Death of a ‘death hotel’

Being known as a ‘death hotel’ is not good for business, so it is not surprising that a Chiang Mai hotel where several guests died mysteriously is being torn down.

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'Death hotel' doomed

Vichaya Pitsuwan

The Downtown Inn will be replaced by a boutique hotel. VICHAYA PITSUWAN

The Chiang Mai hotel at the centre of a scandal after four guests – three of them foreigners – mysteriously died there last year is being demolished.

The Downtown Inn, in the Chiang Mai tourist centre near the Night Bazaar, made headlines last year and was dubbed ''the death hotel'' as claims emerged chemicals used there might have caused the deaths, all of which happened over a two-week period.

The Disease Control Department's report – released after a five-month probe into the incidents concluded that three of the deaths were probably connected to the use of pesticides, but many questions remained unanswered.

Doors and windows of the hotel are being removed by a building demolition company. Signs stating that the hotel is to be pulled down have been placed around the premises.

Workers for the demolition company said they knew nothing of the future of the site but, according to the Building Control Division of Chiang Mai's local administration, the Downtown Inn will be replaced by a new upmarket hotel.

''We have received a request from the Changklan Way Company to tear down the Downtown Inn hotel building. The same company has also filed to build a new hotel,'' an official from the Building Control Division speaking on the condition of anonymity said.

Management representatives for the Downtown Inn were unavailable for comment despite repeated requests.

The hotel gained notoriety early last year when news broke that three foreign tourists and a Thai tour guide who stayed at the hotel had died mysteriously.

Three of the deaths occurred at the hotel, while the fourth guest died in hospital.

Chiang Mai's head of public health, Surasing Visaruthrat, who joined the World Health Organisation investigation team in their probe into the Downtown Inn deaths, said the four deaths were caused by poisoning.

''We could not determine which toxic substance killed them. It could have been food poisoning, pesticides, the result of fires to burn rubbish or it could be related to other toxins. The evidence we gathered did not point us to anything specific,'' Dr Surasing said.

He said the incident damaged the image of Chiang Mai as one of the country's top tourist destinations.

One of the victim's families has launched a website discouraging tourists from visiting Thailand which they say uses substandard health and hygiene practices.

''But it has also brought about new mechanisms to look after tourists coming here, to prevent history from repeating itself. Immediately after the deaths, eight mechanisms were put up and they are still active,'' Dr Surasing said.

These include creating an online report centre for food poisoning on Chiang Mai's public health website and regular hygiene inspections of restaurants in tourist areas.

Samples of pesticides used in hotels by pest control operators are sent to local labs to ensure they are safe for guests.

''Public health officials also visit pest control operators regularly to ensure they don't use harmful chemicals,'' Dr Surasing said.

The burning of refuse in municipal areas has also been prohibited.

No further deaths from poisoning have been reported. However, public health reports say four to five tourists die in Chiang Mai monthly from other causes.

doomed – certain to fail, die or be destroyed ซึ่งถูกกำหนดไว้ว่าจะเกิดเรื่องไม่ดี
scandal – a situation in which important people behave in a dishonest or immoral way that shocks people เรื่องอื้อฉาว
mysterious – not explained or understood; full of secrets น่าพิศวง, น่าประหลาด
demolish – to completely destroy a building, especially in order to use the land for something else รื้อ (สิ่งก่อสร้าง), ทำลาย
headline – the title of a newspaper story that is printed in large letters ข่าวพาดหัว
dubbed – called; given a name ถูกเรียก ตั้งฉายา
claim – saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
emerge – to become known  เป็นที่ประจักษ์ต่อ
release – to allow something to be shown or known to the public or to be available for use เปิดเผย, ปล่อยข่าว
probe – an attempt to find out the truth about an issue, problem or accident, made by an official group (or by the media); an investigation การตรวจสอบ  การสอบสวน
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
conclude – to decide that something is true after looking at all the evidence you have สรุป
pesticide – a chemical used for killing insects, especially those that damage crops ยาฆ่าแมลง
premises – the buildings and land that a business or organisation uses ที่ดินและสิ่งปลูกสร้าง
site – a place where something is located  สถานที่
replace – to change from one thing to another แทน
boutique – (of a business) small and offering products or services of a high quality to a small number of customers ร้านเล็กๆ ที่ขายสินค้าหรือบริการที่เฉพาะเจาะจง เช่น ร้านขายสินค้านำเข้า
local – in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about  ท้องถิ่น
administration – government รัฐบาล
upmarket – designed for people who have a lot of money สำหรับคนมีรายได้สูง
condition – something that must be done before another thing can happen เงื่อนไข
anonymity – when someone's name is not given or known การไม่ระบุชื่อ
unavailable – not able to be contacted; not able to talk to people or meet people ไม่สามารถหาได้
notoriety - the state of being famous for something bad ชื่อเสียงในทางที่ไม่ดี
investigation – the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง
determine – to discover something by examining evidence to or calculate something กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล
toxic – poisonous and harmful to people, animals or the environment  เป็นพิษ
substance – a particular type of liquid, solid, or gas สาร
rubbish – waste material or things that are no longer wanted or needed ขยะ
evidence – facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true หลักฐาน,ข้อแสดง
specific – detailed and exact โดยเฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง
image – an opinion that people have about someone or something ภาพลักษณ์
destination – the place where someone or something is going  จุดหมายปลายทาง
launch – to start something เริ่มต้น เริ่มทำ
discourage – to make someone feel like something should not be done ทำให้ไม่อยาก (ทำสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่ง)
substandard – not as good as you would normally expect, or not good enough to be accepted ต่ำกว่ามาตราฐาน
hygiene – the degree to which people keep themselves or their environment clean, especially to prevent disease สุขลักษณะ
practice – a way of doing something การปฏิบัติ
mechanism – a method or a system for achieving something กลไก, วิธีการทำงาน, วิธีการ
immediately – happening right after something else with no delay; right away ทันที
inspection – the act of looking closely at something or someone and to check that everything is as it should be; examination การตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
sample – a small amount of a substance that is used for scientific or medical tests ตัวอย่างทดลอง
operator – a person or company that runs a business ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
laboratory – a room or building used for scientific research, experiments, testing, etc  ห้องปฏิบัติการ, ห้องทดลอง
ensure – to make certain that something happens or is done  ให้การยืนยัน, รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ
refuse – unwanted waste material, especially material that is regularly thrown away from a house, factory, etc.; rubbish ขยะ, ของเสีย
municipal – of a town, city or district with its own local government เทศบาล
prohibit – to not allow; to ban ห้าม

Related search: Downtown Inn, Chiang Mai

About the author

columnist
Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager