Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Hotel With the Locked Windows

It is such a shame. There was this particular Comfort Inn that I really liked. The staff was really nice. The rooms were okay. The location was great as it was close to tons of great restaurants and shops. But, then something happened. On my last visit, they decided to lock all of the windows shut. I started off on the ground floor and thought it was a safety precaution. Then, they moved me upstairs and that window was locked too. The staff thought it was to deter people from smoking.

I called the 800# to complain about this hotel. I learned that Comfort Inn basically lets their branches do as they like with no regard for how that affects branding. The hotel apologized to me and said that they could remove the lock upon request. I don’t have time to book a hotel, ask for a window lock to be removed, and hope they don’t forget to do it. I’m not going back to that place.

When I book a hotel room, I am paying not only for a room, but for oxygen. Whomever said that air is free has another thing coming to them! There are a few hotels near airports that do not have openable windows because of the rattling. There was another in Reno that had closed windows and not enough oxygen for me to be able to stand being there. I have a heart condition, I need air. If I don’t get it, I start palpitating. Is it so hard to offer your clients clean air without them having to specifically ask for it? It is even more important than having a toilet. Imagine having to request a toilet with your room.

Later on I learned that the locks were to prevent babies from jumping out to their death. I’m sure that happens a lot. I think that giving me 2 inches of an opening is enough to keep my lungs filled and protect rambunctious babies.

I would like to make it clear to Comfort Inn & Suites that your branding is compromised every time you let your branches do whatever they feel like. Every time I had a bad experience at one of your branches, I trust the brand less and less. If I know a particular branch is good, then they are good in my book, but new and unknown branches are not. There is no reason to allow your name to be tarnished by branch managers!

Hotel Breakfasts – are they all they are cracked up to be?

Hotel breakfasts at economy hotels seem like something they are forced to do, but don’t want to do. They want to have the breakfast open for as few hours as possible, because there is a small hourly fee they have to pay to have it managed. The selections for breakfast items seem to be very limited to non-perishable items, styrofoam, and items containing white flour. Putting aside how Raisin Bran and oatmeal are your only healthy choices at most breakfasts, you have to crawl over other people like ants, sticking your hand between to overweight people, just to fumble to get your spoon for your oatmeal. If there is hot food it is always bacon, sausage, eggs, or hashbrowns. There are rarely any other choices, and choices are rarely healthy!

Wouldn’t it be nice if hotels thought about the pleasure of their guests when designing their breakfasts? It wouldn’t cost much more to make breakfast a little nicer. Imagine having an espresso machine and someone to operate it. Imagine having some of the guests opt to get particular items delivered to their room at a particular time. Imagine having longer breakfast hours so that you have fewer people in that room at any particular time. All of these would make the dining experience a lot more pleasant.

Boutique hotels often put a lot of thought into all details of their service. They typically charge double what an economy hotel costs. Why is it that the only people who put any thought into their work charge double? Couldn’t you put a little though and charge 10% more? What is the market price for thought-trons these days anyway? It seems that good service is a very rare commodity and people just want to deliver less and take more. It is a rare treat when someone makes your life pleasant!

You’re in Texas Now Boy!

I wrote about this in a different article. It was a very bizarre experience — like something out of a movie. I crossed the border from friendly New Mexico into rough West Texas several years ago. There was a pick up truck keeping a respectful distance until I crossed the border. The minute I crossed the border he started tailgating me for a while, and then he passed me. I wonder if this was the way they welcome Californian’s who drive Toyotas into their state.

It was odd crossing that border. I had been to Dallas and Austin a few times before, but those are very civilized looking places. West Texas had lots of dead looking bushes the minute I crossed the border. New Mexico had life energy, and Texas had harsh vibes and death. It was a tough place to live, and water had to be trucked in from El Paso too.

A few years alter, I read an article on the internet. Certain states have some of the worst drivers in the country, and Texas was on the worst driver list. I think if they cut the state up into parts, they would find that West Texas and Bel-Air, CA are the tailgating capitals of the United States. Some of these people have ants in their pants or a urinary tract infection that makes them have to get to a toilet fast. They will tailgate you until they get to their toilet.

Personally, I feel the solution to the problem is more driver education, and really good holistic prostate medicine. I heard that half a glass of cranberry juice and some pumpkin seeds daily does wonders for the good old prostate!

I went back to Texas a few weeks ago. Had the best barbecue of my life as well! Rudy’s was so good, that they made turkey taste moist and delicious! I got through thirty minutes in Texas without being tailgated. Then, I went over the hill in Franklin Park thinking how lucky I was that I didn’t get tailgated. Then, sure enough, a pickup from hell came behind me. I decided to slow down. Why should I give in to this jerk who was really annoying me.

