Swiss Hotel Asks Jewish Guests To Shower Before Using Pool

Filed Under: Travel

Oh man. It’s easy for stuff to get lost in translation when traveling, though this is something else. The Aparthaus Paradies, a hotel in the small Swiss village of Arosa, is under fire for two signs they posted at the hotel. Per The Times of Israel, the hotel posted the following two signs:

“To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming,” said one sign at the at the Aparthaus Paradies in the Alpine resort village of Arosa . “If you break the rules I’m forced to close the swimming pool for you.”

Another sign, this one on the refrigerator, said: “For our Jewish guests: You may access the refrigerator only in the following hours: 10:00-11:00 and 16:30-17:30. I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time.”

In general I’d like to give a hotel the benefit of the doubt when it comes to writing something in their non-native tongue, though the explanation of the hotel’s management only makes matters worse:

“The sign on the freezer was hung because only Jews used the workers’ refrigerator,” it said. “The sign regarding the showers was hung after two Jewish girls entered without taking a shower, ignoring a sign addressed to all guests. Therefore, a specific sign was hung to focus their attention on this.”

Well, I suppose that’s one way to draw attention to the sign. Mission accomplished?

Swiss’ tourism spokesperson Markus Berger said the sign was unacceptable, though that “it always needs to stay in perspective, his is one unfortunate incident.”

Just wow to all of this…

  1. Hard to imagine such a sign exists in 2017. I mean in the age of people identifying as x, y, or z what’s stopping anyone from saying they identify as Christian, atheist, etc. if anyone asks them why they aren’t heeding the sign? Unacceptable.

  2. Some cultures are just not ‘politically correct’ by American standards.

    I’ve heard of Parisian tourist attractions that post warning signs only in Chinese.

  3. They should have made it mandatory to all the guests. And do you have to identify your hotel guests by their religion? Come on, this 2017…

  4. Could it be a case of ‘translation’ gone *terribly* wrong? Would any word in the local dialect (either German, Italian or French) be incorrectly translated?

    If you use “Dear” instead of “Jewish” then I have seen such sign before entering pools.

  5. In some Best Buy stores in Florida, you have signs just written in Portuguese inside the restrooms letting people know that you must throw toilet paper in the toilet.
    I’m a brazilian living in Canada and I understand why they decided to post signs like that inside the restrooms in areas usually visited by lots of brazilians. It’s not common in Brazil to throw toilet paper in the toilet (even tough I’ve always did that). People think it may cause plumbing issues.
    However, to just post the sign in Portuguese, obviously targeting a specific group, is not the recommended way to deal with the issue. A sign in English, Portuguese and maybe Spanish would be more suitable to not hurt any feelings. Similar approach this hotel should’ve followed.

  6. @Bruno I saw signs recently in ladies’ rooms in Switzerland only in Korean and Chinese and possibly Japanese, presumably advising people to put the paper in the toilet (I don’t speak or read any of those languages). In some others, there were pictograms with the same message. Slightly racist and it seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to throw up signs in English, German and French or something for good measure but still, aimed at people from the countries where that is the norm. I saw similar signs in Korea in English asking me to please put the toilet paper in the garbage instead of the toilet.

    That being said, the Jews must take showers thing is….yea. A whole different ballgame. Even if it’s a misunderstanding it’s not good.

  7. That’s the thing about prejudice. It exists everywhere and cover all sorts of characteristics: colour of skin, gender, social status. It exists everywhere.

    I find it rather understandable when someone have prejudice against something or someone because of limit education or being in a place with no resources to acquire knowledge. The real meaning of being ignorant.

    On the other hand I find deplorable people with education and means to educate oneself having prejudice against something or someone. Instead of trying to understand the situation they decide to foster hate and bad feelings that, as time goes by, just grows stronger. Well, ignorance have all shapes as we can see here.

  8. As someone who lived in Switzerland (holding USA and Italian passports) for two years back in 2009, I was not permitted to rent an apartment in Lausanne outside of an area designated for foreigners. These were mainly for low level laborers in a part of town that was not desirable. There was a long bureaucratic process which took weeks, not days to complete just to be “permitted” to rent poor housing. It sent out a very strong message that all foreigners, even those invited to work in high level positions, were not welcome. I’m not surprised by this and likewise not willing to pass it off as a “lost in translation” type mistake.

