Nobody Asked Me, But Amenity Creep in Hoteling Has Become A Rush
1. In March 2005, the Cornell Quarterly surveyed its subscribers. In one survey question, almost 60 percent of the respondents said that articles in the CQ over the past year were "a little" (47.4 percent ) or "far" (12.4 percent) too academically oriented. In response to this clear cut criticism, Gary M. Thompson, Executive Director wrote in the August 2005 Cornell Quarterly:
"If the CQ tilts a bit toward the academic that is intentional, even though its articles are meant to be useful for practitioners as well as researchers. That said, I invite CQ readers who would like to read articles that are tilted toward practitioners to check out the CHR Reports series and other material posted by the Center for Hospitality Research."
In other words, don't bother us with your viewpoint about the Cornell Quarterly. It will continue to be too academically oriented no matter what its readers want.
2. For New Yorkers, here is some arcane hotel history: Guess what preceded the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art (designed by Edward Durrell Stone) at 2 Columbus Circle? In 1874, John D. Voorhis, a carriage maker, built the seven-story Grand Circle Hotel designed by architect William H. Cauvet. The New York Times in 1875 said it was the "most healthy location in New York City" (perhaps because it was opposite Central Park). In 1960, it was demolished for the Hartford Museum which is now being reconstructed as the Museum of Arts and Design.
3. The latest renovation of the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City will recreate something that was removed in a long-ago renovation: the stained glass ceiling that originally covered the Palm Court in 1907.
4. Was there ever a more worthy recipient of the Hotel's Independent Hotelier of the World than Roberto Wirth, fifth generation owner and operator of the Hotel Hassler in Rome? Wirth was born profoundly deaf. After attending Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. a well-known university for the hearing impaired. He later transferred to the Rochester Institute of Technology which has an engineering program for the hearing impaired. Subsequently, he earned a bachelor's degree from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in 1975.
After nine years in the United States working for Holiday Inn, Hilton, Sheraton and Hyatt hotels, he returned to the Hassler Hotel as executive assistant manager. In 1998, Wirth was appointed president and general manager of the newly-established Hassler Roma, managing company of the Hassler, of which he is the sole owner. Wirth's friend Michel Ray, managing director or the landmark Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, perhaps sums it up best: "In spite of the fact that nature has handicapped him quite a bit, he has such charisma. He has an incredible impact on people at once. It is amazing to see how Roberto always manages that - by his friendliness, his warmth as a human being. It is easily perceptible even the first time you meet him."
5. What we used to call "amenity creep" has become "amenity rush". According to a recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, hotel guests are now greeted by increased choices for checkout methods to higher quality bath amenities to in-room exercise equipment and the following amenities:
- Iron and ironing boards in limited service hotels
- Wireless high-speed internet access (at no charge in limited service hotels and as much as $12.95 per day at full service hotels)
- Flat screen televisions
- Choice of bedding or duvets
- Top sheets
- High quality sound systems for radios and CD players
- Easy-to-use alarm clock/radios
- In-room treadmills, exercise bicycles, stair climbers
- Triple draping window treatments
- Cordless telephones
- Enhanced lighting in guest rooms and bathrooms
In most hotel franchise companies, these amenity changes are mandated from the home office and imposed on the franchisees without recourse. Guess who pays for them? Was there ever a better argument for a strong franchise advisory committee to provide on-site opinions about the need for these proposed amenity upgrades?
6. Here are three wonderful books which portray hotels that pass the Turkel blindfold test with flying colors:
- Hotel Paradise: A Photographic Journey to the World's Most Exotic Resort Hotels by Kazuyoshi Miyoshi; Cadence Books P.O. Box 77010, San Francisco, CA 94107
- HIP Hotels: City by Herbert Ypma; Thames & Hudson, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110
- New Hotels For Global Nomads by Donald Albrecht; Merrell Publishers Limited, 42 Southwark Street, London SE1 1UN in association with the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2 East 91st Street, New York, N.Y. 10128 Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, is a New York-based hotel consultant specializing in hotel franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services.
He is a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and can be reached at email@example.com and 917-628-8549.
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Roberto Wirth isn't the only deaf man working in hospitality. The hotel receptionist that I asked to give me a wake up call last week must have been deaf too.