I’ll end this article with a saying:
“When you’re in Texas look behind you — cuz that’s — where the tailgaters — gonna be.”

Corporate Standards in a Hotel Chain

I used to think that branding standards for hotels was something that higher level management took very seriously. After all, a serious branding error could cost your business your entire reputation and lose billions. I recently learned that many chains let the branch managers have a lot of freedom to run their branch in ways that are very unattractive to customers as well as to their workers.

I have been to many hotels that blatantly disregard the do not disturb sign to the point where I just don’t trust the entire chain anymore. If you are doing a late checkout they will harass the hell out of you. You will get phone calls, and multiple knocks on the door. Many times they will try to enter my room while I am naked in the shower.

One hotel decided on a whim to lock their windows so you can’t get any fresh air. What were they thinking? I’ll never go back there ever.

Another hotel is a class act and they really take the cake. The manager is from India and trained the maids to be very loud when doing their work. They bang so loud on doors that if you are in a neighboring room, you will be very disturbed by their loud knocks and their loud cries of “Maid service.” In India making a racket is cultural, especially for midnight guards. I have lived in India before and have to get out of bed at 3am to tell nitwits to shut up and stop making rapping sounds. Indians sleep through anything and are culturally immune to noise, but I am not.

Anyway, the situation got so bad, that I will not go back to that particular hotel again. I went to the competition which is a lot more expensive, and has a lot of noise from the nearby highway. I noticed that they had a new employee — a girl. This girl was someone I knew from the other hotel. She had had it up to her eyeballs with that manager as well, and didn’t want to work at that particular Best Western branch ever again. The manager not only taught the maids aggressive treatment of clients, but he was aggressive with the staff there. I heard that he threatened them one day with firing them all and hiring “his own people.” There are many Gujaratis (people from a particular province in India) in the hotel business. He could get them to drive up from Sacramento easily if he would pay a small travel fee. But, when you are in the hospitality business, I think it is beneficial to be hospitable. The hotel business is ideal for people who are warm, welcoming and attentive to the needs of their guests. This manager in question seems to be a slave-driver at best.

Many hotels have stripped down breakfasts with tiny rooms, and limited choices of stale bagels, cereal, and all the styrofoam plates and plastic utensils that you can handle. If it is part of the branding of your hotel to have a 3 hour stripped down white flour and styrofoam type breakfast, then all the more power to you. But, hotels with better branding strategies tend to avoid this and provide a longer breakfast in a larger, nicer room with more choices.

Additionally, I will say that some hotels use very strong cleaning solutions that leave a smell behind. Not necessarily a bad smell, but sometimes a strong smell. That is an item that could be standardized. One of my favorite hotels has a faint gas smell in room 219. Nice room, but the laundry machine below has a gas leak.

There are many things that hotel branding professionals should consider when trying to make a name for themselves (or trying to preserve their name.) It seems that many of the economy chains are ignoring good branding practices. Good branding is not expensive, but can lead to a lot of increased revenue. It is worth hiring a professional to assist in these matters

Ice Cream in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is not much of a tourist city despite the allure of Hollywood. There is actually not that much to see or do that is of any type of quality high enough for me to recommend. However, this is a city of great restaurants! Desert has never been the forte of Los Angeles. Everyone is on a diet around here. But, there is a growing trend of micro-creameries that are producing some great results!

Sprinkles
This is one of my favorite ice cream venues. Conveniently located in Beverly Hills next to a parking lot that offers free parking after 6pm. I love Beverly Hills for this reason. The first time I went to eat in West Hollywood I got a ticket for not turning my wheel. So, I just won’t go back. I’ll go to Beverly Hills where the city values repeat business and has ample parking! Sprinkles has cupcakes in their shop to the left. People stand in line to order out of the wall at night. It is such a strange scene. But, on the right, they have an ice cream place. The color scheme is white with red dots. It takes a while to get used to their interior design and color scheme. Flavors are very accentuated. Their pistachio is very pistachio-y. Their chocolate is very chocolate-y. They have many other unique flavors like Cherry Vanilla, Peanut Butter, and Coffee Almond Fudge (my favorite.) The quality of the food and service is fantastic, and the hot fudge is even better. Additionally, they have brownies and cookies that you can combine with your ice cream to make a sandwich.

Milk
A very unusual place. They have novelty ice cream sandwiches, and other ice cream products there, not to mention very unusual flavors like pumpkin, Mexican chocolate, and more! I tried their croissant bread pudding. Such a unique item. Milk is located on Beverly Blvd. a few blocks west of La Brea. They have a selection of ice cream, cupcakes, and other unique deserts and coffees. Parking is a little tricky, but have a good time and enjoy the neighorhood scene.

