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Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Pet Peeves

My recent trip to Chicago has reminded me of more pet peeves. Mind you, said peeves are not about Chicago, which is one of the most fabulous cities in the world (despite what the IOC thinks). Instead, visits to three different hotels left me with a brand new pile o’ peeves (see 8/28 post for previous peeves).

Peeve #1: No coffeemaker in the room. Staying at The Hotel Allegro (a Kimpton hotel), I was chagrined to find no coffee-making device was available in the room. My choices: Stay put in my comfy zebra-striped robe (kudos on that, Kimpton) and order an $8 cup of joe from room service, or get dressed and go to the lobby and pay $4 for a large dose of caffeine. As Colbert would say, a wag of the finger to the Allegro. Why, even the Ritz-Carlton brand, a long-time holdout, finally gave in to consumer demand and now provides in-room coffee makers. To be fair to the Allegro, though, I will give the Colbert tip of the hat to the fact that outlets are everywhere. If you want to plug in an iron or your computer (to access the free Wi-Fi available to frequent guest members), outlets are plentiful and conveniently placed.

Peeve #2: Luxury hotels charging for Wi-Fi. I know, no one uses the room telephone anymore, so that profit center is out the window. But when I’m paying $300 a night for a room, throw in the Wi-Fi for free…really. In Chicago, the high-end Trump throws it in for free, while the high-end Swissotel doesn’t (although you can’t beat the Toblerone at turndown at the latter). At the very least, chain hotels should do what Kimpton does--throw in free Wi-Fi for frequent guest program members. It’s a win-win move--Kimpton gets more people to join its program (for free) and members get an immediate money-saving benefit.

Peeve #3: Magical mini-bars. During a tour of theWit Doubletree in downtown Chicago, there were two things I wasn’t amused by--the charge for in-room Wi-Fi (which escalates depending upon the bandwidth you choose), and the automated mini-bar that charges your bill the moment you move an item…even if you do not consume it and later put it back in its rightful place. These mechanized mini-bars chill those of us who prefer to purchase the 75¢ Coke from the 7-11 and chill it in the spot of the $4 hotel version. (As I figure hotels may mysteriously mark their sodas--even though I have no proof--I drink the 7-11 Coke, instead of using it to replace the mini-bar Coke). Yes, you can argue with the front desk clerk about the charge and get a refund, but how many of us don’t even look at the bill when rushing off to the airport?

Now, lest you think I am Wendy Whiner, I do want to offer a tip of the hat to the rooms manager at The Hotel Allegro. After filling out an on-line survey about my stay, which outlined the complaints above, said manager actually called me to discuss my concerns. I'm not sure if said call was due to my status as a travel journalist, but I did stay at the Allegro incognito. At any rate, he did clarify a couple of things. He said that while most Kimptons do not have in-room coffeemakers, most do not charge for morning coffee in the lobby. Secondly, he apologized about the lack of acknowledgment of my frequent guest status upon check-in, and went on to report that the chain tracks the stay of each Kimpton InTouch member in order to "customize" his or her next stay. To which I asked, somewhat rhetorically, does this mean I will have a coffeemaker in my room the next time I stay at a Kimpton? I didn't get an answer.

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