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Monday, October 24, 2011

Hotels gone wild

I'm back from one trip and about to go on another. Here are three hotel "war stories" from my travels. Two happen to be set in Canada, but that reflects my travel patterns and my 24-year employment by a Canadian company -- not any tendency of Canadian hotels to be bad.

Story 1: fly into Toronto late at night. Clear customs and catch a cab to the Sheraton Centre, a very large hotel in the city center. About 1 am when I arrive, and I've got an 8 am meeting. Oh well, that's life on the road. Get my key, take the elevator, find the room, open the door... and there are two hotel employees in the bed. Fortunately for me and for them, their clothes were still on and the bedspread was still in place. I say to myself, I'm not going to raise a fuss about this; if I do, I'll lose at least another hour of sleep. I throw them out and seize the room for myself. Off they go, perhaps chastened, perhaps in search of another unoccupied room.

Story 2: fly into Ottawa late at night. (See the pattern here?) Rent a car and drive to the Radisson downtown, which is now a Marriott and used to be a Holiday Inn. That's a rare sequence of rebranding! Get the room key, take the elevator, find the room, and open the door. Curiously it's barred from the inside. A woman inside begins to scream. Damn! Check the key, and yes I've opened the correct door. I apologize profusely for the mistake made by the front desk clerk who booked me into a room that was already occupied. My brains could have been beaten out, or I could have been arrested, etc. I don't care how late it is and how early I have to wake up and how unfavorable this will be for the front desk clerk; this demands a face-to-face with the manager on duty. For the next year when I stay at this hotel, as I frequently do, I am upgraded to a corner suite at no charge. That works for me. Don't know how they settled with the justifiably angry woman.

Story 3: My boss tells me to attend a mammoth trade show in Las Vegas on short notice. Where the heck will I stay? I get a reservation at some place called the Orbit Inn. Fly into Vegas late at night, as always. Cabbie takes me to the hotel. The outside motif is early 1960s astronauts, no kidding. The Clark County jail is just down the street. The chair in the room has a hole with cotton coming out. There is a sawed-off broom handle in the window to keep it from being forced open from the outside. I imagine every detail of strangling my boss; later he becomes a really good friend. The first night I'm awakened by shouts on the sidewalk of "Stop him, he stole my money!" I'm booked into this hotel for four nights. Fortunately, I live to write about it. The property is now a Days Inn. I wonder, is the broom handle still there?