People have been stealing things from hotels for eons. Towels. Bathrobes. Drinking glasses. My in-laws may or may not have stolen a garbage can from a Holiday Inn on route I-95 sometime in the 1980s or 1990s that may or may not be in use in Joe’s and my garage.
Anyway, speaking of stealing things…the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel has been around since 1893, which means it just passed its 125th anniversary. To celebrate that special occasion, the hotel is running a sweepstakes that’s like no other I’ve ever seen before.
It’s called the 125th Anniversary Giveback Sweepstakes and to enter, you have to return something that’s been stolen from the hotel. From their website:
In honor of our 125th Anniversary, the public is encouraged to bring in any and all items they have taken from the hotel in the past: hotel keys, pillow covers, robes, menus, décor—no item is too big or too small. The chance to win a grand prize of a seven-night stay in the presidential suite, gourmet meals cooked by the hotel’s executive chef, spa treatments and more will be given away in exchange for returned items.
And I think that’s just genius! It’s sort of like “return your way overdue books to the library on ‘this day’ and you won’t have to pay a fine,” but on a much grander scale.
Tod Chambers, the hotel’s general manager, told Conde Nast Traveler: “We will accept any item from any time period in the building’s hotel history for our Historic Giveback Contest. We want to celebrate her entire past. And, we plan to display the items people send to us in window cases in the lobby. We will return items to their owners after a big ceremony in July, if they wish.” (actually, the contest rules say they’ll return the items on a case-by-case basis, and only in person).
So far they’ve received plates stolen from the dining room, old stemware, a full tablecloth (???), bud vases, restaurant menus, those old-fashioned giant brass room keys, a fan, and even a concrete statue and a table from the hotel’s storied Salzerac bar.
The hotel seems to be very forgiving of those who have stolen items. Says Chambers: “In a way, knowing they have something that reminds them of our Roosevelt in their own homes? Well, that leaves us flattered. We’d estimate nearly 700 of our logoed Sazerac glasses are ‘borrowed’ from the bar during the holiday season alone. This is letting us recapture a little history and have some fun doing it. We are getting a few items every week, and we expect that to rise as we roll toward July.” (that’s when the sweepstakes ends)
Chambers says the item they would most like to get back is a door from the hotel’s historic Blue Room. A popular supper theater, the Blue Room has hosted performers such as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong. Such performers were encouraged to sign the door of the dressing room that was in the back of the Blue Room. Unfortunately, after Hurricane Katrina, the signature-covered door disappeared. The hotel has gotten leads that it might be in Memphis or at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but they’ve gone and checked and it’s not there.
“Someone’s got it. We want it,” said Chambers.
Anyway, this page of their website explains how to return the stolen items to the hotel, and includes a link of the form that must be filled out along with the returned item. If you decide to enter, good luck!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary