Whether you travel for vacation or for work, most of the time, you will be staying over night at a hotel or motel. Your hotel room becomes your home for the length of your stay. Because the room is your “home” away from home, you want to feel safe and secure. So what does the hotel have to do to ensure safety?
Under New Jersey law, innkeepers are simply required to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries to persons who are lawfully on their property. This is the case in security or negligent security situations. Assaults, sexual assaults, robberies and other physical attacks may be caused by inadequate security, improper lighting or design of the building or other such inadequate conditions of the premises.
If criminal activity is foreseeable, the innkeeper must take reasonable steps to make its premises safe for guests to prevent injuries. If innkeepers do not do that, they can be responsible for injuries their guests sustain as a result of an assault by a third-party on the premises, and even in a guest room.
In a New Jersey case, a guest of a resort was sexually assaulted in her room by a former employee of the resort. On the evening of the attack, the former employee was seen on the premises by security guards. The resort knew that this former employee was bitter about being fired. The security guards tried to find the former employee but were unsuccessful. Furthermore, several weeks before the attack, two other disgruntled former employees broke into guest rooms to steal a number of things. In a situation like this the resort can be found responsible for the guest’s injuries from the sexual assault because the criminal activity was foreseeable. The Resort knew about the prior criminal activities because of disgruntled former employees. Grossman v. Club Med Sales, 273 N.J. Super. 42 (1994).
Another example of when hotels can be held responsible for injuries to their guests if a guest gets hurt as a result of a fight or brawl at the hotel. If the hotel or motel hears or knows of loud, violent activities on its premises, it has a duty to intervene. If a fight breaks out in the pool area and the hotel knows about it, it has to intervene either by stopping the fight or calling the police or both. The hotel cannot just sit back and do nothing. Nebel v. Avichal Enterprises, 704 F. Supp. 570 (1989).
With the above in mind, it’s not enough to rely on the hotel to ensure your safety. As the traveler, you must be security conscious and can ask the hotel some questions before you make your reservation:
1. Does the hotel have round-the-clock security personnel?
2. Does the hotel require guests to present a government issued photo ID when registering?
3. Does the hotel restrict access to guest-room floors to those staying there?
The more you know about the Hotel or Motel is one of the best ways you can ensure peace of mind.
With its exciting history and endless entertainment opportunities, New Jersey is the perfect choice for a family vacation or a quick weekend getaway. And thanks to an array of family-friendly New Jersey hotels and attractions, you can relax and enjoy yourself without breaking the bank. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
o Six Flags Great Adventure & Wild Safari/Hurricane Harbor. Located in Jackson, New Jersey, this is THE place of fun. With its pulse-pounding roller coasters like Batman The Ride – where you’re whisked through Gotham City (with dangling feet) at top speeds – to Dare Devil Dive, which puts you in a 15-½ story freefall at speeds up to 60 mph. Of course, there are more gentle rides for kiddies and parents with weak stomachs. Wild Safari, which is also part of the park, lets you drive across 350-acres – home to over 1,200 animals. It’s the biggest drive-through safari outside of Africa. Don’t forget, 45-acre Hurricane Harbor is right next door and boasts a tropical them, a million-gallon wave pool, a massive adventure river and about 20 huge slides.
o NJ Adventure Aquarium. Get ready to immerse yourself in all things slimy at the Camden, NJ, aquarium. With plenty of cool, interactive exhibits you can get up-close and personal with the amazing sea creatures that call this place home. If you sign up for their special adventures, you could find yourself swimming with the sharks, training and feeding seals, or even going behind the scenes and hanging out with some of the aquarium’s most popular residents: the penguins. It’s all just a short drive from your New Jersey hotel.
o Insectropolis. At this self-described “Bugseum of New Jersey” in Toms River, a world of amazing creepy crawlers awaits. It’s all set within the architecture of a bug-themed city, and features thousands of exotic insects from all over the world. It’s interactive, as well. Kids can play bug games on touch-screen computers, crawl through the termite mud tube, check out the live ant nest, get up-close and personal with busy bees (safely, of course), and for the very brave, touching live tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes and hissing cockroaches is an option. Insectropolis has over a dozen exhibit areas that are fun and informative.
o Novins Planetarium. Also located in Toms River, the Robert J. Novins Planetarium has been bringing the world to people for 35 years. After its 2010 re-opening, the newly renovated planetarium dome will have a 3-D feature that takes visitors on a journey to the edge of the universe, under the sea, and even through the human body. The very cool fiber-optic star projector creates a beautiful night sky. Definitely a “must see” during your family-friendly getaway.
o Space Farms Zoo & Museum. Head for the wilderness and take a trip back in time, all in one day, at this 100-acre countryside attraction in Sussex, NJ. The zoo features more than 500 animals, 100 different species, and boasts the largest private collection of North American animals in their natural surroundings in the U.S. – but you’ll also find plenty of exotic creatures from around the world. Kids will love feeding the ducks, chickens and geese, not to mention the cool museum which houses 50,000 artifacts, including antique cars, motorcycles, farm equipment, antique firearms, early American tools, dolls, clocks, tractors, horse drawn sleighs, and Native American artifacts. Not something you see at most zoos!
o Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. It’s hard to miss this attraction in Lyndhurst, NJ – a massive 11th century Spanish castle nestled against the urban skyline. As you devour a four-course feast overlooking the grand ceremonial arena, you’ll be whisked away to another time when the authentic medieval jousting tournament gets underway. The knights’ displays of skill and athleticism and the special effects will amaze and delight both you and your kids.