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For the first time since its introduction decades ago, we saw the consumer push back against the minibar in 2013. Chalk it up to nostalgia, but a small part of us was surprised to see such a staple of the hotel industry begin to crumble. But nostalgia is all the minibar could hold onto, because the logical part of our brain was not surprised at all.
When the news first broke, we told you how we thought the hotel industry had gone about minibars all wrong with its decision making, jacking up the prices, installing electronic sensors that botched up billing (over a $2 can of soda, no less), and charging a fee to convert it to fridge space when guests decided they’d rather bring their own snacks as an alternative.
That said, explained, and accepted, it is hard to feel bad for hotels. What did they think was going to happen? Did they really think guests would flock to the fridge for $5 candy bars? An all-out focus on profit margins turned what could have been a useful, convenient amenity into a useless, don’t-even-look-at-that-thing waste of space.
It's that time of year again: the 2013 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
OpenThreads are our way of handing over the microphone to you dear readers. We put forth a topic, a dilemma, a question, a preference, or an opinion and you let us know how you really feel.
Past provocative OpenThread discussions have usually involved something found inside the guest rooms (toiletry dispensers, bibles, tipping the housekeeper, etc. but this year's thread involved the waiters and waitresses working downstairs in the hotel restaurant.
Here's how it all went down for ASchecter in a Brooklyn hotel:
Despite being in the travel industry and finding ourselves on the road much of the year, the holidays are the one period of time where we can guarantee a few nights at home in our own bed. In all honesty, this contributor has never woken up on Christmas morning in a hotel room, so the idea of it seems very foreign in some way. Hotels are our home away from home, but there's never been a substitute for waking up in our own bed on Christmas morning.
Sitting here, we wonder what it would be like to rise on the 25th in a hotel. What would we do? How would we spend our morning?
If we were in a suite at the Goring, things would be pretty merry given the pile of presents that looks like a Christmas tree. And lots of hotels do their best to create a festive atmosphere for those traveling during the holidays, including giant macaron Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.
When staying at a hotel, it's common to tip the folks who work there for various services, such as the housekeepers, the bellhops and the concierges. But a credit card education website is now saying (randomly) not to forget the front desk workers this holiday season.
CreditDonkey.com has compiled a list of all the other people in your life that you need to leave a tip for including hotel, motel and resort desk clerks. CreditDonkey claims these employees make an annual wage of $21,960 in their gig and deserve a tip between $5 and $10 before you check-out, especially if you they've helped you out other than just checking you in and handing you a room key.
We have to agree with this sort of tip, not just for the holidays, but always (again, if they go above and beyond their duties.) So now, who else should we tip at hotels over the holidays? And we're talking about a few days at a hotel over Christmas, not just a one-night stand sometime the week before. Let us know who should go on the NICE list in comments below!
Of course, tipping the housekeepers, the bellhops, the concierges and the front desk can add up (not to mention the pressure to tip is high these days. Read the comments on this story for some advice). Perhaps consider some other gifts aside from cash that will be sure to delight. Otherwise, make sure you've got your dollar bills and fivers in place before checking out.
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We've all had horror stories when it comes to staying in a hotel, especially if we just happened to forget something in the room. While some might think that their article is lost forever, that's not always the case. Here's a story in great customer service by a hotel, restoring our faith in not only hotel staff far and wide, but humankind on a whole. Prepare to have your heart warmed.
The whole situation went down when the Hurn family decided to spend their vacation at Florida's Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Upon returning home after a few days soaking up the sun, living in luxury and scoring some rest and relaxation, their 8-year old son realized he had left his stuffed toy giraffe, Joshie, back at the resort.
Like any good father would do to buy some time, Chris Hurn told his son that the toy needed some "extra vacation time and would be home soon". He then called the hotel with the hopes that Joshie was sitting in a lost-and-found box somewhere in the backroom. To much surprise, Ritz-Carlton's staff informed him that Joshie was safe and sound and offered to send the plush animal home free of charge.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (of the boutique hotel guide, not the Brangelina movie) recently celebrated their ten-year anniversary by handing out their Smith Awards at a packed out event on London’s Brick Lane. Among the various categories was “Sexiest Hotel Room”, an award that was taken home by one of the first high-style, design-led hotels of the city: Blakes London, specifically for its Corfu Suite.
