News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 2, 2004 - They partied like it was 1999, but it was actually the dawning of 2004.
And after the New Year's Eve party was over, authorities had to force hundreds of people to evacuate a 19-story Southfield hotel Thursday morning.
Southfield Fire Capt. Pete Healy said the bash reminded him of one held in the same hotel, the Ramada Inn and Convention Center at 17017 W. Nine Mile, in 1999. He said people got so wild ringing in the new year the hotel had to be closed.
This time, revelers on the 12th floor were so rowdy by 3:30 a.m. that they had turned fire hoses on each other, Healy said. They also broke a sprinkler head with a bottle, witnesses said.
Water from the hoses and the busted sprinkler flowed down elevator shafts and stairwells into the hotel's basement. To keep the hotel's power from shorting out, the hotel management said it shut off the electricity.
Police and fire officials said they were notified between 6 and 7 a.m., shortly after the electricity was turned off, and began evacuating the hotel. There were no arrests or injuries.
At the Southfield Ramada, only a few workers and guests remained by noon. Some slumped in lobby chairs, while others angrily argued about how much they owed on their hotel bills because they were evacuated from their rooms.
Ramada manager Hank Hanssan promised customers their accounts could be settled when power could be safely restored. The 216-room hotel had been full New Year's eve with about 400 guests, he said.
"It was packed," he said.
Hanssan said Detroit radio station WDTJ-FM (105.9) sponsored a party in the ballroom and at least 60 security guards were on hand. But the problems did not originate there, he said. Station management could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Security guard Mario Peoples, 33, of Detroit said the hotel parking lot was overflowing with vehicles, including limousines, and people were crowding into rooms -- sometimes 30 at a time -- to party.
Hanssan said he did not know the extent of the damage or when guests could check back into the hotel.
Osie Moore, 21, of Detroit described a night in which guests roamed from room to room and floor to floor with drinks in hand. Fights broke out, he said, and the partying turned into a stampede. Moore's memory gets fuzzy after that.
"All I remember," he said laughing, "is the police waking me up."
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