Q: An attractive woman wearing a low-cut dress, not cheap, walks right into the Four Seasons Hotel, goes straight up to the elevator and goes to a room. Are you going to stop her and ask her what her business is? A: No indeed.
How do you separate the potential prostitute from the potential guest?
I think recognition of prostitution -- that's the legal description -- is almost impossible. An attractive woman that comes into the hotel can go anywhere she wants to. If they look like they're not knowing where they're going -- there's a physical appearance of distraction or confusion -- we'll ask if we can help them.
How do you deal with the situation of an attractive young woman who seems to appear as a guest of guests in the hotel quite frequently? Isn't there a delicate line?
Only if there's a complaint. There're sophisticated laws on the books that prevent us from questioning people unreasonably.
So you're not out there ferreting prostitutes?
That's the job of the police department. For security people, it's protection of the guests. Guest complaints.
What's your concern, the hotel's reputation? I assume you don't care about consentual sex?
If a call service is invoked, where a patron of the hotel wishes this type of service, there's nothing we can do, as long as they're a guest of the hotel and not unruly. Unruly prostitutes and drugs -- I think we are concerned about that type of thing.
How do you keep on top of it? How do you prevent ladies of the evening -- or gentlemen of the evening -- from patronizing your cocktail lounge?
The only distinguishable factor is if there's a complaint by patrons of soliciting. Then we can ask the guest to leave. But generally it's generated on a complaint. You find that most overt solicitation is on the streets and not in luxury hotels.
But you find that you deal with a different class of woman, say about $500-a-night?
Well, if there's a call service, it's undistinguishable by us. I don't know what their prices are. If the patrons so desire, I'm not going to do anything.
How can you tell that prostitutes are working your lounge now? For example, it's Friday evening and there's a lot of nice- dressed young women.
Sometimes if there's an indecent proposal, a security officer sits at the bar and has a Coke or non-alcoholic drink, and she will say, "Would you like to have a date with me tonight?"
Like it is on 14th Street?
No, 14th Street is a little more illicit. In the hotel setting you find that they'll ask if they can have accompaniment. In that case, either the patron refuses or they call management. Management comes and asks the girl, "What are you doing?" "We're leaving."
I've had the particular pleasure, for this newspaper, of sitting on a street corner in Georgetown on a Saturday night between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. recording what goes on only several blocks away from your hotel. While some of the people are of the upper social echelon, a lot of people are of the lower social class that filter through Georgetown. How do you deal with all types of people who come in off the street into your first-class hotel?
We treat every person who comes in with respect, regardless of their attire or dress. A lot just wanted to look around. You know, "Fine, but you can't go up on the guest floors. Look around the lobby. If we can help you in any way, we'll have somebody from the front office who will come out." Some people come in and want to know the price of rooms. Some people come in and want to look at the rooms. We'll go up to the room and see what they look like, providing we're not full. The diversity of people in Georgetown, everyone has to gain respect. When you get into social classification, you're talking about individual rights and freedoms.
How do you handle street people?
If a street person comes in, we ask them, "Are you a guest or a patron here?" and they say no. Then, "I'm sorry, this hotel is for guests or patrons," and they'll leave. It happens quite frequently. They're testing. People come in to lounge around.
Is there a dress code for people who stay in the lobby of such an elegant hotel?
There's no dress code in the District of Columbia. The only things that are threatening to hotels is people that come in that are unclean -- dirty, debris. You don't want an unsafeness which would pose a health problem. They can be asked to leave because that is a health problem.
Does that happen?
Occasionally some street people will sit in the Garden Terrace in our hotel. But you can't deny service to them as long as they pay.
You ask them to prove their ability to pay ahead of time?
You cannot do that in the District of Columbia. If a person comes in and wants a drink of water you have to serve him a drink of water.
Does this cause anxious moments for your security people?
Well, I'll give you an example. In our Aux Beaux Champs restaurant, Mr. T came in. All of the garb and necklace and so forth. (Mr. T is a 6-foot tall television star who weighs over 200 pounds not counting 15 pounds of gold chains, has his hair cut in a mohawk, wears a sleeveless vest which exposes bulging muscles, and is black.) Normally, people that come in to that restaurant, whatever their status is, they don't attract attention.
Normally you'd be a little bit concerned when someone came in with necklaces and mohawk haircut and that sort of thing?
It attracts attention in any luxury setting. But we wouldn't refuse that person service.
Are there people who try to sleep in lobbies?
Night people come in occasionally and fall asleep. Well, this lobby is for guests or patrons. There's only so much room.
Sometimes even people who are wealthy tend to dress down. How can you tell if someone in a lobby in T-shirt and shorts is a guest or someone who's just walked in off the street?
A person in our hotel will not sit around in a T-shirt and shorts in a lobby. In the normal course of business, most people don't run at 3 o'clock in the morning. Five o'clock in the morning, sure. I guess it's just a feeling for people.
How do you develop this feeling?
By a person's actions. If they know exactly where they're going when they come in and are very business-like and if they're direct in manner, fine. But if they're looking around and it's an inquisitive look, not knowing where to go, look around for elevators, there's a suspicious atmosphere at this point. They're approached. "Can I help you?" There's a philosophical view by security staff of the soft presence rather than domineering presence of "Do you have business in the hotel?" They wouldn't say that.
You want to avoid offending a wealthy guest?
