Saturday, July 01, 2006

An Open Letter To The Hotel Industry


That's it, pretty much. We stayed at two hotels last weekend. The first, in Clarksville, TN, had the standard (nowadays) hotel fare of the bed with a plain flat sheet over a flimsy mattress "pad" and then another flat sheet on top of that, with a ratty blanket and one of those you-only-see-them-in-hotels cheesy bedspreads.

First of all, what happened to fitted sheets? Is it THAT much trouble to make up a bed with a fitted sheet? Are you paying the housecleaning staff SO much per hour that the extra 20 seconds it would take them to secure a fitted sheet to each bed cuts dramatically into your profit margin? Is it a matter of streamlining the laundering/folding/sorting process? Because, really, you MUST know that the stupid two-flatsheets-serving-as-top-and-bottom-sheets system is way substandard from a guest comfort standpoint. And honestly? When that sheet creeps up, down, or sideways, as it is going to if you so much as walk BY the bed or look at it funny, and we have to see that BARE HOTEL MATTRESS? Well, Hotel Industry, that skeeves We The Hotel Guest right the heck OUT.

The first thing I do upon checking in to most hotel rooms is to strip the bed of comforter/bedspread, blanket, and pillows, stash them in a closet or under a desk, and then make the bed up with my OWN bedding, which I have brought from home, putting as much of my own stuff between me and that rental bed as humanly possible. Because we know, you see, that you don't wash those things unless you absolutely HAVE to, and the fundamental truth of life is that, universally, OTHER PEOPLE ARE NASTY. And thanks to "Dateline," their black-lights, and my own personal neuroses, I'm passing along this hotel-hinkiness to my daughter, who, at preschool age, already knows that you can't sit on the floor of the hotel room to watch TV unless you spread a towel on the carpet first, and that to stray off that protective terry layer with any part of your person is tantamount to touching RED-HOT LAVA.

Now here is where I go all gushy with praise for one of your proud members, Hotel Industry. Look, ye, unto The Hampton Inn. Particularly relevant to this post, the Hampton Inn Bellevue, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Imagine, after our experience in the first hotel described above, the wave of gratitude and delight and relaxation that washed over me when I first noticed the sparkling, fluffy whiteness of all the bedding in our Bellevue room, and then when I read the following words, typed out on the little information card propped on the clean, clean pillowcase(emphasis--and implied delighted squealing--mine):

"The new Hampton bed is comfy, cozy and clean all over. Everything from the lumbar pillow (!!) to the overstuffed duvet (!!!) to the custom-made sheets and pillow cases have been laundered fresh especially for you."

They didn't even have to brag about the gloriously FITTED bottom sheets on the beds, and the actual, REAL mattress pads underneath, because we could SEE them. And you know what we COULDN'T see, Hotel Industry? A SKANKY MATTRESS. I'm not saying there wasn't one under there, but you know the American public--out of sight, out of mind. It's a step in the right direction. And I can tell you, I rested better in that room for the short time we were there than I had for days, because I wasn't waking up every little while, tugging frantically at a flat, non-fitted sheet, worrying about mattress cooties and how close I was to being covered with them.

And here's a thought that should hit you where you live, Hotel Industry: We're not made of money, my little family, and when we travel, we do whatever we can to keep as much of our money in our pockets as we possibly can. We choose mid-range hotels, usually just nice enough to keep us out of the scary neighborhoods. BUT. Given the option of two hotels, side by side, identical in every way, aside from the bed linens, with one hotel being appointed like our Clarksville hotel, and one appointed like our Nashville-area hotel, WE WOULD HAPPILY PAY A SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER ROOM RATE FOR THE CLEANER, BETTER-APPOINTED BEDS. Do you hear that, Hotel Industry? And that Hampton Inn room in Bellvue, that was like a $70 hotel room, so we're not talking The Four Seasons, here. But we would EASILY, and with smiles on our faces, fork over up to, say, 50% more for a room cleaned to that standard, over the comparable, but sloppier room. That should really be enough of a difference to more than make up for the increased housecleaning resources you'd have to expend in order to maintain such a standard.

Oh, and on a tangential note, Hotel Industry: When you assign someone a room that is one of a pair of adjoining rooms, but the party on the other side of those double-doors is UNKNOWN to the guests they're "adjoined" to...TRY to assure that the doors on EACH side of that double-door arrangement do, indeed, LATCH.

And one other thing, this time addressed to Families Travelling En Masse For The Purpose Of Convening At A Gigantic Family Reunion Complete With Matching T-Shirts And Barbecue: Please, please, PLEASE, for the love of Pete's sake, do NOT pool your resources among family members in order to dump anywhere from six to twelve very loud and rowdy children, sans adult supervision, into one hotel room together while you escape to other, blissfully peaceful adult-only rooms, especially if that room is one of a pair of adjoining rooms, and the people in the other room are strangers to you who do not love your six to twelve very loud and rowdy children, particularly their repeated attempts to break into said adjoining room. That's just not right. (And Hotel Staff: When a guest calls to complain about the non-latching door and break-in attempts described above, the correct response to complaining guest is NOT, "Um, I think they're gone right now.")

The only other suggestion I have to make to the Hotel Industry that could improve everyone's hotel experience is that every attempt should be made to let hotel guests, for example in places such as Nashville, know when they are in such delicious proximity to divine blogger-peeps the likes of The Blogger Formerly Known As Lucinda and BusyMom. Because when you get back home and find out how close they were, and that they already even know each other and hang out and stuff, it will cause you emotional pain to think you missed them by so little.

P.S. Can anyone tell me why my YouTube video from the last post won't play? I can't seem to upload any new footage to the YouTube site either; I get the same eternal "loading..." message that you see here on my page.

P.P.S. My husband has spent part of this weekend building a POTATO CANNON. He can't test-fire it until tomorrow night, though, because all the seals have to "cure." If you don't hear from me soon, please send help. (Mr. Fabulous, DO NOT COME HERE PRETENDING TO "HELP.") Seriously. It's a giant, over 6-foot-long PVC cannon, designed to launch POTATOES. Why?


  1. Potato cannon. Yeah, I'm not seeing the appeal there, I have to admit.

    Geez, I didn't know all that about the hotel industry. You're kinda freaking me out, especially since I have to stay in one for BlogHer.

  2. That "Dateline" episode SO ruined the traveling experience for me. I can't go "cheap" any more, and I have to check out the room before I commit. I have, a couple of time, said "no, thanks" and gone somewhere else. You'd think, since it's their business, for cripes sake, that they would have figured it out by now.

    Regarding the potato cannon: take pictures!

  3. Hampton Inn has been promoting their new beds lately - there was an advertisement on the radio and someone in NYC handing out promotional stuff (with a 3.00 starbucks card attached - yum)!

  4. I won't describe the hotel we had at PCA. I would bother you too mcuh. I will just say "bates Motel" and let you guess the rest:o)

    His potato cannon sounds neat. Let us know how it turns out.

  5. I want a potato cannon mounted on the top of my car!

    I spend a good chunk of my life in hotels, and find that even the high-end most expensive hotels can be scary when it comes to bedding. Hampton's are nice, because not only do they have decent beds, but they also have free Wi-Fi and a laptop desk.

    The best bed is Westin's "Heavenly Bed"... so good, you really don't want to leave it! I also like the beds at the W... which is probably the finest hotel chain I've found. Sheraton is putting in new beds at many hotels, but the accommodations are pretty hit-and-miss.

  6. This post makes me never want to stay in a hotel again. Eeaauuwww.

  7. I always thought the potato cannon was a Tennessee thing. That's the only place I've encountered them, anyway.

  8. When I was a teenager, a boyfriend of mine made one too. They're kind of fun. As long as there is no-one on the receiving side of the potato! But did you notice the part where I said "teenager"? Um, yeah... Is he making it with Grayson? Or just by himself?

  9. This is going to shock you. Are you sitting down?

    I agree with you on the potato cannon. I have never "got" that.

    Oh my God. Am I maturing? Is this what personal growth feels like?

  10. The boy says "Potato cannon as AWESOME". Remember, he's 13. Does that answer your quetion?

    As for hotels, I'm so with you. I can't stand skanky hotels. I need to KNOW everything is sanitized for my protection. I'm totally freaked out if anyone even puts a hiney cheek on a hotel bedspread. They are disgusting!

  11. I bring my own sheets and pillows to hotels, too. My husband thinks I'm nuts. My problem is that I'm always late getting up in the morning and run out of the hotel, leaving my sheets and my pillows still on the bed. I've lost lots of bedding that way, but I can't sleep on those sandpaper hotel sheets, so I guess it's worthwhile.

  12. Potato cannon! I just wrote about a zucchini cannon! Hmmmmm...which would the Russians use.

    As for the hotels, uhm, yes.


    And I never did get the two flat sheets thing. I always end up strangled by the bottom sheet by night's end.

  13. Because things that go boom are fun! :)

    I try not to think about germs when I travel. Actually, I try not to think about them at all.

    So, I have VERY little neurosis in that area of my life, at least.

  14. Okay, we seriously need to get my husband together with your husband for a potato launching festival. That is RIGHT UP my husband's alley.

    Hotels beds creep me out too. Ew.

  15. Well, I could sleep on a hobo's knapsack but wanted to say hi. I see you're going to Blogher. Wave to me when you cross the California line.

  16. I would give anything to be hanging out with you and your poodles watching your old man shoot off a potato cannon. Yee haw!

    Okay, but the whole thing about the nasty hotel rooms? I'm sorry. That's the stuff I try and forget when I sleep in strange beds. It's also what turns me off about cheap hotels in general. But when I say cheap, I mean less than $30 a night. For $70, I think a clean room is expected. I have never gotten bed bugs and I do not want to. Ever. Get. Them.

  17. It seems as if everyone remembers that Dateline episode. My wife won't touch a hotel bedspread. and if I remember correctly, that show wasn't just talking about Motel 6s, but Hyatts and Marriots.

