Aren’t those cute little shampoo bottles that you find in hotel rooms cute? They’re also handy. You can use them for future trips because they’re very packable. You can also stock your own guest bathroom at home with them. Also, depending on the hotel, the toiletries themselves can be quite luscious and you just might want to continue using it at home.
Whatever your motivation, lots of those little bottles go home with hotel guests in their suitcases.
Is that okay? Is it okay to take home certain items from hotel rooms?
I recently posed that question on our Facebook page. The general consensus was that it is okay to take anything that isn’t reusable. Toiletries, for instance were generally mentioned as acceptable to take.
To make things interesting I also posed the same question to our hotelier partners. Every single one of them also said it was okay to take the branded toiletries.
Then there are also things that is it generally agreed that it is NOT okay to take. Towels, robes, pillows would all be included in the “hands off” list. Beach towels are commonly taken from resorts. I believe the people who take them know that they are stealing though, right?
So there are things that are clearly okay to take, and things that aren’t. Not everything, though, is as clear cut.
Take for instance a bottle of wine or champagne left for you in your room. Should you take that? What about the stuff in the (free if you’re at an all inclusive) mini bar?
Or what about what happened to me on a recent trip? The hotel was really going above and beyond for us. They had embroidered washcloths with our names on them. Clearly we were supposed to take those.
The last morning we were there I went running, then took a quick shower and put on the robe in the closet to go to a sky massage on the beach. When I got back to the room I threw the robe on the floor as I rushed around to get dressed and pack so we could leave.
I noticed my name on the floor. I assumed it was the embroidered washcloth so I went to pick it up. Turns out, they had also embroidered our names on the wonderful robes.
I was very puzzled. A robe is a big expensive thing. You just don’t take a robe from a hotel room. But, they had our names on them. So, I asked our butler what I was supposed to do. He assured me that I was to take them home, which is wear they are hanging today.
So, I would say the general rules are:
- It’s okay to take the toiletries.
- It’s okay to take things that are clearly given to you as a gift.
- Leave everything else there.
What are your thoughts?
In planning your vacation and making all of the decisions about where you’ll go, what you’ll do and where you’ll stay, it’s important to know what’s important to you. As odd as that may sound (who else would know what is important to you?), people make decisions all the time that aren’t congruent with what they really value on vacation.
For instance, are you a beach person or a pool person? Is a really nice room important to you or are you a “I’m just in the room when I’m asleep” person. How important is food to you? What about kids activities? If you have toddlers, does the resort your looking at have a program that doesn’t start until the child is four years old?
Pay special attention to past vacations and what you wish had been different.
Knowing yourself and what is important to you on vacation will save you money and give you more of what you like.
In case you hadn’t noticed, life isn’t perfect. Throw travel into the mix and you really have a potential for some interesting situations. Take for instance, today. I’m writing this post aboard an American Airlines Super 80 bound for Portland, Oregon. I am headed up to visit my nieces for the weekend. My flight was to have left at 9:30am this morning. By 12:30pm. two broken airplanes and two gate changes (one of which was a terminal change) later we were finally ready for take-off.
Things happen. Weather, mechanical delays, oversold flights, illness, resort renovations, and a million other things can happen along the way. If you fall apart at the first sign of a problem, your vacation is almost certain to be ruined.
Also, the crazy things that happen during your trip are the things that you’ll talk about 20 years from now. Just go with it.
I wrote this article for Plaid for Women. (You may notice a decidedly female slant.) I’ll be contributing articles there once a month.
1) Because you need a break.
Life can be grueling. I’m facing what I know will be a tough week this week. We have too many people out for this busy time of year. Even though it will be long days at work, my family will still insist on being fed, they will still create laundry, the grass will still grow and dust will still settle all over objects in my home.
I know you know what I’m talking about. Each week is a marathon and some weeks it seems like the finish line is moving further away no matter how hard you run.
