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Handy Hotel Tips

When you enter your room prop the door open, turn on the lights, check the closets, bathroom, under the bed and behind the drapes. Mistakes do happen and sometimes someone else has been assigned to your room. This happens more frequently in suites with adjoining bedrooms that can be sold as separate rooms. Or there could be a thief. In any case, don't close the door until you are sure the room is empty.

Check that the connecting doors, windows and sliding doors are locked. In general, avoid first floor rooms with sliding doors.

Once you lock the door and attach the safety chain, check the diagram on the back to review the nearest exits and mentally plan your escape route. Look out the door to check that the exit signs are illuminated. If the lights are out, be helpful and contact the front desk to let them know. The few seconds that it takes to review the exit information can save your life in the event of a fire, earthquake or other emergency. Just do it. FYI, most fire engine ladders can only reach up to the 6th floor.

Be sure that the heat or air-conditioner, lights, phone, radio and television are working. Turn on the shower and sink to check the water pressure and temperature. If they aren't working, switch rooms now. It's not worth waiting for someone to fix the problem, especially late at night

Turn back the bed and lift up the pillows. Are the sheets clean and fresh? A colleague learned this lesson the hard way after waking up one morning with strange cornpads attached to her legs. After reading that sentence I bet you'll always check from now on, right?

Is the bathroom clean? Are the towels fresh? Is there soap? Is there toilet paper? You'll need them tomorrow morning so be sure they are there now.

Check the hair dryer, if they have one; or yours, if you brought one. Plug it in and turn it on. You don't want to be stuck with wet hair 15 minutes before a big presentation. If this does happen and you are driving (or cabbing) to your meeting -- roll the windows down and turn the fan up. Your hair may be tousled, but it least it won't drip on the client.

Check any other appliances that you use; iron, electric razor, etc.; to be sure they are working. If you are a true frequent traveler, you probably avoid clothes that need to be ironed or fussed over. Hang up whatever you need to be ready for the next morning. Except for linen, wrinkles are not fashionable.

Travel across time zones can disrupt anyone's internal body clock and cause jet lag. Set your wind-up or battery-operated alarm clock -- and be sure it is set to the correct local time. Use the wake-up call and hotel alarm as back-up since chintzy radio/alarm clocks are a staple of even 5-star hotels.

Before you fall asleep, place your wallet or purse, room key and glasses on the night table; put some shoes and a robe or other cover-up near the night table. In the unlikely event of an emergency, you'll need to get out of your room quickly. In case it is a false alarm, you'll want to get back to your room and get back to sleep. You'll need your key, or you'll spend a lot of time wandering around the lobby in your underwear waiting to get a new one. I also travel with a small plastic flashlight attached to my key chain. It has come in handy on several occasions.

No matter how exhausted you are, take the time to perform these checks. Even the best hotels have housekeeping errors and front desk mistakes. Business travel is stressful enough - take control of the things that can help you get a good night's sleep.

How to Prevent "Bad Luck" and a bad night...

Stay at the best hotel you or your company can afford.
Inexpensive lodging can often mean slow check-in, hard-to-find staff, dirty rooms, faulty plumbing and just about anything else you want to avoid. When an airplane is delayed, first-class passengers are stuck waiting along with the cheap seat guys in coach. With hotels, more money almost always means better service. And if they do make a mistake, it is easier to get it fixed when you are paying the big bucks.

Be rich and famous
Or at least the business traveler equivalent -- a top-tier frequent travel program member. You may not be Bill Gates or Cindy Crawford, but you'll be you'll be treated like a VIP if you have elite program status. Hotels really care about loyal business travelers -- they are a valuable commodity. Be sure that you have every stay tracked and posted. It means free nights and better perks.

Be loyal
You may change jobs and spouses with abandon, but be true to your chosen hotel in cities where you travel frequently. Get to know the staff. When disaster strikes, the familiar face usually gets the best treatment. Familiarity also means that you will know the best rooms to ask for. Write nice notes to the General Manager when you have received good treatment -- mention staff names. These letters are usually posted behind the front desk -- the place where you will be complaining the next time something goes wrong.

Pay with a credit card
Credit card companies can back you up if you didn't get what you paid for.

Late at night, after a stress-filled day of flights and business meetings, frequent flyers are vulnerable to the siren call of the minibar. These small in-room "refreshment centers" are designed to offer alcohol, sodas and snacks at exorbitant prices to tired guests. Even the most disciplined road warrior can find themselves sitting on a bed at 2 AM, watching infomercials, surrounded by empty bottles and bags of nuts and candy.

An even worse headache awaits at check out, when you find that "late night snack" cost over $ 50, and you suddenly remember your company doesn't reimburse minibar expenses. Minibars are a significant source of revenue and profit for hotels -- they want business travelers to indulge. According to one minibar supplier, minibars are " a temptation for the guest, presenting drinks and snacks in eye-catching and seductive fashion". Don't be seduced!

How to Avoid Minibar Melt Downs

Plan your meals and snacks while traveling. Always take a sandwich or snack on board your flight. You never know when you'll be delayed en route. If you are famished when you arrive at your hotel, you will attack the minibar.

When you check in and the front desk clerk helpfully provides the mini bar key, politely decline. If you can't open the minibar door, you won't run up a tab.

If you find that there is a lovely basket of fruit, cookies or candy in your room, do not assume it is free. Ask the bellman, call the front desk and look for a price list. If it's not complimentary, ask the bellman to remove it.

Open baskets filled with candy and treats are even more tempting than minibars. They remind travelers of hospitality at home and research shows that people are more likely to consume products when they are displayed in "the open". If it is too late and you are too tired -- put the basket in the top shelf of the closet and close the door.

When possible, stay on a concierge/executive floor with snack service. Those snacks and sodas are already included in the price of your room, and the added price (usually paid for by your company) is less than the average minibar rampage.

Order room service to avoid the minibar. Better food, slightly better prices, and you can most likely expense the cost.

Always keep an energy bar, or a similar snack that is crush proof, in your briefcase. Be sure it is something that won't melt on your papers. This also comes in handy when the runway delay on your "quick flight" lasts for hours.

If you always eat M&M's from the minibar - then buy them in the newstand before you get to your room. Don't assume you will suddenly develop willpower over chocolate.

More Tips

Don't try to cheat by filling empty "nip" bottles or buying replacement inventory. If you consumed it, pay for it. The new inventory tracking systems are very detailed.

If you are traveling with children, explain the concept of a minibar to them. Children think of all snack items as "free". 

Try stretching exercises or a quick shower when you arrive late at night. Sometimes that is all a frequent flier needs to shake off the stress of the day.

If you do have a minibar meltdown, don't be too critical. Travel is stressful, and sometimes that bag of nuts does help.

Janna's Cruise And Travel
4410 N. Midkiff, Suite D206 at The Courtyard
Midland, TX 79705

Phone:  432-689-2758
Toll Free:  866-689-2787

Copyright 2005 Janna's Cruise And Travel all rights reserved. 
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