WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A woman claims she had a nightmare of a stay at a Wilmington hotel over the weekend while she was in town for her grandmother's funeral.
Marlene Rowell told WECT she and her young son found a dirty needle and condoms under her bed at the Jameson Inn on New Centre Drive along with brown stains and burn marks on the blankets. The two had already spent a night in the room.
"I was literally in a state of shock," Rowell said in a Monday interview. "It's not something I'd ever expect and not something I'm OK with."
Rowell said upon making the discoveries, she immediately went to the front desk to check out and complain, but she claims the owners weren't receptive.
"I told them we wouldn't be able to pay for the room because of what we found," Rowell explained. "The man told me to shut up and get out of the hotel, that it was a private establishment. ... He said for all he knew, I could have put it there, and people like me always want something free."
She said in the end, she was given half of her money back.
We went to the hotel to speak with the owner, who said he did tell Rowell to "shut up." He said he asked her several times to calm down, and it seemed "the only way to get across was to be louder," and admitted it was rude.
"Housekeepers are human beings. It's possible for them to forget things," the owner added in a written statement. "It was an honest mistake, but she needed to give us an opportunity to correct the mistake. We try to do everything for guests and try to make everything right for them."
Hotel issues are nothing new in Wilmington, especially along the Market Street corridor. The Jameson Inn is about a block away from Market Street.
After looking at the photos Rowell took of the needle, condoms, and stains, District Attorney Ben David called the situation "disturbing."
"I travel with my family of five and I have young kids and I don't want them to see needles any more than the woman who reached out to you," David said.
In 2015, David and the city attorney sent letters to six Market Street hotels demanding they clean up their act or risk losing their property. David said the establishments reached a "certain threshold of criminal activity."
Now, David said most of the hotels have committed to raising their standards. The Budgetel, Travel Lodge and Ramada Inn have all agreed to consent judgments requiring them to have extra security, a night manager, and they must give law enforcement access to their books at all times.
The Red Roof Inn was recently sold to new owners, so David gave them extra time to comply with the new standards.
The Carolinian and America's Best Value have yet to agree to anything, and could face lawsuits by mid-summer if negotiations aren't successful.
"We don't want to close you down and become property owners, but we will if the law says you've become a nuisance," David said.
At last check of online reviews, it seems guests do think those establishments are a nuisance. One TripAdvisor user wrote a review of The Carolinian that read, "bed spread stained, bathroom sink dirty, bathtub slimy." Another user wrote a review of the Red Roof Inn that said, "Disgusting! This is not acceptable."
Rowell said because of the busy weekend in Wilmington, she didn't have a large selection of hotels and didn't do as much background research as she typically would.
Now, she's calling on other travelers not to make the same mistake.
"I would say to anyone that is in that area that is staying in a hotel, take those extra precautions and keep you and your family safe," she said.Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.
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