Monday, March 3, 2008

Bad hotels

I was looking into Tripadvisor customer reviews at two places: Timberline Lodge in Oregon and Canaan Valley Resort in West Viriginia. Both places are different but they seem to offer great views (Oregon) or activities (Canaan Valley). Both had very mixed (tending toward the negative) reviews on the quality of accomodations (given the price).

I've noticed that the signal to noise ratio from:
1. web site pictures
2. brand names (e.g. Hilton, Marriott, etc.)
are very low. I don't know when the pictures are taken. I don't know if the hotel will no longer be a brand name in the next few months because it is not up to standard.

So I've relied on Tripadvisor and Yahoo ratings which when the results are mixed leave me with a very quesy feeling as on our trips to Penang (2005) where we stayed at the Gurney Hotel and Kuala Lumpur (2007) where we stayed at the Lanson. The Gurney billed it self as a 5 star hotel but by Best Western standards it was below Best Western. Although service was good and the people were friendly, the carpet was threadbare, the furniture felt cheap, the couch was stained, and the sheets had holes in them. The toilet kept overflowing even though they came every other day to fix it. The Lanson turned out to be a pleasant experience although it was a little far from KLCC.

In general, hotels seem to lack any desire to upgrade their facilities until they "have to". When is this "have to" point - when marginal costs of not renovating exceed marginal benefits. They have to close e.g. Boca Raton Resort and Club ("The Boca Raton Resort and Club is excited to announce a complete renovation of our Boca Beach Club, including the arrival, lobby, guestrooms, restaurants & bars, fitness center, children’s activity center, and pools. A stunning new Pool Oasis will feature three redesigned swimming pools, an oceanfront bar, additional beach access, upgraded cabanas plus sunning terraces, lounging platforms & lush landscape. The new Pool Oasis is scheduled to reopen April 1, 2008; hotel rooms, lobby, and the interiors are scheduled to reopen in 2009." accessed 3/10/2008) and what do they do with their employees at this time?

The marginal benefits for some hotels are exceptionally high for a lot of these places mainly because of their location and hence, their monopoly power i.e. they are located on an island, or the view of the Grand Canyon for instance, , the view of Red Rocks in Sedona, the Cascades from Timberline Lodge and in Canaan Valley the draw are the facilities (such as skiing) make it more likely that people will tolerate bad accomodations (for a high price).

Unfortunately, for people like me who prefer both nice accomodations and views/facilities these places turn me off.