No room at the inn for too-young Bakersfield honeymooners
It was to be the perfect end to a perfect day. Hillary and Jason Martin had just gotten married. They arrived at Bakersfield's swank Padre Hotel -- the bride in her wedding dress, the groom in Marine Corps dress blues.
They were 18 and out of luck.
The high school sweethearts and parents of twin 9-month-old boys were old enough to marry. Jason Martin, on leave after completing boot camp, was old enough to join the Marines. The Padre Hotel's age policy, however, required them to be at least 21 to rent a room.
"I was so upset," Hillary Martin said. "I planned the wedding, so I felt this was my fault. It was all just falling apart. In the car, I just broke down. I thought, 'Here I am looking for a place to stay on my honeymoon.'"
The Nov. 12 case of cubiculum interruptus found its way to the local media thanks to an angry cousin of Hillary's. The hotel's manager explained to a television reporter that employees were simply following a longstanding policy for which no exceptions are made.
And just like that, the hotel -- a newly renovated Bakersfield landmark where the "Oil Baron Suite" will set you back $649 tonight -- found itself with a sticky public relations problem.
"This is an outrage!" a reader posted on the Bakersfield Californian's website. "If a person can sign up to fight and possibly die for his country then he should be able to stay at any hotel he wants to."
On Thursday, Brett Miller, a co-owner of the Padre Hotel, apologized to Hillary Martin.
"He was very sincere," she said.
Miller explained the hotel's policy is intended to prevent underage drinking and partying. He offered the Martins a room and dinner -- on him.
"An exception should have been made. If you show up in a military uniform and a wedding gown -- sure, we'll give you a room," Miller said in an interview. "When I found out all the facts, I was sick to my stomach. This should have never happened."
While the Martins will never get their perfect wedding night back, they will at least have a story to tell their grandchildren.
After leaving the Padre Hotel, they drove around Bakersfield for a bit, looking for a room before settling in at a Doubletree hotel.
"They had a military discount," Hillary said. "They were very sweet. We even got a free breakfast."
-- Mike Anton
Photo: Hillary Martin holds her twin 9-month-old boys, Kaine, left, and Beau in front of the Padre Hotel in donwtown Bakersfield. Martin and her newlywed husband, Jason, who was wearing his U.S. Marine Corps dress blues, were unable to rent a room on their wedding night because the 18-year-olds are younger than the Padre's age policy. Credit: Michael Fagans / The Californian / Family handout