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The secret of the castle approach in hotel security ©

We can learn from the Castle Approach the importance of backing up existing control measures and aiming to become more resilient towards the enemy.

ARCHIVE MATERIAL FROM 2018: The secret of the Castle Approach in hotel security, the foundation of C.P.T.E.D. methodology by Stefan Vito Hiller, released in 2018, eHotelier Insights

The Castle Approach in Security is deeply rooted in ancient and medieval history. Master builders had to come up with better designs to protect their masters from the enemy. The approach is also known as Depth of Defense. In a comparison study, we found out that fortresses in Europe and on the subcontinent of India show similarities in the design. They all designed the castle or the fortress in a common way to be better prepared for any attacks. This included always building it on top of a hill or in rough territory.

Still, they had to experience that attack was not always preventable, that the enemy would find a way to climb or destroy the outer walls. A multi-layer strategy had to be considered that contained obstacles, surprises, and hidden traps that the enemy would not expect. This was the beginning of today’s control measures, and most of these tactics still exist in some form today.

Hundreds of years ago, defenders poured hot oil down the castle’s walls, which also made the floors extremely slippery. More common than hot oil was the use of hot water or hot sand. The infiltrator had no chance when any of this got into their armour. Other delay tactics included the use of moats, draw bridges and/or drop gates, and archery. Comparing it with today’s hotel security measures, the watchmen in the towers are equivalent to modern early detection methods such as CCTV cameras, motion detectors, light beams, online keycard systems, and hotel security guards on the front entrance.
It was most important to surround the master’s quarters with more than one wall and place those quarters in the center of the entire castle. The more walls, the better, as it helped delay the infiltrator and buy some more time to bring the master into a safer location. The idea of secret escape tunnels or secret walls began with castles and fortresses. A room located in the deepest part of the castle was designed so the feudal lord could hide during a siege. This is a concept that is also used today in hotels to keep dignitaries or celebrities safe.

The epic Trojan Horse
In ancient war history, ‘The Horse of Troy’ is probably the most famous example of compromised security. The importance of carrying out due diligence, looking out for suspicious behaviour, developing multi-security layers, and questioning whether something or someone is genuine had to be learned over the years and is ongoing. The symbolic meaning of the Trojan Horse represents the niftiness and tactics that intelligent criminals practice today. Whether it is a cyber-crime or a clever way of just by-passing existing security control measures in a hotel to gain access to an in-room safe, the principle of the Castle Approach is ever-present wherever you go, and it has great significance in hotel security history.

“The more security layers there are, the more likely it is a criminal will go somewhere else to avoid the risk of getting exposed. The more security layers there are, the more likely it is that risk swill decrease – making it harder for criminals is the secret of the Castle Approach.”

Best practice in adding another layer of security
On January 4th, 2018, the New York Times reported that some Disney Hotels changed their security policy. Hotel guests no longer have the option to hang out a “Do not Disturb sign” on the door. The hotel and their staff reserve the right to enter every room at least once every 24 hours, a security measure that is most likely the result of the Mandala Bay Resort & Casino incident in Las Vegas last year where a shooter used a hotel room to kill innocent people at a concert across the street.
In my opinion, it is a modern security measure that is within reason and practicable. It is just one of those things we all must get used to, and if it helps keep criminals away, then guests will respect this security measure over time. This proactive approach from Disney makes sense considering the typical behavioural pattern of theme park visitors. Who would lock themselves into a Disney hotel bedroom for more than 24 hours anyway? The new Disney policy is an example of how it can be done.

Multi-layer security strategies
Inspired by what we call the Castle Approach in Security, we use the same principle in creating the best possible security architecture in a hotel. A robust security plan is always based on six key elements: people, technology, hotel operations, physical infrastructure, the environment, and the interaction between those elements. Aligning them correctly to the existing risk profile is crucial for the success of any security plan.

We can learn from the Castle Approach the importance of backing up existing control measures and aiming to become more resilient towards the enemy. It is the only way consistently to be a step ahead, and even then, we must accept that we can still get hit with new surprises.

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