There are certain things that make us all wonder. We wonder why the heck something is done a certain way or why it is done at all. Here are a few hotel-related questions I’ve long wondered about—and in some cases, the answers.
I wondered for nearly two years why the head honchos at Hilton Worldwide would give up the glitzy, warm confines of the 90210 ZIP code for the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. (Although technically, the company’s new digs in McLean, Virginia, are located outside of the Beltway so no one can say they are Washington insiders.)
Earlier this week, I had a chance to visit Hilton’s offices to conduct an interview with Chris Nassetta, the company’s president and CEO (the results of that interview will be on HotelNewsNow.com within the next week or two). While not as opulent as the nearby palatial (and quite empty) offices of Gannett (USA Today), Hilton’s offices have a good feel. Airy, open and friendly. Those are nice features for employees to toil in. The offices in Beverly Hills had a laid-back feeling. They had what I would call a funky layout.
The ongoing reconstruction of the I-495 interchange aside, the Hilton offices are the epitome of suburbia. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a productive environment—time zone and all—for a global company to conduct its business worldwide.
The Peabody hotels are renowned for their resident ducks. As many times as I’ve visited Memphis and Orlando, I always wondered what, exactly, a “duck walk” is. I got my chance to see one last month.
Thanks to the chutzpah of the affable Marlene Colucci of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, I got a front-row seat to the spectacle. Ever the trooper, Marlene flawlessly led one of the daily duck walks—leading the Peabody ducks from their wading fountain in the hotel lobby to the elevator leading to their rooftop cages.
I also discovered how the tradition came about. Apparently, a couple of well-heeled and, ahem, well-oiled guests came back to the hotel from a hunting expedition full of their favorite beverage. They thought it would be funny to stick a few live ducks in the fountain. When they found the ducks still there in the morning, a legend was born.
To paraphrase the immortal words of Foghorn Leghorn, what in the world, I say what in the world, are hotel designers thinking when they position a guestroom desk so that room’s occupant sits parallel to the television? Or worse yet, why would anyone think that forcing a guest to sit at the desk with their back to the television is a good thing? That’s just plain dumb.
As I travel this great country of ours and stay in all sorts of hotels, it’s amazing the number of them that use one of the aforementioned designs for guestrooms. As a frequent traveler, I say this to designers: Please, please, please put yourselves in my shoes and don’t force me to choose between working and watching [adult swim]. King of the Hill and Family Guy are going to win every time, and that makes my boss wonder why that one report still isn’t done.
Hey hoteliers, it’s OK to strategically place the desk away from the wall to make the guest actually feel at home. Really. Try it. You just might make more guests happy.
More paper, please
Why are those motion-detector paper towel dispensers in public restrooms set to give you not quite enough paper to actually dry your hands? Hotel owners and others would be wise to increase the amount of paper dispensed on the first wave rather than have the customer wave two or three times—which actually uses more paper. One 12-inch sheet of paper beats having to use three five-inch sheets of paper.
Why are areas for smokers always located at the front entrance/exit of a hotel? It’s a lose-lose situation for both sides. Smokers often have to go out during inclement weather and non-smokers have to often withstand a fog of cigarette smoke as they enter a building.
I’m not a cigarette smoker, but I’d vote for a law that provides smokers with a protected place of their own to inhale while giving non-smokers freedom to access an entrance or exit without having to wear a mask.