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False information given out on bus tours, experts say

City Sightseeing Miami guide provides false information on tour, historians say

MIAMI – Tour bus sightseeing is popular with visitors and locals. It costs $45 a person to learn about South Florida's landmarks.

Local 10 News took a ride with City Sightseeing Miami and ended up getting taken for a ride.

In Miami Beach, a tour guide pointed out the Shepley Hotel on Collins Avenue.

"Believe it or not, this is owned by Justin Bieber. The Shepley is owned by Justin Bieber," the guide said. "He told the owner, 'I'm going to come back and buy your hotel.' He came back a few months later and bought the hotel for $120 million."

That one's false, according to hotel employees. Property records show the current owner is not Justin Bieber, and the market value is just under $4 million.

"This is the Bazi Hotel," the guide said.

The guide is actually pointing to the historic Marlin Hotel, which housed the iconic South Beach Studios.

"Now both Frank Sinatra and Prince recorded some hit songs in the recording studio here," the guide said.

This one's true and false. According to Joe Galdo, who worked at the studio since it opened in 1992, Prince was among many artists who recorded at the now closed studio.

"Ol' Blue Eyes," on the other hand?

"We never had the pleasure or the opportunity or the fortune to work with Frank Sinatra," Galdo said.

"When you walk inside the lobby of the Sagamore, all you'll find is paintings by da Vinci, Picasso, Leonardo," the guide said.

False, according to Sagamore Hotel staff and Miami Beach historian Jeff Donnelly.

"I've never heard da Vinci mentioned in regard to the Sagamore, and I truly doubt it," Donnelly said.

Local 10 News checked to be sure and found no da Vinci's or Picasso's.

Next stop was Miami Beach Senior High School and a list of famous alumni.

"Robert Downey Jr. -- the guy from the 'Iron Man' movies," the guide said.

That's false, according to Russ Rywell, head of the Miami Beach Senior High School Alumni Association.

"Pit Bull," the guide said.

False, Rywell said.

"Dwayne Johnson, the Rock turned actor," the guide said.

Also false, Rywell said.

In the city beautiful, Coral Gables, the guide gave this insider information:

"If you guys want to buy a home, you buy a home, but you're not buying the home your land sits on," the guide said. "If you guys go in your backyard, find gold, gas, oil, anything worth money, you have to give all rights up to the family of Merrick."

Not surprisingly, this one is false.

"This information is not correct," city attorney Craig Leen told Local 10 News. "Land can be owned as private property in Coral Gables."

"We're working on a story about some of the false information given out on some of the bus tours," Local 10 News investigative reporter Amy Viteri said.

"We don't have a lot of complaints about our tour guides," an employee said.

"But do you think maybe some people don't realize what's being said on the tour isn't always true?" Viteri said.

The employee referred Local 10 News to a supervisor.

"Honestly, I can't. I would like to, but I don't have nothing to say," the supervisor said.

Donnelly said the problem with false information is it makes it hard to get the real story out.

"I think the true story is interesting enough," Donnelly said.

There is a course offered by the county for tour guides who want to learn and be certified. Viteri spoke with City Sightseeing's manager, who said guides are trained using a set script. He thanked Local 10 News for telling him about the false information and said the company is looking into it.


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