The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) has revoked the certificate of authority to operate and suspended for six months the accreditation of the City Garden Grand Hotel, for breaking Covid-19 safety rules leading to the death of a flight attendant after a New Year’s revelry held at the property.
Alongside this, the DOT gave a “stern warning” to the industry that hotels used as quarantine facilities should not accept leisure guests and host social gatherings, while staycation hotels cannot be used for quarantine.
City Garden Grand Hotel, a quarantine hotel in Makati, broke the rules when, on New Year’s Eve, it accepted a group of revellers including 23-year-old flight attendant Christine Dacera, who died after being found unconscious in her hotel room’s bathtub on New Year’s Day.
The DOT found City Garden Grand Hotel “liable for the offence of gross and evident bad faith in dealing with clients/fraudulent solicitation of business or making any false, deceptive, or misleading claims or statements for the purpose of soliciting business from clients”.
“Upon investigation, the City Garden Grand Hotel was found to have misrepresented itself to the public as being allowed to accommodate guests for leisure or staycation purposes despite being a quarantine facility,” the DOT said in a statement.
The DOT National Capital Region investigation also had “pieces of evidence (that) showed that even prior to the incident and until now, the City Garden Grand Hotel is marketing packages to accept leisure guests and never indicated that it is a quarantine hotel”.
The hotel, which has also been slapped with a 10,000 pesos (US$208) fine, has the right to appeal within the period prescribed by DoT rules and regulations.
Even before City Garden Grand Hotel’s violation, tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has been receiving complaints of quarantine hotels within and outside metro Manila accepting staycation guests and allowing social gatherings.
“This is not acceptable and should not be tolerated,” Romulo-Puyat said in a previous statement.
As of January 10, a total of 765 hotels nationwide with a combined 72,547 rooms are listed as quarantine facilities for returning overseas Filipino workers.
Only four- and five-star hotels are allowed to operate as staycation hotels, with only 15 of them in metro Manila having been issued the Certificate of Authority to Operate as Staycation.
Like others in the industry, hospitality consultant Jerome dela Fuente, said the hotel violator was lucky that it only got a six-month suspension and that the US$208 fine is too small. The penalties for quarantine hotels violating terms of accreditation should be tightened to prevent more breaches, he added.