DO NOT DISTURB FOR 2012

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 27: C'EST LA VIE
The world has not ended and, if you followed the advice in my last column, you're probably broke from staying at all of those lavish hotels I recommended. C'est la vie. And la vie is the tenor of this year's annual review of what has gone before. I'm still alive, which was not a given at the start of the year, so all of the travel is an unexpected bonus.

December 7: GOODBYE!
It's all over. There are just 14 days to go. If the Mayans are right, December 21 is the dead line, no pun intended. I'm not worried. I'll be on a beach in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, while you are rushing around, in a complete panic, as the world ends. But here's what I suggest you do instead: Cash out everything now and spend the next few weeks flitting from one great hotel to another.

November 15: A HOTELIER WALKS INTO A RESTAURANT
Four dotcom types and a New York PR woman have dreamed up an Internet site that, in essence, attempts to codify and computerize the Matthews Method for Hotel Booking, which entails calling direct to the general manager for a great lodging deal. It's so closely patterned on what I've been preaching for years that maybe I should charge them a licensing fee.

October 11: AN INTERNET VIP BORN EVERY MINUTE...
Four dotcom types and a New York PR woman have dreamed up an Internet site that, in essence, attempts to codify and computerize the Matthews Method for Hotel Booking, which entails calling direct to the general manager for a great lodging deal. It's so closely patterned on what I've been preaching for years that maybe I should charge them a licensing fee.

September 6: THERE'S A PYTHON IN MY HOTEL BED
Worried about bedbugs in your fancy hotel's branded bed? Think weird things only happen at side-of-the-road motels? Apparently not. Herewith a tale of hotel management students, 10-foot-long pythons and a hotel maid driven from her job by the strangest of bedfellows.

August 16: THE MATTHEWS METHOD OF HOTEL BOOKING
For years I have urged you to go directly to the hotel and even, if possible, to the general manager when searching for the best room rate. If you want to save money, that is the only way to book. And now I put The Matthews Method of Hotel Booking to the test against some trendy new "secret deals" hotel sites. Guess who wins?

July 18: A HOTELIER WALKS ONTO A CRUISE ...
Until last December, the lovely wifey and I had never been on a cruise. As a hotelier, the thought of being on a floating box with hundreds or even thousands of others was appalling. But then I took a Seabourn cruise and then another. And I can say this: Seabourn, at least, matches up quite well against Ritz-Carlton and other luxury hotels and resorts.

May 24: DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
Michael is a self-described hotel snob. But when his wife is paying, they go LaQuinta. Then, to add insult to LaQuinta, the Saab dies on the 2,500-mile trek around Texas. That leaves him at a $400-a-night Courtyard by Marriott. And there's no happy ending, either.

April 19: THEY DIDN'T LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR ME
A 50-year career in lodging has left Michael happily ensconced in five-star properties around the world. It's been a wonderful travel life. But with Motel 6 celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Michael decides to check out the action.

March 22: MY FRIEND BILL MAKES A HOTEL CALL
Bill Marriott turns 80 next week and is retired from the family hotel business that bears his name. I vividly recall my one and only meeting with the man who changed the lodging business. You'll be surprised at how it went.

March 15: THE YEAR OF THE HAIRY DRAGON
Michael used some toiletries he swiped from a fancy hotel and shampooed his hair for the first time in almost a year. If you've been following his battle against cancer, you know that the idea that he even has hair to shampoo is a major milestone.

February 23: WELCOME TO THE HOTEL STANLEY BALDWIN
What leads a new hotel in Florida to name itself after an obscure early 20th-century prime minister? Why are new properties calling themselves Z and Out and Gem? Is there a reason why major luxury brands are opening resorts on Lake Baku? Needless to say, 2012 is going to be an interesting hotel year.

January 12: A DAMNED GOOD HOTEL IN LONDON
Many of you disagreed with Michael's assessment of the most disappointing hotel in the world. But you'll find his account of a stay that went perfectly at a great hotel in London very agreeable. He ticks off what made his stay at The Langham so successful.

Copyright 1993-2012 by Michael Matthews. All rights reserved.