In order to get a lifetime ban from a hotel, usually you have to be a rock star under the influence of enough recreational drugs to kill a pod of blue whales. Led Zeppelin were permanently barred from Seattle’s Edgewater Hotel after that alleged incident with a mudshark—and a second ban was put in place after they threw five televisions into the Puget Sound. Oasis were refused further stays at the Columbia Hotel in London after members of their crew tossed most of the furniture out the window, inadvertently smashing the manager’s Mercedes.
But all it took for regular guy Nick Burchill to get banned from a posh Canadian hotel was an open window and a suitcase full of pepperoni.
Seventeen years ago, Burchill was staying at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia for a business meeting, and he made the mistake of trying to do something nice for his friends. He’d brought an entire suitcase full of Brothers pepperoni from his native Nova Scotia so he could give it to some of his pals in the Navy, and of course that was the one bag that the airline lost for a day. When he finally got his cured meats back, he made an effort to keep them cool, so he opened a window and hoped the brisk April air would keep the pepperoni fresh. Instead, it attracted 40 seagulls who did the kind of damage to the room that Robert Plant could only dream about.
Burchill had gone for a long walk, and was welcomed back by an an entire flock of seagulls who had helped themselves to his meats. “In case you were wondering, Brothers’ TNT Pepperoni does NASTY things to a seagull’s digestive system,” he wrote on Facebook. “As you would expect, the room was covered in seagull crap. What I did not realise until then was that seagulls also drool. Especially when they eat pepperoni.”
The birds were startled by his appearance, and those winged trash bins started flying around his room, trying to get out through the other closed windows. “The result was a tornado of seagull excrement, feathers, pepperoni chunks and fairly large birds whipping around the room,” he wrote. “The lamps were falling. The curtains were trashed. The coffee tray was just disgusting.” (If Facebook posts are ever eligible for Pulitzer prizes, this will be the first winner).
Burchill got most of the birds out of the room—but he had to throw his shoe at one, and wrap another one in a towel. Both the shoe and the towel went out the window too, and he had to walk downstairs past a “large group of tourists” to retrieve both of them. He realised he was late for a dinner meeting, so in his hurry to get ready (and dry his shoe), he knocked the power out in the room and had to call the front desk for help cleaning up. “I can still remember the look on the lady’s face when she opened the door,” he said. “I had absolutely no Idea what to tell her, so I just said ‘I’m sorry’ and I went to dinner.”
When Burchill returned, his belongings had been placed in a different, smaller room and his boss was later informed that, due to the damage from the seagulls, he would be permanently banned from the property. He respected that ban until he recently found himself back in British Columbia, and he wrote a letter asking the hotel if they might allow him to return someday. The hotel agreed and said that the staff would again welcome him as a guest.
“Fairmont Empress was as amused as everyone else to read the letter from Mr. Burchill. His series of unfortunate events happened so many years ago, and we were happy to review Mr. Burchill’s letter and have since lifted the ban,” a hotel spokesperson told The Independent. “We look forward to welcoming Mr. Burchill to Fairmont Empress again in the future, and since our $60M restoration in 2017, he will be delighted to know that the rooms have modern amenities and air conditioning to keep his pepperoni cool.”
In a bold move, Burchill said he brought the staff a pound of Brothers pepperoni “as a peace offering.” Hopefully it was kept as far away from the windows as possible.