BEIJING, China - The woes of one customer in China, have managed to provoke a nationwide investigation into five-star hotels, dragging even celebrated global chains into the spotlight.
The customer identified as an internet celebrity Huazong, who boasts of 322,000 followers on Chinas popular microblogging website Weibo, sparked a public outcry after he posted a 12-minute video on his feed.
Huazong claims that during his stays at deluxe hotels over the past few years, he recorded his observations exposing the shocking state of hygiene at five-star hotels across the country.
His video features several international hotel chains including Conrad Beijing and Waldorf Astoria that are owned by Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc along with Sheraton and Le Royal Meridien, that are owned by Marriott International Inc.
His video showed cleaning staff at various luxury hotels using a single cloth to clean toilets as well as water cups and basins.
The Weibo user said that he was disheartened after learning that this was a common practice by staff at five-star hotels.
His video immediately went viral, drawing nation-wide anger and an apology from several star hotels including Park Hyatt in Beijing, the Shangri-La in Fuzhou, and the Four Seasons in Shanghai.
The hotels vowed to improve service quality.
Shanghai's Mandarin Oriental hotel claimed that it would not tolerate the inappropriate cleaning behavior," while Shangri-La said that it was taking steps to ensure hygiene standards and Four Seasons promised to improve internal training.
However, amid rising furore within the country, China decided to act on Friday.
The country's tourism regulator announced that it had launched an investigation into poor hygiene at a slew of five-star hotels, with chains such as the Ritz Carlton and Shangri-La too being probed in light of the undercover expose.
Expressing concerns about the reports, Chinas Ministry of Culture and Tourism said that it asked authorities in five provinces to investigate the issue.
While the viral video also led to an online discussion about the poor pay conditions of cleaning staff at five-stars, the regulator had not commented on whether this aspect would be part of its probe.