Hotel inspection update: Moldy air conditioners, cockroaches and soiled bedding

By: - December 12, 2022 3:55 pm

Inspectors visited Marshalltown’s Colonial Inn on Oct. 31. At that time, the hotel failed inspection and was denied a license. Among the problems: live and dead “insect-like pests” in the guest rooms, sinks that didn’t drain, toilets that didn’t flush, and a sewer pipe was venting directly into the basement laundry area. (Photo via Google Earth)

In recent months, several Iowa hotels and motels have been cited for numerous health and safety violations in guest rooms, including insect infestations, animal feces, broken smoke detectors and soiled bedding.

Several hotels were cited for operating without a license. One was cited for exposed electrical wiring, defective smoke detectors, soiled furniture, sinks that didn’t drain and insect infestations.

The inspections are conducted by state and county health inspectors on varying schedules, and in many cases the results are reported to the public on the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ web site.

Below is a look at some of the most recently inspected hotels and motels in Iowa. Because some of the recent inspections are considered “revisits” triggered by violations found during past visits, some of the summaries listed below include the findings of the earlier inspections.

Colfax Inn, 1402 N. Walnut St., Colfax – Nine guest rooms were inspected on Dec. 5, and only one of the nine was approved for guest use. The hotel was cited for stains on the wall of one room; a hole in the wall of another room; holes in a closet wall of a third room; three rooms with broken windows or window screens; one room with bedding that was stained and had holes in it; a room with a bathtub that had green stains in it; a room with a hot tub that wasn’t operational; and five rooms that had bathroom ventilation fans that weren’t in working order.

During a previous inspection, in May, the hotel was cited for stained and torn carpeting in several rooms; bathroom floor tiles and grout that was in disrepair in multiple rooms; soiled walls in several rooms; guest room refrigerators with food debris; and exposed electrical wiring. In September, the inn was found to have been booking guests into 18 different rooms never approved for occupancy.

Casa Loma Inn & Suites, 6014 N. Brady St., Davenport – During a Dec. 1 visit, officials inspected nine guest rooms. The hotel was cited for uneven flooring in one room; frayed carpet in another room; two guest-room freezers that were “frozen over;” the lack of a smoke detector in one room; and four rooms that had soiled or torn bedding. In addition, the hotel was operating without a valid license.

Inspectors visited the Sportsman Inn & Grill in Osage in October, when the hotel was operating without a license. Thirteen of the hotel’s 17 rooms did not meet minimum requirements for occupancy. On Dec. 1, officials returned and approved the hotel’s license application. (Photo via Google Earth)

Sportsman Inn & Grill, 2215 Highway 218, Osage – In October, a pre-opening inspection occurred due to new ownership. At the time, the hotel was operating without a license. Thirteen of the hotel’s 17 rooms failed the inspection and did not meet the minimum requirements for occupancy. On Dec. 1, officials returned and conducted another pre-opening inspection, this time inspecting 15 of the 17 rooms.

One room had “splashes on the wall,” another had a screen missing from the door that led outside; a toilet in one room was not operational; the room rates were not posted in the lobby area as required; and guests’ rights were not posted in public view near the registration area. At the time, the hotel was still operating without a valid license, but licensure was approved at the end of the inspection.

Ramada Inn, 3020 Utica Ridge Road, Bettendorf – During a Nov. 29 visit, officials inspected 15 rooms at the hotel. The bathroom exhaust fans did not work properly and were noisy in four rooms; the refrigerator in one room was dripping water; the cover was missing from the wall-mounted air conditioner in one room; the fabric arm of a chair was ripped in one room; a guest-room refrigerator had food left in it, suggesting it had not been cleaned; one guest room had popcorn underneath the chair cushion; the smoke detector in one room was beeping, signaling a low battery; and two other rooms were equipped with broken smoke detectors.

In addition, the carpeted floor of one room was soiled, and the floors of two other rooms were dirty. Also, the toilets in three rooms “needed a thorough cleaning,” and there was loose caulk “and/or mold present” in three of the guest rooms.

I-80 Inn & Suites, 7222 Northwest Boulevard, Davenport – During a Nov. 8 visit, official inspected 10 rooms in response to a complaint that rooms 287 and 277 were dirty and there allegedly was dog hair in one of those rooms. The inspector noted that rooms in the hotel were numbered no higher than 254.

The hotel was cited for an accumulation of dust in bathroom vents; dirty microwave ovens in three guest rooms; a dirty refrigerator in one room; broken or non-functioning bathroom light fixtures in three rooms; broken dresser drawers in two rooms; a lack of any shower curtain in one room; and a disconnected smoke detector in one room.

Colonial Inn, 1001 Iowa Ave., Marshalltown – On Oct. 31, officials visited the hotel after an extended closure and examined 12 guest rooms as part of a scheduled, pre-opening inspection. At that time, the hotel failed its inspection and was not approved for occupancy. Inspectors noted that the roofing, gutters and eaves were in poor repair with multiple exposed electrical wires.

Door frames and thresholds into guest rooms were in poor repair; one refrigerator had a buildup of frost and contained a previous guest’s beverage that had an expiration date of 2021; numerous extension cords and power strips were combined and in use inside the lobby office; light fixtures were uncovered and displayed exposed wiring; and wall-mounted light fixtures in multiple rooms were not connected to the walls.

