Last October, I traveled to the Beehive State to visit some clients I have in the Salt Lake City area. While I was there, I was invited to stay the night at the Home2 Inn & Suites in Layton, UT – A quiet northern suburb of SLC.
I arrived at the hotel late as I had a very full day driving from the airport through West Valley City, Taylorsville and Murray, before driving up and along Foothills Dr on my way North and West into downtown for a dinner. It must have been after 9PM before I arrived at my stop for the night.
I was greeted by Ashlee. She was the single most interesting and inviting person I have ever met working in hospitality. I could tell right away that she really enjoyed her job. As I know her boss, and was planning to visit with her the following day, I was already looking forward to praising Ashlee to her.
Little did I know then that Ashlee was going to save my life later that night.
After collecting my room key-card, I quickly rose on the elevator to the fourth floor and slipped into my room.
The Home2 brand, by Hilton, is an all-suite, extended stay hotel chain and this was my first time staying in one. The intended guest for these hotels are individuals or couples who are looking for someplace to stay that is a little longer than usual, and just short of permanent. They call them extended stay hotels for a reason.
I was impressed by the kitchen, the bed and the very modern bathroom. The room felt more like a studio apartment than a hotel room. Very home-like and cozy, yet sophisticated, too.
This is where the story gets interesting and probably requires a few caveats with regard to how I think.
Normally, when staying by myself in a hotel I don’t always shut the bathroom door. I guess I did it because, as I am always curious about the different hotel rooms I say in, I test everything out. Or, it was just out of habit, since I close the door at home because…well, privacy. I have a wife and daughter and someday’s it’s all the privacy I can get.
So when nature called, and I entered the futuristic bathroom inside my suite, I was curious about the pocket door since I don’t see those very often. I pulled the door from it’s hidden slot in the wall and latched the lock, a plastic and metal contraption, and went about my business.
A moment later, after I washed my hands, I proceeded to leave the bathroom only to discover that the door would not unlock. This was new. I had become trapped in the hotel bathroom.
I tried every combination imaginable to get the lock to release. Lifting it. Pushing every which way. Nothing worked.
I started to panic a little. Then, I decided to slow down, step back and take a deep breath, but I suddenly found myself clawing and grabbing at the door to force it open. Still, nothing seemed to work.
Realizing I may be in this bathroom for a while…at least until housekeeping shows up 12-hours later to clean the room, I worked to calm myself down and look for a solution that might work.
That’s when I realized I had my phone in my pocket. I’ll call down to the front desk. They’ll know what to do!
Since I had called the hotel earlier in the day to inform them of my late arrival I still had the number for the front desk near the top of my recent calls list. Ashlee picked up, I informed her of my situation, we both had a little laugh and she assured me not to worry. She would be right up to rescue me. A wave of relief came over me.
Only, it wasn’t going to be that easy….
See, I’m a prudent traveler. I don’t like to take unnecessary risks, so naturally I set the theft-prevention latch to keep anyone from inadvertently walking in on me in my sleep. This is no ordinary latch. It’s a steel plate about two inches wide, that once engaged makes the room pretty impenetrable.
I realized this right about the time I heard Ashlee in the hallway sliding the master key-card into the lock and then there was a loud, “KA-CHUCK!,” as the door slammed into the sturdy metal latch attached to the door frame.
We let out an audible tandem sigh. But this still did not lessen Ashlee’s resolve. She shouted through the door that she had a plan and that she would be right back.
Four minuted later I heard the door open again. The, “ka-chunk,” was softer this time as she knew it was coming and she gently opened the door as wide as she could.
I could hear scrapes and scratches through the closed bathroom door. After several minutes, Ashlee was through the first barrier and her voice, louder and clearer, could be heard just on the other side of the bathroom door.
I listen as she tried to wiggle and jiggle the latch to the doors lock on the other side. The door shook. It rocked. I could hear the frustration in her voice.
I want to pause here to say that this could have happened to anyone, and it could happen in any hotel. I don’t fault the Home2 in Layton for having a bad bathroom door lock. I’m just glad they thought to staff Ashlee there that night.
Back to our story…
Ashlee and I were trying to brainstorm solutions when she had a idea. I probably would have thought of this myself had I been on her side of the door, but with my limited resources my mind was fixated on what I had to work with and thinking outside the box didn’t seem to be very logical. I was a proverbial Apollo 13 Astronaut and Ashlee was Mission Control.
A few minutes later the door was open. When I finally exited the bathroom, about 40 minutes after getting locked inside, I could see Ashlee holding a screwdriver. She unscrewed the handle on the outside of the bathroom and unlocked the door from inside the mechanism itself. Pretty brilliant.
I was finally free. I still don’t know how she got through the hotel room’s main door latch, but I did see a pair of scissors, various roles of tape and a twisted up hanger on the floor near the door.
It felt good to be free from the bathroom. As nice as it was, I really didn’t want to spend the night in there.
The rest of my stay was rather uneventful. I checkout the following morning. Visited with clients as far North as Brigham City before returning to SLC to catch my flight home at 6PM.
I really enjoyed the Home2 and would happily stay there again.
And Ashlee? I hear she has done well since then. She’s been promoted to Guest Service Supervisor for the Layton Home2 and was recently chosen by Hilton to receive the highest honor from their Home2 brand, an award called the Spirit of Home2. I know she deserves it.
She certainly showed me excellent service and a willingness to never give up, even when a task it tough or possibly outside the scope of her normal job duties. She’s a winner in my book, and I bet she’s going to do great things in years to come.
I know I’ll never forget the night she rescued me.