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Our former front desk has given us many helpful tips from how to deal with getting walked and how to effectively complain to the front desk. He's even doled out some tips for hoteliers too. Now he's back with some ways to enjoy a grand old dame...hotel.
Staying at a historic hotel is one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to experience a city and get engulfed in its history.
Many hotels carry with them fascinating stories of yesteryear from being World War shelters to long-term residences for prolific authors and politicians to venues of scintillating scandals and tales. Most of these hotels are over 100 years old with marvelous exterior architecture and opulent interiors, of which guests can spend hours staring at. These historic properties are often protected by dogged conservationists, who want to ensure the protection of the cityís culture and heritage.
Unfortunately, sometimes with the history come challenges in standardized hotel operations and the ability to provide consistent service and product across all guest rooms and public areas. Having worked in multiple historic hotels, I have come to not only appreciate these challenges but also have tried to identify ways for guests to really get the most out of these historic wonders and be transported back in time!
Hotels have been very keen on hotel spas in recent years--whether opening their own full-blown facilities with a dozen treatment rooms and exotic therapies or simply having one or two treatment rooms available with the basic rub-downs all travelers need. But just because a hotel might be five-star, doesn't mean its spa is. We told you what to look for in a very good spa. Now, here's what to steer clear of in a bad spa.
Itís mind-boggling how many five-star hotel spas miss out on those 6 signs of a very good spa that we shared this week. The rule is simple: if youíre at a five-star hotel, then your spa should be five-star as well. .
Now, here are the 6 telltale signs that a hotel spa isnít quite deserving of its reputation.
Hotels have been very keen on hotel spas in recent years--whether opening their own full-blown facilities with a dozen treatment rooms and exotic therapies or simply having one or two treatment rooms available with the basic rub-downs all travelers need. But just because a hotel might be five-star, doesn't mean its spa is. We'll be taking a closer look at hotel spas in the coming weeks, starting with what makes for a really great hotel spa.
It's surprising how many great hotels are let down by their spa. And while we won't name names, we will give you six signs of a very, very, very good spa.
1. Separate saunas and steam rooms for men and women
A must Letís face it, as liberal as we can be in certain countries, we love not having to stumble upon a person of the opposite sex in a small, steamy room wearing the smallest of swimming costumes. Itís just nice to let it all hang without that preoccupation in mind. Luxury hotels in the Middle East are inevitably the best at providing wonderfully grand single-sex services including a super sized ornate hammam of the Anantara Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi or Talise Spa at Al Madinat in Dubai.
There's a lot going on in this room but are the basics all there?
Some of the most imaginative hotels in terms of design and service offering are being developed around the world. From underwater hotels to treetop hideaways, new properties are pushing the boundaries of what a typical hotel experience should feel like.
Although these hotels are innovative in their delivery of service and product, there are still some "basic" requirements that all hotels should have to make their experiences both welcoming and comforting to guests.
He's told us how to effectively complain to the front desk and how to book a hotel room like a boss. Now our former front desk manager has returned with some helpful advice for a traumatic experience--getting walked at a hotel.
Missed flight. Second missed flight. Five-hour layover. Raining. No taxis. You finally get to the hotel 12 hrs later only to hear this:
" Good evening and welcome. Unfortunately we are unable to honor your reservation at this time however we haveÖ"
With the words slowly fading away, you see yourself follow the typical signs of grief: denial, anger, bargaining etc. Why did this happen? Why did it happen to you? Why today? These are completely understandable questions that go through every guestís mind when their reservation is not honored at a hotel, more commonly referred to as "being walked."
Below you will find a complete guide to the "Walk" process--from how hotels manage their revenue/reservation management system to the planning that goes into place on a sold-out day, to what you as a guest should expect when you are walked and finally, how to ensure (or at least try) it does not happen again.
He's told us how to book a hotel room like a boss and he's given a behind-the-scenes explanation for a common room problem but now our former front desk manager is back with the most important advice of all--how to effectively complain to the front desk when things don't go your way.
"Can you please arrange a wake up call for me?" Check. "Can you please have someone pick up my laundry?" Check. "Can you please have someone service my room?" Check. "Why is my TV not working?" It will be fixed, check.
The front desk is truly the heartbeat of any hotel. That is not to say that the other departments arenít equally important, like housekeeping and engineering, which really are some of the hardest working departments in a hotel but, the front desk serves as the main go-to point for every single issue, good or bad, for all hotels.
The true mavericks of this department are the front desk agents, the tireless staff who are the face of the hotel and constantly get called upon to do every single task, whether it is within their job description or not. They ensure that no matter what problem, what concerning department, who the last staff member spoken to, the guestís issue will be sorted out through one point of contact, them.
Here are some Do's and Don'ts for effectively complaining to the front desk:
The last time we saw a crowd of this size flock to South Florida was for Art Basel. While both events draw a champagne-chugging, hors devours-loving bunch, the vibe at SOBEWFF was so much more relaxed (read: not snobby) and we found people to be a lot friendlier to their fellow SOBEWFF attendees.
Maybe itís the beach. Maybe itís the booze. Maybe itís the fact that no one attending SOBEWFF is a grouchy, starving artist. Not for long, anyway.
