Saturday, November 26, 2011

Armed Robbery at Four Seasons Hotel in Vilamoura Results in Hotels Wanting Armed Guards

During the early hours of Saturday (November 19), two masked gunmen robbed the reception desk at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vilamoura [Portugal] by assaulting a security guard and escaping with an estimated 2,000 euros (US$2,657). Consequently, hoteliers are urging the Government of Portugal to change the law so that security guards can be equipped and trained to carry firearms.

The gunmen entered the Four Seasons at approximately 0300 after assaulting a hotel security guard with the butt of handgun and then threatened a reception associate with a sawed-off shotgun, ordering him to surrender all cash.

COMMENT: It is apparent that hotel security should be dramatically improved not only in Portugal, but everywhere. Luxury hotels in the US, Canada, Asia and Europe are equally vulnerable.

Considering that assaults and robberies in the best of hotels is by no means new, laws in all countries should be updated to provide for vetted, well-trained security guards, both plainclothes and unformed, in hotels to be armed so as to be in a position of adequately protecting guests, visitors and employees alike. Moreover, all security guards should should be CPR-qualified.

Additionally, closed-circuit television (CCTV) and electronic security should be used so as to deny access to the hotel of undesirables, particularly during hours of vulnerability.

Current and new hotels should also be retrofitted to permit the institution of effective and efficient walk-through metal detectors so as to keep potentially dangerous persons from entering hotels. This may seem extreme to some, but is simply a best-practices approach, given the fact that criminals carry most of the firearms in today's societies.

One of the most significant vulnerabilities most large hotels have is non-existent security in parking garages. In an era where school-children learn early what a car-bomb is, it is only appropriate that hotel parking areas be subject to the screening of vehicles for explosives, particularly given the regular high-level conferences and meetings that occur in hotels.

Vilamoura is in the municipality of Loulé, in the Algarve, Portugal. Vilamoura is a purpose-built resort and marina that was designed from scratch by a wealthy banker from Porto, Cupertino de Miranda. The resort was started in 1974, and is still expanding outwards from the marine center. The resort is located 14.3 miles west along the coast from Faro and is at 266 kilometers south of Lisbon. The nearest airport is at Faro. It is also one of Europe's largest tourist beach resorts.

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