Australian hotel accused of segregating Aboriginal guests to inferior rooms

Guests were given specific rooms based on their race

Helen Coffey
Friday 08 March 2019 17:13 GMT
An Ibis Styles hotel was accused of racially segregating customers
An Ibis Styles hotel was accused of racially segregating customers (istock)

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A hotel in Australia is investigating after reports emerged that Aboriginal guests were segregated to certain inferior rooms.

The international chain Accor is looking into allegations that visitors to the Ibis Styles hotel in Alice Springs were designated specific rooms on the basis of their race.

Aboriginal guests were charged the same price for inferior rooms following a directive sent to hotel staff last June, reports the ABC.

A leaked email sent from management reads: “Just to keep everyone in the loop we are now only putting hospital linen into rooms 85 to 90.

”These rooms are to be referred to as community rooms and we will try to limit them to just that, those coming from the communities.

“Reception ladies, please use a touch of initiative and allocate accordingly on arrival.”

“Communities” is a colloquialism referring to Aboriginals from out of town.

An unnamed whistleblower from the hotel said they’d seen Aboriginals being given the six specified rooms on hundreds of occasions.

“You’re looking at people who were notable or who were doing charity work or anything like that, who just because they appeared Aboriginal, were being given worse rooms that you wouldn’t put anyone else into at all,“ they said.

The ABC conducted its own investigation in which two bookings were made for the hotel this year. Both parties were charged A$129 (£70) for their rooms – the only difference being that one group was Aboriginal and the other was not.

Upon arrival to the hotel, the non-Aboriginal guests were assigned a regular room, while the Aboriginal group were given room 86 – one of the designated “community rooms”.

The latter had dirty floors, stained sheets and towels, clothing from previous guests and exposed wiring in the room, and broken glass and rubbish on the patio, according to the ABC. The other room had none of these issues.

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An Accor spokesperson told The Independent: “Since Accor was made aware of the matter raised on the ABC at Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis, we have initiated an investigation into the allegations and are taking prompt and decisive action on this incident at the highest level.

“We are extremely saddened and disappointed by this as it completely goes against our values and track record as a company with over 17 years of engagement with our Indigenous community, through our leading Indigenous programmes.

“Accor has stepped in to use the strength of its Indigenous engagement platform to reiterate the non-negotiable values of our business and specifically undertake cultural training at the hotel immediately.”

It added: “We are confident in the actions to be taken on this matter.”

The company owns multiple global hotel brands, including Ibis, Fairmont, Movenpick, Sofitel and Mama Shelter.

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