Inside Novak Djokovic’s quarantine hotel: maggots found in meals and disturbing reports of treatment of refugees

World number one Novak Djokovic is temporarily detained at the Park Hotel in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton after being denied a visa upon arriving in Australia this week.

Here’s a look at a quarantine hotel that has gained notoriety in recent months for the way asylum seekers were reportedly treated.

Hotel

Describing itself as ‘luxurious’ and ‘4.5 star’ on its website, the hotel in a ‘prime location’ has the usual amenities provided to guests, with 107 ‘fully equipped and air conditioned rooms’. A smoke-free property, there are a variety of “free” internet options that could be used by Djokovic. However, the nine-time Australian Open champion will likely not have access to his outdoor pool. Beauty services, including body and facial treatments, and “rejuvenating” massages are also likely to be prohibited.

Controversial

Disturbing recent reports in Australia have focused on the food provided to refugees in the hotel, with suspected cases of maggots and mold found in some of the meals. Mustafa Salah, an Iraqi asylum seeker detained at the property, told SBS News last week: “I was just shocked. The food they deliver puts people at risk. Even an animal cannot eat this type of food. Djokovic has a well-known gluten tolerance and follows a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, also aiming to eliminate as much sugar as possible.

Comments

Some of the more recent reviews on TripAdvisor have drawn attention to the alleged plight of refugees and asylum seekers within the facility. The most recent review from someone who appears to have stayed there came in December 2020 with a description of the property as ‘really shabby’ in a one star review. Nonetheless, of the 718 reviews left by various customers, more than half (476) gave four or five stars, with 37 one-star ratings – the lowest possible rating. – In Carlton, a suburb of downtown Melbourne, the Park Hotel was previously known as Rydges on Swanston and is close to the University of Melbourne and the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Facts about the Park Hotel

– The hotel has housed government detainees since December 2020, many of whom have been held for years while seeking visas to stay in Australia. Over two dozen are there now.

Activists have staged protests against their detention outside the hotel and there are messages outside the hotel and on the ground outside against the detentions and in support of the detainees.

– The hotel’s website describes it as a “4.5 star luxury hotel in a prime location”. It has 107 rooms, all air conditioned.

– In October of last year, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 among refugees and asylum seekers detained there.

– In December, a fire in the hotel left minor injuries, according to media. The cause has not been determined.

– Shortly after, some of the inmates complained that their food contained maggots and mold, media reported.

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