Nationally celebrated events such as Bike Week, Speed Week, spring
break and the Black College Reunion are the lifeblood of Daytona
Beach, Fla., attracting large, boisterous and predominantly young
crowds that fill to overflowing the hotels and motels that overlook
the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Unfortunately, such events often put the host properties in a
"damned if you do, damned if you don't" quandary when it comes to
guaranteeing the security of their guests, whether they are members
of a group primed to party in connection with a major get-together
or solo vacationers hoping for a bit of peace and quiet to
accompany a typical Florida holiday of sun and surf.
Such considerations go to the heart of a suit filed in federal
court by five black guests of the Adam's Mark Daytona Beach Resort,
who allege that the hotel discriminated against them during the
annual Black College Reunion in April.
The allegations are ugly. Among other charges, the plaintiffs
say the hotel insisted that they and other black guests wear bright
orange wristband IDs, denied them parking space, insisted upon
prepayments and damage deposits, limited their outside visitors and
removed artwork and coffeemakers from their rooms.
You only have to put yourself or your clients in a similar
situation to appreciate how oppressive -- and demeaning -- such
security measures would be.
The hotel, for its part, denies that its actions were racially
motivated, maintaining that it simply was exercising prudent,
nondiscriminatory crowd control in response to complaints by guests
during previous reunions. In fact, the hotel's general manager said
that he thought this year's event went smoother than in 1998.
However this unfortunate dispute plays out, the Adam's Mark --
and other hotels in similar situations -- must find ways to ensure
the safety and comfort of all its guests without insulting any of