Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Happened?

Last week there was a big commotion about a police raid on the Foreigners Club Hotel. The initial story I heard was that it was closed because of some taxes that were not paid. The story just didn't ring true to me. Because even in the Dominican Republic they don't just come and raid your property for unpaid taxes without due process. The owner of the Foreigners Club died over a month ago of cancer. It was supposed to be hush-hush, but many people knew. One of the people who knew very well was a "friend" of the owner who died. Allegedly, he saw an opportunity to take over the building and run it. According to him, that is what the owner wanted and she even signed some paper to that effect when she was alive. At least that is according to the "friend."

So the police that came and "raided" the building had no legal right to do so. There were no papers shown, no orders from the court. Nothing. There were no guests there at the time, but the Hatian employee that was arrested and turned over to immigration, because he had overstayed his visa (he has now been released). And this "friend" proceeded to open the place and let everyone know he was in charge.

Unfortunately, the family of the owner disagreed with assertions of this "friend." They came and were able to get the building back without a fight.

And the moral of this story? Choose your friends very, very carefully.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is the Foreigners Club still Open?
Is Juan still working there?

Anonymous said...

Thank God, I was not staying there when the police came and "raided" the place. Can you imagine the police knocking on each door and telling guests to get the hell out or be arrested? Dominican police are not necessarily known for their gracious manners!

Monaga said...

As far as I know it is still open, and Juan is still working there.

M S said...

So many problems after you left, get it back and bring back the old days :)

Anonymous said...

the old day is scotch and danny. danny made the quest feel welcome assisted them as no other person would as manager of a gay hotel. and by the way the haitian emloyee name is Juan or Jean Bernard. The best the New Yorker was and the Foreigners club was was with Danny and Juan his assistant.

Former Patron said...

I stayed there over a month ago and there was some woman from canada running the place along with Juan. They should not be running any type of business forget about a hotel. I am sorry, but i would never stay there again.

Anonymous said...

The best time is when MA run the hotel! Te apt was good old time!
ok not when the power went out! But when other ran it ty had a lock down Horrible! evrytime u return you were luck down!

Anonymous said...

I stayed there on my first visit to the DR, in 2005, when it was in Anthony's good hands. I stayed there again in August this year when Anthony didn't have room for me at Camilo. The rooms were still nice, the place was still clean, and the breakfast was passable. The gal from Vancouver who was managing it (I forget her name) had been in the DR for only three weeks and was relying heavily on Juan for guidance about the local ways of doing business. She was also severly hampered by restrictions imposed by an absentee owner, an American or Canadian who lived, I believe, in Virginia. She was required to pay all her bills in cash, yet didn't have enough cash flow. She had to physically mail all payment recipts and documentation, along with a full itemization of receipts and expenditures, to Virginia every week. She had to make do with an old laptop that didn't have a workable spreadsheet program on it. One afternoon, the electric utility shut off the power for a few hours until she could come up with the cash (to pay the bill? or to pay off the technician? I never found out.)

She and I got along well, partly because she also was from Vancouver. She, like my brother, had spent years in the Caribbean doing hospitality on charter yachts, so she wasn't unknowledgable about hospitality requirements. I was able to give her some meagre bits of advice about dealing with an absentee boss and an all-cash business. I also suggested she seek out Anthony for some solid advice about doing business in the DR. I don't know if she ever did that, but I know she could have learned a lot from him.

I liked Juan who, he told me, was from Jamaica. He was polite, friendly, and had a great sense of humor. At that time, the Haitian guy (I forget his name also) was on at nights, so I saw him rarely and didn't really get to know him.

I don't know if the owner who died was this person living in Virginia. Did she own the building, or did she just own the guest house business and lease the building?

I think the Foreigners' Club can still be a viable guest house. But as with any business, it needs cash flow and a supportive if not active owner/manager.

I also wonder if the guest-house owner/managers in Santo Domingo have formed a local organization to deal with issues common to the small-scale hospitality business in their city? It seems to me, with the amount of turnover that takes place and the number of ex-pats who are involved, such an organization might be helpful to all.

I hope the guest house gets back on its feet. Like someone else said above, maybe you should take on a second location, Anthony.

Just my two cents - sorry, 2000 cents - worth (LOL).

George in SF

Anonymous said...

I stayed in this small hotel when I first started to go to Santo Domingo, and just loved the place, it's sad that so many have tried to keep this place afloat and each time it's get weighted down by , what sounds like the owners.I truly believe until someone else buys the place there is going to be on going problems, sad to say.It has lots of great possibilities but again until someone of interest owns the place, it tends to go rock bottom , way to often.If you stay there you never know from one day to another if you going to be out out on the street and left hanging, so until things are better organized by responsibible owners, I would suggest to stay else where, to be on the safe side.Just my personal views on this place at the present time.

Anonymous said...

Never a dull moment! What a story, this is better than reality TV. I can't wait to come back!

Anonymous said...

