Tag Archives: Pam Washington

Bugged out: Rags or riches, bedbugs don’t discriminate

by Martha Gies, Contributing Writer

Once, somewhere west of Havana, on a visit to a tobacco cooperative in the PiƱar del Rio countryside, the friend sharing my rustic cabin flipped a scorpion onto my bed.

She had picked up her notebook, saw the scorpion at the last moment, and instinctively flung it across the room. In other words, an accident.

But still …

Many people I know avoid vacationing in these tropical backwaters, preferring (at least those who can afford it) to take their holiday in some First World capital with a choice of upscale hotels. Well, now the game has changed, and they need to understand that prestige-brand lodgings, be they in New York or Portland, are no longer a hedge against unwanted critters.

The Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, for instance, despite its Central Park address, multi-lingual staff, high thread-count sheets, and view of the Manhattan skyline, had a bedbug problem seven years ago; a lawsuit filed by a hotel guest in 2003 settled out of court for $150,000. Since then, many luxury hotels have struggled with them, leaving rooms un-rented for the several-week fumigation cycle, and waiting for a moonless night to switch mattresses out the service door.

The Return of the Bedbugs was first reported in the New York Times back in 2001, presumably brought to the United States in the suitcases of international travelers. Today they are in all 50 states. Think briefcases, backpacks and the cuffs of trousers. Continue reading