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 Do Not Disturb by Michael Matthews for 2006

michael December 21: Some Blossoms and Bed Bugs to End the Year
As I tour the country and the world, I am amazed by how good hotels are getting. Not only those at the top of the pyramid, but also those at the lower price points, too. On the flip side, some major chains are in decline, in denial or just annoying. And read my nomination for hotel of the year.

December 7: Do You Eat Where You Sleep?
Do you eat in hotels? Probably not. Most of you avoid eating where you sleep. Which explains today's most intriguing trend in hotel restaurants: big-name chefs. Having driven guests from their dining rooms with bad food and high prices, hotels now hope the celebrity chefs can bring in outsiders to fill the tables that you avoid.

November 2: The Problem With Room Service
I know business travelers pay a lot of attention to room service. But I swear on a stack of hotel-room-nightstand bibles: I only use room service if I absolutely have to. Room service is overpriced, delivered cold and usually it's the wrong order or something has been left off. And guess what? Hoteliers hate it, too.

September 28: Steal This Column
I am not unaware of the toll of theft and pilferage in the economy at large and hotels in particular. Perhaps as much as one percent of hotels' total revenues walk out the door. And we're not talking the odd towel or ashtray, either. Folks steal rugs, televisions, furniture and just about anything that's not nailed down--and a few things that are nailed down.

September 14: If a Bomb Has Your Name on It...
If someone wants to do harm to a hotel and its guests, it is pretty easy. There are just too many ways in and too many ways to attack the building. And hotels are vulnerable in the most basic and simple way: If you check in as a guest, then you generally have free run of the place. All a terrorist has to do is check into a hotel and take it from there.

August 31: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
During the past six weeks, my wife and I visited six states and three countries, spending innumerable nights in hotels. We stayed in B&Bs, 2-star, 3-star, 4-star and even a couple of very refreshing 5-star properties. And trust me when I tell you that we met Basil Fawlty, Sybil, Polly and even a Manuel during our journey.

July 13: Just When You Thought You Were Safe, You Are...
No matter what you may hear or read, plastic hotel card keys do not have your social security number, credit card number, birth date, how much you drank in the bar, the name of your companion at 2 a.m. or anything else. A key is encoded with your name, room number and check-out date. Anything else that you think might be on it isn't. Honest.

June 22: For a Few Dollars More, I Could Buy a Hotel
Everyone with a few bucks lying around--and when I say a few bucks, I mean a few billion--has suddenly found hotels an interesting investment. Ty Warner, the creator of Beanie Babies, owns several resorts. So does Michael Dell of Dell Computers. Now Tim Koogle, a founder of Yahoo!, is toiling away at an ultra-exclusive resort in Mexico.

May 11: Time for a Business-Travel Tea Party
Two hundred and 30 years ago this week, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which, several months later, led to the Boston Tea Party. As a business traveler, I think it may be time for another tea party. Why? Business travelers are being targeted with taxes on hotels and car rentals that put the Tea Act's three-pence-a-pound levy to bureaucratic shame.

April 20: In the Footsteps of Charles and Camilla
My wife and I have just returned from an almost sublime stay at a hotel in, of all places, New York. Our arrival was preceded by the departure of Charles and Camilla. We asked various members of the staff what they were like. Without missing a beat, we were told, "I'm sorry, I wasn't on duty when they were here." As far as I could gather, the hotel must have been devoid of all staff during their stay. Talk about discretion!

March 30: Sleeping With the Suits...and the Jewelry
Can you tell me what Capella, Solis, Armani, Missoni and Bulgari have in common? They claim to be new luxury hotel brands of the boutique variety. They all come from the same mold without an ounce of originality among them. And they all use the same meaningless buzzwords: six stars; a global presence; unique; personal service and so on ad nauseum.

These columns originally appeared at joesentme.com.

Copyright 1993-2006 by Michael Matthews. All rights reserved.