Denver Tech Center Marriott Comped Locked Out NYE Guests
In a strange situation that was like of the opposite of Bunuel’s surreal movie The Exterminating Angel (in which dinner party guests are unable to leave a party), about 3,000 guests at the Denver Marriott Tech Center hotel were unable to enter their rooms for more than four hours on New Year’s Eve.
Reporting for NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams, Kate Snow said a technical glitch with the hotel’s computerized key system caused the lockout. Other reports say that people got sick and fights broke out. News videos (including the NBC report and one further down in this post) show dressed-up people resting or sleeping on a hallway floor in front of their rooms.
Robert Neilus, spokesman for the Denver Marriot Tech Center, told 9News.com this was the first time anything like this had ever happened, especially of this magnitude. According to the hotel’s website, it is the third-largest hotel in Denver, with 628 guest rooms.
As Ariel Mata reports for 9News:
One 9NEWS viewer says people were getting sick in the halls, and the elevators were not working. Denver Police say there were no serious injuries. […]
9NEWS has also heard from one person in Hawaii who is staying at a Marriott. She says their entire hotel was also locked out around the same time.
Associated Press writes in Huff Post Denver that according to KUSA-TV in Denver, fights broke out among the locked-out guests, but that Jennifer Atkins, the general manager of the 4900 South Syracuse Street hotel, could not confirm reports of fights and vomiting in the hallways.
The lockout was due to room keys malfunctioning at the transition to the new year. This type of tech-based problem was anticipated on a huge scale in late 1999, prior to that New Year’s Eve’s turning into a new century, when there were massive fears of a Y2K (Year 2000) problem.
According to Wikipedia:
In computer programs, the practice of representing the year with two digits becomes problematic with logical error(s) arising upon ‘rollover’ from x99 to x00. This has caused some date-related processing to operate incorrectly for dates and times on and after January 1, 2000 and on other critical dates which were billed ‘event horizons.’ Without corrective action, long-working systems would break down when the ‘…97, 98, 99, 00…’ ascending numbering assumption suddenly became invalid. Companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems.
But the Y2K problem never materialized.
Two other Denver Marriott hotels told 9News they did not have any problem with guests being locked out of their rooms. The Denver Marriott Tech Center did not charge the locked out guests for their rooms, in exchange for their trouble.
You can see a video shot by 9News viewer, photographer Wendy Alarcon, here.
Image by Marriott, used under Fair Use: Reporting.