M y wife and I just returned from an anniversary trip to Georgia. Our first stop, which was supposed to be our longest stay,...

M y wife and I just returned from an anniversary trip to Georgia. Our first stop, which was supposed to be our longest stay, was in Tybee Island, Ga. We left Chester immediately following church on Sunday, arriving at our motel shortly after 9 p.m. It was dark, but there were some things that concerned me even though I could not see everything. We checked in and went to our room. Room number 16 to be exact. The access to it was through an exterior wooden stairwell. On the first landing were two chairs with ash trays that were full of cigarette butts. We went to our room down a narrow wooden corridor. The room was dated, to say the least. Let me say at this point, that you cannot trust reviews or ratings. I went and talked with the person at the front desk, stating that we were unhappy with our room. He told us that we would have to talk with the manager the next morning, so we were stuck there for the night.

As I do with every new place that we go, I looked for our primary and secondary exits from this room. The only way out of this room was the doorway. Our primary escape route would be the narrow, wooden corridor down the exterior stairwell. What I came to realize was that although this was advertised as a non-smoking facility, there was an ash tray on every table and one on practically every ledge outside of the rooms. The stairwell landing concerned me so much that I sought out the secondary escape route, which would have required us to climb over the wooden railing, drop to a flat roof, and get to the ground from there.

Our room had two different smoke alarms, one normal smoke alarm, and one with a strobe in the middle. There were no smoke alarms in the exterior corridors.

The building did not have a sprinkler system. I did not see any fire extinguishers, though I cannot say that I looked very hard. There were also rooms near ours that could have trapped people if a fire occurred in the room next door.

Even if this room had had adequate fire protection, we would still have sought to get a refund on our room. I will say, at this point, that the manager was very gracious and immediately refunded us for the additional days, excluding the night that we had just stayed. The room was old and had areas of black tile grout in the shower. Since I did not test for mold, I will leave it at that. There was a rather large area of tile missing from the floor in front of the tub. There was also a soft area of flooring in the main room. A question that arises is: if what you can see is in that shape, what is the condition of the things that you cannot see?

Seeing things in the daylight did not change our negative opinion. We packed our things and left. I think that I now have a responsibility to talk with the Tybee Island fire marshal or whoever has the responsibility for fire code enforcement there. I am quite certain that this building was built in an era when fire codes were not as stringent as they are today. My concern is that if a fire does occur at this motel that there is the potential for rapid fire spread and a greater potential for loss of life. The question that I leave you with is: what will you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? I have stayed in difficult places all around the globe. I did not think that I was too picky, but some things are just not acceptable. As I said, we would have sought a refund, even if the building had an alarm system, a sprinkler system, standpipes, and fire extinguishers. These fire protection issues concern me, especially due to the excessive amount of smoking that goes on outside of the rooms of this motel. We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our families wherever we happen to go. I was not expecting to face this as my wife and I went away to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, but we did. If you are wondering, we moved from Tybee Island to Savannah and stayed at B Historic, a beautiful facility just outside of the historic district.