Managers at the DoubleTree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Rd., told the Boston Licensing Board today they've taken a number of steps to reduce the sorts of incidents - from shouting matches to drug dealing - that have brought Boston police officers there repeatedly over the past pandemic year.
The managers had to appear at a board hearing today to answer a citation for "premise being a nuisance" for the 103 calls - 47 of them serious enough to warrant the writing of formal "incident reports" since last March.
Attorney Joe Devlin acknowledged the hotel is unused to having to deal with disruptive guests, let alone criminal activity.
Before last March, Devlin said, the pricey hotel "was used to getting world leaders, their entourage and their security details," for appearances at local colleges, in particular Harvard, just across the river. Parents of students were also common guests at the Hilton-owned hotel, the sort of place that, Devlin said, served "warm cookies to guests at night."
But with the collapse of the travel and in-person conference business - Devlin said business at the hotel is down 80 to 90% from before the pandemic - the hotel has had to resort to some major price cutting just to try to keep its doors open and some staff employed until world leaders and their coteries and muscle begin flocking to Harvard again. General Manager Steve Pole acknowledged there have been some nights where he said rates as low as $79, although he said more common were rates between $99 and $139. He said he only would set such low rates after first checking what other premium hotels in Boston were charging.
Because of the rarefied, genteel nature of their guests pre-pandemic, Devlin said that in some cases hotel workers may have called police for incidents they probably could have handled themselves. Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said staffers did the right thing to call police, but said the sheer number of calls warranted a closer look. In response to a question from Devlin, BPD Sgt. Det. William Gallagher said staff have always been cooperative in their dealings with him.
Joyce said she is very sensitive to what's happened to local hotels over the past year, but added, "with a bottom of the barrel rate, you may be attracting somebody other than those foreign dignitaries and their entourages; you may be encouraging people who require the attention of the Boston Police."
Devlin and and Pole said that among the steps the hotel has taken is reconfiguring hotel elevators so that only guests with keys can use them at night and increasing overnight staffing to deal with any problems. No more than four people are allowed in a room at a time and guests have to sign a pledge to not have parties in their rooms, they said, adding the hotel has also had more surveillance cameras installed - as well as sensors on hallway doors.
The board could decide at a meeting tomorrow whether the hotel's changes were enough or whether any sort of sanction is warranted.