  9. “Slightly racist and it seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to throw up signs in English, German and French or something for good measure but still”

    But if it’s something that is actually being done by the Chinese and Koreans, why do we need sings in other languages? And if it’s something they are doing, how is it racist to call them out for it?

  10. in hotels in Greece you can see multi language warning papers with just few lines in english, german, italian and dozens of lines in russian containing warning just for russians as “don’t throw anything from balcony”, “wait in a line and respect other guests”, “don’t throw cigarette butts in toilet”, “don’t use bathroom towels as beach towels” etc.

  11. @Jess

    “I saw signs recently in ladies’ rooms in Switzerland only in Korean and Chinese and possibly Japanese, presumably advising people to put the paper in the toilet (I don’t speak or read any of those languages)”

    Surprised they didn’t add Hindi, though Japanese is rather odd. There actually is a somewhat valid reason for this as in some countries toilet paper can actually clog the pipes with combination of not dissolving fast enough and/or lower pressure in the pipe system back home. Although I would say English should have been there on the signs as well.

  12. > It sent out a very strong message that all foreigners, even those invited to work in high level positions, were not welcome

    Let’s all remind ourselves the Swiss are an independent nation and they can do what they damn well please on their home soil.

    Not everyone must conform to the feelings of American snowflakes.

  13. @Jon
    Really. Why can’t we keep this blog on travel. Like Trump or not that comment in not needed. That why we are divided. By the way he is very supportive of Israel.

  14. @Bruno @Jess

    If you go to GRU airport, there’s a sign in the bathroom ( only in english, I think) stating that one should not throw the toilet paper in toilet.

  15. @tom
    This is on travel. It’s important to go where you feel comfortable; where the people are welcoming to you no matter where you come from or who you are. The signs put up in that Swiss hotel are despicable and have no place in the hospitality industry. We can all vote with our dollars and choose places that are fair and unbiased.

  16. @Willam Y. and anybody can feel about that how they damn well please! Not everyone must keep quiet about ignorant or racist behaviour, because a country is “an independent nation”. WTF has that got to do with anything?
    Besides, the commenter only stated her impressions. That makes her a “snowflake”?
    Why don’t you go order a tiki torch or something.

  17. >Not everyone must keep quiet about ignorant or racist behaviour

    It’s literally all there is on the media. *muh rayyysism*. Get over it.

  18. To my mind all this shows is that in many countries around the world, people are not as in thrall of Political Correctness as those in certain western countries. When there is a problem they call it out, as accurately as they can, and avoiding certain phraseology just dilutes the message.

  19. This was so hyped up and is such a non-story.

    The sign was posted because the hotel was housing many hewish guests. Some guests (jewish) didn’t shower. The point is that te adjective jewish wasn’t meant specifically as a restriction to only those guests, but as an adjectiv to guests, trying to address the current guests more directly. The sign was posted with no bad intention.
    Most of the statements have been taken out of context. It doesn’t make it really a smart thing to do, but the absolute anarchy in the internet about this non issue is quite shocking.

    Regards from Switzerland.

  20. @Marina: Because Pier One is out of Tiki torches. They were going to have a sale on stuff laying around for years when they suddenly had a massive demand.
    I wonder if those will now be returned as defective and we can call the neo-Nazis, “so Jewish.”

    As to the hotel at issue, what are they doing letting people go into their refrigerator without showering?

  21. Iam. Writing f germany. the war is long time ago.finished and sorry, yes, we people in my age have nothing to do with this. Ok,.some.letter was written, maybe a mistake, but to post this here shows us that we have to feel always guilty. No i do.not feel guilty, also not about how america reacted to black people? Not so long ago i think… i have a dream,.right?

  22. @Donna

    You just understand nothing about this rules, these places/apartments are only allowed for low income people (any king of citizenship) because the local government pay part of the rent (subsidized). Making the renting price abnormal low and reserved for this reason only for these low income people/familly to get a correct place for living.
    I am also not allowed for rent because my salary is too high…. and the government will not sponsor me, simply logic.

    Out of context or misinformed again.

  23. “Get over it”? How do you just get over racism if it affects your everyday life? Teach me this magic of wishing it away.

