Sunday, October 18, 2009

Travel with the "Other Half"

I am scheduled to log some serious air miles over the next few weeks for several different occasions. There are a few business trips and a few family trips that are all happening in rapid succession. I have a page of itineraries pinned to my wall. It is easy to tell which ones are business and which ones are pleasure. The accommodations are MUCH pricier for the business trips. I am treated to some pretty nice places, with some ridiculous prices, for business reasons. I get a glimpse of how the "other half" lives and it has me wondering about their priorities. I am also fascinated by customer service and what companies will/won't do to keep your loyalty.

I just returned from a trip to International Quilt Market that required a flight to Houston with a stop over each way in Memphis. It seems that no matter where you fly, you have to stop over somewhere. I had never been to Memphis, and all I can tell you about the trip from Concourse A to Concourse C is that the entire place smells like barbecue. Not a bad first impression. I like barbecue and now I have a favorable impression of Memphis.

In Houston we stay at the famed Four Season Hotel. Amazing service, wonderful beds, fluffy white bathrobes and the absolute best lemon verbena bath products. For the discounted rate of $160 per night you get turn down service and free coffee in the lobby, but no Internet connection. If you want to check your email you have to cough up an additional $12.95 per day. When I questioned having to pay for a simple Internet connection that is FREE at Starbucks around the corner the impeccably dressed concierge person informed me that the $12.95 included a complete 24 hour time period. Well, geez, he had a point, a whole 24 hours of Internet availability for just over .50 cents an hour is a bargain. Especially compared to the $6 glass of juice and $18 eggs I had just consumed for breakfast. When another person in our party mentioned that she hated seeing herself in the intense magnifying mirror first thing in the morning, the hotel staff offered to remove it from her room. Dismantle part of the bathroom, no problem. Allow you to check your email for free, no way.

Next weekend I am flying to Florida for parents weekend at UNF. That will require a stop over in Atlanta. Years ago they sold a t-shirt in the Atlanta airport that read "When I die and go to heaven, I will probably have to change planes in Atlanta". All I know is that it doesn't matter if you are headed north or south, if you are leaving out of Pittsburgh you will have to stop somewhere along the way.
Having booked my own accommodations, I am staying at a mid level hotel near campus and I am paying the "parent" rate of $49 per night. For that I paltry sum I am entitled to a deluxe room with in room coffee maker, frig, free Internet and a complimentary breakfast. The sheets will be clean, the room will be comfortable. I know this because I have stayed in this chain frequently and after this stay I will be entitled to a free night. That savings is important because as we all know, Parents weekend really means, take me shopping, take me out to eat and don't forget your credit card.

The first week of November I have to travel to New York City. My travel arrangements have been made for me and I will be staying at a very trendy boutique hotel in Tribecca. I am sure that it will be a nice place. The room will be tastefully appointed and the bath will be filled with spa products that will impress my daughters. My hotel will also be more hip than I am.

Checking their website, you will never believe what special, unique amenity they offer. Go ahead, try to guess.....
complimentary cocktail? nope.
heated towels? nope.

Goldfish. According to the website I can request that a goldfish be delivered to my room.

Can someone explain why? Was there some boardroom or think tank meeting where some hotel expert decided that to maximize profits in this day of demanding customers, goldfish are the answers? If you are away from home and lonely, is a fish really going to make you feel that much better? After an early morning flight and working all day I usually try to squeeze in a bit of shopping and grab some weird take-out and head for my room to enjoy the luxury of having the bed and remote all to myself for the evening.

You know what they say, "You can take the girl out of the Holiday Inn, but you can't take the Holiday Inn out of the girl".


Sweet P said...

I can't explain the goldfish, but I can explain the Internet fee. Hotels like the Four Seasons, Marriotts and Hiltons, especially when they are in downtown market, are generally business hotels. Most of their clientele are business people who are traveling on expense accounts. Therefore they (the guests) are on expense accounts. It isn't fair, but it is what it is. Although those hotels can be great places to stay, those fees are annoying for the everyday traveler.

Debbie at QP said...

Hmmm, you got a room rate of $160? My rate for my last night was $190! When I questioned the impeccably dressed woman checking me out, she explained that WAS the market rate. She said Lisa D was paying for it and she had her card but I somehow figured Lisa would not appreciate me charging my room to her expense account! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I didn hear you mention Thanksgiving plans. (two trips to Fl in one month???) The condo at the "Mayer-iott" is available. No internet connection though....for that you will have to travel the 12 minutes to the "house".