I interviewed my sister in law Ana during my trip about her job. She works at an Auto Hotel. I asked her a bit about this job, since I had seen several Auto Hotel signs during my trips up and down the Ruta Atlantico and other parts of the city and wondered what it was all about. Ana happens to work at the Flamingo, the night shift, 8 pm to 5 am.
Ana explains that Auto Hotels are hotels where couples go to have sex. They can rent the room for a 2 hour minimum, however if you want to rent the room from 11pm on, it is cheaper if you stay the night and leave early in the morning. No, Ana does not work in the sex industry-she actually has the duty of cleaning the rooms, cooking the meals that the patrons ask for, bringing up bottles of champagne, roses, and things that the hotel sells on the side (think romance package at your local hotel). Ana explained that people wanting to hook up come to the hotel in their vehicle. These hotels are set up so that the vehicle is hidden along with the identity of the patrons. No wife driving by these establishments to see if she recognizes hubby's plates or private investigators hoping to catch a pic or two of the indiscreet lovers. The cars drive right into the garage and stay there until the couple are ready to leave.
Ana said that a lot of foreigners go to where she works. Older women with young Hispanic men, and older men with young Latinas. And even same sex couples. Along with rich Guatemalans of every age. The hotel she works for is pretty expensive and most Guatemalans don't go there because they just can't afford it. There are other less expensive hotels in the area, but none as nice as the Flamingo. There are security guards outside, and the rooms are luxurious and several rooms even have a jacuzzi. Apparently the walls are quite thin though, because Ana and her co-workers hear a lot through those walls-and often spend the night laughing listening to people howling at the moon amongst other things.
Guests that call for room service often disguise their voices-and when room service arrives, the food, champagne or whatever they ordered is passed through a slot in the door. Not like room service here in the States where you open the door, tip the person who brings it to you and then enjoy your meal or champagne. She said that when she brings the stuff up, the patrons inside just slide the door slot open enough to get what they ordered and don't say a word. She laughed and told me it could be your boyfriend or husband inside and you wouldn't even know it.
Lots of nights, her job is boring. She sits around with the other 3 women on duty and they wait for calls to come in for fried chicken, champagne, a bouquet of flowers, etc... Of course, the unpleasant part is after the pair leaves. They have to go in and clean up the room, the hot tub, change the sheets, and she said it can sometimes be kind of gross. The maids wear gloves and take precautions when cleaning out the rooms, but they need to be quick, because sometimes there are lines of cars waiting to get in, especially on the weekends.
I had never heard of an Auto Hotel before I visited Guatemala. Usually here in the States, you have to rent the room for the whole night, irregardless of if you just spend 2 hours or so using it. In Guate, you can get a romance package for 2 hours-more than enough time to do what you are there for and have some fried chicken too before you head home to your significant other or back to your hotel. I guess that works well for those that like random hook ups, but its not my style. On my next visit however, hubby and I told Ana we would rent a room from 11 pm on where she works. We will even have her cook us some chicken ;) lol.
I wonder if Auto Hotels are common in all of Latin America... or if they have places like this in the States as well. Here in Maine, and even when I lived in Rhode Island, I never heard of places like this-but then again, maybe I am a naive middle aged mama. Ana might not be working there when we visit again, this is a temporary job she has while looking for something a bit more permanent. She had a good job as a stitcher in a maquila (clothes factory) but her ex ruined it when he showed up drunk and caused a scene. With 3 teen girls to support, she needed to find work fast, and by filling in for a lady on maternity leave, she is bringing some money into the household as a single mom, and allowing her daughters to continue with their education. She's also re-connected with one of her childhood sweethearts, who never forgot about her, and now that he is divorced they are rekindling their relationship long distance. (he's here in the US, and is a legal resident like my hubby)He really doesn't like her job either, and has been sending her money to help out,until he can take time off and visit her. So now you know about Auto Hotels-and if you happen to visit Guatemala and see one as you pass by, you'll know what they are all about ;)