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Ready For Their Close-up

​Many wise hoteliers are zooming in on the smallest of details

The best hotels know that travelers are looking for the perfect combination of hospitality, convenience and comfort. Some hoteliers never give up in their quest to assure the ideal stay as they constantly hunt for irritants that can make any stay less than perfect.

Signature scents in the lobby and turndown service are nice to have, but there are issues big and small that must be addressed to create the perfect experience.

Confusing light switches in multiple places and a lack of ample power outlets are a major gripe. The same goes for woeful soundproofing between rooms, slow elevators, showers that leak all over the floor, bellmen who insist on showing you every corner of the room upon arrival, and nickel-and-diming galore (noticed the increase in so-called “resort fees” lately?).

Hotels should take a crack at these first, but once they do, there are still plenty of minor irritants that make tired travelers ask a plaintive “Why, oh why?” And there are a handful of hotels around the world focusing on just those things.

University Arms Hotel, Autograph Collection, in Cambridge, England has begun paying special attention to many of these smaller annoyances. For example, when specifying “do not disturb” signs for its rooms, it chose heavy duty leather tags with compact openings that fit the door handle just perfectly. This prevents “do not disturb” from flipping over to the “please make up room” sign when the door swings closed. Apparently, this is a problem for many hotels.

Even the smallest details like notepads by the bed are a focus. Often when a guest is using the phone and needs to jot down notes, only one hand is free. A typical hotel pad can easily scoot around the desktop, so the University Arms had them affixed to leather holders so that people can more easily write one-handed notes.

Have you ever scalded your arm (or gotten a blast of cold water) when reaching in to turn on the shower in the morning? It’s certainly not the best way to start your day. Many new-build hotels have taken the extra expense to reroute necessary plumbing so that handles can be out of the trajectory of the shower nozzle (like on the opposite side of the shower or tub).

Older hotels may not have the luxury of reconfiguring existing plumbing, but they can still take the simple step to ask housekeepers to turn the showerhead toward the wall to avoid an unnecessary drenching. Problem solved.

The growing Hyatt Centric brand has partnered with Drybar to offer Drybar Buttercup Blow-Dryers in its domestic properties, delivering salon-grade power. Guest response was both immediate and overwhelmingly positive since this move helps travelers pack less. What may simply be an accessory in some hotel rooms has become a point of distinction for Hyatt Centric accommodations.

While many hotels have removed coffee machines from rooms to cut down on extra housekeeping chores, Omni Hotels & Resorts found a better way. Anyone who joins its loyalty program can request morning beverages delivered to the door for free.

Poorly designed bathrooms and a less than satisfactory sleep experience are big disappointments. But once hotels get those things right (and they should with consistency), it’s time to focus on the small stuff.

It’s clear many already have, and guests are taking notice.