Being a hotel worker is hard -- low pay, long hours, ungrateful clientele. But for hundreds of workers at the Fontainebleau and theEden Roc in Miami Beach, life just got that much harder: Because of a change in city parking policy, employees are no longer able to use a nearby parking facility and now must walk across the 41st Street canal.
"Housekeepers, bellmen and -women, servers, bartenders, cooks in both hotels are now forced to walk a half-mile over a bridge after eight hours of hard labor," says one food service worker at the Fontainebleau who requested anonymity because he feared retaliation from the hotel.
For years, the thousands of employees at the two iconic resorts have been able to apply for monthly city permits at the lot at 46th Street and Collins Avenue, next to the Eden Roc, which is the only parking facility in that area of Miami Beach. The hotel workers were charged $75 a month for a space.
But beginning September 1, the city changed its policy and canceled all monthly permits. The move was spurred by a desire to cater more to visitors and less to regular employees. "As a tourist destination with impacted residents, the most convenient parking should be available to residents and visitors in the area," Nannette Rodriguez, a city spokeswoman, tells New Times. "Long-term parking for employees should [be] and is available, a short distance away on 41st Street."
Calling the trek "a short distance" depends on how often you have to make it. The hotel worker who contacted New Times says the new half-mile walk has placed an unreasonable burden on already-exhausted hotel staff. It also makes it nearly impossible, he says, for staff like bartenders and servers to arrive at work with the fresh, clean appearance required of their jobs -- especially during sweltering summer months.
"Could you imagine what it's like when it's raining and there's a downpour and now you have to show up to work and be presentable?" he asks.
The hotel worker says that so far Fontainebleau and Eden Roc managers have been sympathetic to the employees' new situation, in some cases even allowing the workers extra time to get to work. (Neither hotel returned New Times' calls for comment.)
But the city suggests that more of the responsibility for employee parking fall on the hotels. "The hospitality industry is encouraged to facilitate parking for their employees through stipends [and] shuttle services," Rodriguez says.
In the meantime, if you spot a sweaty bartender inside the swank hotels, cut him some slack and maybe throw a little extra tip his way. Remote parking sucks in the summertime.