mid-day test drive: Hotels association says it cannot help unmarried couples get a room
Following mid-day's expose, association throws up its hands, saying it can't tell hotels to change their policy on unmarried couples
Following mid-day's test drive on the way several hotels treat unmarried couples, the Hotel and Restaurant Association Western India (HRAWI) has thrown up their hands saying they neither encourage nor oppose such a policy. Meanwhile, after Thursday's report, readers talked about their own experiences in hotels..
Meanwhile, after reading Thursday's report, more such couples reached out to mid-day with their horror stories in city hotels. Speaking to mid-day, G S Kohli, president of HRAWI said, "The association has no role to play here; it neither encourages nor opposes the issue. It has been left to member hotels to frame their operating policies depending on their positioning, clientele and other local factors." Meanwhile, some more readers contacted mid-day to recount the discriminatory behaviour they've had to face.
One mid-day reader had an unsavoury experience while checking out of a hotel even though she'd stayed there with her husband. Rep Pic/Getty Images
Just meeting a friend
A 30-year-old corporate professional who resides in Khar said she was asked to sit in the lobby of Hotel Ajanta in Juhu when she went to meet a friend. She said, "My friend was visiting from Chennai and I'd gone to meet him. I'd taken along some food for him since I used to stay in the neighbourhood.
I was stopped at the lobby and asked, "Are you married to him?" when I said I wasn't and he was just a friend, they said friends or unmarried couples are not allowed in the room. I was furious. I explained to them that I was only visiting him and not staying there because I live close by, but they kept saying I can only meet him in the lobby. I asked why they have such absurd rules. The manager said they ask married couples for proof before giving them a room. My friend then came to the lobby and took the food. I was so furious by then that I stormed out of the hotel. A representative of the hotel said, "We do not allow unmarried couples as per our hotel policy and instructions from the local police."
A 26-year-old man said he and his partner were refused a room at a hotel in Andheri a year ago, after which they stopped visiting hotels in Mumbai. They now prefer going to hotels on the outskirts of the city.
He said, "I live in a rented apartment, where a lot of people would raise questions if they see a girl visiting me. To avoid such embarrassment, we went to a hotel in Andheri West, near the railway station, a year ago. The minute we produced our identity cards, the staff asked us whether we were married. We said no and were straightaway refused occupancy as per their hotel policy. I called a few more budget hotels and all of them had the same issue. Now, we prefer going to Dahanu, Lonavala, Khandala, where hotels do not have any such issues."
This married couple faced another issue altogether, when a hotel in south Mumbai argued with them because their ID cards did not match. Aishwariya Iyer, 32, had planned a birthday surprise for her husband in March last year at a three-star sea-facing hotel on Marine Drive. They checked into the hotel after work and produced their valid IDs. The issue cropped up the next morning.
Iyer told mid-day, "Everything went as planned, but when we were checking out, the receptionist started arguing and said 'please don't do this next time'. We were surprised and asked him what was the problem. He said unmarried couples are not allowed in the hotel. I haven't changed my last name after getting married. We said we're married and even showed him our wedding photographs. Even after that, he said, 'look, we don't have any problem, but we've been instructed by the local cops to not allow unmarried couples. Next time, carry your marriage certificate'.
Hotelier Vikram Shetty said, "Some hotels do not entertain unmarried couples and some don't want to get into unnecessary trouble when it comes to such couples. How does one know if someone with valid ID cards is coming to the hotel with a call girl or an escort. Sometimes, cops carry out raids and it becomes embarrassing for families staying at the hotel. The five-star hotels have their own legal teams to handle such cases, but budget hotels can't afford this unnecessary trouble, so it's better for them to not allow such couples."
Another hotelier said, "The problem is that there is lot of harassment from cops over prostitution, and human trafficking. So many times, cops come as customers and then carry out raids. This ends up happening basically with budget hotels and now 80 per cent of them do not want any unnecessary trouble, so they refused unmarried couples."
Hotelier Dilip Datwani said, "Nowadays, hotel owners are really scared about allowing unmarried couples fearing that the local police will come and trouble them. As of now, the issue is being raised and I hope cops will provide some clarity soon on the matter.
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