Legionella bacteria found at The Lodge
The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort confirmed a report that the hotel’s water tested positive for legionella bacteria during the time it was shut down due to county shelter-in-place orders.
“We did have positive low level test of legionella, but the hotel was not occupied at the time and the results have since come back clean,” wrote General Manager Jay Garrett in an email to the hotel’s ownership.
Legionella is a bacteria that can cause Legionnaires disease and the less serious Pontiac fever. Legionella is found naturally in fresh water such as lakes and streams, but it can also become a health hazard when found in water systems in buildings, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) The CDC said the bacteria can be associated with hotels and resorts and large buildings where sections may be underutilized.
It will grow and spread in the water system – such as fountains, hot tubs, showers and cooling towers -- of buildings that are not maintained or where water is not moving.
“Marcos (Borras) and I were both aware of the water test; this is done across our portfolio at any hotel that is closed for an extended period as water sitting in lines could become stagnant,” wrote Tom Healy in an email. “The hotel operations team is required to walk all guest rooms and run water weekly but there are always areas of the building that water sits and this process is done to ensure everyone is safe.”
Healy is executive vice president and chief operating officer of DiamondRock Hospitality, which owns the Lodge, and Borras is vice president of asset management for the company that is a self-advised real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns a portfolio of 31 hotels and resorts.
Healy said that as a safety precaution, water is tested when a property has been closed for a long period of time, as was the Lodge.
“We do this to ensure the building is safe for guests and associates,” he said. “Our report had ‘very small’ traces and I was told not enough to harm anyone. We delayed any thought of opening until we treated the system and retested the water twice until we were certain it was clear.”
The hotel tested “all clear” last week, he said. The hotel opened on July 1 and is accepting reservations.
People can get Legionnaires disease if they breathe in mist or aspirate while swallowing tainted water. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches or cough.
A former employee who asked not to be named said he believes he contracted Legionnaires disease while still working at the hotel, and believed another person associated with the hotel, a worker with the construction company doing renovations there, also was sickened.
But the former employee was not tested for Legionnaires, he said, because the health care facility he went to asked him to not come in due to concerns of coronavirus, and prescribed an antibiotic for his symptoms.
Vinny Dvorak, the general contractor with Abat Builders, the construction company, said one of his employees was thought to have Legionnaires, but it turned out to be allergies.
DiamondRock and Marriott, which operated the resort, ended its management agreement last month, but Healy declined to provide the name of the new operator because the agreement was not yet finalized.
“Marriott offered to release us because business in Sonoma had dropped dramatically because of COVID,” Healy told the Index-Tribune. “We readily agreed because switching to an independent third party manager gives us flexibility to make some enhancements to the property – and to give it a more local focus.”
The Lodge at Sonoma will join the Autograph collection, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s boutique line that focuses on bringing a sense of the community in which the property is located.
Reservations can still be made through Marriott.
“In times like these, we need to be nimble and authentic,” said Healy. “This change gives us the independence to highlight Sonoma.”
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