Fairmont forgives its “worst hotel guest ever” after sea gull, pepperoni incident

Nick Burchill was banned for life from the property after 40 sea gulls, attracted by spicy pepperoni, decimated his hotel room.

New York Weekend Edition /
Apr.April 14, 2018 09:00 AM

The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, Canada. Burchill was banned for life after an incident with spicy pepperoni and 40 sea gulls decimated his hotel room. (Credit from left: Andrew Malone, Bobak Ha’Eri, Jean Beaufort)

Things went from bad to worse for Nick Burchill one afternoon in 2001.

He’d carted a suitcase full of spicy pepperoni across Canada as a gift for friends only to discover his hotel, the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia, had no in-room refrigerators. So he did the only reasonable thing he could think of: he opened a window, laid out the meat and then decided to go for a five-hour walk. When he returned he found “an explosion;” 40 sea gulls had invaded his room and saliva, feces, feather and pepperoni was everywhere, according to the New York Times.

“The shocking thing for me was the saliva,” Burchill wrote later in a letter to the hotel. “I didn’t know that sea gulls drooled. The slime was covering everything. They were whipping it up into the air. It was like a tornado.”

But the ordeal didn’t end there. Burchill tried to handle the situation himself, chasing out the gulls by throwing a shoe and wrapping one bird in a towel and then throwing the bundled-up bird out the window. Both the shoe and the gull landed on a line-up of tourists waiting for high tea outside the hotel. Then, somehow, Burchill knocked out the power in his room when his hairdryer fell into water.

Finally, he called a professional. When housekeeping arrived Burchill was at a loss how to explain the state of his room: “I can still remember the look on the lady’s face when she opened the door. I had absolutely no idea what to tell her, so I just said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and I went to dinner.” Fairmont banned him for life.

But, proving true the old adage that time heals all wounds, Burchill decided to request forgiveness nearly 20 years later and, miraculously, Fairmont accepted the apology and lifted the ban.

The hotel’s general manager Indu Brar phoned Burchill to deliver the news laughing. “I have to say, it absolutely made our week,” she told the Times. [NYT]Erin Hudson


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