It’s no Ritz-Carlton, that’s for sure!
Wait, you know this is “Point-Counterpoint,” right, Michael? Are you expecting me to side with the owners of this fleabag hotel? You do know I wrote the story, right?
Let me say this… that hotel was not always in the shape it’s in. Longtime residents will remember that back in the day it was a Holiday Inn for years, and then it became a Ramada Inn sometime in the early 1990s. I will even give you a little personal trivia, Michael, for free… I got married in that hotel. Back in 1993, when it was the Ramada, my wife, now of nearly 27 years, and I had our wedding ceremony and reception there, and it was a small but very nice ceremony. I don’t think the “Corpse Bride” would get married there now.
If you missed the story, dear readers, it was in the online edition of the Times on Oct. 29, and the focus, was an online indictment of the sorry state of the Extend-ASuites in West Memphis done by Cassie Hoskins, who heads up Families in Transition. Because the hotel is one of the cheaper ones around, people go there when they are desperate to get out of a bad situation, and while it’s good they are able to get out of that situation, they are doing themselves no favors by going to this roach motel.
On more than one occasion, Hoskins, said, she has gone there to help a family in need only to see the sad state of the hotel.
“These are the conditions I’ve witnessed myself,” said Hoskins:
• smoke detector wires hanging out
• heavily soiled mattresses and sheets that are that way at check in
• unclean toilets at check in
• nasty carpets
• rooms smell so bad you gag
• no refund signs
• shady people hanging around the parking lot
• bugs that run in all different directions
• falling curtains and soiled curtains “These are things reported by clients,” she added:
• all of the above
• illegal activity with women and suspected drugs on the back side of the hotel. (When I took a client some food a few nights ago I asked what the big party was and was told the owner has a room back there and he has “all male nights” once a week.)
• blood and stool on and in toilets upon checking in
• bed bugs even after changing rooms This is in addition to all of the other unsavory things going on there. In the past year, Extend-A-Suites has been a hotbed for drugs, shootings, panhandlers, and who knows what else.
Wait, was I supposed to provide a counterpoint?
OK, here’s one… I guess, no one is forcing anyone to stay there. It’s a free country and you’re welcome to spend your money elsewhere. That’s about the best I can do. There really is no excuse for this business to be allowed to continue to operate in the state it’s in. Hoskins has tried to get the ball rolling with a number of local and state agencies on getting something done, but it appears to be a game of hot potato, with everyone telling her it’s not their department.
Well it’s someone’s department, Michael, and hopefully running the story and running this column will somehow get this information into the right hands. That place is in too good of a location to not be a nice clean establishment. It is definitely a public nuisance and has to be a health hazard. If even half of what Hoskins described is accurate (and knowing her, I’d wager it was all accurate), then the Arkansas Department of Health must have the power to at least conduct an inspection of the place. Maybe the whole place isn’t like the parts being described?
Maybe there are just some rooms that are bad? But if that’s the case, then at least those rooms need to be dealt with.
West Memphis is on a winning streak, says the mayor.
And I agree things are looking better, but this hotel is a dark blot right on the front of the city’s face and it needs attention.