When most holidaymakers stay at a hotel their only concerns are the nightly rate, view from their room or noise that could disrupt their sleep.But, with a growing terror threat in countries normally considered ‘safe’, a leading security expert says an emergency plan should be a priority for hotel guests. Rob Walker, head of information and analysis, travel security, at London-based International SOS, has revealed to MailOnline Travel the hotel rooms that offer the most safety in the event of an attack, fire or disaster, plus a number of tips to stay safe.
This is not a bad article, but the problem is that it mixes strategies against common crime with what should be done in a terrorist attack. Some apply, but a lot do not. Criminals do not want to be caught and plan their crimes in a hotel accordingly. Terrorists don’t care one way or another but just tally a high body count. I am just going to give my humble advice on what to do if you are in a terrorist situation. I am not a Terrorism Expert but I did work hotel security and kept checking on events and what to do in case the worst scenario happened.
- Don’t go there! That means for starters not going to a country where problems might arise or are already brewing. Unfortunately it seems Europe is no longer a safe place. I would love to say that countries like Spain or Italy with their lack of issues are safe, but with the Terrorists not being logical in their attacks, all bets are off.
- Gather intelligence, seek information. Not only check the local media but search local forums and social media. Language is a barrier, but browsers like Chrome come with a translation app that although not 100% accurate, is good enough to get an idea. Don’t forget that in most of Europe, Mainstream Media is under the direct control of the Government and they will publish what they are allowed to publish which might not be the complete picture.
- If you go, choose hotels carefully. Terrorists look for high body count and notoriety/flash/six O’Clock news. A Hyatt-Regency packed with tourists and conventioneers will be more tempting than a Motel 6 a couple of miles down the road with the usual fare of middle class families. I actually favor those extended-stay hotels that are basically mini apartments that do not take long to make self-sufficient. They come with a small kitchen, refrigerator, microwave, pots, pans, silverware, etc. One trip to the local supermarket for the basic foodstuffs, water and whatever else you may need and you are set. Plus it is cheaper than room service at a regular hotel.
- Avoid the hotel’s common/public areas as much as possible. But of course, this is not as easy as it sounds and you are at the mercy of the design of the hotel. Take the time to explore the place and see if you can locate alternate exits and entries. Find where the “Back of The Hotel” is located (Housekeeping, Maintenance and the such) which have exits of their own away from the public areas.
- Avoid times where there is a lot of traffic in the hotel’s common/public areas. All meal times, Happy Hour, check-in/outs and events that might be happening at the hotel. Remember, High Body Count!
- If SHTF while in a hotel’s common/public area. Most people will run away following the least path of resistance. But that might lead them to another set of bad guys laying in ambush. This is where you earlier exploration may come in handy. If you are in the restaurant/bar, instead of the marked exits, make a beeline for the kitchen and its exit. Be ready to bust glass and make your own exit through a window if needed. Guns: Not just for putting holes in bad guys. But if there is no way to escape, then generously apply Col. Jeff Cooper’s mandates of Decisiveness, Aggressiveness and Ruthlessness.
- If SHTF while inside your room. Remain calm and if you feel ballsy enough, take a quick and careful peek outside: Is your exit route free or not? If you can make it, get the flock out of the hotel. If you deem it is more dangerous to leave, close and lock the door, get wet towels and seal under the door as much as you can and start piling all the furniture against the door. Jam it against the door would be better description. If terrorists get a master-key, they will go room by room (Like they did in Mumbai) killing or collecting people. Make sure the pile of crap covers all the way past the top of the door in case the terrorist manage to crack open the door some and toss a grenade. It goes without saying to stay the hell away from the door and the fatal funnel the entrance to your room makes.
- Lay in ambush yourself. You are packing, right? This is one of those time you can brandish the hell out of your gun and laws be damned.
- FIRE!!! Unless you are in an old hotel, you are probably safer in your room than in a common area in the case of fire. Hotel chains are more afraid of fire than bad guys breaking into rooms to steal laptops. That solidity you feel in a hotel door is fire retardation material and not for anything else. Do choose a room that is not too high up (3rd floor would be my favorite) and has a view or a balcony. Flames Go Up.
- Be patient. Time is against the terrorists. Even in fucked up situations like Westgate Mall in Nairobi where government action was initiated long after the terrorist had stopped and were taking a breather, those who hid and stayed put, survived. Some escaped when the Terrorists moved to other mall locations and some did not move until the government forces secured the area. Use your head.
HOTELS HAVE NO DUTY TO KEEP YOU PROTECTED FROM HARM. THEY ARE ONLY OBLIGED TO EXERCISE A “REASONABLE EFFORT IN KEEPING THEIR GUESTS SAFE.”
YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.