More on the Mexico hotel explosion...Mexican authorities changing their tune?
I was a little suspicious of that swamp gas story.
When we got news yesterday of the hotel explosion near Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun in Mexico, I wrote in this space that it sounded a little strange. After all, hotels and other properties have been built near swamps or on former swamp land for years and we never hear of such explosions. It simply sounded odd to me when a state prosecutor and local officials blamed swamp gas.
I'm not saying this happened, but if I was a hotel operator I'd probably want to blame natural causes rather than anything operational. So perhaps the initial explanation was understandable. But today, according to recent reports in the Star, it appears it might have been another issue.
An authority for the federal Environmental and Natural Resources Secretariat (Semarnat) agency today said the problem likely was linked to an operational or maintenance issue at the hotel.
“I’m nearly 100 per cent sure that it was due to an operational problem in the hotel’s infrastructure, and not an accumulation of gas in underground caves,” said Gabriela Lima Laurents of Semarnat. “If that was the case, not only (the state of) Quintana Roo but the entire (Yucatan) peninsula would be in danger to explode or would have already blown."
Now, I'm going to put my suspicious journalist hat on again and make the following point. I have no idea what happened down there. But if you're a federal agency in a government somewhere, and you're worried about tourism in your country, the last thing you want is anyone thinking that a whole bunch of hotels could go "boom" at any moment. The best-case scenario would be that an explosion like this was simply human error and, thus, limited to one specific property. Like I say, I'm not judging anyone here. I'm simply pointing out that if the explosion at the Grand Princess Riviera Hotel was because of a problem at that hotel and that hotel only, it would make folks in Mexico tourism breathe a little bit easier. Don't you think?
That having been said, it sounds more plausible to me that there was a hotel malfunction than some issue with methane gas. I did, however, read a couple stories this morning about how scientists were suggesting that methane could be responsible, and they're a lot smarter than I am. Which leaves me rather perplexed and still very much of the opinion that we should all be diligent in researching and selecting vacations, and safety should be one of the criteria.
I''m not suggesting any particular country is at fault, but I'd probably feel better staying in a high-rise in a country where people are paid a decent wage and where there are firm standards for construction and maintenance of hotels and other tourist sites.
In the meantime, let's see how the investigations play out with the situation at hand....
FREE HOTEL ROOMS IF YOU GET FILMED IN BED?
I spotted a great item on the wires about how a Swedish porn king (didn't know they had any, but there you go) is touting the idea of building five-star hotels that people could stay in for free. It sounds too good to be true, and it is. The catch, however, is a wee bit unusual.
Berth Milton, who runs something called Private Media, says the rooms would be gratis only if guests agreed to have their sexual exploits broadcast on the web.
I dunno, Berth. There are a lot of people out there who would PAY to have their exploits broadcast on the web if you ask me. So I think you're, um, blowing an opportunity here to pad your pocketbook.
That issue aside, Milton isn't thinking small. He's talking about 100 properties and thinks each hotel could generate $43.8 million a year in subscriptions from folks watching at home. I can see one in Toronto, perhaps at, and you'll have to forgive me for this, Exhibition Place.
Milton says the hotels have to have a wide appeal, and here's a great quote.
"It has to be a hotel for non-swingers as well - not super-explicit where everybody's running around naked. That takes the style and class out of it."
God forbid we remove the class from such a stylistic, tasteful idea, Berth. Geez.
Milton says it's critical that the idea is, um, fully formed.
"The important thing is to go all the way - not halfway or a third of the way. Imagine how they were laughing at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates when they came up with their own ideas."
Good luck, Mr. Milton. The style gurus of the world are counting on you to do this right.