Hotel denies providing accomodation for leisure, hosting social events

Published January 13, 2021, 5:18 PM

by Hanah Tabios

City Garden Grand Hotel, the accommodation establishment in Makati City where a Philippine Airlines flight attendant allegedly died last Jan. 1, has denied charges that they have provided accommodation for leisure purposes and hosting social events despite being a quarantine facility.

The hotel also asserted that they “have complied and will continue to comply with all the health and safety regulations” for the conduct of their business,” following a Show Cause Order earlier issued by the Department of Tourism (DokT) for the establishment to explain possible violations related to its accreditation in relation to the controversial death of Christine Angelica Dacera.

In a four-page reply to the DoT’s show cause order dated Jan. 6, Richard Reazon, officer-in-charge (OIC) general manager of City Garden Grand Hotel, has denied the charges on providing accommodation for leisure purposes and hosting social events despite being a quarantine facility.

“Based on our initial investigation, Ms. Dacera and her supposed companions book three rooms, namely, 2207, 2209, and 2009. The bookings were confirmed and accepted, as based on the info provided to the hotel, they all qualified as permitted guests as the term is defined under the relevant DoT guidelines,” Reazon said in his reply letter.

He also stated that at the time the reservations were made and accepted, “there was no clear indication that these guests knew each other, or made reservations with the intention of holding a party within the hotel premises,” citing that the bookings were made separately and under different names, and at different times.

“During the registration, they had declared at all times that only one person would be using the room,” he added.

He said all three guests were also accepted as corporate account guests of the hotel, which pertain to “businesses that were within the immediate local vicinity of the hotel or businesses otherwise permitted to book accommodations.”

Reazon stressed that guests were provided lodging and accommodation  “not for leisure or staycation purposes, but as permitted guests, bookings were made under corporate accounts whose businesses were located in Makati City.”

“Hence, we respectfully submit that the hotel is not in violation of either DoT AO 2020-02C or DoT AO 2020-006C,” he said, pertaining to the governing guidelines of the Department for the operations of accommodation establishments and hotels under a community quarantine and for staycation purposes under a general community quarantine.

Reazon also denied charges they are allowing social events to take place within the hotel premises as it was a clear violation of DoT and the national government’s COVID-19 task force’s guidelines.

He said the Firefly Roofdeck, which is located at the 32nd floor, is the only restaurant open within the building.

He pointed out that the restaurant did not also open dinner service on Dec. 31, the same day where the reported New Year’s eve social gathering of Dacera’s group happened.

“No other hotel amenities are open, again to discourage using the property as a means for staycation,” he said.

As for the Dacera case in question, Reazon said that based on their own investigation, “the supposed groups of nine to 10 persons (including the victim” were interspersed across three different rooms and the circumstances surrounding each person’s participation in the gathering is still being determined.”

Reazon added: “None of the guests’ visitors was made known to our front office manager at any time throughout the day. These visitors could only have gained access to the guest floors with the aid of the registered guests, in violation of hotel policies prohibiting such gatherings.”

He said “from the review of CCTV footage, no obvious comings and goings were seen from any of the 3 rooms that would have roused the suspicion of our CCTV clerk, as their presence in any public spaces were brief.”

“No noise or other outwardly observable activities were detected throughout the evening,” he added.

“It was only the following day (January 1st approximately 12NN) when we received a health and safety incident that we came to know that more than one person may have occupied the rooms in question,” he said.

The general manager asserted that they have been “compliant with all regulations on hotel operations during GCQ” but the unfortunate incident has prompted them to review their procedures “to see if there are areas that could be improved upon.”

He assured that the hotel is “doing everything possible” to aid in the investigation of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The DoT received the reply from the hotel last Friday, January 8.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Department will release its decision on whether or not to revoke the hotel’s permit this week.