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    Sunday, October 02, 2022

    N.Y. couple finds Spicer Mansion ‘unsanitary,’ pursues $3,000 refund from beleaguered owner

    The Spicer Mansion on April 3, 2017, on Elm Street in Mystic. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Mystic ― A Westchester County, N.Y., couple who booked a week’s stay at Spicer Mansion this summer say they left the boutique hotel the day they arrived after finding it unclean and inadequately staffed and have yet to secure a promised refund of the $3,000 bill they paid up front.

    In a phone interview, Gideon Levy said he and his wife learned Friday that Brian Gates, whose Gates Realty owns the hotel, was challenging their credit-card company’s reversal of charges after agreeing to a full refund.

    Gates did not respond to a request for comment.

    The Levys’ claim comes months after Gates filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors, action that has complicated the scheduling of a second foreclosure sale of Spicer Mansion. The eight-room hotel has continued to operate since an initial foreclosure sale in March. The winning bidder in that sale subsequently failed to close on the deal.

    Ross Weingarten, the winning bidder, has appealed the forfeiture of his $367,000 deposit to state Appellate Court. Meanwhile, a New London Superior Court hearing is scheduled Monday over a new foreclosure sale date, previously set for Oct. 22.

    Levy, a high school English teacher whose wife works in communications, provided The Day with copies of text messages he exchanged with Gates as well as an itemized receipt for $2,997.67. According to the exchange, the total included $2,135.17 the Levys paid in advance to Expedia, the online travel agency they went through to book the hotel, and $862.50 they said the hotel required them to pay when they checked in.

    The receipt shows room charges ranging from $276.50 to $440.30 during what was supposed to be a five-night stay, Aug. 22-26. Other charges include a $150-a-night “pet fee” for the two dogs the Levys brought with them and a $68-a-night “resort fee.”

    Levy said they received no advance notice of the additional fees.

    After a tour of the mansion, during which they noted a lack of hotel staff, Levy and his wife went to their room, which they found “dusty and smelling awful,” Levy said. They had dinner in downtown Mystic, returning to the hotel around 9 p.m.

    Levy said when his wife pulled back the bedding in their room, she saw “huge holes in the sheets, with pubic hairs and a weird bodily-fluid or food stain.” When he went down to the front desk, Levy said, no one was there, nor was a contact number available.

    There did not appear to be any staff on the premises, Levy said.

    The Levys spent the night at the La Quinta Inn in Stonington, returned to Spicer Mansion the next morning and demanded to speak to Gates.

    “Mr. Gates, I booked a week at the Spicer Mansion with my wife and we needed to leave at 11 p.m. last night due to unsanitary conditions,” Levy wrote in a text to Gates at 8:32 a.m. Aug. 23. “I need you to contact me immediately to facilitate a refund.”

    Gates texted back:

    “Perfect will start the process as soon as back from Doctors remember it takes 3 or 4 days to get refund.”

    But, Levy said, he began to get a runaround when he asked Gates for written confirmation of the refund. The Levys reported the matter to Expedia and returned home. Levy’s wife then called the credit card company, which tentatively reversed the charges pending the outcome of an investigation. On Friday, Levy said, they got a message from the credit card company saying Gates was contesting the refund.

    “It’s still under investigation,” Levy said. “They could reverse the refund, which is my fear.”

    The Levys are not the only ones who have a beef with Gates.

    Kaori Ito, a former Stonington resident who moved to New Hampshire in 2020, told The Day about “a tremendously bad experience” she had with Spicer Mansion over a booking there this past Memorial Day Weekend.

    Ito said she had planned a party at the hotel that Saturday, the same day as her graduation from Brown University Graduate School in Providence. She had begun working with an event coordinator at the hotel in December 2021 and had arranged to reserve several rooms in the hotel and host 15 party guests traveling from as far away as Boston, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She booked a local musician to provide entertainment.

    About a month before the party, Ito said, the event coordinator stopped responding. A week before the party, she was told the entire hotel had been booked by someone else.

    Ito managed to move her event to The Whaler’s Inn and The Shipwright’s Daughter restaurant in Mystic. She had not paid Spicer Mansion a deposit and lost no money in the incident, she said.

    She is, however, still waiting for an apology from someone at Spicer Mansion.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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