Clueless hotel makes effigy of couple’s dead son to celebrate his birthday

I wish I had something lighter—like an animal-rescue story—to finish up the week; but this will have to do. It’s macabre but also humorous in a sick way.  The story is from the Guardian (click on screenshot):

The backstory:

Faye and Andrew Stephens, from Willesden, have made it an annual tradition to mark the birthday of their son. Alex Stephens, a promising 22-year-old footballer, died after falling from a balcony while on holiday in Spain in 2014.

His godmother, Karen Baker, who was on holiday with the couple, had asked staff at the five-star Royalton Resort to surprise them with balloons and cake in their bedroom to mark the day.

The hotel workers instead created an effigy of Alex by stuffing the couple’s clothes with towels and arranging it on the bed. The figure had tears on its face and a can of lager in its hand and was positioned next to petals spelling out: “We miss you Alex.”

Here, from a BBC story, is a picture of what confronted the family. OY VEY!

Is that supposed to be Alex or one of his parents? If it’s an effigy of Alex (he was black), why the lager and tears? Is he supposed to be in heaven drinking beer and crying?  And if Alex fell off that balcony because he was drunk (the link doesn’t say), that makes it even worse.

Of course the reaction of Karen Baker, who had given the staff a propina to do this, wasn’t happy. From the BBC:

Mrs Baker, who first discovered the effigy, said she was “utterly horrified” and removed the dummy before her friends saw it.

“When I walked into the bedroom, all I can describe is a dummy body on the bed,” she said.

“Staff had gone through my friend’s wardrobe and stuffed the clothes with towels to make it look like a body on the bed. They even put tears down the face and a can of lager in his hand.

“I was absolutely horrified – as you can imagine I was sweating and shaking. We just didn’t want our friends to see it.

“I have truly never seen anything like it. I still look at the photographs now and can’t believe somebody thought to do that”, she said.

Indeed! Of course the staff meant well, but their cluelessness astounds me. How could they think this would bring a smile to the face of his parents?

At any rate, the hotel has refunded the family £1300 per person in view of this debacle.

 

h/t: Matthew

42 Comments

  1. Grania Spingies
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Here, have some baby alpacas

    • Debbie Coplan
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      They look like marionettes.

    • BJ
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      These alpacas are needed even more considering the utter debacle that has been Fallout 76. Holy guacamole!

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Yes, although it seems to have been made infinitely worse by terrible customer service and a relentless flogging of tawdry micro-transactions to try to screw every cent out of their customers that they can.

        • BJ
          Posted December 8, 2018 at 12:25 am | Permalink

          Bethesda is trying to become the new EA, but I don’t think they can pull that off. Bethesda makes its money on its reputation and a small batch of properties people love. They’ve already screwed up Fallout (twice, if you ask me, since I think F4 was crap, though nothing compared to this latest fiasco) and they’ve been steadily cultivating this new impression as the company of fuck-ups for some time. This seems like the culmination of years of sliding into the AAA morass.

          After Fallout 4, they only had an arrow in one knee, but now they’ve shot themselves in the other knee and each foot. It seems CDPR is the only company that managed to make the big time and still retain its soul.

          • Grania Spingies
            Posted December 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            I don’t mind F4. I mean, I could come up with a 10,000 word essay on things that needed to be re-considered. But I still had fun playing it.

            I have to confess I haven’t played F76 since the beta. I keep meaning to, and then I’m all like, oh look, butterflies…

            • BJ
              Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

              “beta”

              AKA server stress test. It was just a way for Bethesda to get people to pre-order the game

              Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t already know. I’m just pissed off to see this company circling the drain.

            • BJ
              Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

              Oh, and while I had many problems with F4, it’s the shape in which it was released that really marks it as the first sign of Bethesda’s downfall in hindsight. Sure, they’ve never been noted for releasing their games in the best of states, but F4 was a mess, and now 76 just shows a continuing downward trend, along with the various stunts they’ve pulled regarding Skyrim in the last couple of years.

              • Grania Spingies
                Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

                I didn’t play F4 until it was in its final state complete with all DLCs. I think that Creation Club is the worst thing they have ever thought up, and this trend to micro-transactions is like the highway to losing all the goodwill their fans have for them.

                I still hope they will pull their collective derrières out of the fire before it’s too late.

    • Taz
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Why does one of them have Trump’s hair?

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Heh. Convergent evolution?

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      The one on the right has Jim Carrey’s hair from Dumb And Dumber.

  2. Posted December 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Never ask anyone to “surprise you” if you don’t like surprises.

  3. Kelly
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps it’s a cultural thing?

    If I was a regressive leftist, I might very well accuse the disappointed family of internalized racism for their inability to appreciate this ‘gift’.

    • Taz
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      Famadihana is a funerary tradition of the Malagasy people in Madagascar. During this ceremony, known as the turning of the bones, people bring forth the bodies of their ancestors from the family crypts and rewrap them in fresh cloth, then dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music.

  4. GBJames
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    At least they were thinking outside the coffin.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Somehow, I’m happy that I feel bad about laughing at that.

      • BJ
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        I’m happy that I don’t feel bad at all about laughing at that 🙂

  5. W.T. Effingham
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m not very good at lip reading, however it appears one alpaca whispered to the other, “‘When in doubt leave it out’ applies to some surprises”🙊.

