BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - China's tourism regulator has launched an investigation into poor hygiene at a slew of five-star hotels, including global chains such as the Ritz Carlton and Shangri-La, after an undercover expose went viral and prompted a public outcry.
The undercover video report, posted by an internet celebrity named Huazong on Wednesday, showed cleaning staff at various luxury hotels using a single cloth to clean toilets as well as water cups and basins.
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in a statement it was concerned by the reports and had asked authorities in five provinces to investigate the issue, which has already prompted a flurry of apologies from big-name hotel chains.
The roughly 12-minute-long video features international chains such as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc-owned Conrad Beijing and Waldorf Astoria, as well as Marriott International Inc's Sheraton and Le Royal Meridien.
Huazong, who has 322,000 followers on China's Twitter-like Weibo, said he recorded the videos during stays at deluxe hotels over the past few years. He said he was disheartened to realise it was common for staff to use dirty towels to clean cups.
His revelations drew wide attention and caused a nation-wide public outcry. Hotels including the Park Hyatt in Beijing, the Shangri-La in Fuzhou, and the Four Seasons in Shanghai issued apologies and vowed to improve service quality.
The Mandarin Oriental hotel in the commercial hub of Shanghai vowed "it would not tolerate the inappropriate cleaning behavior in guest rooms shown in the video".
The Shangri-La said it was taking steps to ensure hygiene standards. The Four Seasons in Shanghai said it would improve internal training.
The expose also led to heated discussion online as some argued the cleaning staff were not getting paid much for working in some of the most expensive hotels in the world.
"Luckily I cannot afford to stay in any of these hotels," one commenter said in an online post responding to the video. (Reporting by Pei Li and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)