I will not claim that I have a huge readership, or even that my review of a hotel would be of any benefit or harm. I don't have that kind of clout. But if I was Marriott, If I saw a story like this, it would seem to me that the impression that they want to convey in all of their advertising is not coming through. In fact, I will do my best to make sure that everyone I know sees this. This is a slowing economy, the hotels need all of the corporate travelers that they can get. I have stayed in a Marriott now 5 times already this year. But if I can avoid it, I will not again. I left this meeting angry and avowed to tell everyone I know that Marriott does not like their guests, especially if you have a camera. That they are not happy to have you stay with them.
We are having our division meetings and staying in the Marriott Marquis here in Atlanta. It is really a unique and beautiful place. It has 44 floors and they are all open atrium style. Moreover, there is such a unique architectural presence here. It really is cool place. There is also an obnoxious hotel security force here. As soon as I start to shoot any pics, they are all over me. Granted, I carry a travel tripod, but this experience has not been unique in that even without the tripod they have been obnoxious. Tonight as I was on the 44th floor taking a shot looking down, I was accosted by a guard. He was cranky. When I identified myself as a guest of the hotel and explained that I was taking some memento shots to show my wife and friends, he almost went off. He was really rude.
I wish I would have stood my ground a little more and demanded that he call the manager up to have this conversation, but I was here with my company and did not want to ruffle feathers for them. What I really don't get is the seething anger and hostility that was under the surface. I was polite and identified myself as a guest. I even gave him my room number. But when he demand to see ID and started to lecture me, I started to get a little irritated. I asked him if it was the Marriott policy to lecture all of the guests with cameras? That really set him off. But I backed down and even apologized. As I said, since I was here with my company, I did not want to make a scene for them. I was just so shocked that they would treat a hotel guest like this.
I should have taken his picture and posted it here. I love the way that Thomas Hawk does (see his picture and story on Flickr - you might have to cut and paste the link as I am not all that good with the whole html thing - http://flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/130601011/in/set-72057594110134978/). I really like my company, they have been very good to me, so I would not want to create any trouble or bad publicity for them. So, I took what I had and left. Angry, but quiet.
The next night when we came back from dinner (pictures tomorrow) I shot the first shot posted. I had only shot the one when a new security guard accosted me. He was more polite, but insistent that I could not take any pictures. He said that only if I had permission from the marketing department could I take any. Since he was the second security guard to come after me, and I was still stinging a little from the night before, I said that he should call them for me since I was a guest here. He wouldn't since they were closed (it was around 11 pm). I again let it go since it was much too public of a place to draw any attention. If I was not with work, I would have pushed back. This guy was at least apologetic. This security guard hysteria has happened to me enough times now that I have started to push back.
When I shot this picture of the Radio City Music Hall in New York, the guard for the building across from the Radio City Music Hall came out and told me that I could not shoot pictures from the sidewalk. I politely told him that he was out of bounds since I was on a public sidewalk and that there was no law prohibiting this. He got gruff and said that if I didn't move he would take my camera and call the cops. When he stepped closer to intimidate me with one hand on his little club, I reached for my phone. I asked him if he wanted to call the police or if I was going to do it. I told him that if he took one step closer that I would make sure that this would continue. It is not ok to start down this path. He stopped and swore at me that he would be right back.
I was a little hot that he had started to reach for my camera and was trying to threaten me, so I took some more shots and waited for him. I had been polite up until he tried to touch my camera and me, but he had started it with intimidation and anger. So I decided that I would stand and wait. His manager came out and told me that I had to move and that he would call the cops. I offered to make the call for him and he started to swear. I wish that I had taken his picture like Thomas Hawk does. Instead, after not backing down and watching them both go inside angry as hell, I was done and so I started to leave.
As I was leaving another photographer started to set up and as I looked over my shoulder, out came the guards. I turned around and reached for my phone. I didn't say a word, I just held it up for them to see and stared at them as they started to come out. Then I put it up to my ear, and they went back inside, leaving the other photographer alone. I don't think that he even saw them. He took a picture or two with his tripod like he had seen me do and then left, unmolested.
At least I stood up for him. And now I have told you, don't visit a Marriott this year, they don't want your business, especially if you bring a camera.
Thanks for looking.