After receiving a tip about "rats at the Newport Beach Marriott", BDN discovered that construction, chaos, and confusion are causing guests to cancel their stays. We also uncovered multiple reviews mentioning the rodents and warning potential guests to stay elsewhere on Trip Advisor and Yelp.
One reviewer wrote on Yelp on August 12th, that "No one warned us that there would be total chaos here during our stay. There was construction going on so it was very noisy and dirty outside....There is some kind of protest outside and it feels very uncomfortable." They went on to say, "People were complaining about there being rats in the building. I don't think my wife and I will be staying here again."
Rats at the Newport Beach Marriott?
The claim that there are "rats" appears to stem from a public awareness campaign against the Newport Beach Marriott that is part of an ongoing labor dispute involving the two-legged variant. In fact, the first thing that guests see before entering the property are multiple banners that say, "Newport Beach Marriott Hires Rats." A "rat" is a term commonly used by unions to refer to non-union employers.
The protestors are also distributing a handbill that reads, "Newport Marriott hires rats. A rat is a contractor that does not pay all of its employee's area standard wages, including either providing or making payments for health care and pension benefits." The flier continues, "G Brothers Construction is bidding or performing work on the Newport Marriot project... G Brothers Construction does not meet area labor standards... including paying for health benefits and pension."
BDN spoke with the protestors who explained that the subcontractor on the project, G Brothers, was hired by general contractor R.D. Olson, and according to them, both companies allegedly take part in the worker exploitation outlined in their handbill.
R.D. Olson reportedly has a long history of alleged association with companies with a history of corruption and worker abuse. Prior to this, the general contractor regularly used another subcontractor, Fullerton Pacific Interiors on hotel projects that included Marriott, Homewood Suites by Hilton, and Hyatt over a 4 year period between 2013 and 2017. In 2018, Fullerton Pacific was cited for nearly $2 million by the California Labor Commission for cheating 472 workers out of wages and rest periods. And in 2019, the company's founders, husband and wife, Alberto Mordoki and Mirella Mordoki, were arrested on criminal charges related to tax evasion and workers’ compensation fraud.
Guests Furious With Marriott's Lack of Transparency
Aside from the rats and the associated labor dispute, ongoing complaints stemming from the construction in and around the hotel have been plaguing the Orange County Marriott property since March. An August 15th review on Trip Advisor warns, "I would NOT recommend anyone stay here unless you want to be in a construction zone and not provided with the normal amenities and luxuries of a hotel. We came for a relaxing vacation and it was far from it."
A visit to the hotel revealed that arriving and departing guests must meet at a shuttle area to check in/out at the front desk. They are then shuttled to and from another part of the hotel where they are roomed. Guests complained about construction noise, filthy rooms, lack of COVID protocols, closed amenities, circuitous and confusing routes around the construction, as well as the talk of the aforementioned two-legged rodents.
When asked for her impression of her experience at the Marriott, Terry from Massachusetts said, "we stayed one night and we are moving. It's that bad. My husband is walking the block and half to get our car out of self park because we don't want to take the shuttle to get to our room. There's probably been 500 people in that van and I haven't seen them clean it. They tell us that since it's under construction all of this stuff is closed but yet they are still charging us a $25 a day 'resort fee' whatever that is. I wish they had told us all of this before."
Marriott Takes a Vacation From Ethics
What started with an online review of what was believed to be live rats infesting the Marriott Hotel and Spa turned out to be accusations of the hotel using "rat" contractors to renovate the family friendly vacation destination. The rat contractors are allegedly not paying their employees standard wages and denying them health benefits that surely must affect the livelihood of the workers and their families.
Moreover, as evidenced by the guests that were interviewed, the ongoing construction noise and amenity closures are a turnoff and most if not all said that they doubted they would ever return. However, one must hope that the guests read the banners as they were leaving and recognized the plight of the workers who are building their luxury accommodations.
BDN reached out to Marriott corporate and General Manager Debbie Snavely for comment and has not received a response at time of publishing.