A couple of years ago the term “staycation” became popular. I hate that term. We women don’t get a break if we stay home. We feel compelled to just do one load of laundry. We load and run the dishwasher. We do “just one more thing”.
You need a real break and travel is the way that happens.
2) Because you need an incentive.
People who are in the business of rewarding people will tell you that travel is the great motivator.
Do you remember what it felt like during the week before you left for you last vacation? Yes, the laundry still needs to be done (more, in fact, because you have to pack), yes your family needs to be fed and yes work can be unrelenting. But, it’s all okay..because vacation is coming.
Zig Ziglar talks about the “Day Before Vacation Mentality”. On the day before vacation your objective is clear. You know what you need to accomplish. You organize your tasks and you don’t procrastinate. You are superwoman. You tie up loose ends and move through your tasks with a singular focus. It is a documented fact that most people accomplish more on the day before vacation than any other day.
Travel can also be a great incentive to accomplish longer term goals in your life. Need to lose 20 pounds? Promise yourself a trip as an incentive. What else do you need an incentive to accomplish?
3) Because you need to broaden your horizons.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that everyone lives like we do. Even if intellectually we understand that people live differently than our American suburban selves, real understanding comes when we see other cultures first hand.
4) Because you need to reinforce the important relationships in your life.
I love Facebook. I love that I can maintain contact with people close to me. Nothing, however, is as good as actual face time. No, I don’t mean Facetime on your iPhone. I mean actual humans in the same room, eating together, unstructured time, face time.
I recently took a trip to Alaska to see two dear friends from my teenage years in Alaska. Even though I hadn’t seen them in 25 years, we all just fell right back in step as though no time had passed at all.
Even people you live with every day of your life can get lost in the shuffle of busy-ness. Mark out some time, and go be together.
5) Because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
I talk to people all the time that are working hard so they can get to the point in their lives where they can travel. How many times have you heard of someone who worked their whole life, only to die not long after retiring? You don’t know what the future holds. My own mother died of Pancreatic Cancer right before my dad was supposed to retire.
Seize the day! Travel sooner than later.
What about you? Is travel a priority for you? Why or why not?
I love technology. I know that, like anything else, there can be a dark side to it especially if you allow yourself to be used by it instead of using it as a tool. I absolutely love my iPhone and can’t imagine functioning without it at home, much less traveling the world. I took a look at the apps on my phone to identify which ones make traveling easier. Here they are:
First of all, just having the phone makes my life easier. Being able to be reached no matter where I am is a tremendous comfort to me. I still have kids at home. I also have a business where people who are very precious to me work really hard and sometimes need me. I want to be available. You may not want to be available. To each his / her own.
Having Internet access on my phone is very helpful to me on a trip. I even stay up on my email as much as possible. Again, your mileage my vary on this. I’d rather not be under a mountain of emails from people who are now mad because they’ve been waiting for me. I’m always very careful, if I’m traveling out of the country, to make sure that I’ll have easy Internet access. I call A T & T and add international data to my account. I’m no idiot. I don’t turn on data roaming unless I’ve pre-purchased the international data.
Memo: You know, just the normal memo app that comes on your phone. I don’t know about you, but I have some great ideas when I’m traveling. Maybe it’s because I’m in the travel business but I suspect that everyone has better ideas when out of a normal routine. Be sure to record them because I promise you won’t remember them when you get back and have 5000 emails.
Skype: My office operates on Skype. I also have friends with whom that is our primary form of communication. I enjoy having access to Skype wherever I am.
Google Maps: I don’t process verbal directions. I have to see it. How great to be able to navigate anywhere via this piece of technology in my pocket.
Bible App: There are several out there, pick your favorite. Mine is “YouVersion”. I love having Holy Scripture on my smart phone because it’s lighter and smaller than a printed Bible. Especially 20 different translations of a printed Bible.