Watching the count down from 10 to runner up had us wondering whether we agreed with the result. Was this the sexiest hotel room? What would be our pick, and why? And what would you, dear reader, think?
There are about 120 Sofitel Hotels, in about 40 countries, so that's a lot of Sofitels to get talking about. But with all major hotel brands, not all the individual hotels are created equal. We've had some great experiences at Sofitels in Asia and Europe and then just so-so ones here in America. Meanwhile, Sofitel is also expanding their So brand which is more design-conscious and art-centric while at the same time remaining luxurious. So Sofitel is a mixed bag indeed.
Now in the spirit of Thanksgiving, tell us which Sofitel Hotel you're most thankful for in comments below!
[Photo: JasonD For HotelChatter]
It's hard for us to hate on a hotel brand that offers a complimentary wine-tasting hour at every single property, animal print bathrobes in the closet and free WiFi (so long as you join the loyalty program.) But alas, not all Kimpton Hotels are created equal.
While almost every Kimpton retains the brand's friendly personality along with truly helpful services and amenities (we especially love the "Forgot It? We Got It!" toiletry service), not every Kimpton is a stand-out property. That's just the way of the hotel world, we guess. We've seen our fair share of Kimptons at HotelChatter and clearly, the new-build ones tend to be the better ones with cooler designs, fresher rooms and a happening F&B scene. Given that Kimpton is on a major expansion roll, that's good news for their loyalists. But now it's even more important to call out the properties that might need a little bit of a boost. What do you think?
Tell us your favorite Kimpton Hotel in comments below! (Or your least favorite Kimpton)
We're currently in Philadelphia, getting the scoop on the city's hotel scene and checking out the new Radisson Blu near Rittenhouse Square, which we will give you a look at next week.
But in the spirit of a good old-fashioned spoiler, we learned that the Rad Blu will offer in-room massages since they don't have a spa on-site.
While we doubt many would agree that in-room massages are an equal substitute for a spa facility, we do appreciate the gesture from hotels, the extra "room service," if you will. That said, we're curious as to what travelers think of this concept that has almost become common at mid-to-luxury city hotels without spas.
There's a good chance this has happened to you before: you've gotten off a long flight, checked into your hotel and, ready to explore your destination, you go to lock up your personal effects and notice your phone, laptop or tablet are pretty drained for power. Now, the dilemma: do you run the risk of leaving your electronics to charge out in the open or lock them in the safe?
On a recent visit to Hong Kong we stayed at the city's ultra-hip W Hong Kong. Upon checking in and exploring the room, we had this same situation where we needed some juice, but wanted to tuck all of our stuff away in the in-room safe. Once we popped opened the safe, we found the holy grail of hotel safes: it had its very own power-point! Problem solved.
Now, we're aware that not all hotels have this little perk, but we also know that some hoteliers have thought about their guest's battery power. Let us know in the comments below if you've come across something similar elsewhere and we'll make sure that those hotels get mad props for considering the 'little things'.
Back in 2009, we put out a poll that asked HotelChatter readers what they thought was the best free breakfast amongst U.S. budget chain hotels. The answers ranged from humorous to discouraging, from "Hampton gets me percolating" to "Lets be honest, all the free breakfasts are pretty gross!"
Well, here we are four years later, and we have a whole new host of free breakfast options out there, including Element, Hyatt House, and Home2 Suites to go along with the usual suspects (Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard, etc).
Although we still think European hotels do a better job of providing solid complimentary breakfasts, it's good to see the concept catching on in the States. We'd love to see it keep going and become a normal inclusion in the rate at all hotels, and we think the ensuing competition would lead to better breakfasts overall.
Last week, we asked you if you still used the in-room TV anymore. Our initial feeling was that you would all answer no and instead talk about how you use the in-room WiFi to stream movies and TV shows or just use it to catch up on your news reading.
When we do stay in a hotel, yes ! Watch the news for days temperature & happenings. Plus helps put us to sleep, reminds us of home.
I like to watch the news in the morning, wherever I am, and also turn it on at night while we're unwinding from a long day of sightseeing.
I don't have cable at home, cuz I use the internet for everything. But the one thing that I don't get online and like to watch in hotels is SportsCenter on ESPN.