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Regarding the GIF on comment #1…

  6. Diane G
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness it wasn’t the parents who discovered this. But by making it public the so-called friend pretty much ensured they’ll see it anyway.

    • Taz
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      That was my thought as well. For that matter, who took the pictures?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes. All a bit strange…

      June 2014. Son falls off 4th floor balcony in Barcelona [old town] & dies while on a music festival holiday with his mates.

      Parents go away each year on his B/day – this year it’s Jamaica

      Insensitive incident in hotel bedroom – photographed by godmother to dead boy

      Someone in the family complains live on a BBC Radio phone-in programme

      All three people on the holiday refunded £1,300 each

      I wonder if this family make frequent claims on their home insurance?

      • Diane G
        Posted December 9, 2018 at 4:24 am | Permalink

        Everything suddenly seems much clearer. 😉

        I knew smelled a rat.

  7. Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I “liked” this as it shows how bazaar we can think, removing it by throwing the “Alex” off the balcony would be next.

  8. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t think the hotel meant well. Why the tears? Why the beer can? Why any of it at all?

    It just looks to me like they were taking the piss in a nasty way.

    • BJ
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      I find it hard to imagine that hotel workers would intentionally mock guests for having lost their child in a tragic accident.

      Not only because it would take multiple malicious people working in concert, but because those people would also be risking their jobs to perform such a nasty stunt.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        They took the family’s clothes, stuffed them and made an effigy of their son, painted tears on its face and put a beer can in its hand…that really doesn’t suggest that they meant well.

        “I find it hard to imagine that hotel workers would intentionally mock guests for having lost their child in a tragic accident.”

        I don’t find it hard to imagine at all. All it takes is a couple of resentful pricks with a cruel sense of humour.

        • kelly
          Posted December 8, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          “”They took the family’s clothes, stuffed them and made an effigy of their son, painted tears on its face and put a beer can in its hand…that really doesn’t suggest that they meant well.””

          In Western culture that might very well be a bad joke, but to other cultures yes, it could very well be well meaning, as they are wishing him a ‘good time’ in the afterlife. Just look at Egyptian pharoahs for example, they were buried with worldly possessions that they could enjoy in the afterlife. I would suspect that this is something similar.

          Dont assume malice where it could very well be ignorance/stupidity/cultural differences.

          • GBJames
            Posted December 8, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

            I think this is worth emphasis. I don’t know anything about the local culture of the folks who created the display but I’d put a small bet that there’s a tradition at work that includes displays like this, made in honor of the deceased and their kin. I suspect the “cluelessness” goes both ways here. Such are the ways of culture.

  9. Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it is a strange quirk of Spanish culture. It reminds me of the tribe (or tribes) that digs up their family’s dead bodies on some special day and parties around them. I think I saw this on an Anthony Bourdain episode.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      this was thousands of miles from Spain

      • Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Ah, right. So substitute Jamaica for Spain then.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      I saw a program showing an African culture that puts grandparents dead body tied sitting upright in the hut. Practices are pretty varied.

  10. BJ
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Human behavior is truly baffling sometimes. I’m sure they meant well, but it’s rare to see this level of obliviousness when it comes to a tragedy as universal as losing a child. As Paul Topping said, perhaps this is something cultural and the employees didn’t realize how upsetting this would be to the guests.

    • Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Or else they did know exactly what they were doing. I can imagine hotel workers being angry at having to prepare a celebration for someone’s dead son. It seems like it should be a completely private affair which is at odds with paying a hotel to, say, “do something nice for our poor dead son.” I can also imagine the hotel management passing down the odious task to underlings with a private chuckle afterwards. It may be more about revenge on the hotel managers than desire to upset the family. Perhaps a little of both.

      • BJ
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        As I said to Saul above, I find this very hard to believe. It is, of course, possible, but it seems far more likely that they simply made a mistake. If you’re a hotel employee who wants to get back at a manager, there are many other ways to do so, and many ways that won’t put your job at risk because you can do them surreptitiously. This particular event would require extreme malice on the parts of multiple employees toward guests who are coming to commemorate the death of their child (again, something that is a universally relatable tragedy), and a willingness to risk their jobs to carry out this act of malice.

        It’s all possible, but it’s very far from the most likely scenario.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          I quite agree. Why would any hotel workers go to considerable lengths to upset guests they haven’t even met yet, and cause themselves grief as a result?

          I think it more likely to have been well-intentioned but misguided. We don’t know how much the hotel staff was told, either, they may have thought Alex was still alive but just unable to attend his birthday for example.

          But again, it may be a cultural thing. Different cultures have odd quirks that deviate sharply from what might be called ‘good taste’ in some other culture; and it is all a matter of taste that we’re talking about.

          cr

          • Posted December 7, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            I worked in a resort hotel on Catalina Island for a summer when I was 17. I can easily imagine some kid like me, but with a bigger chip on his shoulder, doing something like this, especially during their last week.

            Us hotel workers were paragons of virtue compared to some of the guests. One placed a 4″ fish between the mattress and box spring which was found by the guests that came after. They had to be replaced, of course. The guests complained of the smell again a few days later. Turns out they had placed another fish on top of a ceiling beam.

            • rickflick
              Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

              They must have been ticked off about something. Stale croissants at the continental breakfast?

  11. grasshopper
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Could the episode be attributed to the religious beliefs of the perpetrators? The image immediately made me think of Voodoo, but I know little about it.

  12. Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s credible explanation that they did something to really piss off the hotel staff.


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