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It seems like every few weeks, there is a new fitness offering from a hotel chain trying to lure the healthiest of travelers to their properties. Some hotel brands have put together new and flashy fitness offerings while others are just doing the bare minimum (i.e. two cardio machines, a set of dumbbells and some free weights.) Yet even after we created our very own workouts to get a good in-room-sweat on, we've been asked the question: What do gym-junkie travelers want from a hotel while on the road? Well, here's what we think:
Firstly, have a look at the fitness facility. After motivating ourselves to push through the jet-lag and hit the gym, all we want is a room that inspires us to maintain an elevated heart rate. What can really send us back up to the room are horrible ventilation, wall-to-wall carpeting, awful views and poor lighting. Carpeting is just gross because fitness facilities get hot and people sweat and carpeting makes the room seem hotter. Even more so, if the AC isn't working properly. Having pleasant views and great lighting, however, will help us extend our workout time.
A recent study conducted by Hotels.com revealed that wifi, shuttle service, and kitchenettes were the most-desired amenities for U.S. travelers (it also points out how cable TV, air conditioning and swimming pools used to be the most coveted).
Wifi being at the top of the list is not surprising, but the high demand for kitchenettes wasn't exactly expected. We understand the appeal of staying in and saving some cash, but it brings up the question: Do on-site restaurants in hotels have any impact on booking? Does anyone pick a hotel because of the restaurant in its lobby or on its rooftop?
We talk about them and certainly eat at them, but when it comes to getting a room, it's all about the rate. All things being equal, we'll take the hotel with the restaurant/bar/social crowd in its lobby. But if we can stay down the street at Hotel B for less, we'll happily cab it over to Hotel A for dinner. To us, in-house restaurants seem to have become an amenity that is more for non-guests, meant to bring in traffic from locals and nearby hotels.
OpenThread / Hotel News / Pineapple Hospitality / Toiletry Dispensers / Hotel Toiletries / Hotel Bathrooms / → All Tags
For how small and seemingly insignificant they are, those little soap bars in the bathroom sure get a lot of attention. We've heard a lot about the efforts of hotels to recycle the partially-used bars left behind by guests, and when we looked at what people have stolen from hotel rooms, bathroom amenities were on everyone's list of most likely to be swiped.
And now, as hotels continue to search for ways to cut costs and minimize their environmental impact, we might start seeing less and less of them altogether. We might see them replaced by toiletry dispensers.
According to Pineapple Hospitality, the era of “amenity wars” between hotels has given way to a green movement where the traveling public’s growing environmental attitude is finally strong enough to overcome any feelings of luxury that might be lost by doing away with individual amenities. We understand that the source of that statement has a sales pitch driving it, but still we find it to be true. People’s minds are opened wider now than ever to green initiatives, even if they make the trip away from home a little less glamorous. It’s why so many people are willing to use their towel more than once.
Ever hear that old wive's tale about the 10-year-old boy who peeked inside a hotel room drawer and found $10,000? Oh, wait, that was a real thing that happened last week to a father and son staying at a Hilton in Kansas City.
Upon checking into the hotel, 10-year-old Cody Schaefer (whom his dad describes as "very observant") was performing a routine inspection of the room when he uncovered a wad of bills stashed inside a dresser.
According to the Washington Post, the good Samaritan dad told his son they couldn't keep the money, and he promptly turned it over to the police. We can't say we would have been quite so magnanimous…
However, the story got us thinking: what are some weird things you've found in your hotel room?
Since we're all on social media these days, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or FourSquare, we frequently see folks posting their recommendations for seemingly everything from restaurants to bars to skin care products, music, shops and of course, hotels.
Most of the hotel recs are pretty straight-forward--"I loved this hotel!" "Great spot on the beach!" "The kids love it!" and the like--but since we follow so many peeps that are frequent travelers as well as those in the hotel industry, we often see this kind of mention in a hotel recommendation, Be sure to mention my name to the GM and he will hook you up. Um, wha-what?
While we've personally never phoned a GM for a "hook-up", we have heard some experiences of guests who got preferential treatments from the hotel whether it be because they are return guest, or because the hotel was trying to make-up for a boo-boo or because they were there for a special occasion. So based on what we've seen and heard, a "hook-up" can mean a few different things:
We’ve got to get something off our chest: we have officially, completely, and utterly maxed out on peek-a-boo bathrooms. They have gone too far, and we’re beyond done.
Yes, we’ve talked previously about how a wall of (smoke) glass between shower and bedroom is sexy to some and annoying to others. We also appreciate that hotel designers, in the case of bog-standard hotel room lay-outs, need and are trying to find ways to be creative with the space. We get it.
But what truly has us raising the red flag is a few recent experiences where the lack of privacy has, inexplicably and unforgivably, been extended to the toilet. The picture on the left is one of the worst we’ve seen yet, taken at an all-villa resort this past weekend where rates can easily run upwards of $700 a night. The thatch you see behind the wall on the right? The entrance to the villa and also the public footpath!
We came across an article published earlier last week on the Santa Monica Mirror that described a woman who showed up at the Loews Santa Monica at 1am, asking for a room. The hotel had availability, so they asked for a credit card, and the woman handed over (what she claims was) her credit card. Which was declined.
That's when things got strange. Apparently, instead of just walking away, the woman demanded a free room, and when that request wasn't granted, she simply went to sleep on one of the couches in the lobby.
