A friend of mine sent me a link to an article about outrageous hotel amenities a while back and the concept has been bouncing around in my head ever since. It’s made me wonder when it was that hotels quit being simply a comfortable place to show up, sign in, get a good night’s sleep and move along the next morning. It’s also made me wonder how much we’ve come to expect, even demand, from a hotel during a business stay (and that the company we work for pay for) that each of us would have considered to be pretty outrageous even just 15 or 20 years ago.
I probably just lost half of the younger readers with my reference to “15 or 20 years” but let’s look at what we’ve come to normally expect from a hotel during a stay:
- Wifi access to the internet, an inconceivable concept not so long ago. And it better be ‘free.’ (Of course they charge for it, they just don’t itemize it on your bill anymore.)
- And free cable. And free premium cable. And movies on demand.
- Complimentary breakfast.
- Polite, diligent, extremely knowledgeable concierge service.
- Dry cleaning and shoe shine service.
- Free newspaper.
- Complimentary transportation within the area and on demand.
- In-room safe, and if it doesn’t hold a laptop, I scoff.
- In-room coffee maker, although to be honest that one’s been around for quite a while.
- Not just a pool but preferably a cabana of some type, towel service, music on the deck.
- Ironing board. An iron.
- A refrigerator.
- The cursed mini bar from which these days you can now purchase a single 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola for the princely sum of $5.00.
- A 24-hour business center with wifi and fully functioning printers.
- Complimentary happy hour, although similar to room service this one seems to have largely gone by the wayside at many places.
- A gym. A really nice spotless gym with the latest equipment maintained in perfect working order . . . and a different wide-screen LCD (tuned to cable, of course) and remote control for almost every guest exercising! This one still blows my mind.
- And there better be a Starbucks® in the lobby.
Okay, so that’s the new minimum. Granted, many of those things make our stay at a hotel much more survivable (if it’s a long trip) and even highly enjoyable. But I remember staying in hotels while traveling with my parents back in the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s whereupon after registering for the night, one received exactly this: a metal key to a room that had a bed, a couple of chairs, maybe a small table, a mirror and hot and cold running water. And yes, a television. Arrive, watch a little TV, go to bed, move along the next morning.
- Bath butler to draw your bath and customize your experience.
- An ESQ Movado watch (for the planner) for each group booked.
- Sunglasses cleaned daily poolside or beachside (yes, the guy comes by with his cleaning kit and does it all right there for you).
- Fresh fruit replenished daily in room.
- Twice-daily maid service + additional turndown service (room attendants come to your room three times a day).
- On-call butler to pack/unpack, refill ice bucket, draw your bath, etc.
- iPads available from the concierge for personal or business use during stay.
- Daily copy of your “hometown” newspaper.
- DVD players and iPod and chargers as a standard in-room amenities.
So how much do you really need when you stay in a hotel? I’m a bit of a minimalist overall but here’s what I expect: a modern, efficiently run, spotless, well maintained, secure and conveniently located property with comfortable rooms and a staff that actually makes me smile. Although I have to admit, as a chocoholic the idea of a chocolate parlor makes me daydream a little.
What’s your hotel must-have and why? And what’s the next entirely expected service or option that will become as standard as the bed in your room?
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