Sometimes that happens. I recall one security officer mentioning to me a guest that came in bandaged and really didn't appear to be cognizant of what was going on around him. The security officer asked the guest, "May I help you? Are you a guest here?" and he said, "Oh yes, I'm in room such-and-such." The guest volunteered, "I had an operation." "Do you need any medical help?" he was asked. He said, "No, if you just go up to the room with me. I'm feeling a little dizzy." It's a manner of sophisticated presentation how you do that.
How do you handle businessmen who get unruly or boisterous?
We attempt to let the managers handle the situation diplomatically. If it becomes unruly, they'll call security. If they should refuse to leave, then the police are called. But very few occasions do we experience that. Some hotels do.
Your location as an exclusive Washington hotel, you have different problems than say, the hotel house detective at a Travelodge in Dubuque. What about the eccentricities of heads of states and wealthy people?
Heads of states usually come in in the protective custody of the United States Secret Service or OSI or some military or State Department organization. They travel with security people, too, from their own countries. In small luxury hotels, sometimes there's an inconvenience to some of the guests. But in our lobby you may find people from five or six or seven or eight countries talking and it's really nice to see this.
One of the patrons of the hotel was in a restaurant and apparently got stung by a bee on her hand. First of all, emergency medical treatment. Then providing her with a house doctor for recommendations. That's very important to a guest, when they're inconvenienced. If it means spending six hours with a guest I think that's a necessity of servitude. I think that's what makes the difference between excellence and non-excellence.
How long did you spend with this particular guest?
About 21/2 hours with her and her husband. She was a psychiatrist and her husband was an attorney. She was very favorable that we spent so much time with her.
I recall an example where a guest allegedly entered on an unknown foreign particle in some oatmeal which she ate. We offered the servitude of a dentist and a physician and so forth. And if she preferred her own dentist then we pay the bill. She was quite happy with our service. She even asked us to do an examination of her mouth. I told her we weren't a dentist or a medical doctor.
Movie stars are given additional attention because when they travel they like to feel free. We've done a number of things for some Arab clients in the middle of winter. We brought in heaters and raised the temperatures of their rooms because they're accustomed to it.
Don't you have a call sometimes to roast a goat in the middle of the night?
When guests check in, sometimes these things are brought to light. "I would like goat's milk at 2 o'clock in the morning." The chef will sometimes go to great lengths to go to foreign countries to get the food that they're accustomed to and have it flown in to the hotel. If they want something at 2 o'clock in the morning, they'll have an extra chef on.
Your hotel is known for having a lot of wealthy Arabs staying at it. Do they impose any additional security problems with their entourages?
No. They generally carry their own security people.
One of your guests, King Hussein, is known to carry a gun on him. It's often visible in pictures. Do you like having people who are armed running around your hotel?
If that is sanctioned by the federal government and by the local law enforcement we have no control over it. When our diplomats or our president travels with Secret Service, they come in with guns.
It didn't make you nervous when the king was here that he carries firearms?
No, indeed. As as a matter of fact he's a very pleasant person. He came over and shook my hand and said thank you. We lined up upon his departure, and he came over, and his wife Queen Noor was here and she also came over and made a presentation to me and she said thank you for the service. I think that's nice.
You grew upr to in a lower-middle-class section of Washington, had to work your way up through the Metropolitan Police Department. Do you get a certain excitement shaking the hand of King Hussein?
I think there's a euphoric effect to servitude. I do find a reward for that. That's a nicety. I haven't had a bad experience yet.
What's the most unusual request one of your wealthy clients has made that you've been able to honor?
We had a storage of a relic of a silver jeweled crown that was allegedly from a devil's cult. There was no price on it. It was a jeweled crown with rubies and silver. Quite old. It was a relic and a museum piece. It had to do with a relationship with the devil. We protected it very carefully.
Willie Sutton once said he robbed banks because that's where the money was. How does the Four Seasons guard against slick international jewel thiefs?
Police departments will make it known who the jewel thieves are. In the Washington area there's only one fellow -- in his late 50s or early 60s out of New York -- who is sophisticated enough to possibly go unnoticed in a luxury setting.
Do you ever deal with Interpol?
We do. For instance, they might furnish the information that a particular individual or group of people are traveling in the United States and they're doing a certain type of crime -- hotel burglars.
Do you recall any frantic searches for lost, expensive jewelry?
A few gold necklaces -- one instance a guest reported one missing and it was found behind the dresser. It's quite expensive to remove the dresser from the wall but we did it.
You had to actually remove the dresser from the wall?
Yeah, we had to cut a hole in the dresser. We replaced it later on. Of course that's the hotel's expense, but that's just the service that our group provides.
Don't you take the appoach of an elegant 7-11? Don't you want police to be around the hotel often? Would you offer them free meals, a cup of coffee, make sure they're at home?
If the police come in and they're on the beat, occasionally hotels will serve them meals. That's a courtesy.
What's the largest bill that's been paid there in cash?
You can bill different heads of states $150,000, $180,000, depending on the amount of rooms that are set aside for him and the amount of services that they use in the hotel -- banquet functions, room service, the restaurant.
And they pay this in cash?
A percentage of them. I don't recall the name, but several young couples came in from Florida. Ran up a bill, maybe $7,000, $8,000. Paid it off in cash. No question. They were in their 20s. They dined in the Aux Beaux Champs. Spent quite a bit of money in there one evening -- around $2,600 for four or five of them. They ate for a period of six or seven hours and they enjoyed it.