Also, some of the guest rooms had soiled walls, holes in the walls, cracked tile, missing flooring and carpet that was in poor repair. One guest room’s door lock did not work properly and didn’t prevent unauthorized entry into the room.

In addition, there were both live and dead “insect-like pests” observed in the guest rooms, the lobby, and the laundry area of hotel; drapery was soiled and guest furniture was stained, with some of the upholstery in poor repair, and spider webs and insects were are observed inside a linen closet.

Also, hot water was not available in any of the guest rooms; the flooring in the guest bathroom was in poor repair; the tile behind the toilets, showers and sinks was in poor repair or had been left in an unfinished state; numerous sink drains were in poor working order; the toilets in two guest rooms did not flush; and “numerous other toilets” were slow to flush due to the limited water pressure.

Inspectors also made note of a sewer pipe that was venting directly into the basement laundry area with no exterior ventilation from that room. They also found washing machines that were draining directly into a sewage pipe with no backflow prevention to keep the sewage from entering the washing machines.

On Nov. 8, inspectors visited Davenport’s AmericInn By Wyndham and reported several violations. (Photo via Google Earth)

AmericInn By Wyndham, 3206 E. Kimberly Road, Davenport — During a Nov. 8 visit, officials inspected 10 rooms. “Dirty floors were observed in most rooms,” the inspector noted.

The hotel was cited for a first-floor laundry storage room where the floor was soiled and wet, and there was dust and hair in the dresser drawers of one room.

The dresser drawers in another room were broken; the refrigerator in one room was dirty and the upholstered chair in that room was stained; the ceiling-mounted smoke alarm in two rooms was loose; and there was an accumulation of dust on the bathroom exhaust fan in one room, along with a loose light fixture and broken dresser drawers.

In addition, there was “dirt and debris” under the chair cushions in one room, along with food debris in a dresser drawer; the air conditioner in one room had “visible mold” on it; and three rooms had torn bedding.

Isle of Capri Hotel-North Tower, 1880 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf – On Oct. 31, officials inspected 15 rooms in the hotel’s north tower. The inspector noted that “most toilets in the guest rooms checked had visible soiling under the rims,” and added that “all ice machines checked had visible mold-like debris in the dispensing chutes.”

Motel 6, 101 W. 65th St., Davenport — Ten rooms were inspected on Oct. 28 after a guest reported cockroaches in room 142. “No evidence of cockroaches observed,” the inspector reported.

The floor in one guest room was described as dirty; the floors under vending machines, and the floors under the ice machines on the first and second floors had an accumulation of dirt and debris; the bathroom ceiling vents in several rooms were reported to be dusty, and garbage had accumulated around a trash container on the west side of the building.

Also, the bed frames in several rooms had an accumulation of dust around the headboards; the bedding in four rooms was deteriorated or soiled; and some mattresses were reported to be stained, torn or marked by holes. In addition, the ice machines had an accumulation of pink slime on the dispensing spouts.

Woodspring Suites, 5315 Elmore Circle, Davenport – On Sept. 30, inspectors reported cockroaches of “all life cycles” – babies and adults – in rooms 215, 220, 313, 334, 425 and 411. Those rooms were ordered closed pending correction of the problem.

In addition, the county inspector noted a “large accumulation” of dust and debris in the laundry room, stated there were “walls peeling back” in the kitchen area of several rooms, and five rooms were in need of cleaning under the beds, in the kitchen areas, and in the bathrooms. The inspector also found stains on the bedding and mattress of one room and noted that another room had a toilet that was continually running.

The hotel was shut down for one day to allow the cockroach issue to be addressed by a pest-control company. The inspector returned a few days later, on Oct. 3, and reported that few of the problems had been corrected. “Heavy cockroach presence remains,” he reported. On Oct. 10, the inspector reported “evidence of larval- to adult-sized, cockroach-like insect infestations,” and indicated he would return.

Although that no inspection reports for Woodspring Suites have since been published to the state’s website, Scott County Health Department officials say they returned to the hotel in the past two weeks and the hotel has made progress in addressing the previously cited violations.

Best Budget Inn, 1416 Gilbert St., Charles City – On Aug. 31, the hotel underwent a pre-opening inspection due to new ownership. At that time, it was cited for unclean carpeting, stairs, walls and ceilings; visible mold in a guest room’s air conditioner vents; mouse droppings in a cabinet under a sink; and chairs  in two rooms that were not clean.

By the time of this inspection, the hotel “had been operating without a license for several months” and was seeking approval of a new license, the inspector noted. “Due to basic requirements not met, and active pest-activity issues, the hotel license is not approved.”

On Sept. 21, the inspector returned and noted the hotel had continued to operate without a license. That violation was “corrected” with the issuance of a new license as the hotel was found to be in compliance with basic requirements.

Motel 6, 4940 N.E. 14th St., Des Moines – During a Sept. 19 visit, inspectors cited the hotel for several violations, including visibly soiled microwave ovens in guest rooms; non-working smoke detectors in some rooms; animal feces behind the TV stand inside one room; the presence of multiple insects that appeared to be roaches; multiple flying insects in the laundry room; and visibly soiled mattress protectors and bed sheets.

When inspectors returned on Nov. 16, the hotel was cited for only one violation: non-working smoke detectors in two of the guest rooms.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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