THE BEST OF THE DECADE: 2000-2009
· The Opening Of Wynn Las Vegas: When Wynn opened in April 2005, it ushered in a new era of Vegas. Finally, we had some place new and luxurious and free of any gaudy themes (Italianate, Medieval, Jungle, Circus, etc.) to spend our weekends in. In the early part of the decade, The Bellagio was the cream of the crop. But Wynn became the new guy on top. It didn't stay there too long as the Palazzo opened in 2008. Then the sequel to the Wynn--Encore--surpassed them both. And now, look where we are: CityCenter has opened with three modern, new-era hotels inside including a casino-free Mandarin Oriental. We can't wait to see who's on top in 2019. Uh, ok, maybe we can. That year sounds freaky!
· The Popularity of Boutique Hotels: Let's face it. We wouldn't have so much to chatter about if we were just talking about big box hotel chains all day long. So hats off to Ian Schrager, W Hotels, Thompson Hotels, Kimpton Hotels, Morgans Hotel Group and the ever-resilient independent boutique hotels out there for keeping us entertained in the 'Aughts.
· Dubai: Having never been to Dubai, it remains a faraway fantasy land where your wildest hotel dreams and visions can come true. A 7-star hotel built on a man-made island? No problem! Want a hotel with Formula 1 racetrack shaped like a penis? Done! While financially things aren't look so rosy anymore for Dubai, it's still our ultimate hotel wet dream.
· Hotels Getting Hip to Free WiFi: With the popularity of wireless connections in the early part of the decade, it presented hotels with two problems: 1) How do we get wireless into our guest rooms and 2) Should we charge for it? Unfortunately for us tech-savvy guests, hotels were both slow to get wireless into their rooms and they are also started to charge us for it. But there were some hotels who went against that. You can see who charged and who didn't in our Annual WiFi Reports, here. But as we move into the next decade, our mantra remains the same: Free Wireless for All.
· Flat-Screen TVs: We named flat-screen TVs our must-have amenity in 2006 and we're happy to report that it's been a looong time since we personally stayed in a hotel with a chunky big box for a TV. Thanks to whomever invented the flat-screen and big-ups to hotels who began installing them in their rooms right away.
· Hotel Restaurants: Remember the old days when eating at hotel usually meant eating in some nondescript hotel restaurant that served all the basic dishes ranging from caesar salads to pastas, steaks and hamburgers? Thank God, those days are over. Check out the tasty goodness that can be found at hotels today, right here.
· Newer, Hipper Budget Brands: The Aloft Hype Machine caused us endless misery in the middle of the decade but we have to say, it lit a fire under the butts of folks in the hotel world, who finally realized that we guests aren't always happy staying at a Best Western, Holiday Inn, or Motel 6. Now we have brands like NYLO Hotels, Element Hotels and Hyatt Place to round-out our budget options. Vote for your favorite here.
· Blind Booking Sites: We were obsessed with blind booking sites like Hotwire and Priceline fairly early on and especially in the boom years when hotels were making money hand over fist and we were desperate for discounts. Then, the economy changed and we found that we could get decent rates directly through the hotels. But we still clung to the blind booking sites for even deeper discounts. Besides, we still get a thrill from "spinning" the hotel roulette wheel.
· Twitter and Facebook: You can't deny the power of Twitter and Facebook, both of which surged in the last year. Yes, they can be annoying and narcissistic (did we really need to know about your child's failed potty-training adventure?) but with hotels communicating directly with guests, sending us discounts, promo codes and real-time photos and with guests able to tweet in real-time about hotel failures, it was the true game-changer in the hospitality industry. (Sorry, Gramercy Park Hotel.)
· You.: Yes, we're pulling a Time magazine cover circa 2006 but it's true. We wouldn't be anything without your tips, stories, comments, photos and even angry e-mails. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Let's do it all again in 2010!