International hotels giant AccorHotels has appointed interim management to oversee its Ibis Styles hotel in Alice Springs in the wake of allegations that staff had been segregating Aboriginal guests into designated and inferior rooms.
The revelations, which were first reported by the ABC’s Background Briefing program, alleged that hotel staff had been directed to place guests from remote Aboriginal communities into lower quality rooms.
Undercover recordings and a whistleblower account revealed that Aboriginal guests were being charged the same pricing as other guests for rooms with dirty sheets, clothing belonging to former guests, exposed wires, as well as food and broken glass on the floor.
The instructions to racially profile guests were given in an email sent to Ibis Styles Alice Springs staff last June.
“These rooms are to be referred to as community rooms and we will try to limit them to just that, those coming from the communities. Reception ladies, please use a touch of initiative and allocate accordingly on arrival.”said an internal email obtained by the ABC.
Accor, which is the largest operator of hotels in Australia and the fourth-largest operator in the world, owns more than 3,500 hotels globally, including the budget Ibis Styles brand.
According to a statement released by the French multinational company, Accor has since initiated an investigation into the allegations and has taken “prompt and decisive action on this incident at the highest level”.
“At this time, interim management has been appointed to the hotel while we investigate,” a spokesperson from Accor said.
“We are extremely saddened and disappointed by this as it completely goes against our values and track record as a company with over 17 years of engagement with our Indigenous community, through our leading Indigenous programs.”
“An internal investigator has been appointed and we will appoint an external investigator to advise on this review.”
Accor has planned for anti-discrimination training over the coming days with every team member at the hotel participating in an attempt to reiterate the “non-negotiable values of the business” while the investigation is undertaken.