Breakfast in brown paper bag at quarantine hotel hard to swallow - paying guests

An emergency services transport vehicle is spotted outside the Radisson Blu in Port Elizabeth last Friday. The luxury beachfront hotel is being used as a quarantine facility for Covid-19
HOTEL BLUES: An emergency services transport vehicle is spotted outside the Radisson Blu in Port Elizabeth last Friday. The luxury beachfront hotel is being used as a quarantine facility for Covid-19

Breakfast delivered in a brown paper packet — two rashers of bacon, scrambled egg and baked beans, all cold — was not what a Nelson Mandela Bay woman had dreamt of for her birthday breakfast at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

But the breakfast soon became the last thing on her mind when she found out she had unknowingly stayed at a Covid-19 quarantine hotel.

Tandy Sutherland said the first she and her sister-in-law Bronwyn Dorfling had heard about the Radisson Blu in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, being used as a quarantine hotel was when they read about it in Weekend Post — a week after they checked out.

The newspaper revealed last weekend that the five-star hotel was being used as a quarantine site but hotel management said all guests were aware of that fact.

Both Sutherland and Dorfling were adamant that not a word about the hotel housing quarantine guests had been conveyed to them.

Sutherland and Dorfling stayed at the hotel two weekends ago for Sutherland’s birthday and according to Dorfling it “was not cheap and a bit of a splurge”. 

Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth executive assistant manager Elmarie Fritz said on Friday that the pair had not been told about the hotel’s status when they booked their rooms — in June — because it  was not yet a quarantine site.

The hotel only started taking quarantine guests in July.

She said the women should have been told by the front-of-house staff but she could not verify whether they had been.

Sutherland and Dorfling had particularly looked forward to the hotel’s buffet breakfast — which Sutherland said was always excellent.

But, it was only when they had already booked in they were told the restaurant was closed, Sutherland said.

So, instead of the sumptuous spread they had been expecting, the women were brought breakfast on a foil tray, ice cold.

A box of juice, a muffin and a piece of fruit accompanied the less than full English they would have liked, they said.

Sutherland said she could not believe she had received her meal in a brown paper packet.

“If I am good enough to sleep in their bed surely I am good enough to get my food on a plate,” she said.

To top it all, Sutherland said, the food was “ice cold”. 

Dorfling said Sutherland had not even eaten her breakfast.

Fritz said a sign had been placed at the hotel to indicate that all meals would be served in the guests’ rooms.

Staff at the Radisson had previously complained that quarantine guests, some of whom they said were extremely stubborn, had refused to stay in their rooms, putting them at risk.

They also complained that staff with only masks as protection were asked to deliver the quarantine guests' food, all packaged in brown paper bags, to their rooms.

Fritz said incidents of guests leaving their rooms were “isolated incidents” that were immediately dealt with.

Fritz said the hotel adhered to all safety protocols.

She said the hotel had recently received the SGS Disinfection Monitored and Cleaning Checked mark by SGS, a global verification, testing and certification company.

She said once the hotel became a quarantine facility, guests were confined to a single floor and the lifts were locked so they could not wander around the hotel.

“People need to be aware of the difference between a quarantine facility and an isolation facility.

“Quarantine is for those who cannot isolate at home.

“For example, if someone in the house has tested positive and others in the house cannot quarantine safely they would stay at the hotel provided they had tested negative,” she said.

On the food, she said guests had initially indicated that they would prefer room service and each meal was accordingly individually packaged.

She said food could become cold when delivered room by room.

The restaurant is now open but only for guests.

Other complaints by Sutherland and Dorfling were over a lack of tea and teaspoons and a hole in the ceiling of their room.

They were moved to another room and, after chatting to Fritz on Friday, the pair accepted the hotel’s offer of a free night’s stay at the Radisson after Fritz explained how quarantine sites worked and the safety measures that were applicable.


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