Ghosts Good For Hotel Bookings
The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times in April 2010 and highlights how Ghost Hunting has helped tourism in an American town.
This hotel will never give up the ghosts
Your room might already be occupied, but that's just part of the attraction at the exquisitely spooky Jerome Grand in Arizona.
The bedcovers provide false security. People died on this floor, on the ones above and below. The Jerome Grand Hotel's history has chapters written in blood. Souls at unrest loom, folks say.
Pulling the sheets over your face won't hide the questions that hit seconds before slumber: Is the darkness empty, or is someone there?
The caretaker who hanged himself in the boiler room. The handicapped man who wheeled himself off the balcony. The executive who shot himself in Room 32. The unfortunate maintenance man, Claude Harvey.
Of Jerome's supposed spectral residents, maintenance man Harvey is perhaps the noisiest. The 1926 Otis elevator killed him -- came down on his head in 1935. Accident, murder, suicide? Still unclear. But visitors say strange noises emanate from the shaft where he was found.
The cab moves, unbidden, at all hours. "They say he plays with lights too," said front desk clerk Debra Altherr.
As haunted hotel legend seems to dictate, there's also a "Lady in White." A guest reportedly woke one night to see her standing at the end of his bed, waving her finger.
In a book at the front desk, guests report these and other paranormal testimonies: footsteps, moaning, heavy breathing and untouched doors flying open. But the devoted hunt for digital proof on the hotel's ghost tour, which provides an electromagnetic-field meter, infrared thermometer and a camera.
Ghost hunting has become a fad -- popularized by paranormal television shows such as "Most Haunted" -- and the boom is felt keenly in Jerome.
"Most hotels are down 20-30% in the area," said Bob Altherr, Debra's husband and co-owner of the Jerome Grand Hotel with his brother, Larry. "We were down only 2% last year."
Of approximately $500,000 in tourism the town of 450 receives annually, Mayor Al Palmieri figures the ghost-hunting crowd deposits a sizable chunk that is still expanding.
Film crews hoping to catch ghosts materialize often, and lately have been trespassing in the cemetery or in supposedly possessed buildings. "That's starting to become an issue," said Police Chief Allen Muma, who owns the Ghost City Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Ghost-hunters' favorite spot in town is the Grand, which sits 5,200 feet above sea level, edged into Cleopatra Hill, watching over the town and the Verde Valley.