It has taken some time for me and my family to come to turns with what happened with us at the Marriott property and hence taken time for us to accept the reality and trauma and narrate this incident.
On 23rd December, 2016, our Christmas joy turned into misery and despair, as if it was a Good Friday. It happened at, Austria.
We, three members of a family, had checked in at Renaissance Vienna Hotel, on 23rd December 2016 morning.
After placing our luggage in the assigned room, we visited the hotel lounge to have our breakfast. Within minutes, two unknown persons entered the lounge, distracted our attention by throwing a card near our table and disappeared in thin air with our handbag containing two of our passports and several valuable items.
We were of the opinion that Renaissance Vienna Hotel was as safe as any of the Marriott group of hotels. However, it turned out to be our illusion and false belief. By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late and irreparable damage was already done to us.
To our astonishment, we were later told by the front office staff that although Close Circuit Cameras are in place at the Renaissance Vienna Hotel, no recording was done or allowed. Moreover, not a single security guard was posted at the Main Gate to make sure that only authorized persons enter the hotel premises.
It is true that the main door of the hotel is totally secured by electronic system, and hence, the door could be opened only with a card key. But, we later discovered to our horror, that it was not at all a fool proof and secure system. When a authorized person inserts the card in the designated slot, the main door swings open and thereafter, it remains open for several minutes, which gives ample time and golden opportunity to anyone and everyone to enter the hotel with ease and commit any offence or theft with immunity.
Worst still is the sad fact that the Renaissance hotel management has never thought it appropriate to inform the guests by way of displaying warning signs or by any other means to alert them to take care of their personal belongings in the hotel lounge.
We faced numerous hardships soon after we lost our handbag and, our mental trauma can never be expressed in words.
The number one worry was our entire bunch of keys for our apartment back home was in that bag and we had to call someone in our neighbourhood to change the lock of our main door. We were scared that the gang could easily pass on our address and house keys to local gangs here in India.
Secondly, our scheduled plan was to visit Prague and then Paris after spending few days in Vienna. But, our entire plan turned upside down. Moreover, we incurred heavy financial losses, as we were left with no choice but to cancel all our air tickets for onward journey and so also hotel bookings in those countries.
That was not all, we had to run from pillar to post in order to lodge a FIR with the local police, to obtain temporary passports from Embassy of India, Vienna and then to obtain a letter from Itallian Consulate in Vienna to confirm that we were holding valid SCHENGEN visa. All these documents were necessary, as our scheduled flight back to India was from Rome, and we had to travel to Rome from Vienna to take the flight to India.
Our expenses mounted as we had to extend our stay in Vienna in order to obtain travel documents, as mentioned above. We were forced to book fresh tickets from Vienna to Rome, as our original flight booking was from Paris to Rome. Needless to add here that we incurred additional expenses to arrange overnight hotel accommodation in Rome.
Though, we do not want to blame Renaissance Vienna Hotel entirely for our ordeal and exorbitant expenditure, we do feel that a little more sensitivity, care and security concern shown by the hotel management would have gone a long way in averting the incident of theft of this nature. Even a simple verbal warning or a notice would have alerted us of the impending danger to our belongings at the lounge.
We would like to highlight here that the theft took place inside the Renaissance Vienna Hotel premises and those persons came through the main door. We were watching them and little did we realize that a hotel of Marriott stature would allow the rouge elements to have a field day under their very nose.
We have a strong suspicion that one of the hotel staff, most probably the porter, is giving out the information about the guests to the local gang, as it may not be a mere coincident that those thieves were inside the longue minutes after our entry there.
Though unrelated, we would like to narrate another incident we witnessed in the Renaissance Vienna Hotel. A taxi driver just entered the hotel with the pretext of using the washroom by taking permission from the hotel porter standing near-by and disappeared inside the hotel. After several minutes, he emerged from inside with a cup of coffee in his hand. It is really amazing to see how unauthorized people get easy access to the areas restricted to the hotel staff and guests.
Our Insurance company refused to entertain our claim for cancellation or curtailment of trip benefits. Their contention is that these benefits are applicable only if the trip is cancelled or curtailed due to the death of the tourist himself or his close family member. Hence, we failed to get any compensation for the curtailment of the trip.
While concluding this letter, we would like to highlight two points for your kind attention and favourable consideration: -
1) Open door policy adopted by the Renaissance Vienna Hotel management may not be the best policy considering the terrorists threat looming large all over the world, including Europe.
2) We have incurred heavy financial losses and suffered untold mental agony due to the incident, which occurred inside the Marriott hotel premises. Hence, we are of the strong view that we are entitled for some sort of compensation from the Marriott management by way of monetary benefits or reward points.
I am Platinum Elite member since 2012 and my organisation has deep faith in your brand. Trusting in the same I thank you and hoping to receive your favorable response at the earliest.