Hotels disaster

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Hotel Disasters: A Case of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino and the Rembrandt Hotel Disasters Compared

Hotel Disasters: A Case of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino and the Rembrandt Hotel Disasters Compared

Hotels like any other business are exposed to threats that include manmade and natural disasters. In the recent past, many hotels in the world have suffered different forms of disasters that include fire outbreaks, hurricanes, terrorism, earthquakes and typhoons among others (UNISD, 2015). Whenever a disaster hit a hotel, this result not only on the damage of the hotels that sometimes result in closer of hotels, but also put the hotels to economic risks, such as avoidance by tourist visitors that might stigmatize the hotel going forward. Such negative impacts on the hotel industry have been seen in a number of hotels that have suffered huge losses as a result of disasters. The 1980’s MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (Bally’s Las Vegas) disaster in the U.S. and the Rembrandt Hotel in Kings Cross, Australia disaster are some of the disasters that have been witnessed in the hotel industry. This paper compares and contrast the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino and the Rembrandt Hotel disasters and analyzes the whether these disasters can be avoided.

The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino and the Rembrandt Hotel Disasters Compared

The 1980’s MGM Grand Hotel and Casino disaster is one of the world’s world disasters to ever occur in the hotel industry. The disaster occurred on November 21, 1980 after fire broke out in this hotel that has since been renamed Bally’s Las Vegas (Farberov, 2012). The 26 story hotel that is situated in Paradise, Nevada had about 5,000 people at the time the fire broke out at an adjacent restaurant known as The Deli. The fire spread very first to the hotel and by the time the rescue was over, at least 85 people were dead and more than 650 others injured. The casualties comprises of the hotel employees, guests and 14 fire fighters (Farberov, 2012). A large number of casualties were recorded during the disaster as the hotel had self-locking doors that prevented guests from escaping. Reports indicate that most of those who died perished from inhaling smoke. Other that the deaths and injuries, the disaster also damaged the entire second floor of the hotel.

The disaster also resulted in huge financial losses resulting from the property damaged by the fires. The financial losses also resulted from the closure of the hotel as the management carried repairs that took a long time to complete. Additionally, the disaster created fear in the tourists and visitors of the hotel resulting in slow pick up after the hotel resumed operations.

Like the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino disaster, Australia’s Rembrandt Hotel in Kings Cross was destroyed following a fire outbreak in the hotel. The fire reportedly broke out in the building at about 2 am when the hotel had about 60 visitors (UPI, 1981). Like in the case of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino disaster, the Rembrandt Hotel fire disaster resulted in the deaths of hotel visitors. However, only the number of casualties differs in the two cases considering that, whereas 85 deaths occurred in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino disaster, only 8 people died in the Australia’s Rembrandt Hotel fire. It is also noted that in both cases, more lives could have been saved if the hotels had put in place contingency security plans in place. For instance, whereas in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino disaster guests could not escape in some of the rooms because the doors were self-locking, in Rembrandt Hotel fire, guests perished because the hotel reportedly had no escape openings. The people who escaped from the Rembrandt Hotel fire had to jump out through the windows or cling to the window ledges (UPI, 1981). Additionally, the two disasters are similar in the sense that in cases, guests and employees died mainly as a result of inhaling the deadly carbon.

Additionally, other than the casualties recorded in both disasters, Rembrandt Hotel fire also damaged hotel the same way the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was damaged by the fire outbreak that saw both hotels’ operations disrupted for some time to allows repairs and renovations before they could resume business. The disruption of the hotels’ operations resulted in both hotels suffering huge financial losses (UNISD, 2015).

Hotel Disasters Avoidable Arguments

Hotel disasters are inevitable. Waugh (2015) argues that disasters are always inevitable and unpredictable, thus the need for hotels to ensure that there are proper and effective disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate the effects of a disaster. Whether a disaster in the hotel industry is avoidable or not depend of whether the disaster is manmade or natural. According to Waugh (2015), hotel disasters resulting from natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricane or accidental fires are cannot be avoided by hotels. For instance, in the case of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino fire, the fire could not be avoided by the hotel because it was accidentally caused by electric fault that could not be predicted by the hotel. Therefore, because hotel disasters caused by natural causes cannot be avoided, the UNISD (2015) suggests that hotels should ensure that there are effective disaster recovery plan for such inevitable disasters to help bring the hotels back to normal after a disaster occurs.

Although natural disasters are not avoidable, security experts argue that manmade disasters targeting the hotel industries can be avoided with effective implementation of security measures. According to Waugh (2015), hotel disasters, such as terrorist attacks or sabotage by employees among other manmade disasters can be avoided by creating physical security at the hotel gates or using the latest technologies, such as CCTV cameras to keep in check any suspicious characters that want to cause disasters or sabotage the operations of a hotel. They cite many incidences where terrorist attacks have been thwarted by hotels by tightening security both within and outside the hotels.


Hotels, just like any other business is susceptible to disasters that can be natural or manmade. The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Nevada, USA and the Rembrandt Hotel disaster in Australia are some of the disasters that have been witnessed in the hotel industry. As indicated, both disasters were caused by fire and resulted in deaths and destruction of property in addition to disrupting the operations of the two hotels. However, it has been demonstrated that whereas manmade disasters targeting hotels, such as terrorism can be avoided, natural disasters are unavoidable. Therefore, hotels should ensure that proper and effective security measures and disaster recovery plans are put in place to prevent and to ensure that hotels return to normal after a disaster.


Farberov, S. (2012, August 19). Tragedy revisited: Haunting black-and-white images capture deadly 1980 MGM Grand Hotel fire. The Daily Mail p. 1

UNISD. (2015). Developing strategies to strengthen the resilience of hotels to disasters. A scoping study to guide the development of the Hotel Resilient Initiative. Retrieved from

UPI. (1981). Eight die in fire, some dive out windows. Retrieved from

Waugh, W. L. (2015). Living with hazards, dealing with disasters: An introduction to emergency management. Oxford, NY: Routledge.