Dallas mayor asks hotel to take action on privacy issue

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on February 16, 2012 at 12:35 AM

NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

DALLAS — The views into the restrooms of the corner suites at the new Dallas Omni Hotel from the city's convention center are leaving some guests exposed. It's an issue that has put privacy into question, and now the city is taking action.

"I think we got a good manager in Omni, and we have already asked them to kind of consider ways to minimize that just reminding the guests — 'Hey, that window, you can see through it this way,' and putting maybe a card in the room to understand that or when they check in," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

News 8 reported Monday night that several conventioneers in D Hall got an unexpected view of the hotel's guests last month while standing in line during registration.

After getting a tip, our cameras captured hotel guests — some without clothes — walking in their bedrooms and bathrooms.

The problem is more evident in the corner suites of the hotel, near the skywalk that links it with the convention center.

Don Gatzke, Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington, reviewed some of our video. He believes the corner suite's specific design and other factors might be causing the problem.

"If people had stepped back into the middle of the room, you don't see them. It's the fact that the configuration of the room is pushing them out to the edge where they are catching more of the exterior illumination," Gatzke said. "The glass is tinted. It's treated. But I think it's a combination of issues that apply to that particular configuration that has caused the problem."

Omni Hotels, which manages the property for the City of Dallas, has declined our request for an interview, but spokesman Caryn Kboudi provided this statement before Monday night's report.

"A guest can see into the convention center from the guest rooms just as you can see from the convention center into the hotel. Therefore, it should be evident that a guest should use their window shades."

We also asked Omni before our first report whether the hotel does or would notify its guests about the potential visibility. We were told nothing is said since the rooms have blinds.

"I think it's something that we got a great hotel," Mayor Rawlings said. "I don't want this to minimize that hotel, and I think a little bit of it is just transactions with the guests."

We contacted Omni Hotels for comment after speaking to Rawlings. We did not receive a response in time for Wednesday night's report.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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