This article first appeared in The Pilot on Dec. 14, 2021.
During a recent stay at the Super 8 motel in Aberdeen, Erick McRae felt something crawling in his bed.
When he turned on a light to investigate, he saw dozens of cockroaches scatter across the room. He estimates there were as many as 60 of the insects.
“They were everywhere,” McRae said in a phone interview. “On the walls and the floor. Behind the dresser. Under the sink and in the shower. Above the door — everywhere.”
He showed a cell phone video of the cockroaches to a concierge, who offered to move him to a different room. But McRae said the second room wasn’t much of an improvement.
“Soon as I get in there, I see two or three more roaches,” he said. “Then I try to turn on the heat and the heat doesn’t even work. It was the worst experience I’ve ever had in a hotel.”
Similar stories are common in online reviews of the establishment, which currently holds the lowest sanitation grade of any hotel in Moore County. Crystal Hodges, an environmental health specialist with the Moore County Health Department, said the Super 8 has “documented complaints regarding pests verified through inspections and investigations.”
The health department threatened to suspend the motel’s lodging permit because of a “pest infestation” in August 2019, according to documents obtained by The Pilot through a public records request. The notice of suspension was lifted following a re-inspection that September.
“Insect infestations identified through an inspection, complaint or inquiry are addressed by the Moore County Environmental Health Department by verifying the infestation then taking action to remedy the situation,” Hodges said in an email. “Remedies may include requiring the owner or manager of the establishment to eliminate food sources, thoroughly clean the area, remove clutter, seal holes or cracks in floors, walls and ceilings; and contracting a professional pest control service.”
Copies of receipts shared with the health department show that the motel is frequently serviced by exterminators, but the issues have persisted.
Health officials observed 36 sanitation violations during an inspection of the motel this past September. Some of the violations included:
• Live insects crawling on an AC vent and a cabinet;
• A ceiling-light fixture filled with bugs;
• Mold growing on a wall;
• “Bodily fluid” on the torn cover of a mattress;
• Rusty refrigerators and microwaves; and
• “Petrified animal feces” beneath a bed.
Super 8 received a sanitation grade of 71 at the time. Under state law, any hotel that receives a score lower than 70 can immediately have its lodging permit revoked.
The motel’s grade improved to an 83.5 after a re-inspection on Nov. 2. The score currently stands as the lowest sanitation grade posted for any of the county’s 22 hotels.
Super 8 is a subsidiary of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, a franchisor whose other brands include Ramada, Days Inn and Howard Johnson. In a statement to The Pilot, a spokesperson for Wyndham said the company was looking into the issues at the Aberdeen motel.
“We are disappointed by these allegations, which are in no way reflective of our brand values or our expectations of franchisees,” Rob Myers, senior director of global communications for Wyndham, said in the statement. “While this location is independently owned and operated, we take these concerns seriously and are addressing the hotel’s owner.”
The Pilot was unable to reach Girma Aduga, the motel’s owner, for comment.