Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Punitive Luxury at the Marriott Marquis

I just got back from an overnight work trip to NYC, where I was booked into the Marriott Marquis at Times Square. I disliked this experience, in oh so many ways.

How about this example of a nasty use of technology? Here's a $7 bottle of Fiji water that's on a weight-sensitive stand, the kind you see in heist movies where Tom Cruise is rapelling in to help himself to something way more fun than water.

The note on this bottle says, "Your account will be charged when this bottle is off the stand for more than 30 seconds." There was dust on the stand, because even the maids are afraid to disturb this gem. [Updated to add: a friend tells me her father stayed in another Marriott in a large American city and ran into the same thing. As he was going into his room, a cleaning woman in the hall warned him, "Don't move the water, don't move the water!!"]

Note that this was a room I was paying $400 for a night. I don't know what I got for it, to be honest. The sink wouldn't drain. And they also wanted me to pay $4.99 for their "tv-on-demand" DVR episodes of "Medium." (My first response, oh so naive, was "Wow, this hotel has DVRs in their rooms, awesome! I guess it's about time since we've all got them at home!" Then I saw the price for everything on it. Give me a break. Where's that warm fuzzy -- oh yeah, this isn't a brand experience, it's a technology scam.)

I didn't bother to try the Internet. They had more neat technology where their elevator collection resided. So many floors and so many attractions in this hotel, that they had a special scheduling routine in place: you enter your floor number, and it tells you which elevator to go wait beside. Despite this clever system of crowd management, their elevators were so busy that staff were escorting the more upset customers (incl. me) to the freight elevators for more realistic timing on their people-mover service. freight elevator with big bag When I got home, I came up with a few "nice" and possibly more interesting uses for their weight sensitive technology, instead of threatening their fleeced guests.

I know a lot of architects who love good hotel design -- but let me say, it's not just about architecture, it's about all the amenities and experience, including how they use their in-room technology. I'm still outraged!

6 comments :

Ned Gulley said...

What a creepy concept: time bomb water. I would be tense just sitting in the same room with something like that.

It would be fun to brainstorm some other anxiety-provoking luxuries. How about a plush hotel robe that charges you automatically if you wear it for more than 20 minutes a day? Maybe a bathroom floor that weighs you whenever you enter, announces your weight, and observes that you must have eaten a lot at dinner? Or maybe a bedtime chocolate with a little note that reads "if you don't eat this, we'll donate to a world hunger fund"?

Greg Raiz said...

The dust near the bottle of water was left over from the last time Indiana Jones stayed there.

The whole water thing is getting stupid. Tap water is better for you and better for the environment.

steve said...

Some places capitalize on this. The Peninsula stays away from the nickel and dime approach and just gives you a very high bill. A very high end spendy chain.

Lynn said...

..More: as you walk in late at night, the mini-bar pops open, to tempt you with a post-dinner drink. Or the TV switches to the adult PPV order channel, and a soft firelight simulation pops up on the far wall. If there's only one set of guest footsteps in the room, the TV displays a message suggesting private in-room massage can be ordered with complete anonymity.

Depending on the weight of your bag , compared to the length of your planned stay, special offers for shopping are provided -- light travelers get the Bannana Republic and LL Bean type offers for frequent travelers, and heavy packers for short stays get the boutique circuit offers. People who plug in a lot of electronics get the gadget and business travel offers.

Anyway -- much more interesting uses of a silly technology. Thanks for all the comments of shared outrage.

Scott Berkun said...

Was at the fancy Hotel Nikko in San Francisco last week, and they had an entire fridge springloaded with $4 pringles, $3 candy bars and $9 cocktails. I was afraid to go in there - one wrong move and I'd owe more than the cost of the room.

jfb said...

Super 8 has wi-fi. I'm all set.