Social media showed its power Monday when some residents took to Facebook to express outrage over the decision by two hotels, Best Western and Saddle West Hotel &Casino, to deny rooms to patrons with local addresses.
Some slighted residents have called for a boycott of those businesses.
The PVT contacted the general managers of both properties about the policy. Both said the decision stemmed from incidents where patrons were destroying property and forcing the properties to call police.
Both properties have incurred damages, down time for rooms for repairs or “airing out,” as well as the need for hazmat removal of items such as hypodermic needles, methamphetamine, used condoms, blood and other bodily fluids.
Laraine Harper, general manager for CRU Management, owners of Draft Picks and the Best Western, said the hotel made the decision about six months ago.
“After discussion with the owners, we stopped renting to local residents about six months ago,” said Harper. “I have a responsibility to my staff not to expose them to violence or hazardous materials we have found in the rooms.”
Harper said numerous instances of employees discovering used hypodermic needles, blood, evidence of the renters “cooking meth” caused the policy to go into place.
She said violent renters refusing to vacate the rooms have created the need to call the sheriff’s office “to get them out. They won’t leave on their own,” Harper said. “We can’t do a background check either.”
She said damages to the property have cost the business in repairs.
“We don’t turn those things into our insurance company. It causes an increase in premiums.”
That increase will eventually trickle down to rate increases for customers.
“We don’t lease rooms to a lot of locals anyway. Most of our visitors are from out of town.”
She said the public needs to realize how active the property is in community events. “We don’t charge for the use of the lot for numerous car washes we have here. We support sports teams and offer the facility for fundraisers at no charge.”
Recently, Draft Picks hosted a fundraiser for Mikey Welch, the Hafen Elementary School student diagnosed with leukemia in May.
There are special circumstances when Best Western steps up, especially for victims of fire or those whose air conditioners are broken.
Harper said if someone is renting a room and paying cash, Best Western does charge a $100 security deposit. Otherwise, room reservations are made via credit card and they have a way of recouping part of the loss.
She said part of the anger over not renting to locals is, “because it’s hot and they want to use the pool.”
Best Western actually has less to lose in a boycott than does Saddle West. A gaming floor is something Best Western doesn’t have.
Gregg Schatzman, Saddle West’s general manager, had a previous career as the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s chief investigator.
“We put the policy in place about two weeks ago,” Schatzman said. “I told my front desk manager that we could no longer rent to locals.”
He said an instance of a 21 or 22-year old girl “partying with some guy all weekend in one of the rooms revealed drug use — hypodermic needles, used condoms and other things too disgusting to talk about were found in the room.”
He was most disgusted over the three young children in the room with those adults being exposed to that behavior.
“We even had one woman try to rent a room here for her son because she was afraid to have him in her house,” Schatzman said. “I think NCSO has better things to do, especially with their budget cuts, than to be called to Saddle West to throw people out of rooms.”
He said Saddle West also has room for maneuver in the policy.
“If someone has a player’s card and has been in the casino all evening, drinking, having a good time, of course we will rent them a room,” he said.
He said the security system in the casino will let them know who is using the other parts of the facility and who is not.
“These people coming in here and cooking meth and selling it from the rooms are not only breaking the law, but they aren’t the ones who support our gaming and the restaurant.”
Saddle West is also a rather silent supporter of community events.
“We didn’t charge for the Miss Pahrump Pageant and we donated and cooked all the turkeys for the NyE Communities Coalition holiday dinner last year.”