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Thu 16 Jul 2009 04:51 PM

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Dubai hotel to close, denies health rumours

Westin Hotel denies its 24-hour closure is linked to Legionnaires' disease.

Dubai hotel to close, denies health rumours
SHUT DOWN: The Westin will close for 24 hours for maintenance work. (ITP Images)

Dubai’s Westin Hotel is to close for 24 hours while its air conditioning system undergoes maintenance work, a spokesperson has confirmed.

Earlier this year the hotel was the subject of a public health inquiry after three recent guests were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. However, the spokesperson denied that the imminent closure was due to fresh concerns.

“On Sunday [July 18] we’re having some maintenance work done on our air conditioning, and due to that fact, we will be closed for one day,” the spokesperson said. “It has absolutely nothing to do with Legionnaires’. As you know we’re a new hotel and we need to do our maintenance work; the air conditioning needs to be checked and worked on.”

All guests that have booked to stay in the hotel are being moved over to the Meridien Mina Seyahi, and will be moved back again on Monday. Nobody will stay in the hotel on Saturday night: guests will be booked out on Saturday morning and return on Monday morning.

In February, infectious disease experts were unable to determine whether legionella was present in the hotel. The tests came after the British cricket scorer and broadcaster Bill Frindall died days after leaving Dubai. He had been a guest at the Westin although it remains unclear where he contracted the disease, a form of pneumonia spread through airborne water droplets.

Since the disease was first identified in 1976 - at a meeting of retired US military personnel, or legionnaires - outbreaks have been linked to hotels, cruise ships and other types of holiday accommodation.

The Legionella bacterium only poses a risk if it gets into water distribution systems such as air conditioners or plumbing, says the European Working Group for Legionella Infections, a group of scientists working on the disease. About 5-15% of cases prove fatal, with elderly people most at risk.

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The Councillor 11 years ago

This is an absolute disaster for the management of the hotel. To close the entire building down for such maintenance is truly a reflection of extremely poor management by the Westin maintenance and management Team. AC maintenance is standard in this part of the world and you can only assume there is a critical issue behind the closure. The Westin Managemetnt need to come clean about what exactly is going on here. The building is out of DLP so what is the ciritcal issue ? There maybe a major H&S issue which will affect the reputation and brand of the Westin if not dealt with in a transparent manner. Very good reporting by AB - keep it up.

Charles Blaschke IV 11 years ago

Being in the field of building air condition design (in the UAE), I can tell you that the information coming from Westin is nothing but lies and a cover up to fix a very big, serious problem. There is no 'routine maintence' of any kind that would cause a hotel to shut down for a 24 hour period. The root cause of this could be many things, but it is very likely there is no UV treatment to the air prior to entering the building, which allows thousands of bacteria to be pumped into their interior spaces. They saved 100,000 on the initial construction costs of these features, I hope that they are happy now they left them out to save that $$$. The scarey thing is that this is not a single case, this is probably the same for 90% of the buildings in Dubai...

Navin 11 years ago

I agree completely with Charles. There has to be a more fundamental problem with the AC design that stems from its construction rather than maintenance. Dubai needs to have more rigorous construction standards and checks in place to ensure that all buildings meet the strictest international health and safety standards. Its appalling to see developers and corporations penny pinching at the cost of public health and safety. I'd also appreciate it if hotel chains and developers alike showed an ounce of integrity, corporate ethics and transparency when it matters.