Now, we've been through plenty of hotels where the lobby was big enough to house our apartment several times over. And we often thought, 'What if we just dozed off for a couple hours in the lobby a couple of hours, then set off on our way?' We'd certainly be saving ourselves lots o' cash, and the hotel would be none the wiser!
We're not saying what this (probably deranged) woman did was right—in fact, the hotel ended up calling the police and she was arrested and taken to jail. But we are wondering: have you ever slept in some part of the hotel that wasn't your room? Was it on purpose? Did you get caught?
Hotel booking site, Tingo.com arrived on the scene about a year ago, promising to give money back to hotel guests if the rates dropped after they made their reservation but before they arrived for their stay. The site also helps guests who book with them get free room upgrades too. Clearly, it's not your average point, click and enter in your credit card booking site.
When we first checked it out, we compared it to a game show and a year later, not much has changed. The booking process is straightforward but we imagine after you book your room, you will be keeping your fingers crossed and hopping up and down hoping to get some money back. But you may not need to do that as chances are pretty good you will "win" if you book with Tingo.
For its first birthday Tingo, which is part of TripAdvisor, has put out a new infographic claiming to have refunded over $371,000 to travelers. (Actually, the number is now over $400,000.) The average refund per guest has also risen from $47.69 to $54.30. A recent article on Tingo even tells how one lucky guest was refunded $1,878.73 for her trip in the Dominican Republic. Um...yes, please?
But perhaps the most compelling stat is that 44 percent of customers who booked with Tingo got a better deal, either with a Money Back refund or a room upgrade.
Last week, we were dismayed to hear about Johnny Jet's bad experience while staying at the Ojai Valley Inn during filming of the cheesy dating show, The Bachelorette. A five-star hotel should definitely not shaft its guests just so a production crew and reality stars can film the perfect shot.
But is there really a way where a hotel, its guests and a TV or movie production crew can all get along?
One HotelChatter commenter thinks so. He writes:
Hassle can be minimized. I've been on both sides of this type of situation. Years ago, I was Night Manager of a hotel where a movie was filmed. I had guests complain because they couldn't access the health club, indoor pool, or spa because of the movie. That was horrible because my hands were tied. I couldn't kick the film crew out; and, discounting the room didn't do much to mollify guests who expected to be able to use the hotel amenities.
Occasionally, I work on some of the TV shows shot here in South Florida. A few weeks back, we filmed in the lobby of one of the hotels in Ft. Lauderdale. The production did a great job of not inconveniencing guests. While guests were prevented from walking across the lobby, that only happened during the shot. And, the longest any guest had to wait was about 4 minutes. Since guests could stand and watch the scene, no one seemed to be bothered.
Seems like the Fairfield Inn & Suites Brooklyn is having neighbor issues lately, as a NY Times article this weekend spotlighted a noise dispute going on between the hotel and an arts organization located across the street.
According to the article, Fairfield guests have repeatedly complained about "late night drumming" being heard up until 2am. Ugh. On the other side of the argument, the Gowanus Arts Building claims that Fairfield is acting too high and mighty—the hotel opened just last year, while the Gowanus Arts Building's been around since 1985.
Understandably, Fairfield fears losing valuable guests due to ongoing complaints, yet they're up against an important neighborhood cultural institution. So, who's right?
Well…we're not really asking. We'll leave it up to the city to sort through all the legalities and decide.
In the meantime, we wanna know: have you ever stayed at a noisy hotel? Did it keep you from sleeping through the night? Or, even worse, make you never want to return as a guest?
Just a little while ago, we went on a rant about hotel Facebook pages, and what the fuss is all about. Many of you piped up, with one commenter noting "the whole Facebook marketing angle is over-hyped."
Another pointed out that often times, the "social strategy is coming from a global [headquarters] that is unaware of local trends."
Which might actually be a clue as to why Hilton has managed to beat all the other brands at the Facebook game.
Just yesterday, Hilton announced they were the first ever hotel brand to reach one million "likes" on Facebook. For those of you who abstain from the Facebook (stay strong!), that statement probably reads like gibberish. But we're guessing the rest of you are just as curious as we are to find out exactly how Hilton managed to pull off such a feat.
OpenThread / Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Woes / Hotel Reviews / Hotel Service / Hotel Rant / → All Tags
The other day, we were meeting friends for brunch and settled on a restaurant in a Brooklyn hotel which shall remain unnamed*. We'd heard nice things, and having popped inside the lobby once or twice, we figured it would be an opportunity to soak up the vibe, relax, and eat good food.
It all started when the hostess refused to seat us until the rest of our party had arrived, even though we could see plenty of open tables. Fine. We told them we'd wait in the lobby and order some tea. Well, we had to elbow our way to the bar to get that done. And after one barista impatiently took our order, we lingered for ten minutes waiting for the tea to materialize (how hard can it be? You fill a pot with water and stick a teabag in it) before giving up and heading back to the lobby.
Five minutes later, another grouchy barista tracked us down in the lobby to inform us our tea was sitting at the bar—in other words, he could have brought it out to us, but didn't. OK, we said, we'll come get it. On the way back to the bar, we requested that the tea just be added to our brunch bill since we'd already put our names down for a table.
"Fine," he said, as if we'd just asked him to commit adultery.
Evidently, this was not off to a good start.