South Middleton Township codes officials revoked the occupancy permit for Hotel Ava at 101 Alexander Spring Road on Wednesday, according to signs on the building that proclaimed it “Dangerous and Unsafe” and instructed people to “keep out.”
The closure came as a surprise to people who booked the hotel, formerly a Days Inn, while planning to attend the Carlisle Events’ Chrysler Nationals this weekend.
Don Claar and Rebecca Cree, of Lilly, Pennsylvania, drove up to the hotel entrance Friday morning in an antique red pickup truck after making the two-hour trip. They were in for an unpleasant surprise.
“I gave them (expletive) money,” Cree said when she saw the hotel was closed.
Claar said they paid for the hotel three days ago on a booking website and received a confirmation email. He had not heard any indication that the hotel was closed, he said.
ABC27 reported that it also spoke with multiple hotel guests who were not notified of the closure.
“A lot of people come from several hours away, including us, and to get here and find this, it’s kinda like ‘OK, now what?’” Rick Neil, of Michigan, told ABC27.
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The lobby was locked as of Wednesday morning, but a sign on the window instructed guests to call a phone number. When The Sentinel called, the number was answered by a man who would not give his name but said he was hired last weekend as the hotel’s new general manager.
He said he showed up for work Wednesday and a fire marshal told him the building needed to be shut down until a new fire alarm system was working properly. He learned the township had previously sent a 10-day notice to the hotel warning about the fire monitoring system, he said.
Hotel booking websites are typically required to find another hotel for people who gave the website a nonrefundable deposit, he said. If people booked with Hotel Ava directly, they would not have been required to prepay, he said.
The man said he has been fielding calls from hotel guests and media outlets. “I woke up this morning and had 70 (missed) calls,” he said.
He is working with the owners and the township to get the issues resolved and the hotel back open, he said.
The hotel appears to still be undergoing renovations. A previous general manager told The Sentinel in April that it was open but under renovation, and that it would reopen in a couple of weeks under a different brand. It was still branded as Hotel Ava on Friday.
Jacob Paul contributed to this story.