Hotel Safety Lessons For Women

What's The Deal

August 02, 2009|By MICHELLE DEAL-ZIMMERMAN

Erin Andrews has been all over the news recently in a matter I'm certain she would probably love to have go away. So far, that's not happening. People are still searching the Internet for the infamous "peeping Tom" clips that show the ESPN sportscaster in the buff.

The video was possibly taken through a makeshift hole in a wall at some as yet unnamed hotel. Kind of scary for those women who often travel solo for business, adventure or pleasure.

When I'm traveling alone, I always use the double locks on the door and sometimes I bring along a doorstop, too. I also avoid staying on the first floor.

Those are helpful tips, but Ragina C. Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, says women should consider safety before they even set foot in the room.

"Select a hotel that has been rated by an independent organization, like AAA, which requires specific safety parameters. While this does not guarantee safety, it will ensure that the indicated safety measures are in place," she said. "Examples include deadbolt locks on guest room entry doors and adjoining room doors, secondary locks for ground floor sliding doors, etc."

With more women traveling for business, hotels are trying to cater to their needs, said April Merenda, CEO and co-founder of Gutsy Women Travel, a group travel agency based in Kirkland, Wash.

For example, the concierge at a small boutique hotel in Portland, Ore., gives women who go out jogging a cell phone to check back if they have any problems, she said. Larger chains like Crowne Plaza as well as smaller boutiques are creating all-women floors in their hotels - a feature that was common in the 1950s but has since been criticized as sexist.

"This is trend that we're going to start seeing," said Merenda. More lighted areas and adding security to the elevators are among the steps hotels are taking, she said, but women have to do more, too.

"We need to be more visually aware when we're in the room," she said. "We live in a day and age of voyeurism and Facebook and people being inquisitive."

"Safety is the No. 1 issue for women," said Merenda, adding that travelers coming to her agency, which focuses on tours designed for and by women, are seeking strength in numbers. "They know they are not alone."

For a list of safe travel tips, go to baltimoresun.com/travel.

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