Untold riches amid hotels’ lost and found items

The lost and found at the fabled Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla., is the size of a two-car garage and contains contents worthy of Fort Knox.

“There are expensive bracelets, Rolex watches and diamond earrings worth more than $10,000,” says Arthur Birmelin, director of security.

Mere baubles compared to some of the items distracted well-to-do guests have left behind at the oceanfront resort.

“We had one guest forget a satchel with more than $200,000 in jewelry,” he says. “Housekeeping found it. The watch alone was worth $100,000.”

The owner said it was a gift inscribed by Johnny Cash.

“She asked we mail it back to her in Nashville,” Birmelin says. “We told her insurance considerations prevented us from doing that so she hired an armored car to pick it up and drive it back to Tennessee.”

The richest people in America are just like the rest of us. They forget stuff, too. But it’s what they forget that fascinates us.

Diana Bulger is the spokesperson for the posh Fairmont Hotels Resorts. She canvassed her associates and found a laundry list of sundry items in the lost and founds of the rich and famous.

“A diamond encrusted Cartier watch, an entire set of golf clubs, a pair of Rolex watches, a brand new Louis Vuitton wallet, divorce papers, bags of marijuana, a professional flute — and somebody at the Fairmont Banff Springs forgot a car they’d left with the valet,” she said.

Bulger added that cash also is commonly left behind. Birmelin’s team has dealt with their share of that, too. And he’s talking about the currency, not the Man in Black.

“One guest checked out and left $5,000 in cash in one hundred dollar bills in the safe,” he says. The guest ignored daily phone calls informing him something of value was left behind.

“After about 10 days, he finally called back and said the only thing of value he could have possibly left behind was cash,” he says. “He said he always took a lot of cash to gamble and it was always in hundreds. But he couldn’t say how much.”

Unable to land a guess even in the ballpark, the guest amicably agreed to donate the loot to a worthy charity, a welcome destination for most of the unclaimed items.

The Breakers and the Breezewood Motel in Breezewood, Pa., may seem to have little in common. Rooms at The Breakers range from $400 to $2,400 per night; at The Breezewood, $32 to $37.80.

But they share an admirable quality that goes unmentioned in the guidebooks: integrity.

Breezewood’s owner Tim McCauley recently found a wallet with $4,000 in it.

“When he came to get the wallet, he couldn’t believe none of it was missing,” McCauley says. “I told him we’d be nothing without our honesty.”

More on Overhead Bin

Chris Rodell is a Latrobe, Pa., contributor who blogs at www.EightDaysToAmish.com.


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