Arizona Biltmore Hotel and Resort, a Hilton Waldorf Astoria, promises a world-class experience: two golf courses, eight sparkling pools, and stunning views of Piestewa Peak.
For an Arkansas woman, that experience included getting bitten by bedbugs, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Christine Bingaman says she was bitten by bedbugs during a four-night stay at the hotel in May. During her first night at the Biltmore, Bingaman said she felt itchiness on her legs which later turned out to be the effect of bedbug bites.
On her second night, she discovered a small brown bug scurrying across her room's bed sheets. Bingaman captured and killed the bug before bringing its carcass to Biltmore's front desk. A manager called for the company Ecolab to test the insect and confirmed that it was a bedbug.
A spokesperson for the Biltmore did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
According to the lawsuit, the hotel transferred Bingaman to a new room and promised to buy her replacement luggage, award her 100,000 Hilton Honors points, and reimburse her for property she did not bring back to Arkansas for fear of infecting her home. Bingaman claims they didn't keep those promises.
Bingaman claims in her lawsuit that the Biltmore failed to follow protocols to protect guests from bedbugs, pointing to several Trip Advisor reviews from guests who claimed to have been bitten by bedbugs at the hotel. She brought forth her complaint on behalf of anyone who stayed at the Biltmore from May 8, 2015, through November 14, 2018, and seeks damages exceeding $300,000.
In addition to the Biltmore, Bingaman's lawsuit also names as defendants Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc. and Waldorf Astoria Management LLC. She is represented by Paul Stoller, a Phoenix-based attorney, and William Creasman of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Bingaman is suing the Biltmore and its parent companies on seven counts, including fraud, negligence, and emotional distress.
Bingaman is also suing for false advertising. Her complaint claims that her experience failed to live up to Biltmore promotions that invite guests to "discover a cozy oasis in our breathtaking rooms, suites, and villas" and label rooms as "lavish accommodations with unparalleled experiences."
"Bites from blood-sucking bed bugs are not what the Plaintiff and the Class Members have or had in mind when they made or make reservations with the hotel," Bingaman's lawsuit states.
To make the case that Biltmore management had knowledge of an alleged bedbug problem, Bingaman attached exhibits to her lawsuit containing the Trip Advisor reviews.
On June 23, 2017, the site shows, a reviewer from Seattle wrote that she appreciated the hotel's beautiful design and 24/7 pool, but found the service lacking. She also wrote, “The problem was each night we woke with bites on our bodies. It wasn’t discovered until checkout that we indeed had been bitten by bed bugs. Our bodies are now covered in bites."
The reviewer claimed that the hotel compensated the couple with a $17 burger and $18 cheese plate. A Biltmore general manager responded to the review with an apology and her email address.
In a review from April 22, 2016, a man from El Paso, Texas claimed that he found bedbugs crawling under his sheets during a two-night business stay. The reviewer claimed Ecolab subsequently inspected his room and found bedbugs in the bed's headboard.
"When I checked out the following morning, I was handed a bill for my entire stay," the reviewer wrote. "I was beyond stunned!"
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