I love hotels, which is probably a good thing given how many I stay in every year. For some people they are simply a place to sleep and little more, but for me they’re an important part of any trip I take. I love everything about a great hotel or resort, from the luxurious surroundings to the service and of course the room and amenities. Not all hotels are equal, in fact even among brands the quality can differ dramatically. That’s why today I thought I’d offer up some broad criticisms I have of hotels all around the world; ways in which I wish they would change. For many hotels, change seems to come slow, too slow, but if they don’t learn to better adapt to changing trends in travel, they may find themselves wondering what happened to all of their loyal guests.
I have spent more time in hotel lobbies waiting for rooms to be ready than I’d care to admit. It’s annoying to arrive in a destination knowing that you won’t be able to check-in for several hours. In most cases I understand why, it sort of makes sense. Hotels need time in between guests to complete basic housekeeping services – it’s as simple as that. That’s not always the case though, as with a couple of hotels I’ve tried in Reykjavik. Arriving far too early, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a room but was surprised with the options presented to me. For an additional fee, I could have my room cleaned before others, ensuring I’d be able to start relaxing sooner. That really annoyed me and doesn’t seem at all fair or just. They should do everything in their power to turn over rooms as quickly as possible, regardless of extra fees or not, which brings me to the first item on my wish list, the rolling check-in and out concept.
A few boutique hotels have experimented with this concept that is deceptively simple: guests choose when they want to check in and check out. Sounds logical and makes a lot of sense to me, but given how rigid most hotels are it’s a definite challenge. The sticky wicket here are the housekeepers. The hotels would have to adopt irregular schedules for them, which may just not work on a large scale. But to be able to check-in whenever I want AND get a full 24 hours out of the experience, instead of the normal 19 or so, would be wonderful and the first large hotel who manages to accomplish this Herculean feat and do it well will forever have my loyalty.
Using Assumptive Pronouns & Honorifics
I’m pretty sensitive to this issue and it happens with such frequency at even the best hotels in the world that I have to say something. It’s 2017 and the concept of LGBT people co-existing on this planet shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone at this point. With that, front of house hotel staff should realize that a certain percentage of their guests will in fact be LGBT. So why then, with all of this in mind, do I get questions at check-in regarding Mr. and Mrs. Long, or welcome letters in my room addressed to the highly imaginary Mrs. Long? In the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal, but it deeply annoys me and I hate having to go through the process of explaining, “Why no, I don’t have a wife and here’s why.” I shouldn’t have to do that, it shouldn’t matter. I’ve been saying for years that hotel staff need to be better trained in LGBT issues and it’s still a problem. Don’t ask if my “brother” and I would like separate beds, he’s not my brother and if I get another message addressed to Mrs. Long I’m going to have a brief, but loud, melt down. Sorry.
Charging For WiFi
In 2011, the United Nations issued a statement that access to WiFi is a human right and disconnecting people from the Internet a violation of those human rights. Granted, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have The Ritz-Carlton in mind when they wrote that, but the fact remains that in 2017 we have all come to expect fast and free access to the Internet and collectively as a people we get upset when we can’t enjoy that. I can access the Internet while traveling for free at McDonald’s, Starbucks, low-midlevel hotels but almost never at one of the many luxury hotels I love to patronize. In their defense, most major brands have slowly started to come around on this issue, giving slow and basic WiFi access to rewards club members. Since membership is free, this sort of solves the issue. Sort of. All hotels and resorts everywhere in the world should do their best to provide free and fast Internet access to all of their guests. The end, no more to be said, time to move on.
I’m going to approach this topic gently because I don’t think most hotels fully realize their errors when it comes to truth in advertising. One of the first posts I wrote for this site was about a luxury hotel I enjoyed on an island in Thailand and overall it was great, except for one thing. In all of the photos on the hotel website, it shows a beautiful beach and lagoon, full of tranquil water and amazing views. What the website failed to mention was that the lagoon was tidal and for more than half the day every day was free of water and became a tropical mud pit. I doubt that the phrase “come visit our luxury mud pit” would appeal to most people, so the hotel failed to mention this salient point. Had they, it probably wouldn’t have even affected my decision to stay there but because they lied, because they knew what they were doing that’s when I got angry. More recently a hotel advertised itself as being within easy walking distance to the city center. This would be true only if you had the directional abilities of an Eagle Scout and the fortitude to tackle walking along a major highway and 6 lanes of traffic. Convenient it was not and again, I was angry at the deception. Most hotels or resorts aren’t perfect and that’s fine. Nothing in life is perfect, but be honest with your guests about flaws and don’t attempt to deceive us. I think hotels would see a lot more loyalty if they omitted the white lies instead of trying to deceive would-be patrons.
Resort fees have long been a thorn in the side of travelers, mostly because they exist in a strange amorphous no-man’s land. The fees aren’t well disclosed at time of booking and are incurred slowly throughout the course of a stay so that most consumers don’t realize they’re being added on. Fees can be payment for services from fitness centers to free coffee and everything in between, but most consumer watchdog groups agree that they’re a money grab that exists in the grey area of morality. Travelers don’t mind paying fees, I think the airlines have proven that to be true. What they mind is both being nickel and dimed and deceived. If hotels were up front about all fees in advance or, better yet, offer guests options they would probably make more money at the end of the day. Imagine a time when guests pay an extra $5 per day for fitness center access or the like. While it may sound annoying now, also imagine being able to NOT pay that fee if you don’t want to use the fitness center. I don’t mind a short laundry list of options if it means I know what I’m paying and when. Also, stop adding in delivery charges to room service and then expect guests to add gratuity. That’s just ridiculous.
Some hotels are improving this as they remodel, but 90% of the time it’s an issue for me. Once again I would like to remind the world that it is 2017 and in this hopefully amazing year, people have more electronic gadgets than ever before. Cameras, tablets, laptops, they’re all great but most important is the all-mighty phone. Our phones are our lives, they keep us connected to the outside world and for many of us control every aspect of our lives. From my phone I can do anything: book a flight, open my front door, turn on house lights, transfer money between bank accounts and more. When I travel though, one of its most important functions is that of alarm clock. I have never trusted hotel clocks. Previous guests tend to set (and leave on) bizarre times and I can never seem to figure out how to work them. That means my phone is all-important and equally important is having easily accessible outlets next to the bed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rearrange hotel furniture looking for outlets, an oftentimes disgusting adventure. It’s not just the phone though, there should be plenty of easy to access outlets throughout the room so that two-people traveling together can easily charge devices without getting into a fight over it.
Overall, most of my hotel experiences are great and are a very important aspect of my travel experience. There are few things I enjoy more than the service and comfort of a great hotel, but imagine how much better the experience would be if all hotels and resorts took a few easy steps to improve.
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