DO NOT DISTURB FOR 2011

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MICHAEL MATTHEWS
Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for 50 years. He spent 14 years based in Hong Kong building the Regent International group and has also worked with St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood hotels. He began his career in 1959 at the then newly opened Carlton Tower Hotel in London, the first five-star hotel in more than 50 years to be built in the city. He was most recently the general manager of the Ventana Inn in Big Sur, California. Matthews is based in Arizona and began writing Do Not Disturb in early 2004.

December 8: THE MOST DISAPPOINTING HOTEL IN THE WORLD
Given a choice of booking us into any hotel in all of London as a reward for faultlessly navigating our way around Britain, my Darling Wife somehow chose the most disappointing property in the world. It was overpriced, with tiny rooms and odd, disjointed service. Housekeeping was poor at the staff's attitude was worse. Sadly, this hotel is now famous for being British and famous for housing famous Brits.

November 23: WHY I WON'T BE GOING TO THE OLYMPICS
Having recently returned from a few days in pre-Olympics London, I am sad to report that I'm not going to make either the British or U.S. Olympic teams next summer. This is a real blow to my bucket list of must-achieve items before I go toes up. But now that they've radiated my brain, I'm also getting steroids and that makes me ineligible.

October 19: THE BEST COLUMN IN THE WORLD
Is there really a "best hotel in the world"? Every year, the editors and publishers of the nation's major travel magazines try to tell us that there is. But the results always seem skewed to the bizarre and the unknown. And "best" is definitely in the eye of the traveler in the first place.

September 22: MURDERING JEEVES
Butlers in hotels are basically a marketing ploy and I don't know how a traveler should (or even could) use them. Butlers do not replace bellmen, do not replace room service, do not replace maid service, do not replace engineering and certainly don't replace the concierge. Just what do they do? Nothing except inflate the room rate and the hotel's reputation.

August 25: THE COST OF AN EGG IN LAS VEGAS
I am often asked what's the most profitable item at a hotel. I just returned from Las Vegas where the price for one boiled egg--no toast, coffee or juice--was an astounding $6. Since an egg costs about a dime, I make that a 5,900 percent markup! Crazy as that kind of markup sounds, it was reflective of the rising cost of spending time in Las Vegas, even when you're not gambling.

August 11: CONCIERGE CONFIDENTIAL
For a great concierge, nothing is ever unavailable or sold out. Of course, they do the impossible for a price. And they get it both ways. They receive a commission from airlines, car-rental companies, limo services and theater brokers. Then they receive tips from you, the hotel guest, who asks them to do the impossible. So what are we supposed to tip a great concierge these days?

July 21: FALLING ILL AND FINDING FRIENDS
As JoeSentMe.com members know, Michael got his "problem" several months ago. As word leaked out, he started to hear from people all over the globe. People he thought had just been acquaintances. Business "friends." Colleagues from various companies that he had sweated for a nickel. Many old neighbors. Amazing how you can fall ill and find friends.

June 30: (HOTEL) CHAIN OF FOOLS
As if you weren't already flummoxed by the huge array of hotel brands created by the world's major hotel "families," you're going to be even more confused in the years ahead. Have any idea of what Kept, Public, KOP, Mr. C or Adagio Hotels could possibly offer? Neither do I and I'm a hotelier.

June 2: IT'S A DOG'S LIFE--AND SHE KNOWS IT
Michael takes one more column to consider life instead of hotels. And he finds out that it's a dog's life. At least so far as his neighborhood's interest in his illness or the health of his family's dog. And then comes some good news at the end.

May 12: THIS IS STILL NOT ABOUT HOTELS
Michael has gone bald now, is going broke supplying cookies and croissant to his fellow sufferers and he has recently become a pin cushion for a student nurse. But he's still smiling and still approaching his new circumstances with aplomb and Porsches. This is still not about hotels, but sometimes how you live your life is more important than life on the road.

April 28: THIS IS NOT ABOUT HOTELS
This is not a column about hotels. This is not a column about business travel. It's about life and how you deal with the curves. Michael Matthews got thrown a curve. Here's how he's dealing with it.

March 31: MY WORLD, THREE WEEKS LATER
Half of Michael Matthews' family lives in North Japan, just miles from the epicenter of last month's earthquake. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, one of his favorite resorts was all but buried in a tsunami and may never reopen. Michael's wish? That one day he can bring his granddaughter to the reopened resort so he can show her there's more to life than devastation.

February 17: NOW IT'S THE TOURISTS' TURN IN EGYPT
Now that Mubarak is finally out of the way and a measure of normalcy has returned to Egypt, there is a pressing need to get tourists back. Far more than most nations, Egypt depends on tourism and its economy won't recover if the tourists don't return. My advice? Go in the next six months for the most amazing bargains on great hotels and amazing tourism.

January 20: BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY IN DEVON
Just how far should a hotelier go before an event is "beyond the call of duty"? I had a glowing example on my recent holiday visit to the English countryside. After a wonderful stay at the Combe House in Devon, the owner drives six hours roundtrip to return a forgotten bag. That, my friends is service well beyond the call of duty.

Copyright 1993-2011 by Michael Matthews. All rights reserved.
ABOUT MICHAEL MATTHEWS Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for more than 45 years. He spent 14 years in Hong Kong building the legendary Regent International group. He has also worked with St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood hotels. Matthews is currently based in Arizona. He began writing Do Not Disturb in early 2004.

THE FINE PRINT Joe Brancatelli makes this space available to Michael Matthews in the spirit of free speech and to encourage editorial diversity and the wider discussion of important travel issues. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property of Matthews. This column may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Michael Matthews.

This column is Copyright 2011 by Michael Matthews. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.