Hotels apologize for cleaning lapses caught on video

Luxury Chinese hotels run by Hilton, Marriott and several other chains apologized for unhygienic practices after a video went viral on the Internet showing housekeeping staff using the same sponges to clean cups and sinks, and wiping down bathroom surfaces with guest towels.

The statements came after an 11-minute video was posted on Weibo, a popular social networking site, claiming to show hidden-camera footage of cleaning staff at hotels operated by Shangri-La Asia Ltd., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and others. The video has gotten 29 million views and elicited tens of thousands of comments and shares.

Hidden-camera videos of housekeeping staff behaving badly at Chinese luxury hotels surface fairly often on social media. Worker shortages and low pay make it hard for hotels to pressure employees to follow the rules, as they can just quit and find jobs elsewhere.

“If 5-star hotels are this bad, what are the 3-star hotels like?” asked Sam Zhao, an analyst at marketing firm Kantar Worldpanel in Beijing.

Bulgari Hotel Shanghai, which is run by Marriott International Inc., apologized in a statement posted on Weibo, saying it will investigate and take appropriate action. A similar apology came from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which said it would strengthen room-check rules, and work with government to respond.

The video, which was posted Nov. 14, shows a housekeeper at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Shanghai using a single sponge to clean cups and the sink. The housekeeper then takes the same sponge and cleans the toilet, according to text shown in the video. The hotel chain apologized in a statement posted to Weibo.

At the Bulgari Hotel in Shanghai, a worker is shown reusing a plastic-cup cover fished out of a garbage bin. A worker at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Shanghai uses a gel that the video describes as shampoo to clean cups.

A statement issued last week by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said “all levels of cultural and tourism authorities should draw inferences and give high priority to the supervision of tourism service quality.” Bloomberg

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