Why large hotels are just no longer worth the money for me

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I’m staying in the Sheraton Premier for the next four days attending training from my company and I find it absolutely mind boggling that the Sheraton Premier charges $9.95 per day for internet access. Ten dollars for internet access, that’s quite a racket! Of course, most business hotel guests will be expensing this additional $10 to their company but I find it strange that the Sheraton, and many other hotels, don’t just roll the price into the cost of the room, which is likely to be high anyway, and just offer it as a complimentary service. I’ve stayed at dive hotels that have offered free wireless access because it’s a bit of a fake perk.

Image: themostperfectview.com

If a hotel doesn’t offer free wired or wireless access in the rooms, at the very least offer a terminal or two in the lobby or business centre so people can just pop in and check their email (insecurely I might add) and not pop them for a few extra bucks. I found the business centre here at the Sheraton and it’s an astonishing $2.49 connection charge plus 59 cents a minute!

But it’s not just the Sheraton Premier making money grabbing moves

When you stay at a Marriott hotel this summer you’ll be asked to pay for more than just your room.

The giant hotel chain wants you to start tipping its maids

Tip envelopes have been placed in 160,000 of its 700,000 guest rooms at Marriott, JW Marriott, Courtyard, Renaissance, Fairfield, TownePlace Suites and Springhill Suites hotels.

It wasn’t actually the company’s idea. Marriott was asked to do this by Maria Shriver of all people as a way to fight poverty among women.

Wow. What a breathtakingly dumb idea.

I’m not against tipping, though I am intrigued by restaurants that are ditching the practice and paying their employees a reasonable wage.

I’m not even against tipping maids. I’ve stayed in plenty of mom and pop motels at the Jersey Shore that have tip envelopes in their rooms, and I’m OK with that.

But Marriott International’s high-end hotels routinely charge hundreds of dollars a night and turn a generous profit for their owners.

In 2017, the company had a net income of $626 million, up from $571 million in 2016.

Arne Sorenson, the CEO of Marriott, made $12.3 million in total compensation in 2016, up from 12% from the year before.

Now he’s going to tell me that it’s my responsibility to make sure the workers at his hotels make a living wage?

This isn’t female empowerment. It’s entrenching female poverty because it gives companies like Marriott an excuse to keep paying a mostly female workforce pathetically little.

Just like when employers cut pensions or slash benefits, this is another example of an employer — an employer whose CEO makes an obnoxious salary — shirking the responsibility of paying its employees a fair salary.

This shirking of responsibility to workers is in large part why websites such as Simple Payday are flourishing, as low-income earners utilise loans towards the end of the month, and purely out of subsidence are forced to borrow money.

I’m planning a trip to Florida for February and starting to look at my hotel options. I’m nixing Marriott brands from the list.

I’m not going to support this kind of effort to foist a company’s responsibility to its employees onto me. That’s not fair to me, or to the maid. It’s just another version of corporate robbery.

Choosing smaller bed and breakfasts over a hotel

During a previous trip to Hawaii, we spent two and a half weeks on the island, we stayed at a timeshare, two bed & breakfasts, and a resort hotel. We did it in that order because, as more avid hikers than beach loungers, we figured we’d tire ourselves out in the first ten days and then lounge around at a Marriott for the last five. The two bed and breakfasts we stayed at were on the Big Island, the Shipman House in Hilo and then the Hale Maluhia Country Inn in Kailua-Kona.

Bed & Breakfasts often have better rates, significantly more personal service, but their variance in quality is much greater. If better rates and more personal service appeal to you, the variance in quality might be the only sticking point in the whole deal. The appeal of a major brand, whether it’s a Marriott or a Hilton, is that you expect consistency regardless of location. A Marriott in one city should give the same level of service as a Marriott in another. There might be small differences but the quality should be above a certain level. You also know that if you don’t get the quality you feel you’ve paid for, there’s a big megacorporation you can complain to. With a bed and breakfast, you’re often dealing with the owner-operator and the best they can do is say they’re sorry and refund you some of the money.

With many bed and breakfasts, you’re essentially renting a room in someone’s house, albeit a much nicer and probably more organized house. With the Shipman House and the Hale Maluhia, we really saw both ends of the spectrum when it comes to bed and breakfasts. The Shipman House was this elegant and refined Victorian building that had so much history and culture to explore. The Hale Maluhia was far more rustic and less refined but certainly had a “tree-house” type atmosphere that we also enjoyed. Both places served breakfast with a beautiful selection of locally grown fruits and incredible Kona coffee. The next time we go back we would certainly stay at the Shipman House (Hale Maluhia was okay too, but we probably wouldn’t go back, especially if the owner is trying to sell it).

Local Flavour & Personal Service

Bed and Breakfasts aren’t always cheaper but you can always depend on a more personal level of service and a better sense of local life. I like nice hotels as much as the next person, but you always pay a premium (even if it’s a discounted premium) and you always get a ‘sanitized’ version. If that’s your preference, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if you want a better taste of local living, you can’t go wrong with a bread and breakfast. At the Shipman House, the proprietor was so kind to us and told us where all the good places were.

Variance

As mentioned earlier with the variance between the Hale Maluhia and the Shipman House, it’s difficult to know if you’re going to get a good place, a great place, or a so-so place. I would categorize Hale Maluhia as a so-so place and the Shipman House as a great place (but you do pay a premium), but it’s hard to tell from the online reviews and testimonials. My advice is to read a lot and try to find as many pictures as you can, pictures can lie but they’re better than nothing.

So, before you just book a room at the Marriott, consider a bed and breakfast; you might be pleasantly surprised!