  18. I am tempted to go stand outside the Hampton Inn and hold a lighted candle for what could've been.

    Hey! That rhymed!

    You were staying right beside the soccer field where Busy Mom and I spend far too many hours every Saturday during soccer season. That's where we met. Yes, you saw the sacred spot where we met. I think the neighborhood is raising money to put a historical marker there. ;)

  19. IE--Can I get a "HALLELUJAH!" ?

    ST--If I didn't know just how "out of it" I was during my time there in your neck of the woods, I'd be TERRIBLY upset right now. As it is, I'm thinking of the next time we might be back through that way, at which point I shall stalk you mercilessly. Don't be scared.

    Neil--You remember correctly! Turned out that high-end/low-end status of hotels didn't have a lot to do with the nasty stuff around the room. That's why I celebrated a hotel that is WASHING EVERYTHING between guests.

    Mary--You know that, when the official test-run of the potato cannon rolls around tomorrow, I'll be blogging it. Do I have a choice?

    Doug--YOUR hobo's knapsack, or just ANY random hobo's knapsack? There is a difference.

    Melissa--no, we need to keep them APART. Or not. I think the official target-testing is scheduled for the 4th.

    Adena--Funny, I'm not a germaphobe. Don't do antibacterial hand-wash, stuff like that. I'm all for letting your body build up natural immunity. But I draw the line at, um, things like fecal matter on the telephones and you-know-what on the bedspreads and curtains...ugh. Bet you'll think about it now, at least once! Glad I could share the joy.

    jozet--I'll be right over to check out the zucchini cannon...I'm guessing Alex's gun would work well with various types of produce. OH, the possibilities.

    Erin--someone makes a lightweight thing called a "sleep-sack" or something like that, that's designed to just get between you and the hotel bedding. I think we need them!

    Margalit--And that first hotel we stayed in was not in the least skanky. Just typical. But NO--no one must touch the hotel bedspread. Unless we're at a Hampton Inn, because it's a big ol' fluffy white duvet that's been WASHED! Yaaaaay!

    Mr. Fab--I don't think you're in danger of maturing, since you said you'd "never" gotten the potato gun. If you used to like them but didn't any more, maybe...

    Cece--It started with Grayson. I blame him and Chip for starting THEIR potato gun first. Tomorrow is likely to be a very potato-gun day around here. Men. We fall for them because of their "boyish charm," and then spend the rest of our lives waiting for them to GROW UP. Their problem...or ours?

    Anne--I woulda said the South, too, but I see that our Canadian friends have experienced the joy of the homemade potato-launching device, as well!

    SJ--I never want to stay in hotel rooms at all, usually. It's just the whole idea of RENTED SLEEPING SPACE that seems...wrong.

    Dave2--Yep, the wireless connection at the Hampton was so great, we took it totally for granted. I like when something works so well that you don't have to be aware of it. And if you had a potato cannon mounted to the top of your car, well, I'd imagine much of Washingston state would be spud-covered.

    Kim--Our last trip to PCA, we wouldn't even stay at the place we had reservations for, and that was at the "host" hotel! But that was before it moved, and we will definitely pick your brain about accomodations before we go next time!

    leslie--If I'd seen the commercials, I hadn't paid them much mind. We pretty much just stopped at the first place we found, because Alex couldn't hold his eyes open, and I was just sick as a dog. We just got really lucky!

    Sheryl--I guess some people can just stomach more "ewww factor" for the sake of a cheaper room rate. Alex and I are just not those people! Definitely, I think that if more people took a stand over what is and is not acceptable, the industry would have to take notice. And there will most definitely be potato-launching documentation.

    Karl--I'm sure YOUR room will be juuuuust fine. Bwahahahaaaaaaaa.

  20. What I don't understand is why more hotels don't use fitted sheets. They are the easiest part about stripping and remaking the bed. I live for fitted sheet placement in the bed making process. The rest of it? Not so much.

  21. It's not the mere FACT of the potato gun itself, but how BIG the potato being launched, and what sort of explosives are involved. (MY potato gun experience was in Louisiana.....very scary, don't ask)

  22. I just really, REALLY try not to think about who else has slept in that bed before me. Because I could get just as easily skeeved out by the thought of whose arse has farted on that same subway seat or whose tongue has licked ice cream off that same spoon.

    Must prevent Kyle from reading about potato cannon. Do not want potato cannon in my own backyard.

  23. Hampton Inns rule! In my former life as an implementation consultant, I was on the road, on average, every other week. I always tried to stay in Hampton Inns if possible, because of the beds and wireless. Sometimes, I got lucky and got higher end hotels because they were the only options near where I was staying. I looooved Westins, and Doubletrees are generally nice, too (Hilton brand, just like Hampton Inn). But I absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, hate the whole 2 flat sheet thing. Marriott Courtyard, are you listening?!!

  24. This is a great blog! I worry about germs....but I don't let it affect me and I try not to watch TV. To me the number one problem is people walking around with TB and coughing everywhere. I thought it was extinct, but's its not. Take care and have a great start to the week!

  25. Very Good article, this article make some interesting points.

    hotel dir

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