I hate to admit this, but I spend more nights in hotels than in tents when I travel. I wish it didnâ€™t have to be that way, but it’s tough to camp in the middle of a city (at least legally … without establishing your own shantytown) So Iâ€™ve had some thoughts about hotels – mainly, about how hotels can do little things that make me really, really dislike them.
Iâ€™ve wound up staying at theÂ Loews Ventana Canyon Resort over the past few years. Each time, Loews gave me very few reasons to like it. Rather, it offered a case study in how to make a traveler hate a hotel that should have everything going for it. Letâ€™s take a look.
Itâ€™s Isolated from Everything Interesting
This particular Loews is tucked into the mountains on the north side of Tucson. It is extremely far from everything interesting about Tucson – the funky shops, the cool cafes, the museums. The scenery is pretty, but wow â€¦ this neighborhood is dull. This seems to be a Loews theme. Consider theÂ Loews Coronado Bay Resort near San Diego. Each cab trip to the interesting bits of Coronado Island is going to set you back a good $25. Or you can wait for its not-frequent-enough shuttle that runs on octagenarian hours.
My theory? Loews would rather have you pay $8 for a pint of local microbrew (double the going rate) at its own bar than shell out for a cab and spend time going to the actual brewery. So they donâ€™t do a good job of standing by local businesses, either.
Charging for WiFi
Fancy hotels seem to invert everything. They charge you for stuff that cheaper hotels include. Case in point: WiFi. A hotel might as well charge guests for broadcast TV if itâ€™s going to charge for WiFi. The Internet is necessary whether youâ€™re a business traveler or a leisure traveler. And itâ€™s 2015. Wise up, hotels.
Some hotels have this nailed. I checked intoÂ The Grand Hotel Minneapolis (operated by Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group) and marched straight into the shower. There, I found refillable glass-and-metal dispensers on the shower wall – they held liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner. This is so much better than the hotels that have individual-sized, individually wrapped or bottled bars of soap and liquid toiletries.
Hotels that havenâ€™t caught onto the importance of eco-friendliness earn a big points deduction. Itâ€™s short-sighted to their bottom line, too. So theyâ€™re not good at acting in the planetâ€™s best interests, and theyâ€™re not good at acting in their own best interests.
So, hotels – let guests reuse their towels and bedding for a few days. Use refillable dispensers. Maybe even think of using linens made from sustainable materials like bamboo fiber.
Terrible Hours for Amenities
Hereâ€™s another chance for me to pinata Loewâ€™s a bit. I had an urge for a workout. My schedule was a bit discombobulated, so I wound up hitting the gym at 7:45 p.m. Thatâ€™s when I found out it closes at 8. Every single night.
Why bother having a gym if youâ€™re going to close early? Travelers need to burn calories when theyâ€™re away from home. And traveling messes with peopleâ€™s schedules. They might not fit into the local time zone.
Wrapping it Up With Some Praise
I mentioned Kimpton Hotels earlier. Iâ€™ll go out of my way to stay at a Kimpton hotel. Each one Iâ€™ve seen has a much more contemporary vibe (compared to the better-known hotel chains), a friendly staff and a reasonable price. The Minneapolis location I mentioned? It had a wonderful little bar with some great regional microbrews; it also had a knowledgeable bartender who was quick to point out some great local craft beer hangouts. So much different from the frosty, corporate-enforced courtesy and laminated luxury from the older, bigger hotel chains. Keep it up, guys!
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