I stayed at the Foreigners Hotel several weeks ago and I enjoyed it. Juan is a very good person however there should be someone to clean the rooms. It is a good hotel, very close to everything in the Colonial Zone and fun. I hope it stays open.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness to Juan and the crew at Foreigners some of the comments are mean spirited and shows the ugly arrogant American. If you are not staying at a five star on the Malecon don't expect the local gay friendly hotels who have very reasonably priced to meet that same standard. The hotels are clean, safe and very friendly. Actually the staffs are friendly and protective of your person and personal belongings. I see a different picture and I hope the best for all gay friendly accommodations!

Craig P. said...

It will be most interesting to see what happens to the hotel in the future. Dorothy (the owner and whom lived in Va.) could be a real bitch until she got drunk then she was ok. She looked at the hotel as a cash cow - give me the cash and forget everything else involved. I've stayed there through three different managements (Scotch & Byron, Lynn & Danny, Dorothy alone) - I could really see little difference except Danny tried his best to make everyone comfortable and looked after his guests like a mother hen. Too bad that arguments with the Bitch Queen drove him away. It will be really interesting to see what happens now with the vultures circling. I'm scheduled to stay there for 3 days at the end of Nov. and will update everyone then.
Craig P.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys, this is Dorothy's son Graham, the owner of the hotel. We have certainly had some issues recently. Danny, who my mother had running the place, stole a huge amount of money which caused serious problems. Mum passed away unexpectedly, and left the hotel to me and my uncle. Being an absentee landlord in DR is a huge problem, so I have been trying to spend more time there. Another vulture tried to make a move on the place, paying the tourist police to arrest Juan for lack of work papers, but my lawyers took care of this situation when I was there last week. There was no police raid. The place is open and I appreciate your business. I am doing everything I can to keep it fun and running smooth. Juan is still there. It is a nice, safe and clean place. We have taken care, or started to solve, every problem I can foresee, and I expect much smoother sailing from here on. Incidentally, the place is for sale, but we certainly don't need to sell it, and are in no hurry, but would like it to go to a good owner. So if you know someone who may be interested, let me know. Feel free to contact me regardless. Thanks, Graham (grahamsimms22@hotmail.com)

Anonymous said...

Graham...I must say..that was very nice of you to explain the situation..If you place a suggestion box where the guests can make comments and suggestions...you will go a long way..good luck

Mr. P said...

I travel to SDQ about every 10 weeks to visit my boyfriend. I also assist Rev. Tania and Deacon Wilkin with the business side of maintaining and growing the MCC church in SDQ.

I began staying at this hotel when Scotch was the manager. I remained a loyal customer when Len was the manager and later Daniel. I appreciated the efforts of all of these managers in making the gay traveller feel comfortable in the DR. Daniel especially went to great lengths to enable guests to feel at home and safe. When Daniel was no longer the manager, I located accomodations elsewhere.

I wish Juan the best in his new role. I believe that if Juan and the owners mutually work together, this little hotel will again be an oasis for LGBT travellers

Graham Simms said...

I appreciate the thoughtful advice and encouragement, thanks. Things have been slow this month compared to last year due to all the difficulties we have had and mom's passing. But I am optimistic and December looks busy. Juan is a sweetheart... and there is a young night watchman who stays in the lobby overnight to let people in and out late at night. Guests may still bring in friends at no charge- they just need to leave ID at the front desk. Mooney, an American friend of the hotel is also working there and I will be there regularly. I will certainly take that advice and make a suggestion box available to guests. I appreciate everyones patronage and I want them to know they will feel welcome at Foreigners Club Hotel Santo Domingo. Until I put up that suggestion box please feel free to contact me via email at grahamsimms22@hotmail.com.

Anonymous said...

Ya I like see the Hotel and Juan and I all so think that he is a nice Gay and I hope that he still there for me because he a good friend and it nice to talk with Him.....

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Bernie and I am currently trying to help the late owner family manage the hotel but it is not easy when you happen to be living in another town.
My phone is 809-873-1572 and my email is bsierra08@yahoo.com and I am available should any of you have some concerns or suggestion on how we can make your stay a pleasant one with us

Walter Alberto said...

I am staying at the Foreigners Club Hotel for a week so far (Jan 2010) and i absolutely love it! The location is great. The staff (Juan/John) could not be any more helpful and fun to be around. The guest house is very gay-friendly.
The rooms are clean, hot water, air conditioners, fans, clean linens and towels. There is a kitchen you can use at your pleasure. It was kinda difficult to find info on this place online as it has changed names and owners many times. But i am glad I did. The room rates are hard to beat and it is OK to bring your guests to your room. To keep the place safe, they lock the front doors at all times and all guests must leave their IDs at the front desk. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Juan is not the person that you might think he is. Ask him how many women he has physically abused.

Coexist! said...

If you want all the commodities you have at home, then stay home! Don't expect first-world ammenities in a third-world country, ok? With that being said, the Foreigners Club Hotel is an excellent choice if you want to soak up the local atmosphere and meet a bunch of locals. Never mind all the drama, give this place a try and you can decide for yourself. Let go ang let God.