Travel Tips

The Travel Detective on the Jakarta Hotel Bombings

Locations in this article:  Mumbai, India

Travel Detective blogToday’s bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta once again allows me to focus on one of my pet peeve subjects that is outlined in a number of my previous books: hotel security and safety.

For the most part—and sadly—hotel safety and security remains a continuing problem around the world and for some pretty obvious reasons.

Hotels have multiple entrances and exits. There is easy vehicle access. And often, depending on the size of the hotel, there are dozens—if not hundreds of unattended bags in the lobbies.

These are security loopholes you can drive a Humvee through.

In the most recent attack, both hotels were well prepared, especially since the Marriott had been attacked once before: There was a security perimeter around the hotel; all cars and packages were inspected; guests passed through metal detectors. And still it happened.

Get more information on Travel Safety & Security here.

Hotel signAs investigators look for clues to piece together the timeline of events leading up to the explosions, I suggest you practice what I do when I travel and embrace a more proactive approach to your own security. If you see a car parked near the lobby, report it. Unattended bags—the same thing. (With so many bombs being detonated remotely by cell phones these days, how easy would it be for someone to simply leave a bag in the lobby, walk away and then make a cell call?).

And finally, if you see a room with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door for an extended period of time, report it. In some cases—and it appears that this most recent Jakarta incident is one of them—the bombers check in as guests and then assemble their explosives in their rooms.

The bottom line here is that you cannot simply depend on hotel security to protect you, especially when an overwhelming number of hotels do not inspect cars, scan bags or have working security checkpoints at entrances. You need to be more aware of your own surroundings when you travel, and alert authorities when you spot obvious security loopholes.

Sadly, I’m afraid we won’t get better hotel security until there are more tragic events like what took place in Jakarta.

By Peter Greenberg for

Read more from Peter’s Travel Detective Blog here.

Read a very relevant discussion about hotel security in Reflections on Mumbai and the Future of Indian Tourism.