Kindle: See above with regard to weight and space of printed books. Also, when I’ve read all of the “books” I have with me, I can easily get more. (I read alot on vacation.)
Yelp / Urbanspoon: If I’m traveling somewhere where the subject of “Where should we go to eat” comes up, these apps can save the day.
AA (or the app of your chosen airline): Checking in online, checking flight status, setting a parking reminder, all very useful.
Whatsapp: This is an app that allows you to text message other users without using the cellular network. It works via Internet access. So, when I was on the river cruise (with wifi) in France last fall I was able to text message with my husband when life hit the fan as it always does when I leave. I also have friends and business contacts all over the world on my whatsapp so I can text them in my daily life without incurring international texting charges for either them or myself.
What about you? How do you use your smartphone when you travel?
I do all of the welcome home calls as well as handle all of the after travel issues.
What that means is that I’m the one who finds out first if you had a problem on your vacation. That also means that I’ll be the one to report back to the tour company and the resort and whoever else needs to be involved in order to get some sort of resolution for you.
In fact, I just handled a bunch of complaints from a group we had about how they were handled at check in at the resort. They also had complaints about their wedding coordinator, as well as service at the restaurants. As you can imagine, I was quite upset that the weekend hadn’t been what we’d all hoped.
So, I sent emails to my contacts at the hotel and the investigation was underway.
Today I got an email back from the hotel. It reads as follows:
“I looked deep into this and we didn’t have registered 1 complaint in our system from any of these guests throughout their stay. I even spoke to their wedding coordinator and she said everything sailed smoothly and she would have known if something was wrong. Overall, they were very happy with the staff, service and food. I also looked into the comments they filled out at check out and was able to find 10 comment cards. (10 suites). I have attached them for you to read,
We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences they may have experienced you know the first and most important thing for us is to try and make our guests happy and have an unforgettable vacation. It`s disappointing to hear that there was unsatisfied guests staying with us, knowing this, we would have done everything in our power to turn the situation around. ”
So, to the hotel it seems like one of two things is happening. Either they think that I’m overstating the situation and the client isn’t unhappy, or that the client is trying to take advantage of the hotel for some sort of future consideration. Either way, it doesn’t help us get any satisfaction for our clients after the fact.
Additionally, as the hotel said in their reply, if the hotel had known about the problem they could have taken steps to fix it while the group was still in destination.
So, the bottom line is this: If you’re having a problem on vacation, don’t wait until you get home to say something about it. Make sure the hotel knows. If all else fails, call us from the destination and let us try to intervene. Don’t wait until you get home.
Every day we encounter annoying people. Even though vacation isn’t supposed to have any of the annoyances of every day life, annoying people take vacations too. Here are three guys you don’t want to be on vacation.
Guy Carrying All of His Earthly Belongings Onto the Airplane: This guy avoids paying luggage fee like my husband avoids chick flicks. He and each of his children bring overstuffed duffel bags onto the airplane. It takes them several extra minutes to sit down because they have to find overhead space to fit their voluminous carry-ons. All of his fellow passengers are inconvenienced because he slows boarding down, not to mention that he takes up more than his fair share of overhead space.
Chair / Beach Bed Saver Guy: This guy wakes up at the crack of dawn and spreads all of his earthly belongings (the same belongings he stuffed into the overhead bins the day before) across chairs at the pool as well as a set at the beach. He doesn’t spend much time in either set, but he wants his options open. Other resorts guests have a hard time finding a place to enjoy the day because this guy is hogging all the lounge chairs and beach beds.
Rude Guy: This guy’s mom apparently never told him about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar. He drips vinegar. From check in until check out, he is cross with everyone from front desk personnel, to wait staff in the restaurants, to the sweet housekeeper who cleans his rooms. Somewhere along the line he got the impression that if he did that, people would scurry to fulfill his wishes. He should try being nice and see how that works out for him.
What other guys should you avoid being on vacation?