  24. @Bruno @George Thats because of cultural differences regarding Americans and Brazilians, not racism or trying to be provocative. Truth of the matter is: when in Brazil, dont throw your waste down the toilet, and in the states, do the opposite. Simples assim.

    But the Swiss Hotel could have done a nicer job by just simply putting a generic sign, not one targeting Jews….very disrespectful

  25. @shellyf

    I completely agree with you that it is extremely despicable to have signs in a hotel like that.
    My comment was to Jon that said it must be a Trump hotel. My response was simply that comments like that are not needed. That’s all.

  26. Anyone who wrote this sign has got to be plain stupid – I don’t care how literate or not they are in English they can presumably put 2 and 2 together regarding the sentiment and work out that this would be a controversial and offensive sign. As for @Hasnothingtodohere – well guess what, yes Germany does have to continue to shoulder responsibility for the holocaust just as we in the UK have to continue to take responsibility for the ills of the British Empire (too many to list here) and the Americans do for the slavery era. You cannot just wish history away. Sorry.

  27. Horrible. And unacceptable. Now with all due respect as a Jewish how you recognize someone as Jewish. My parents did not teach me not to respect laws. This is true though that in every religion and race there are people who know how to behave and people who are not. Nowhere in the bible it says do not respect custom laws.

    However, some do not and they get bad name for everyone. Keeping it general would have been better. Is it true there is antisemitism in Europe. Yes. Is it true it is everyone no. Personally I have no hate toward Switzerland Germany and Austria. I fly a lot via airports there and never think ill of anyone. The only time I felt racism was as a kid in 1986 visiting in a B&B near stutgart. The owners senior citizens talked to my grandma. They were very friendly until they learned we were from Israel. They were even proud to be open everyday since the 30’s and not closing during the war for one day. They spoke with my grandma in german (She was fluent). Once they heard we were from Israel, they stopped talking to us. They sent the maid the next day to collect the money. On the other hand I met people during this trip and in my followup trips that were so friendly loved Israel and visited many times. That generation has passed.
    @Hasnothingtodohere I think history should be thought not to make anyone feel guilty but to learn what hate can do. So history will not repeat it self.

  28. Dear Ben,

    We must remember this is Switzerland not the USA. Americans, it is helpful to step back a bit when travelling in other countries. It cannot all be like home.

    Everyone, please take a deep breathe and exhale. We get so sensitive these days.

    With my travelling in Switzerland experience, I do not think she was being averse to Jewish people. Note, the owner did not say Jews. Should she have said Israelis? But maybe all are not from Israel.

    We have to withstand a lot when travelling, languages, gestures, different hygienes, different foods radiating out of people’s bodies.
    We just helped a Jewish couple on the train the other day. I can say Jewish, presumably because the man was dressed in garb such as white shirt, black best and trousers and a black hat and a beard. His wife with a wig and long skirt, dark and black colours. We helped them find their next train connection. They did not speak much english, didn’t matter where they were from to us, religion – that doesn’t matter to us, we only hope every one believes in light, love, compassion. Hopefully it will pass on and they may help someone in need in the future.

    One day, we may all get along, but sadly that day seems very far away.


  29. No wonder our president seems to get away with delay in his critics of hate groups. A lot of people seem to agree with him. Sorry, I just don’t get it. “The owner did not say Jews.”(!) What? He said, “Jewish guests.” Both would be and are racist. There may be 50 different explanations as to why/how this happened (ignorance, misunderstanding, incompetence, stupidity, not enough coffee, etc.), but it is what it is. And, what’s this about “step(ing) back a bit when traveling in other countries” (?) I have traveled to over 100 countries. That Swiss hotel’s notice was RACIST in every country on earth. PERIOD. This isn’t a custom, a nuance, or a cultural peculiarity. Thanks for the advice: I will take a deep breath (not “breathe”) and exhale. There, now, it’s STILL racism! If we are ever to deal with this issue and ensure that future generations do not repeat what we and our forebears have done to the world, we at least have to recognize racism when we see it.

  30. I would like to think ( and not knowing exactly if what I think is correct ) this refers to Jewish not being able to operate certain switches or machines on certain days, that being the reason they bypass the showers (as they may have to press a switch) and call someone to open their refrigerators. I do not think this has some other readings

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