For some, staying in an all-inclusive resort may be the ideal way to spend a holiday, but it may be a health risk as well. On February 7, a historic resort in the state of New York, called the Mohonk Mountain House, closed their doors to staff and guests due to an outbreak of intestinal illnesses.
According to the resort, hundreds of people among staff and guests became ill in the past week and the resort went into red alert as soon as they found out. The resort is currently going through a thorough cleaning by professionals from a remediation company to help prevent a further outbreak, which is believed to be the norovirus.
One of the guests, who stayed at the Mohonk Mountain House last weekend, is Kyle Bonner. Bonner revealed that, after checking out on Sunday February 2, he became ill and is still not feeling well a week later. His partner was suffering from the same symptoms and was hospitalized in New Jersey for dehydration after they got home.
A few days before Bonner’s arrival, a conference took place at the resort and numerous attendees of the conference became ill. According to Bonner, the resort should have informed their guests about the fast-moving virus immediately, but director of marketing Nina Smiley says the resort did not find out until later. “The people who attended the conference did not inform us on their illness immediately, which is why we did not take action sooner,” she explains.
This is not the first time a holiday is disrupted by a virus, and with increasing numbers of incidences occurring at resorts, some believe a resort holiday may be a risk for health. Recently, 700 guests on a Caribbean cruise ship were affected by the norovirus, causing the cruise ship to dock in New Jersey. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was the largest outbreak on a cruise ship in the last 20 years.
Many holiday resorts offer guests an all-inclusive option, which allows them to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner in one of the resort restaurants, sometimes presented in the form of a buffet. Although holiday resorts are still popular among many, some have little faith in the freshness of the food that is served. Large amounts of food for buffets are supposedly prepared hours before consumption. In addition, if the foods are improperly attended, guests may come in contact with the food by coughing, sneezing or grabbing food with bare hands, allowing bacteria to spread around.
Robert Gravani, Ph.D. and food science professor at the Cornell University, says, “People should look at the overall cleanliness of the establishment. Even though it is not a definitive clue, it indicates how well they handle their food. Look for employees who wear gloves, who clean spills immediately and see if the buffet areas are clean.”
Carol Chase, senior public health sanitarian at the Tompskins Country Health Department in New York, agrees with Gravani and adds, “Also look if employees maintain the food, check the temperatures and replace the pans when they are empty. Putting new food into used pans is unacceptable.”
Although resort holidays may be a health risk according to health experts, many people consider it to be a convenient way to spend a holiday. Nina Smiley of the Mohonk Mountain House says, “We are very sad for our guests and the discomfort they have experienced at our resort.”
By Diana Herst