Black business group asked to leave DoubleTree Resort, gets refund offer

A businessman is claiming his group was asked to leave a local resort on Christmas Eve because of their ethnicity, while hotel officials claim the group was evicted because it was too loud and causing a disturbance to other guests.

After OD Harris, a black businessman, made online claims that the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Paradise Valley–Scottsdale threw him and his associates out because they were predominantly black — he was offered a refund by the corporate office.

A whirlwind of responses saturated social media after he shared his live Facebook post at 3 a.m. Dec. 24, 2017, following his encounter at the hotel. He accused the resort of being “racist and don’t respect our black dollars.”

His group, “Ready, Set, Go! Foundation” was hosting a networking and fundraising venture in the hotel’s presidential suite.

Mr. Harris booked the 1,800-square-foot suite through a hotel corporate employee. He said he informed the employee the suite would be used for a mixer.

He said the booking agent confirmed similar events are often held in the suite.

Published reports, however, have cited the local hotel’s managers stating that their policies prohibit such events.

Local hotel administrators maintain the meeting was unauthorized and the group was unruly by being disruptive to other guests.

The Hilton corporate office has since apologized to Mr. Harris and will refund him $372.

According to reports, Mr. Harris received an email from a guest-assistance specialist with Hilton corporate headquarters apologizing “for falling short of our commitment to extend a rewarding experience due to issues with management during your stay.”

He thanked corporate representatives and the Paradise Valley police officer via his social media platforms for their response and actions in the matter that he still attributes to racism.

A police report, provided by the Paradise Valley Police Department on Jan. 9, detailed the department’s response to a noise complaint at the hotel at 5401 N. Scottsdale Road. According to the report, officers responded to a request to evict 30 people at a loud, unauthorized party charging admission.

The report said after speaking with the organizer and a couple witnesses on premises, police saw no money being exchanged and no noise upon contact.

Nigel Glennie, vice president of corporate communications for Hilton, acknowledged via email following the incident that while he serves as a spokesperson for Hilton and properties they manage, he was unable to speak on behalf of the independently owned and operated hotel.

He asked appropriate management representation to comment on the matter.

“Although we have no further comment beyond the statement provided earlier, we can confirm that a refund has been issued to this guest and we look forward to earning his business and goodwill in the future,” said Doug Heaton, area general manager of the hotel, via email on Jan. 8.

He was referencing his Jan. 5 email stating that it is “the hotel’s policy and common practice throughout the global hospitality industry, to prohibit professionally organized, paid-admission, public events within the private guestroom areas of the hotel.”

Mr. Heaton provided a flier allegedly promoting multiple performances, including a DJ with sound amplification equipment.

“This particular event far exceeded any expectations or notions of a small private holiday gathering,” Mr. Heaton said.

He said following several unsuccessful attempts to reach the event organizer, and multiple noise complaints from other hotel guests, hotel management on duty followed standard protocol and procedures to ensure the safety and security of those attending the event, as well as that of the hotel staff and all other hotel guests.

“The Doubletree Resort by Hilton Paradise Valley-Scottsdale offers more than 40,000 square feet of flexible event space with multiple function rooms ideally suited for an event of this nature,” Mr. Heaton added.

“Our entire staff welcomes the opportunity to serve this guest in the future by identifying an appropriate venue within the property to ensure the success of their next event.”

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