Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Even As Your Cash Flows, Luxury Hotel's Shower Might Not

By Mike Grasso

Travelers accustomed to being pampered at four and five star properties are familiar with the luxurious amenities and impeccable customer service often absent from two or three star hotels. But too many high-tech and high-cost ammenities are bound to leave some guests a little unhappy.

This past Sunday in the SF Chronicle, Executive editor John Flinn wrote about how the higher end hotels often confuse needless complexity with sophistication. In his article, "Even as your cash flows, luxury hotel's shower might not," He uses several in-room examples such as lighting and the shower head to explain how overengineered room technology can lead to an irritating and tiresome experience for the guest. He concludes the article by describing the back-to-the-basics, uncomplicated amenities budget hotels offer, such as free Internet and free local calls, as a sort of reality check for the big name hotels.

I personally believe that while luxury hotels are constantly finding ways to improve the guest experience, they risk alienating a segment of the population with the means to choose between budget and luxury hotels. The race to offer the latest and greatest in technological advancements, and their associated cost to the hotel, means elaborate restaurants - but no free breakfast, WiFi throughout the property, for a steep fee, and, my personal favorite, sensored "honor bars" where as soon as you remove a beverage from the small in-room refrigerator, you are automatically charged - regardless if you put the drink back.

So while the four and five star hotels overall offer a wonderful experience to guests, sometimes the quest to deliver that perfect experience can go a little overboard. Adding steep price tags to advanced and sometimes complicated technology are bound to turn away some guests who seek a property offering good amenities at fair prices. Even luxury travelers don't want to be ripped off.