move out if we would like to.” The responses that we got were unhelpful, and we were left waiting at the lobby for almost an hour, while Veer was “busy” attending to a phone call and Amelia was “busy” (as informed by the front desk staff)
Attached is a short note that I have, which is self-explanatory.
I note comments from Amelia/Veer include:-
1. There are already positive cases in the hotel (and is a growing outbreak..staff were infected);
2. When asked how the hotel is protecting guests from COVID positive guests: the response that I got was that the guests are already isolating in their room (well, which I trust it’s an “unsupervised isolation”)
3. Guests privacy are protected (which I told Amelia that it doesn’t seem to be case given that we somehow managed to find out that our neighbours are positive)
On a final note, I note that other hotels (ie Shangri La) have “isolation blocks” for positive cases, which Hilton is lacking. Honestly, we would be much assured if we were informed that the positive guests would be relocated and their room sanitised.
Be that as it may, I hope you will take immediate action to resolve this issue for the safety of everyone. For now, we are also “isolating” in our room and dare not use the hotel facilities. I do have photos and videos of the incident (and noting that food packages were left outside COVID positive rooms – which we have a collection of the photos – which I can also confirm they are NOT in-room dining as we just ordered in-room dining and it was manually delivered with a tray)
Thank you for the telephone conversation this evening. I hope you are recovering well now.
As discussed, we note that:-
(a) the hotel has isolation blocks, and they were running in full capacity since December 2021;
(b) the hotel has no further option, and considering its revenue and existing bookings come first, resort to putting COVID-positive guests in the same building with us without our knowledge/consent (ie the hotel could have had accommodated non-negative/newly arrived guests by accomodating them in other resorts if it’s running at full capacity; or the hotel having a plan B when planning for its reopening; or asking us if we are agreeable to staying with a COVID-positive guests in the same building)
(c) the hotel sought assistance from the Fijian Government and received a response today where 200 isolation rooms outside of the resort would be provided to positive guests (hence the hotel has knowingly put us and other guests at risk for many days or so since the isolation blocks were in full capacity by mixing us with positive guests in the same building)
(d) FIJI-care best practice guidelines were not adhered to (ie Guests were able to make coffee using the shared coffee machine; food served in the buffet area were unassisted by staff) – which surprisingly, no one is able to confirm if we have been in contact with other COVID-positive guests in this resort
(e) due to the locality and culture, the hotel is unable to strictly ensure that its staff will adhere to the FIJI-care/Hilton Care best practice guidelines (staff were seen taking off their mask when speaking to guests; hotel management – in white dress – not wearing mask which I have photos showing this as well when I was in the lobby waiting for Veer/Amelia; happy to send through)
(f) guest privacy’s issue and how our concerns when raised to the management were being “hand balled” to different colleagues were not explained or addressed by you (which I’m not expecting such service from a brand like Hilton)
Given the above, and the hotel putting my family with unvaccinated toddler into unnecessary health risk and not being able to fully enjoy our stay for the past 2 days, we are of the opinion that Hilton Fiji has failed in its service.
We trust that you agree and share similar views with us. In this case, it would only be appropriate that a compensation for the unnecessary health risk posed to us and the poor service for our stay be offered, which unfortunately, we note that nothing has been offered. If you do not agree with the above, I am keen to know why Hilton Fiji has done the right thing for all its guests and not failed in its service.
It is definitely not justifiable for the hotel to put us with COVID-positive guests where other guests were not warranted to such treatment (unless otherwise you can confirm that everyone in this hotel is staying with isolated positive guests).
Most of the remote hotels I have been to ever since this Covid-19 started two years ago have had special units or buildings reserved for guests that test positive for Covid-19 during their stays. These hotels have not been allowed to sell these rooms but have been required to block them for this purpose.
It seems that either Hilton Fiji has run out of their quarantine rooms, has too high occupancy, or is not prepared to operate in the current environment.
I have had several friends testing positive over the past week. It seems that this latest Omicron will quickly go through most of the population and will be relatively mild or completely asymptomatic for those fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, that is not always the case with those who have decided not to vaccinate.
Australia had very stringent quarantine requirements for an extensive period (close to military style), and I can understand where the reader comes from. However, the isolation or quarantine has been more self-observed in other jurisdictions.
For example, I tested positive twice in mid-December 2020 (when transiting in Paris and on arrival in Helsinki), although I had already had Covid six weeks earlier. I spent two weeks at a hotel in Helsinki, and nobody contacted me from Finland (I skipped meeting family members), but I did get a call from a contact tracer from France.
Blast From The Past:
It would be better if Hilton Fiji would move Covid-positive guests and their companions to specific buildings that would reduce the possibility of the virus spreading to other guests.
You would think that the hotel would be open with its communication to other guests staying at the property? There is no excuse for the hotel not to be honest about what is going on, or are they just trying to pretend that it is business is as usual?