At times, the crowds can be a claustrophobic cluster and the humidity deadly, but we enjoyed the excuse to day drink, wander about some of SoBeís coolest hotels and reveled in the many opportunities snap selfies with some of our favorite celebrity chefs. After four days spent in Miami living on small bites and booze, we discovered that the South Beach Wine & Food Festival is the bucket list item we never knew we had. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your visit:
Art Basel happened last month and it's taken our resident (Culture) Club Kid Brandy Alxander, and Art Basel Virgin, a while to process all that she saw and did. (Also, we kinda forgot about it in the holiday mix.) Nevertheless, here are some useful observations and tips to keep in mind for next year.
Every year for a week in December, Miami transforms into a city full of galleries and open bars for Art Basel. Thousands of artists and art enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the city, home to the U.S. branch of Art Basel since 2002. The art show originated in Basel, Switzerland in 1970, and last May, Art Basel expanded to Hong Kong.
After I was publicly shamed for not knowing what Art Basel was (I just moved here a few months ago from Vegas), I decided to venture into South Beach and check out the Basel bacchanal. Here's what I learned:
So far in our new Hotel Commandments series, we've had a top hotel butler hand down his secrets for pleasing picky luxury hotel guests, a hotelier dole out his hotel etiquette for hosting royal family members and a general manager advise on how to treat celebrities on location.
Today, we've got a special holiday-themed Hotel Commandments edition from Robin D. Carson, the general manager of the Kingsmill Resort, in historic (and utmost picturesque holiday setting) Williamsburg, Virginia.
If you're a hotel looking for ways to get in the holiday mood, look no further. If you're a family looking for a fun holiday getaway, check out what the Kingsmill is doing to make their place "look a lot like Christmas" this year.
The other month, a writer on our sister site VegasChatter ran into a perfect storm of check-in problems at a Vegas hotel, specifically dealing with the hotel's credit card and deposit policy. The frustrating story prompted us to put together some helpful reminders about paying for a hotel room. We're guessing most of you already knew these tips but a little refresher list can't hurt.
1. Find out exactly what the hotel's cancellation window is. Before you click the "BOOK NOW" button on a hotel's reservations site, be sure to read the hotel's cancellation policies extremely carefully. Almost all hotels have some sort of cancellation policy but it varies wildly. Usually, a hotel will want 24 hours notice before it cancels your reservation without charging you. But some require 48 or 72 hours while others would like a week's notice or more. (This is especially true during peak seasons.) If you're booking through a third-party website, they may have a different policy from the hotel, so be sure to read that too.
2. Find out exactly how much the hotel will "authorize" your credit card for. Just below the cancellation policy is where the hotel will also tell you what it will authorize, or charge, your credit card for. Sometimes, a hotel will charge 50 percent of the stay to your credit card at booking and then the other half when you arrive at the hotel. If it's a special "advance" deal where you get a lower rate than usual, the hotel will charge you all of the rate up front with no refunds allowed. Other hotels will charge nothing until you check-out of the hotel. Some hotels will also charge you a $100 deposit for incidentals, per day, when you check-in. This is crazy because you've just checked-in, how can you be charged for incidentals? And how can they charge you for incidentals you won't even use? Don't worry, the charge will be taken off your account once you check-out. So long as you haven't bought any incidentals during your stay.
It's one of the most frustrating aspects of a hotel stay these days--busted hotel WiFi. Short of traveling with your own WiFi network, there's not much you can do when the hotel's network is down. But before you start raising hell to the front desk about how you can't get on the internet, make sure you really can't get on in the internet first. Here are a few fixes to try. Good luck!
1. Make sure you're connected to the right hotel network. A lot of fake or poseur networks will pop up as a way to entice naive guests into signing onto that network and unknowingly, give all their private information away. Sadly, these internet pirates are a way of digital life now. So be sure to find out the correct network to sign onto from the hotel. Most hotels will offer this information on a card placed near the desk or on the key card envelope giving at check-in.
2. Make sure you've entered the right password, name or room number. This sounds like advice from Captain Obvious but often times, hotel networks will ask for a combination of your last name, your room number and a special passcode. Make sure you've entered all three correctly and in the right boxes. We've been known to enter in the room number in the name box and vice versa. (But only after we've been raiding the minibar booze.)
For some of you, checking out of a hotel may merely involve packing your suitcase, ordering up an Uber ride to the airport and then slipping out the front door without anyone noticing, except perhaps the doorman who will tell you to "stay with us again next time."
Other folks might take a little longer to get ready for check-out, often staying past the designated check-out hour only finally exiting after housekeeping (and sometimes, security) have told them that it's time to go.
But no matter what kind of checker-outer you are, here are 5 Things You Should Do Before You Check-Out.
1. Do a sweep of the room. Lift the blankets, look under the bed, pull out the drawers, check the bathroom (even in the shower) and peep in the closets (don't forget the safe too!) Our experience has been if you leave it behind, you will likely never see it again.
2. Grab your chargers. While you may sweep the room for obvious belongings--toiletries, clothing, jewelry, books--don't forget to check the outlets for all your chargers whether it be for a phone, tablet or computer. Fortunately, more and more hotels are putting outlets above desks and next to the nightstand so we no longer have to unplug a random floor lamp in the corner just to charge our phone. And having more visible outlets will mean we're less likely of leaving behind our chargers.