Umami Burger
Get unusual Asian inpired burgers, and very unusual ice cream flavors. I had ice cream that tasted like a particular type of Japanese beer once. They rotate flavors, so now they have some other unusual flavors. Then, for desert it gets better. They have boutique ice cream sandwiches from L.A. Creamery which is a microcreamery. Very delicious and worth it!

Peddler’s
I have not been there, but my roommate really wants to go. They are located in downtown Los Angeles on 458 Main Street which is between 4th and 5th. You have to get on a bicycle and peddle to churn your ice cream. How unique. I heard this place is fun. I will try it sometime soon and let you know!

Showerheads at Hotels can be a dealbreaker

When you go to a hotel, the first thought that goes through your head is, “Is it nice?”
There is more to nice than you think. Many hotels seem nice and then turn out to have many defects.
On the other hand, many run down hotels might have very friendly staff members (and friendly roaches too.)

I wish that economy hotel chains would standardize the types of shower-heads that their branches use. Some branches want to save water. So, you get a very thin stream of water that takes forever to rinse off the soap. Then there are the adjustable shower-heads. These ones go from a widely distributed thin stream that goes everywhere except on your body, to a shiatsu water attack. Once again, not a good experience. Next, there are the shower-heads which are too low. If you are from India, you might notice that the standardized height for counters there is lower, because Indian ladies are a few inches shorter than American ladies. Hmmm. Most hotels in America are managed by Indians, and many of them put shower-heads low, when their customers are typically tall.

Then, there are the shower curtains that never make it past the top of the tub resulting in flooding. There are stoppers which are missing which makes it hard to soak your feet or anything else for that matter. Toilet seats made of thin plastic that break when you sit on them. Then there are the other types of toilet seats that fall down the minute you put them up.

Next there are doors to bathrooms that open the wrong way!

In any case, I think it is reasonable to have showers at a reasonable height that have a reasonable amount of water pressure for a flow of water that is pointed at your guest’s body. Having it adjustable makes sense if the choice of adjustments are comfortable. But, having three adjustments all of which are a nightmare just doesn’t cut it. Invest in water technology! You won’t regret it!

There are many things to think about when you run a hotel — if you run a hotel, I suggest you start thinking.

I bet the economy hotels which there was a way to have a “watered down” shower-head. The irony is that the purpose of these showers is to give you as little water as possible!

Attention to quality makes so much difference at a hotel

I travel a lot for my mental and physical health. I am always aware of quality standards. Many hotel managers care a lot about quality, and notice every single detail. I pick up on this reality quickly. But, other hotels and chains only offer a mediocre quality of service.

Typical areas where service is lacking:
Maids that bother you when the don’t disturb sign is up
The stripped down 3-hour white flour and styrofoam breakfast
Noise coming from neighboring rooms or the hall
Showerheads that aren’t the best
Weird smells
Noisy refrigerators that are impossible to unplug
Computers that are not up to date

In my other articles I have written about disruptive maids that ruin my morning mediation as a matter of policy. Unfortunately for these hotels, they will not win me over as a regular customer due to their lack of decency. Then there are the cheap breakfasts where you have to crawl over the other ants (humans) to get your plastic fork for your cheerios which you eat in a styrofoam bowl. Noise is an unpleasant issue. If you hear people’s conversations and slamming doors in the hall, that can make your stay very unpleasant. Mastering the art of noise-proofing a hotel can make a huge difference. Sometimes you smell a musty smell, or residual smell from the last person who used the bathroom. Other times the smell is coming from outside, or perhaps from a gas leak!

I really object to refrigerators. I mediate, and if the fridge goes on every 20 minutes and is loud, I have to unplug it. But, there are so many plugs! I typically unplug the microwave thinking it is the fridge. Then, I try to find the plug for the fridge and it is behind the humongous console that weighs 400 pounds. I often get stuck having to listen to these unnecessary noises! If you are going to have noisy appliances, please have the consideration to make it easy to unplug them. Otherwise, why not buy a quiet fridge? Is it that much more expensive?

Computers are a huge issue. I notice that hotel computers are never serviced regularly. They are never up to date with the latest browsers such as Chrome. They are typically slow, and often don’t work at all. The people who work at hotels don’t know how these computers work and have to call someone. The other problem is that there is always someone else using the computer which makes my life hard. I use computers for my work and hate using my laptop. I want to use a computer. I think it might be nicer to have multiple computers. If you need it serviced, you could bring it to your servicing department and still have a few leftover. If you have five computers, preferably a few of them being new ones, then if two break, you still have more than enough!

The question is, how much more expensive is it to be thoughtful about all details in the hotel business? For years, I noticed that it was only the boutique hotels and really expensive chains that thought of everything. But, those guys charge at least double what an economy chain costs. Well, now there is a solution. Hampton Inn is only about $20 more than most economy hotels, but the quality is as good as a fancy hotel. After all, they are owned by Hilton!