NYTIMES - Guests of some Walt Disney World hotels no longer have the option of hanging a "do not disturb" sign on their doors, part of a policy change that requires a hotel employee to enter every room at least once every 24 hours, Disney said Wednesday (Jan 3).
Guests will instead get a "room occupied" sign.
"The hotel and its staff reserve the right to enter your room for any purposes including, but not limited to, performing maintenance and repairs or checking on the safety and security of guests and property," according to Disney's updated guest information pack.
For now, four properties are affected: the Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower. All are along the Monorail loop in the resort area around Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida. If a "room occupied" sign is in place, hotel employees must knock and announce themselves before entering, Disney said.
Guests are being notified about the new guidelines upon check-in, and management is addressing on a case-by-case basis any potential concerns about hotel workers entering a guest's room. Disney, which put the policy in effect Dec 22, said it was continuing to evaluate whether to apply it to additional properties.
This new standard comes just months after Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds of others, before killing himself. Paddock checked into his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino three days before the massacre and kept a "do not disturb" sign on his door for his entire stay, during which he methodically brought an arsenal of firearms into the room. On the night of Oct 1, he busted out two windows of the suite and rained bullets down on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival below.
Disney declined to connect its policy change with the Las Vegas shooting, but said safety, security and the overall guest experience informed the decision. "One of the lodging industry's top priorities is the safety and security of its guests and employees," said Rosanna Maietta, a spokeswoman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Hotels have safety and security procedures in place, including "do not disturb" policies, that are regularly reviewed and updated, as are their emergency response procedures, she said.
Usually hotels will wait 24 to 72 hours before sending hotel employees into a room, she said. "Because hotels own the rooms, they have the right to enter for reasons of security, safety of guests, maintenance or sanitation purposes."
Disney is not the only company to update its "do not disturb" rules in recent weeks. Hilton revised its policy late last year, said Nigel Glennie, the company's vice president for corporate communications. Unlike Disney, Hilton guests will still have the option to hang a "do not disturb" sign on their doors, but the revision includes a 24-hour detail to help Hilton employees manage extended use of the signs.
"The clock starts when a team member first notices the 'do not disturb,'" Glennie said, and "they will alert a manager if it's still up after 24 hours." That doesn't mean someone will enter the room every day, but it will help inform management's decisions, he said. "This guidance was provided to help properties protect guest privacy, but also manage suspicious activity and any concerns about a guest's welfare," Hilton said in a statement provided by Glennie. Glennie declined to comment on whether the Las Vegas shooting prompted the changes, or on what Hilton considers suspicious. But the website LoyaltyLobby.com, which tracks loyalty programs, said that requesting specific rooms and the extended use of a "do not disturb" sign are among the activities Hilton deems suspicious.
Last year, about a week after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Steve Wynn, the chief executive of Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas, spoke with Fox News about the future of security in Las Vegas and how he had begun putting in place a counterterrorism program in his hotels and casinos in 2015 to hopefully identify and pre-empt terrorist or violent actions.
We have "rules about 'do not disturb,'" Wynn said. "If a room goes on 'do not disturb' for more than 12 hours, we investigate." "We certainly wouldn't invade the privacy of a guest in a room," he went on. But Paddock "didn't let anyone in the room for two or three days." "That would have triggered a whole bunch of alarms here, and we would have, on behalf of the guest, of course, investigated for safety," he said.