I had an IHG free night certificate from my Chase IHG credit card that was expiring soon. Knowing that IHG does not extend these certificates, and not having any other immediate travel plans, I decided to plan a staycation in my hometown of NYC. I narrowed my choices to the Intercontinental Barclay hotel or the Kimpton Eventi hotel. We like Kimptons so we booked the hotel for Sunday night, August 6th.
Little did we know that both of these hotels had tested positive for Legionella bacteria, the bacteria that causes the extremely serious and often fatal disease known as Legionnaires’ disease.
On August 3rd, a few days prior to my stay, I received a typical welcome email titled details for your upcoming stay from the Eventi. I didn’t scroll all the way down to the end of the email and missed this part of the message:
We are pleased you have chosen to stay with us and look forward to welcoming you to the Kimpton Hotel Eventi. As our highest priority remains the safety and well-being of our guests, it is imperative we inform you of a remediation process currently underway with the New York City Department of Health (hereinafter DOH).
Recently, the DOH requested our cooperation to collect and test a variety of water samples throughout the building. The testing revealed trace levels of Legionella bacteria detected in water samples collected, representing the lowest levels that can be detected and qualifying as well-controlled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The DOH has assured us that it is safe for guests to stay at the hotel, and I have the utmost faith in both our city and our team to remediate this matter swiftly.
You will also find a formal notice here directly from the DOH, which further details their recommendations at this time. Should you have any questions at all, or wish to cancel your reservation without penalty, we welcome you to contact a hotel representative via email at email@example.com, phone at 646-794-6861, or you may also wish to contact the DOH directly.
I didn’t see the above language, so I wasn’t aware of any of this. Then, on Sunday, as I was packing and getting ready for my staycation, I came upon this post by Loyalty Lobby entitled Legionella Detected At Kimpton Eventi Hotel In New York. YIKES! Well that certainly got my attention!
The NYC Department of Health notice (which I was unable to access from the Kimpton email, but which was printed in the Loyalty Lobby post), notified Eventi’s guests and employees that two guests of the hotel had gotten sick with Legionnaires’ disease sometime within the past 12 months, and that a recent test detected Legionella bacteria in the hotel’s water. The notice described Legionnaires’ disease and its symptoms and opined that “the risk of getting sick from a building’s water system is very low, especially for healthy people.”
After reading Loyalty Lobby article, and quite a bit of googling, I called the hotel. I spoke to an employee, Melvin, who told me that the positive test result was only a trace amount and that the hotel had engaged a company which treated the hotel’s entire water system on Friday with monochloramine and that all the water in the hotel had been run for the recommended period of time. Upon further research, I learned that monochloramine treatment is the gold standard for control and remediation of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens.
Melvin said that he was confident that the monochloramine treatment had rid the hotel’s water system of any Legionella. He said that the water would be tested Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But the day was Sunday, so the first follow-up test would not be run until the next day.
We were really looking forward to our staycation to celebrate our anniversary. We went back and forth on what to do. I tried to contact Kimpton and IHG to request that they possibly extend the free night certificate. I received no response from IHG. From Kimpton, I received only a vague Twitter message saying that the NYC Department of Health has determined it is safe for guests to stay at the hotel at this time.
It was time to make a choice. Taking into consideration the fact that the test only found trace amounts of the bacteria combined with the fact that the water had been treated with monochloramine two days prior to our stay and relying on the hotel’s and the Department of Health’s analysis of the situation – we decided that we would check into the hotel but we would take the extra precaution of staying away from the water. This meant we would not shower (until we went home the following morning) and we would only use bottled water to brush our teeth and wash our faces. We further agreed that, if at any time we felt uncomfortable with the situation, we could simply leave and go home.
The stay went well enough. We were upgraded to a cute suite (see Hotel Review, coming soon). Nevertheless, in retrospect, being at the hotel in a somewhat fearful stage was probably not the smartest decision I’ve ever made (but then again, we just went through a pandemic, where we were always fearful of contracting covid-19 at hotels and elsewhere).
So far we still feel healthy (and hope to stay that way). I am going to reach out to the hotel to find out the results of the tests of the water that were done this week.
For more information on Legionnaires’ disease and hotels and resorts, the CDC has published this: Considerations for Hotel Owners and Managers: How to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease.
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