On Monday, two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, as runners were on their way to wrapping up the highly publicized 26.2-mile race. The explosions occurred on Boylston Street, a commercial corridor in the city containing several hotels and restaurants.
Mark Hagopian, owner of the Charlesmark Hotel, a 40-room boutique property located at 655 Boylston St., experienced the event first hand. The hotel was hosting its annual Marathon Party, and Hagopian was standing on the property’s first-floor patio when the first explosion happened.
“It was about 35 to 40 feet from me. It knocked people over and there was a big surge of wind,” he said. “We didn’t know what it was—we didn’t know if it was a cannon or fireworks or an electrical explosion. But then, when the second bomb went off about 10 seconds later, people started crying. We knew that it was terrorism.”
Hagopian explained that he and the hotel staff yelled for all the guests to get back in the hotel and to stay down. He and two of his hotel managers ran out onto the sidewalk and saw the carnage that resulted from the attack.
“It must have been 30 seconds after the explosion—and there were just people that were torn apart,” he said. “There were people on the ground missing their limbs and bleeding. Immediately, runners and police started putting tourniquets on them.”
Bar Manager Jefferson Ryder and Operations Manager Curt Butcher helped police and event spectators remove the barrier that was in place between the road and the sidewalk so that doctors and emergency professionals could get access to the victims.
“Our employees were really courageous and smart,” Hagopian said. “It’s natural instinct, I guess. You go out to help or you run and hide. We went out to help. It’s our job—to make sure that the hotel guests were safe.”
All Charlesmark hotel staff and employees are safe and accounted for, but Hagopian reflected that if the bombing happened earlier, things might have turned out differently. “Earlier in the day, we’d all been to that area, which we walked by to watch the finish line,” he said. “We just feel lucky. We weren’t there at the wrong time.”
Several other hotels in and around the crime scene put emergency plans into place immediately following the bombings. The Lenox hotel, located across the street from the Charlesmark, was evacuated, and the Fairmont Copley Plaza, located two blocks from the explosions, was put on lockdown. The Mandarin Oriental Boston was also evacuated as a precaution.
On Twitter, the Lenox Hotel thanked its followers for the support during the aftermath of the event and wrote, “It is times like these that unite a community and bring us together.” The property announced that it would open to guests Tuesday morning, so those who were staying at the property during the race could collect their belongings. The hotel is not yet fully operational.
In a statement, the Fairmont Copley Plaza said that all hotel employees were safe but asked guests to stay inside while the Boston Police Department investigated the area. Following Monday’s attack, the hotel set up the St. James Room for guests to use as a place to relax and get in touch with loved ones. The hotel will continue to check guest identifications and room keys to ensure that the property remains secure.
In response to the events, Starwood issued a statement that said, “The Westin Copley Place and Sheraton Boston are in full operation and were not damaged by the explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Both hotels, the closest Starwood properties to the marathon finish line, are providing support to authorities as well as runners, area workers, and others in addition to guests.”
Starwood also said that as race officials closed off the last mile of the course following the bombings, runners were directed to the Sheraton, where hotel employees assisted by providing water and towels to the race participants. Starwood is waiving penalties for cancellations and early departures due to the event.
The city of Boston has set up an information center at the Park Plaza Castle so that displaced hotel guests and residents can find shelter and re-connect with family and friends.
As for the Charlesmark, the boutique property remains closed to employees and guests, and Hagopian said he is trying to relocate guests to his other downtown hotel, The Harborside Inn. He is cooperating and waiting for information from the police department regarding when he will be able to get back into the property, and he is unsure when the hotel will resume operation.
“There is a 13-block radius that they are calling a crime scene,” Hagopian said. “I live next to the hotel, and I can’t get back to my house. A lot of people are displaced. It’s a difficult time for everybody.“