I hate to admit this, but I spend more nights in hotels than in tents when I travel. I wish it didn'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 I've had some thoughts about hotels – mainly, about how hotels can do little things that make me really, really dislike them.
I'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. Let's take a look.
It'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 don'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 it's going to charge for WiFi. The Internet is necessary whether you're a business traveler or a leisure traveler. And it'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 haven't caught onto the importance of eco-friendliness earn a big points deduction. It's short-sighted to their bottom line, too. So they're not good at acting in the planet's best interests, and they'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
Here's another chance for me to pinata Loew'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. That's when I found out it closes at 8. Every single night.
Why bother having a gym if you're going to close early? Travelers need to burn calories when they're away from home. And traveling messes with people's schedules. They might not fit into the local time zone.
Wrapping it Up With Some Praise
I mentioned Kimpton Hotels earlier. I'll go out of my way to stay at a Kimpton hotel. Each one I'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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