8. The Trip Advisor

Hotel Review, posted in March 2020:
"My partner and I recently visited your city for a short break and to catch up with some old friends. We booked a regular suite at your hotel after recommendations from friends online. The room was nice enough. The windows looked out onto busy tree-lined inner-city street that was quiet at night. The decor could have done with an update but the room was clean enough. Room service was prompt and courteous and the food of a good quality. Very tasty. Our interactions with staff were always pleasant and seemed considerate enough... except for one evening when we tried to explore more of the hotel starting from the top floor (to see if there was anywhere to get a higher vantage point to view the city skyline). Upon exiting the lift we were approached by a representative from a private security firm who appeared to be holding some sort of weapon. Before we could proceed any further, the guard started shouting at us to get back in the lift and charged down the corridor at us. Startled, we got back in and hurried back to our room. Once back in our room using the (frankly shoddy and over priced) wifi we discovered we were staying in an APOD and that the top three floors were being used to accommodate refugees seeking medical attention on shore—some of which had been waiting for attention, and unable to leave their rooms, for 6 to 12 months. Naturally, we were appalled that this hotel was supporting the arbitrary detention of those seeking asylum, especially when they were in need of medical assistance. My advice to anyone thinking of booking a room here is don't. Not until hotel management refuse to support this unfair and unjust system imposed by an uncaring and callous government. ★★★☆☆"

Reply (posted on reviews site a day later):
"Dear Guests. Firstly, thank you for choosing our hotel. You are correct, we are participating in the government's current APOD (Alternative Places of Detention) scheme. This is temporary until alternative accommodation for detainees can be arranged. This also means we have been limited with some the services and amenities we have previously been able to provide (such as access to the top floor restaurant and upper level amenities. This is to comply with regulations enforced under the APOD provision. Rest assured that your recent stay is not reflective of the high service standards we would usually provide and our apologies if this reflected on your stay. Warm Regards, The General Manager"

Reply (from reviews site support team via email 3 days later headed "We believe in The Right to Write"):
Dear Hotel Guest and reviewer, We need you to make some changes and resubmit your review to comply with our guidelines. Your fellow travellers want to learn about the hotel you have stayed at so your review should be a description of your experience. We don’t allow content that we feel is irrelevant or unhelpful. To submit the revised review: copy and paste the text of your original review into the form below, make your edits and click resubmit. For more information, check out our review guidelines. Thanks for being part of our community. Regards, Reviews Support Team"

Hotel Review, resubmitted 4 days later (headed "Hotels should not support arbitrary detention"):
"My partner and I recently visited your hotel for a short city break. The regular suite was nice enough, even if the decor, wifi and entertainment system could have done with an update. The view was pleasant and the area was quiet at night. Room service was prompt and courteous and the food of a good quality. Interactions with staff were pleasant and considerate enough. One evening when we decided to explore the top floor to see the city skyline and were approached by a private security guard with some sort of weapon. Before we could go further they started shouting at us to get back in the lift and started running at us. Terrified, we got back in the lift and hurried back to our room. Once back in the room we went on the internet and discovered this hotel was participating in the APOD (Alternative Places of Detention) scheme. The top three floors were being used to accommodate refugees seeking medical attention on shore—some of which had been unable to leave their rooms for 6 to 18 months. It is appalling that this hotel is supporting the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers, especially when they were in need of medical help. Don't book a room here until hotel management refuse to support this unfair and unjust system imposed by an uncaring and callous government. ★☆☆☆☆"

Reply (from reviews site via email 7 days later):
Dear Guest, Thank you for submitting your review. First and foremost, we are truly sorry to hear about your experience. We can certainly appreciate your reasons for wanting to share this information with our travel community. Unfortunately, we are unable to post your review at this time. This property has been designated by governmental or regulatory authorities as a quarantine and temporary detention location to serve those seeking assistance and only partially offers standard traveler or guest services. Due to this, we are currently not accepting reviews posted in relation to this location's APOD status. We strongly encourage you to post your thoughts and comments on our forum pages instead. Other travellers will have the opportunity to view your comments and post their thoughts and concerns regarding them. Our thoughts are with you, and we thank you for being a valuable member of our travel reviews community. Sincere regards, the Reviews Support Team"

Hotel Review, third repost, 7 days later:
"I understand this hotel and this travel reviews site have decided to censor and remove our review. We will keep reposting this review until they admit they are supporting the arbitrary detention of refugees. (Review above is copied and pasted here without amendments.)"

Reply (from reviews site via email 9 days later):
"We would like to assure you that the reason we are unable to publish your content is not for reasons of censorship. In unprecedented times, we have had to make the decision not to publish reviews by guests on properties that have been designated by regulatory authorities as APODs (Alternative Places Of Detention) or as accommodation for those in quarantine. The reason for this policy is that these locations are acting in accordance with regulations and not offering standard traveler or guest services, therefore traveler experiences do not represent typical stays. This policy applies not just to this hotel but also to hundreds of other properties on our site, and is in fact applied regardless of the review rating i.e. this policy would apply to a positive review just the same."

Hotel Review, forth repost 62 days later:
"I understand this hotel and this travel reviews site have decided to censor and remove our review. We will keep reposting this review until they admit they are supporting the arbitrary detention of refugees. (Review above is copied and pasted here without amendments.)"


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