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Did Marathoners Deserve Hotel Priority Over Hurricane Sandy Guests?

November 3, 2012 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

The Marriott admits they asked Hurricane Sandy guests to make way for marathoners

The 43rd New York City Marathon is was scheduled for Sunday, but it’s now been cancelled. The news was leaked Friday afternoon by Charlie Rose who Tweeted the decision from an interview with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. That tweet was soon taken down, but the news had already spread over the internet like wildfire within minutes and a release was quickly put up on the New York Road Runners' website.

It’s no coincidence the decision corresponded with the huge uproar and resulting petition to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners to shut down or postpone the race. Many questioned having a New York marathon when Hurricane Sandy's downed power lines, messy mass transit, damaged and destroyed homes and businesses, plus a mounting death toll seemed more of a priority for the city.

Add insult to injury—some New York hotels had asked guests to vacate their rooms in favor of in-coming marathoners.. People who had been using hotel rooms as temporary refuge were facing eviction.

Kimberly Spell, a spokeswoman for the NYC & Co., marketing office said the New York Marathon is responsible for 40,000 hotel rooms being filled in and around the city for almost a week leading up to and after the race period.

Obviously this year is different as hotels deal with Hurricane Sandy space issues, now compounded with runners who have come to town for this weekend’s event. Let’s not even talk about the competition between locals and marathoners looking for rooms to rent.

One hotel admitted they indeed asked non-marathon guests to leave. According toBusinessweek, Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for Marriott International Inc. said:

“We do have a lot of guests that have extended their stay beyond what was expected because of the storm aftermath.” “We have told some guests that we are unable to extend their stays any further but some are very adamant that they want to stay and are upset.”

Duffy did say Marriott would work to overcome the space shortage by finding rooms at competitors’ hotels and also doubling up guests in some rooms.

Richard Nicotra, owner of Staten Island’s New York’s Hilton Garden Inn refused to put anyone out on the street, even though his decision raised ire from marathoners who’d made previous reservations at the hotel.

“How do I tell people who have no place to go, that have no home, no heat, that you have to leave because I have to make room for somebody that wants to run the marathon?” said Nicotra. “I can’t do that,” he said.

Instead, he offered up several hotel ballrooms as alternatives to stay for the runners if cots were available, though they are in short supply at this time.

Sympathy seemed to lie with the marathoners for the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Metropolitan, where apparently 60 to 70 per cent of the property’s 775 rooms were originally meant to be occupied by people in town for the race. “Those marathon rooms were booked months ago,” said desk clerk Karen Yam. “It’s been very difficult and frustrating to turn people down from downtown and the suburbs.”

Part 2 of our story provides two separate reactions from marathoners. One who flew in from San Francisco, the other from Buffalo, New York.


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