(This is long, but worth the read in my humble opinion.) Last evening, July 8, 2013, my nine year-old son and I checked into this pet-friendly hotel near the Boardwalk of Santa Cruz. We checked in late (after 9 p.m.) and I told the front desk employee that we would be leaving at 5 a.m. I also said we had a small, clean, quiet dog I could keep in my car with the windows down. He replied not to worry about it and said he would not charge me for the extra pet fee ($30.)
My son fell asleep and
I spent some time reading, organizing our stuff and put food from the cooler into the room's fridge. We had been at the KOA in Santa Cruz for four nights (and had a great experience - no bed bugs!) The Ocean Pacific Lodge also smelled like a cigarette and pot-smoking haven, despite what I thought was a non-smoking room.
I was about to shower (around one a.m.) and saw two bugs in the bathroom. Upon closer inspection, they looked like bed bugs to me. I had them years ago and, sadly, became well-acquainted with them (and how difficult and costly they are to get rid of) when I stayed at a hotel in LA near the airport for work. I flushed them down the toilet - a bad move, it turns out.
I tried to call the front desk, but the phone was not working. When I went to speak with the employee in-person, he sheepishly, and awkwardly, confessed to me that it was a problem. He suggested I pull the bed away from the wall to look at the wall and floor and inspect the premises. He also said to look at the mattress corners. I did so and saw shell casings of bed bugs all around the corner of the mattress. I also saw rust-colored stains. (Stupidly, I did not take a photo with my phone!) In addition,I saw a white powder substance covering the floor and baseboard behind the bed. I was told it was a preventative measure - diatomaceous earth?
They offered to move me to the second floor (smoking rooms!) but my son was sound asleep and I had just unloaded everything. I was asking for information only and did not want to move, but was thinking of sleeping in my car with my son. I was too tired and had taken an Ambien sleeping pill so could not drive home at this point. The employee became very nervous and woke the owner when I said I would be reporting the condition of bed bugs.
The owner came down with his lovely wife (around 2:30 a.m.) and was furious about the situation. He ORDERED his wife (whom he made walk behind him the whole time - cultural practice?!) to return to their room and ORDERED his employee to return to the front desk. (The wife and employee appeared to be afraid of this man - in my humble opinion - and the employee later recanted several things in front of the police officers.) The owner then told me it was private property, which HE owned, and if I didn't leave he would call the police. He refused to leave the hotel room and when I mentioned I was an attorney and was aware I had legal rights he became incensed.
When I threatened to put this information on Yelp, he threw me down on the bed - the bed my son was sleeping in. I got up, yelled my lungs off, and started to bang on doors next to me. The owner laughed and said, "There are no cameras inside the rooms but they are all over the place outside." He attempted to provoke me and laughed again when he asked what I was going to do to him. He left the room and then called the police (as did I) and apparently said I physically attacked him and had a pet in the room without permission. (I am under the care of a hand surgeon and have a wrist injury. I had a wrist support device on and need to have additional surgery on my dominant, right wrist. I can assure you, I was not in the physical condition, or emotional condition, to assault the owner. Nor would I jeopardize my law license or do anything like this in front of my son unless I was defending myself or my son from attack.)
Shockingly, the police believed the owner and threatened me with arrest if I did not vacate the premises because it was private property. They refused to look at the mattress or behind it. They also said I should have saved the bugs and that bed bugs were never found in bathrooms and that they left trails of blood which the officers did not see - not that they looked at the mattress! They assumed I illegally brought the dog in the room since I had not paid the extra pet fee. (This was one of the statements the employee recanted as he denied telling me not to worry about about the extra pet fee.) I told the officers I could not leave the premises because I had taken Ambien - a sleep aid an hour earlier. They assumed my Ambien sleep medicine was a "narcotic" (the officer's word) and I was "under the influence," though they performed no sobriety tests and were willing to let me drive away. The officers made sure I was fully refunded and gave me an hour to vacate, but I was ENRAGED, crying and yelling at people outside not to stay at the hotel because of bed bugs and the fear of being arrested in retaliation for complaining. (Bad reaction on my part.)
Soon after, I drove to the police department. Beware - an angry woman, despite the valid reasons for it, will be viewed as a "crazy lady!" It was now about 5 a.m. I am in touch with the Sergeant and hope to take some legal action against the owner. In addition, I hope to share my story so the Santa Cruz police will change their approach. In short, do NOT stay here!!!! And...ALWAYS take photos and save bugs if this ever happens to you.