Seventeen years ago, Nick Burchill was banned from the Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria. His crime wasn’t what you might expect — partying like a rockstar or clearing out the minibar. No, he was given a lifetime ban for allowing seagulls to destroy his room.
According to Burchill, the seagulls broke in while he was out of the room to get at — we’re not joking — a suitcase full of pepperoni he’d left by the window.
“I remember walking down the long hall and opening the door to my room to find an entire flock of seagulls in my room,” Burchill wrote in an apology letter to the hotel. “I didn’t have time to count, but there must have been 40 of them and they had been in my room, eating pepperoni for a long time . . . They immediately started flying around and crashing into things as they desperately tried to leave the room through the small opening by which they had entered. The result was a tornado of seagull excrement, feathers, pepperoni chunks and fairly large birds whipping around the room.”
Now, thanks to Burchill’s apology, the Fairmont has finally lifted his lifetime ban.
Tracey Drake, the hotel’s public relations officer, told CTV that when she received the letter, she assumed it was an April Fool’s joke. She herself had no prior knowledge of the ban or the incident that had prompted it. But when she checked the hotel’s records, she saw that it had all happened as Burchill described it.
“It is absolutely a true story,” she told CTV News.
The records showed that Burchill had been moved to a new room after the debacle, but had afterwards banned him. “The lamps were broken. The room was trashed,” Drake said. “It’s a really funny story to tell 17 years later, but I was sitting here thinking about the housekeeper and what her first reaction must have been when she opened that door.”
So what was Burchill doing with a suitcase full of pepperoni anyway?
According to his letter, his Navy buddies in BC had requested he bring over some Haligonian “Brother’s Pepperoni” to share. Burchill’s room didn’t have a fridge, so he decided the best way to keep it cool would be to leave it next to an open window. And, well, the rest is history.
This isn’t the first strange news story to come out of the Fairmont Empress. In 2016, a large tiger pelt (complete with head) was removed stolen from behind the bar at the hotel’s Bengal Lounge. As in the case of the pepperoni-stealing seagulls, the thieves have never been caught.