A motel owner in New Zealand — fed up with one too many incidents of rowdy behavior — has banned an entire town from checking in as guests.
Steve Donnelly, the owner of the Supreme Motor Lodge in the town of Palmerston North, said he decided to yank the welcome mat for the 16,000 residents of Wainuiomata because “each time they visited, our life became less exciting.” “I’m not Santa Claus. I can’t figure out who’s naughty and who’s nice,” he said. “So we went ahead and banned all of them.” Wainuiomata, near the capital, Wellington, is about two hours’ drive from Palmerston North. Donnelly said he banned the town after three groups of people from Wainuiomata checked in on separate occasions over a six-month period, riling other guests at the 51-room hotel. “We have moms and dads who come here with two or three kids to relax,” he said. “They don’t want some loudmouth spitting on the pavement, flirting with girls and swearing.” The “no vacancy” extends to the members of parliament, as Wainuiomata lawmaker Trevor Mallard found out when he came to test the ban. “He’s barging in here with a TV camera, trying to book a room to prove a point,” Donnelly said. “We just stood at the front door and said, ‘You’re not welcome here. Go away.'” By “we,” Donnelly is referring to himself and his general manager, Malcolm Glen — a Scotsman known in the community as “Basil Fawlty” after the iconic and paranoid John Cleese character in the British sitcom “Fawlty Towers.” News of the ban sent some former guests complaining, and others accusing Donnelly, an Australian, of racism. Many wanted to know whether he was violating the Human Rights Act, which prohibits hotel owners from discriminating based on race. “Some people are making it out to be about the big Aussie brother giving his poor little Kiwi cousin a hard time,” Donnelly said. “They were flabbergasted that there wasn’t a law that stopped me. But it’s like having a pub. You don’t have to have a reason why you won’t serve alcohol to any group of people.” Donnelly, who’s owned the 25-year-old motel for the past two and a half years, said he might annul the ban in the future — if Wainuiomata adjusts its behavior.