Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Great Hotel Disappearing Act

Hey, Didn't There Used To Be?

Road warriors tend to notice every minute change in their hotel rooms. And in the past few years the hospitality industry has been busy in their test labs, looking at ways to change operational models, reduce costs and be more sustainable. This has resulted in a variety of new ideas. Many of which have very subtly been implemented.

1. Waste Bins
Where the heck is the garbage can? Since time began there were always two trash cans in every hotel room. There would be one at the desk and the other in the bathroom. Now, more and more the one at the desk is either gone completely or it has been reduced in size, or it has become a multi-compartment recycle / trash bin with both compartments too small to actually hold anything. The result according to the housekeepers? Piles of trash left where the trash can used to be.

2. Little Bottles of Shampoo and Soaps
My routine upon entering a hotel room frequently involves peeking at the amenities. Did they leave me nice soaps? Is the shampoo a premium brand or is it a house brand from China. Hands down the best amenities are provided by Langham Hotels. There you have a box in the bathroom that is filled with every imaginable item. Increasingly, however, I've noticed that many chains (Hilton's Home2 for example) are eliminating bottles of anything. Instead they put those perpetually leaking dispensers on the mirror and in the shower. YUK! There is always soap on the counter or in the tub below the dispenser. I know they say it is more environmentally friendly, but the bottles I take home never go to waste. Many go straight to a local homeless shelter that LOVES to get them.

3. The Minibar
I'm actually good with these disappearing. I can't tell you how many times after checking out a new bill arrives charging me for stuff I did not take.  It got so bad I'd inventory the minibar upon arrival and send a note to the front desk telling them what was missing. The good news is some hotels have now put in an empty mini refrigerator. That is a very good idea. I know lots of travelers who need to take their insulin etc. and those little units are perfect.

4. Morning Newspapers
It used to be if you checked off a little box when you checked in they'd deduct the price of the morning newspaper from your bill. If you didn't they'd deliver a USA Today each day to your room.  Now there is no refund they just leave a short stack of papers on the front counter. This intimidates infrequent travelers who assume they have to pay for a paper. Road Warriors just grab a paper, growl and go on to breakfast. 

5. Restaurants
Increasingly lobby restaurants at limited service hotels (like Courtyards) are being replaced with walk-up limited service cafe's (a la Starbucks). I can't say I miss the hotel restaurants as they were my dining spot "of last resort". 

6. Bathtubs
Make way for the walk-in shower, those soaker tubs are disappearing pretty quickly.

7. Pay Per View TV
On demand movie stations that hijacked the TV and delivered low grade smut are quickly disappearing as we all spend more time on the internet and less time watching television.

8. Phones
Yes even in-room phones are starting to go away. When I walked into the hip Palihotel Melrose in LA recently I was a bit stunned to realize there was no closet, no thermostat and no telephone..... 

9. Robes
Even on executive floors the robes are disappearing. Most of the "one-size-fits-all" robes sure as hell didn't fit Roadboy, I say good riddance.

10. In Room Coffee
The coffee makers are slowly disappearing. OK, this is my line in the sand. If I enter a room and there is no coffee maker I call the front desk and demand one be brought up. Conversely a hotel that delivers quality coffee goes way up in my book.  London's Doubletree Hotel West Ealing will never be mistaken for the Ritz, but it not only had a great tea set up, it had an in-room Nespresso machine! That one feature overcame the small size of the rooms and allowed that hotel to rise in my esteem well above the noisy, confusing, expensive and mostly disappointing new Marriott I stayed in a few days later at Canary Wharf.

11. A Front Desk
Now you walk up to smiling staff at little podiums. Or in the case of an Aloft the "Aloha Desks".

Wait a minute where did my in-room safe go.....

Roadboy's Travels © 2014

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