LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — A popular indoor water park and hotel responded Wednesday to a viral Facebook post detailing every vacationer’s worst nightmare:
The Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound responded to concerned comments on Facebook and answered messages from Q13 News following a social media post alleging a pest problem at the resort.
Though bedbugs in hotels and expensive resorts are well-documented, the post was shared nearly 20,000 times.
Lake Stevens resident Maranda Kuehn said her daughter's stay at the water park in early May was riddled with the bugs. According to Kuehn, her young daughter was bitten more than 100 times, and she needed to go to the doctor for pain.
Kuehn also alleges the resort knew about the presence of bedbugs, and believes they did not effectively fumigate the room.
Q13 News could not independently verify Kuehn's claims.
The post quickly drew attention, and many changed their travel plans.
"I just cancelled my reservation," Tricia Madding commented. "Thanks for the heads up."
The next day, Great Wolf Lodge's General Manager Diana Harrison responded to the claims. Harrison said they take the claims "extremely seriously" and "immediately initiated our protocol" once they were notified of the pests.
Comments on the manager's post ranged from positive ratings of the hotel, to others sharing similar experiences of problems with bedbugs.
"Lies, lies, lies," one user wrote. "There were bugs when me and my fam when (sic) there."
Great Wolf Resort's director of communications Jason Lasecki told Q13 News the posting and pictures of the little girl did generate concern from guests, and said detection dogs were brought in to sniff out bedbugs.
" As soon as any suspected issue is brought to our attention, we quickly enlisted our third party professionals to evaluate and address the situation," Lasecki said. "We train our staff to inspect guest rooms daily as part of our normal course of business. If an issue is detected by our staff, or a concern is raised by a guest, we immediately enlist the expertise of third party professionals to inspect and, if needed, address the matter.
"We have been extremely pleased with the progress and results of these inspections."
Neither Lasecki nor Harrison specifically addressed whether or not bedbugs were present during Kuehn's daughter's stay.
Kim Moore, manager of housing programs with the Washington State Department of Health, says it's common for her department to field complaints about bedbugs in hotels. She says the bugs can be seen in anything from cheap motels to five-star Marriotts, and do not necessarily reflect the cleanliness of the room.
"It's not a rare complaint," Moore said. "It can happen at any hotel."
Bedbugs are transported by guests, and many chains like Great Wolf Resorts have protocols in place to deal with bedbugs once they're spotted.
Moore says all guests of any hotel should take initiative and inspect their room upon arriving. Moore offered these tips for hotel guests to protect against bedbugs:
Look for blood spots or live insects in the seams, cracks, and crevices of the mattress, box spring, and other furniture. Request a different room if you find evidence of beg bugs.
Keep all belongings in your luggage. Keep luggage off the bed and floor - use the suitcase valet stand or luggage rack. Consider storing your luggage and belongings in sealed plastic bags during your stay.
If possible, move the bed away from the wall. Tuck in all bed sheets and keep blankets from touching the floor.
When packing to come home, place clothing in sealed plastic bags.
Upon returning home, keep your luggage in an isolated area, such as the garage. Inspect the luggage. Take your clothes from the plastic bags and place them directly into the washing machine. Wash all your clothes in hot water and put them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.
While bedbugs bites are unsightly, they're not dangerous, Moore said. Bedbugs are not known to transmit disease.