“WEIGHT…THEIF!”

27 Nov

Waldorff Astoria Hotel NYC – approximately 25 years prior, the property manager was quietly smoking a cigarette by the loading dock at the Waldorf Astoria and observing.  The meat vendor backed his truck in.  The cart used to deliver meat from the truck to the kitchen was wheeled off the truck and weighed.  This cart was then pushed to the side and a different cart was used to roll the meat in.  The manager stepped forward and inquired about why the same cart that was just weighed was not being used to deliver the meat.  He found several 20 pound metal dumbbells soldered to the underside of the substitute cart!  Can you imagine the number of meat deliveries made to the Waldorf over the years and how much over billed weight this probably caused!?

“MEAT HEAD!?”

27 Nov

Waldorff Astoria Hotel NYC – approximately 25 years prior one of the head chefs at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC   (earning a 6 figure income) was walking past security as he was departing the property for the day.  It was a cold day and he was wearing a wool hat and as he waived to the guard, the guard saw that the chef’s head was bleeding badly.   The Chef attempted to waive the guard off and was reluctant to remove his hat.  Not to be deterred the guard pressed on.  Atop his head wrapped in plastic was a filet mignon!

“WATERING THE PLANTS”

27 Nov

Oldie but goodie (40 years ago);  A.S. came in to interview for the GM position at the then famous Hollywood Beach Resort.  Upon arriving he left his car with the valet, walked past the concierge and then a maintenance man watering the plants in the lobby. He detected a slight unsavory odor but paid it no mind.

Fast Forward One Week:  A.S. was hired and soon after began investigating the source of this odor.  He asked the front desk manager how long the maintenance man watering the plants had been at the property to find he had been there over 10 years. Apparently no one mentioned to this staff member that the plants were fake and that he had been pouring water on a wood platform for almost a decade!  The wood at this point was rotting away!

“MICROWAVE BROKEN?”

27 Nov

“My Microwave Oven is Broken” — An upset guest calls the front desk to report that her microwave is not working.  Maintenance arrives to find that the guest has placed a meatloaf into the new room safe!

“IT TAKES A THEIF”

27 Nov

Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale.  Dia was the controller and I came in as the new GM.  The home office in Canada said that despite the construction going on, it felt as though way too much money was being sent and spent.  With a request for bank reconciliations going nowhere after a week an independent was hired.  Still no cooperation led to Dia’s suspension until I could get my hands around the situation.  Several days later the answer followed with a bank statement delivered, that was an account thought to be a closed.  Funds were transferred to the account and checks to the tune of $180,000 were written to she and her husband!  Dia filed for unemployment!

“PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY…WASTED!”

27 Nov

A Fish Called Avalon, South Beach (Avalon Hotel); my office was at our sister property the National Hotel.  As I ventured in one Saturday morning 2 young college students were speaking to the police about a video camera that was stolen.  I leaned in at the conclusion and asked if all was alright and what happened.  After telling me the story they said they were having a great time on south Beach and had befriended the owner of the Avalon Hotel the night before and he showed them quite a fabulous and expensive time at A Fish Called Avalon!  The problem was that the Avalon (and A Fish Called Avalon) was one of the properties that I oversaw and I knew the owner was in Newport Rode Island!!  They said that this fellow was coming over to the National within the hour to meet them at the pool to “hang out”.  I figured a good time for a little sting operation to bust this fraud!

When he came and they pointed me out to him he pretty nervously made an excuse and quickly departed.  They were confused as they said that it seemed that everyone at the Avalon knew him (it was later discovered that he was quite the gracious tipper). I called the property with his name and sure enough YES everyone knew and vouched for him as a great guest!!  “He’s been here before and is very generous and nice”.  I immediately went to the property and asked to see the bucket.  NO CREDIT CARD on file!

He had stayed at the property two weeks prior.  When he arrived this time he told the clerk that he had forgotten his wallet which his CPA was forwarding, could they please accommodate him by using the credit card from his previous stay.  After chastising the desk for allowing this I prepared to confront him over his $3,000+ bill.  The plot thickens.

In his room with security as my back up, this man barely flinched.  It was noticed that almost nothing was in the room despite being there for 3 days and he only had one small bag in the closet.  He repeated the same story and I demanded payment on the spot.  Beforehand, I instructed the desk that the police should be called and they arrived.  They took whatever information he had available.  He said he was an investor and not to worry because all was fine and this was a misunderstanding.  In fact (!), he than told me he knew my bank manager and several attorneys located in the bank complex who he planned to use to complete a business transaction while in town.  He was here in south Beach to buy a large property.  We told the police we would wait for 2 hours for a promised wire and that they could leave.  Not leaving him alone, I excused myself and called my banker who said she met with him the prior day but that there was something very eerie about him and his stories and though she couldn’t put her finger on it she was very uncomfortable with him.  Back to the hotel:  He claimed he called his CPA and that money was on the way via wire and that his entire bill would be paid within the next 2 hours.  I left him in his room with a security guard posted in the corridor as we waited.  I left the property with instructions to keep a close eye and call me and police if needed.

As I was arriving back at the National Hotel I received a frantic call that the police had surrounded the building and were about to arrest this ne’er-do-well!  As if we hadn’t had enough, fire trucks arrived with a report of a fire.  Yes, he called a fire in to create a diversion so that he could escape and jumped out of his window to attempt  the same

What puzzled me was why he didn’t take off the moment he was busted at the National Hotel and learned that I was the managing director at the Avalon!  We soon learned why…

The next day 3 investors attempted to reach him by phone.  I intercepted the calls.  These gentlemen were convinced that they were about to buy the Avalon Hotel and were calling for instructions as to how to wire deposit funds to him!!   We learned; he had incorporated under a similar name “the name Avalon Hotel I, Inc.” and then fraudulently did something with our deed to make it appear that he was the owner (I was told this was easy to do in those days).  He had been entertaining investors at the property and because he was tipping everyone so heavily our staff all treated him “as if he owned the place”!!  Apparently this enabled him to convince potential investors that he was the owner and was selling the property to them.  The problem for him was that all funds were going to be transferred in the next day.  He apparently felt he could carry the con on for one more day and collect the cash and run.  Time ran out.  He was put into jail and I testified against him.  The moment he saw me walk into the courtroom he got up, whispered in the guards year and they took him away.  He changed his plea to guilty!  Wow.

In conclusion, we later learned that the credit card that was on file was not his and was of an unsuspecting “lover” he had conned the last time in town.  He was wanted by the FBI for committing similar fraud in several other states and was brought up on charges there.  A smooth operator with a photographic memory to boot enabling him to spit out names and facts without the slightest hesitation.  What a waste!