I’m a Marriott Lifetime Titanium Elite member who has spent over 800 nights at Marriott properties over the past 30 years. I recently stayed five nights at Courtyard Marriott Belgrade City Center with my travel companion and we were happy with its convenient location, friendly staff, and our upgraded room. However, we are writing our first ever negative hotel review because of the potentially very serious security issues at this hotel. Although the evidence is circumstantial, we strongly believe that a large sum of cash was stolen from our passport folders while they were stored in our room’s safety deposit box at this hotel (US$1,200 from my passport folder and US$860 from my travel companion’s passport folder). The thief meticulously removed only cash from the secure double-zipped area of both of our passport folders, left everything else intact (e.g. credit cards, ATM cards, passports), and zipped everything back up to prevent an immediate discovery. This indicates that the thief had plenty of time to search through our passport folders for cash. Although we didn’t discover this theft until after we left Belgrade, my travel companion and I SEPARATELY kept our passport folders in our physical possession at all times and we never left them unattended outside our room at this hotel. The only time BOTH of our passport folders were together AND unattended was when they were stored in our room's safety deposit box at this hotel.
Mr. Robert Gasser (General Manager of Courtyard Marriott Belgrade City Center), who conducted an internal investigation, acted professionally but sounded very “defensive” from the beginning of our allegation and became less cooperative as time went on, especially after we told Marriott that we would like to file a police report with the Belgrade Police Department. Despite writing “please let me know if you need any assistance with filing your case at the police” in his first email, Mr. Gasser later contradicted himself by refusing to provide us any assistance in filing a police report by citing Serbian laws written in Serbian which we couldn’t read.
After Mr. Gasser reached his own conclusion that this theft couldn’t have happened at his hotel, the case was closed in his mind and he was never open to any other possibilities. One of his key claims was that, if someone used a “master code” to illegally open a guest’s in-room safety deposit box, that would wipe out the guest’s personal password so the guest would immediately notice it because he could no longer open or close the safety deposit box with his own password. I later found out that there are many manufacturers and models where this is NOT the case, so I requested Mr. Gasser to give us the manufacturer’s name and the model number of his hotel’s safety deposit boxes so we could “independently” verify how they actually operate. Unfortunately, Mr. Gasser twice refused to share this information with us without citing any specific reason. We don’t believe this information is particularly confidential or proprietary because, if we were still staying at Courtyard Marriott Belgrade City Center, we could easily get this information by looking at the safety deposit box in our room. Additionally, we asked our Marriott’s primary contact (Mr. Emilio Morales) to provide us a manufacturer’s written statement that substantiates Mr. Gasser’s claim, but this request was also denied. All of this made us suspect that there may be some kind of a cover-up.
Overall, we didn’t find the general security condition at this hotel very good. It faces one of the busiest squares in Belgrade and any unauthorized outsider without a key card could easily “piggyback” other hotel guests going to their floors. In our particular situation, we also had a major problem with closing the door to our room on the first day (i.e. the dead bolt would not go back in unless we swiped our card key from outside, but then the door would not lock sometimes). Upon reporting this issue to the front desk, maintenance staff supposedly fixed this problem immediately, but we continued to have this issue afterwards, which may have contributed to the theft of our cash.
Due to our experience described above, we cannot honestly recommend anyone to stay at Courtyard Marriott Belgrade City Center. But the most critical advice we can give to anyone reading this review is, DO NOT EVER store any valuables in safety deposit boxes installed in ANY hotels. We have since learned that safety deposit boxes in hotel rooms are much easier for criminals to break into than we thought and, even if you can immediately report your money is missing from your hotel's safety deposit box, your hotel will never compensate you unless you have tangible evidence against them (e.g. a video footage of the thief stealing your cash). It's your words against theirs.
As a final note, we talked to Officer Dukanovic at the Belgrade Stari Grad Police Station by phone on Oct 9th, 2019 and he instructed us to send an email explaining this theft, which we already did. Although we are already back home in the United States, we are in the process of filing a police report with the Belgrade Police Department so that, if a similar theft ever occurs at Courtyard Marriott Belgrade City Center in the future, the next victim could at least refer to our case filed with the local police department.
Evan Adams & N. Mitsuhiro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Response from Courtyard_Belgrade, General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott Belgrade City Center
Responded 24 Oct 2019
Dear Mr. Adams, Dear Mr. Mitsuhiro, Thank you for your repeated report of your incident. Since the first day, on the 20th of September, when you have raised your complaint , which was 6 days after you have left our hotel, we have taken your complain very serious. As promised, after our long phone conversation on that day, we have made a serious investigation into your case. We have shared our entire investigation in detail with you in written on 24th of September via personal Email and Marriott customer care response. Also we have responded to your further complain in detail on the 10th of October, which we do not want to make public due to your right of privacy. We have taken your complain very serious, since in four years this is the first time this accusation has been made by any of our guests. We are proud to be top ranked in customer satisfaction since opening, leading the Courtyard Brand in Europe. Therefore it was in our own interest to make a sorrow investigation to ensure security is granted. We will support any further police investigation fully as communicated to you earlier, but as mentioned and shared with you in written on 10th of October, by Serbian law, only the person effected can claim an investigation. Please feel free to share my contacts with the person in charge for your complain to support the investigation. Kind regards, Robert Gasser General Manager
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.