Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mobil Travel Guide Inspectors to South Florida Hotels: No star for you!

"Where's my Lavoris?" the Mobil Travel Guide inspector shouted at the poor, cowering room service attendant.

"Toothbrush, si?"

"Yes I see it's a toothbrush. I know that's what I asked for. But you should have anticipated I'd want mouthwash, too, you nincompoop! No star for you!"

With that pronouncement, the man slammed shut the hotel door.

As reported in the Miami Herald recently, our community must again hang its head in shame: of all the hotels we have, not one is worthy of five stars. Not anticipating the mouthwash with a toothbrush request actually helped keep the ultra-expensive Loews Miami Beach from getting a fifth star. Because a light bulb was out in a room's desk lamp at the swanky Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, it failed to earn a fifth star too. Suggestions about getting that elusive fifth star include TV commercials reminding all of us who live here to be "more hospitable to visitors," and hiring more English speaking workers because "non-English speakers make customer service an uphill fight."

Good luck on both of those initiatives. When we can't even be nice to ourselves, how can you expect us to be cordial and helpful to tourists? As for finding more English speaking workers for the hotel industry, that will probably never happen until wages rise high enough to attract a broader mix of the population. Right now, the hotel industry rests on the shoulders of immigrants willing to work long hours for little money. So, looking at it from that point of view, it will be a long time if ever before we get that fifth star so our advice is to suck up our embarrassment and learn to live with it.

To be honest with you, MVB didn't know it was okay to be anal about this kinda stuff. Since most of the staff have lived here most of their lives, we just expected it to be the norm. Those hard-ass Mobile inspectors must be ex-Marine Drill Instructors. They grade hotels on 750 criteria. But at least we learned one thing, if you don't get offered a second round at a hotel bar within one minute after finishing your drink, by God, it is your duty to be offended. No tip for you!

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