Travel Tips: Hotels
I grew up in a child's storybook if not a fairytale. Since we lived on a boat in St. Croix, USVI, we got the "island fever" every summer and spent two months in a hotel somewhere on the mainland. For years we called The Essex House" our home. This hotel overlooks Central Park in New York City and is around the corner from The Plaza. It was more laid back and less expensive also. Money went farther fifty years ago. Looking back on this time in my life, it astounds me that we could have afforded such a luxurious hotel. Younger than ten years old, my brother and I had free run of the hotel. We knew almost everyone who worked there. I began every morning with a bowl of bananas with cream on top. My base of operation was the beauty salon. From this strategic venue I could meet many amazing women. Of course now I wish I had a diary or video of those encounters.
Spending so much time in hotels gave me a rather unique perspective on the different offerings available.
Many hotels used to be family run or at least owned and managed by the same company. These hotels were known to be unique to their region. In the last few years many of these landmark hotels have been purchased by investment companies.
The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, (built in 1913 & sold to Omni in 2013), La Costa Hotel in Carlsbad, CA, (1965 & sold in 2013) Little Dix Hotel in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, (1964 & sold in 2011) are a few examples of hotels that were known worldwide for their particular offerings. The Grove Park Inn built out of stone with the rustic mountain feel of Asheville was as much of a tourist destination as the Biltmore House.
If your only concern is money then use an app like Worldmate that gives you the cheapest hotel price right up to a cancellation deadline. Websites like Expedia will give you great prices along with points for future stays. Most importantly both Worldmate and Expedia keep track of which hotels you have booked.
The main reason I choose a hotel is not based solely on cost. I now stay with one hotel chain to maximize my points and am treated well as a Gold member. Why care about that? If there is an overbooking, non members get bumped. I get free wifii in my room. I am always put on the floor of my choice with my particular room preferences. Most often I am bumped up to the business floor where there is a lounge with free breakfast, evening happy hour and free sodas in a refrigerator. Complimentary breakfast and parking can save you alot of money. It is often cheaper to spend the night at a hotel that offers free parking for a week, rather than using airport parking.
I have had a concierge send a brand new coffeemaker to my room because he noticed I drank tea. When I had sinus surgery I could not be released without someone picking me up, so the hotel shuttle picked me up, brought me back to the hotel and assigned a staff member to check on me and supply whatever I needed. In India the new Head of food and beverage spent two weeks interviewing everyone who worked under him, to get to know them and their dreams. He then helped in anyway possible. This respectful attitude was reflected throughout the hotel.
Even though I can no longer afford ‘The Essex House’ level of hotel, I can still feel at home anywhere in the world in a Marriott.
Things to know.
Marriott (MAR) operated a total of 3,916 hotel properties in fiscal year 2013. Most of these properties were either managed, franchised, or licensed. Only a few of the properties were owned by the company.
A brand name does not mean what it used to. A Chinese group of investors purchased Little Dix in and also the "Rosewood" name because it was recognizable.
Less expensive hotels buy their carpet and furnishings from more expensive hotels.
Less expensive hotels may use old window air conditioners that can catch fire. If this happens demand a full refund and call the fire department. If you just change rooms, the problem may never be reported.
Remember to ask if your room is near a noisy ice machine or stairwell.
Do not stay above the 5th floor. That is as high as a fire ladder can reach.
Rooms above the first floor are less likely to be burglarized.
Keep the room key with your purse or wallet and hang on or place at the door. When a fire alarm goes off, people rush out without their room keys and then have to stand in a line to get a new key without the benefit of an I.D.
Always give a tip to the maid the first day to get great service and to make sure a supervisor does not take it.
I sign out on the clipboard so my room is only cleaned every other day. This helps the environment and the maid.
If someone is noisy, report it immediately. The hotel staff often need a complaint before taking action.
Always bring your extension cord, a clip to clothes curtains or hang clothes and an ice bag for headaches or to keep food cold.
Most importantly expect the best and treat the staff with respect.
Wherever you stay, have a great time.