Saturday, June 28, 2008

What Makes A 4 Star Hotel?

My recent trip took me to a 4 star hotel, the Westin, in Chicago. Thanks to Priceline and William Shatner, I was able to stay here for about the price of a 2 star hotel. I am often amused at the little touches that the hotel uses to distinguish themselves, catering to their expected clientele.

For instance, the shower. I have seen hotels tout the quality of their showers, and, specifically, their showerheads. Some actually offer them for sale. The water pressure, the rainfall, the "oxygenation"...the list goes on and on. Imagine my amusement at what greeted me at the Westin:
Yup, if one is good, two must be better, right? Truth to be told, it was a good shower, but the sheer audacity of it practically brought me to hilarity.

But the coup de grace was the in-room coffeemaker. Yes, you know this one. You wake up, want a cup, and stumble over to the scaled-down, no frills Mr. Coffee lookalike to pop in a pod of Maxwell House that is inevitably too cold or too bitter. But a 4 star like the Westin? Oh, no...
Note the details here. First, the coffeemaker is shaped and chromed like an expensive espresso dispenser. Second, no piddly Folgers here: we're talking top-shelf Starbucks. Finally, the cups: no poor porcelain cousins to be found, only a perfect facsimile of the classic white Starbucks cup...complete with paper sleeve to insulate your hands from the normally hot temperatures. Ideal for the business traveler who heads to the elevator without the embarrassment of actually showing they are drinking from that in-room poor excuse of a caffeine dispenser.

The Westin knows their clientele, and clearly went for broke. Of course, the following morning in my La Quinta cinderblock cell, as I sipped from the Maxwell House pot of lukewarm joe, I was yearning for my Starbucks....but wasn't that the point? ;-)


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