I talked to a guest this morning who was dismayed that her bedding request wasn’t fulfilled on her vacation. She had requested a king bed and instead got two queen sized beds.
The issue is this. Many hotels do not guarantee bedding as part of the room type. For instance, let’s say you reserve an ocean view room. Some ocean view rooms may have two queens, some may have one king.
When you reserve your room, you are reserving an ocean view room. You will have an ocean view room. In the same way that a certain floor or location is not guaranteed, the bedding is not guaranteed.
The day before you arrive, the hotel looks at all of the reservations arriving the next day, and they look at all of the rooms they expect to be available. They will look at any requests they’ve been given and they will do their best to give people what they want as much as possible. When they’re assigning rooms, they have no idea when the reservation was made. A person who reserved the day before is given the same consideration as someone who booked a year ago.
On the other hand, there are some hotels who do guarantee bedding. On those hotels you’ll see roomtypes listed as things like “Oceanview King” or “Garden View Double”. When you reserve those sorts of rooms, the bedding is guaranteed. Also, there are other hotels that all have king bedded rooms. (Mostly adults only hotels)
So, if getting the kind of bedding you want will make or break your vacation, if getting the wrong bedding will completely ruin your vacation, then consider a hotel where it is a sure thing.
How was your last trip? Was it perfect? Could it have been better? Was it a disaster? Are you wondering if another travel agent might have made it better?
It might sound counter intuitive, but if you had a problem on your last trip it may be exactly the wrong time to change agents.
Unless your agent was very inexperienced, or unless he or she clearly placed her own priorities above yours, the difficulty was probably the result of a lack of clear understanding of what you wanted.
For instance, last year we did an incentive trip for a company. The group leader indicated that they needed the resort to have wifi. The resort we sent them to has wifi.
What they really wanted, though, was FREE wifi. This resort did not have free wifi.
We did some fast work and arranged for the wifi cost to be comped for them, but it made for a tense morning with calls from out of the country.
Fortunately for us, this year they booked with us again. This time we had a clear understanding about exactly what they needed. And they got it.
I love working with clients I’ve worked with for many years. I know exactly the things that make them crazy and tell them with great authority if they’re going to like a certain resort or vacation experience. I know them and they trust me.
So, in most cases, it’s a good idea to stick with your agent. Let them get to know you. You’ll be glad you did.
I am writing this from 36,000 feet above the western portion of the United States somewhere. Our first attempt to leave Dallas was thwarted by a malfunctioning hydraulic pump. We drove back from the runway to the gate and the maintenance men took over. The pump was promptly replaced and now we’re on our way. Our projected delay is about an hour and twenty minutes.
While I was sitting there waiting I was hearing passengers around me start to call family members, travel agents and the airline reservation center. Some people were getting upset and making disparaging remarks about the situation.
I do understand that people have plans, and meetings and connections. The fact is though, if you look at the situation rationally, that you want the airline to identify and correct mechanical delays prior to being sealed into a large metal tube miles above the surface of our planet. Right?
So, rather than getting upset, I suggest that you make whatever provision you need to make for the delay, open a book and enjoy the found time. Enjoy the few extra minutes of internet access. Call someone you’ve been meaning to call.
You might as well enjoy the time, because getting upset doesn’t make the situation any better for anyone
What are your “must haves” in a hotel or resort room?
I recently stayed at a resort that had a few items missing that I consider to be standard equipment. It was missing, for instance, a luggage stand. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hotel room where they didn’t have a luggage stand stashed in the closet.
That got me to thinking, what should be considered standard equipment in a hotel room? Here’s my list:
Coffee Maker (even though I never use it)
Shampoo / Lotion / Soap / Shower Cap
Here’s the list of equipment that gives a hotel extra points in my book:
Mat by the bed where I can brush sand off my feet before putting them in bed.
Really yummy toiletries
Really big towels
What about you? What’s important to you to find in your hotel or resort room?