Friday, November 27, 2009

Who is Doing Who a Favor?

In early November, I met John and Lisa in Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas and hadn't been there for a few years. There was a lot new to see as there always seems to be in that ever-changing city. We stayed at the Paris where the kids had comped rooms. The Paris is the most up-scale hotel I've ever stayed at in Las Vegas. I'd spent the previous night at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, compliments of a plan administrator's retreat, sponsored by the Pro Bono Committee. The Hyatt is also a step above my usual lodging choices. When I'm paying myself, I'm normally a Quality Inn/Best Western/Baymont, etc. kind of girl.

Here is what is odd about that: at my mid-priced hotels, wireless internet access is always free and so is parking and they always have a coffee pot in the room. As an "I want coffee instantly upon arising" traveler, this is extremely important to me.

So, this time I stay, first, at the Hyatt Regency, both more prestigious and more expensive than my typical on-the-road digs. The Hyatt does feature an in-room coffee pot but they charge $9.99 to log on to the internet for 24 hours. In addition, parking costs $20 ($28 plus tip if you use the valet, which I did because their parking garage was full and I didn't want to trundle my bag from a block away).

The next night, I move on to the Paris, which is even more expensive than the Hyatt (and, of course, it is in Las Vegas which certainly adds to its desirability). At the Hyatt, it cost $14.95 to use the internet for 24 hours AND they don't offer a coffee pot in your room, which I think is probably because they want you to order the $10-for-4-cups room service coffee. And I actually don't even have a problem with that except room service doesn't begin until 6:00 a.m. Las Vegas time, which happened to be 9:00 a.m. Indiana time. I haven't slept until 9 o'clock in the morning for decades. I should have asked the kids how much it cost them to leave their rental car in the Paris parking garage but I forgot. I assume it is probably even more than the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis.

It strikes me as strange that the more you pay for a hotel room, the fewer amenities you are offered. Everything else is more or less the same. You know, when you've seen one king-sized bed and a toilet and a television and a hotel chair, you've pretty much seen them all. So, it just must be snobbery that leads them to the attitude that you should pay an extra $15.00 a day to use the internet at the Paris when it's free at the Baymont Inn.

And here's another thing. At the Hyatt Regency, the concierge happily offers to print off your boarding pass for your flight. I thought that was a thoughtful and convenient service. I figured I'd be afforded the same for my flight home from Las Vegas. But, no. At the Paris, you are directed to an internet kiosk where a computer is connected to a printer so you can print your own boarding pass. The only problem is that you must purchase a minimum of 5 minutes of time which, considerately, they allow you to put on a charge card in case you lost all your actual cash in their casino. I didn't pay any attention to how much 5 minutes cost because I had no choice so I just did it. In addition to purchasing a minimum of 5 minutes (although it takes about 30 seconds to get your boarding pass), they also charge printing fees of $1 per page. Every boarding pass I've ever printed is one page but at the Paris kiosk, it is two pages. The second page contains one tiny line of incomprehensible nonsense at the top but for this, you pay the extra buck.

You wonder why people don't complain. Seems like for the price you pay at the Paris, you should at least get a free freakin' wireless internet connection. Do the affluent people who stay at these kinds of places all the time just not care about getting ripped off? Do they not even realize that not every place charges for the internet or thinks it is a privilege to park at their hotel when you're a guest there? Or charges a fee of $25 per visit to use their gym as they do at the Paris? Especially, when you are probably also leaving a big hunk of money in their casino?

The difference is that at my mid-class hotels, they think that I am doing them a favor to stay with them while at the upper-class ones, it is the other way around.