The Big Switch

Posted in Big Thought, New, People, Reviews by Harsha on January 9, 2008

I’m currently reading this book written by Nicholas Carr and will post a review and comments here. I’ve got to tell you that the author lost me somewhere after page 80 because right now as I’m reading pages 140 and above, he is just pandering. Great book nevertheless. Makes you think of computing power like you’d think about electricity – exactly, you don’t think about that kind of stuff and he feels that computing is going that way.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon. It is fifteen bucks or so.

Another Hilton Review

Posted in People, Reviews by Harsha on December 12, 2007

This is a great post by the incomparable Richard Quest. He has a Hilton review that seems to agree with my crash course in hospitality this past week on the road trip. That would be the subjectiveness of the service offerings across their hotels. If you visit McDonald’s around the world, then you will understand what ubiquity means. In Hilton’s case, when I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Virgina Beach, VA, they had coffee-to-go in the lobby. So you see, they don’t seem to have standards when it comes to amenities in their hotels.

It is mind-boggling for me to think about the various moving parts in a hotel and it’s hotel room. To even think about the planning it takes from thinking about things that can be kept in a room for the user’s convenience to keeping the room clean, is head spinning! Maybe they need to hire a franchising expert to figure what is the best way to solve this problem, that is obviously global for Hilton.

The Hilton Garden Inn Review

Posted in New by Harsha on December 11, 2007

As we drove through “tough” neighborhoods in Norfolk to get to VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, we suddenly felt the change in the air. There was a remarkable switch from fairly average buildings and businesses, to sudden high-quality buildings and well laid out streets. That is where The Hilton Garden Inn is located.

This was by far, the worst place we stayed. The bed, linen and bathroom were just fine and we were there for just a night, but the hotel service was lousy. Our room was a steamy 75 degrees all evening and night because the A/C had conked off. We got a new room and complimentary breakfast, which was a nice touch, though I’d have preferred a room discount. The food was really great including the dinner that we had ordered from The Great American Grill (their restaurant). The breakfast was excellent as well, and I have the best things to say about their omelets and grits.

Parking is not clear at all. The best part was they did not have a valet. You could either park at one of the very few reserved guest parking spots at a nearby parking lot of a bank or use your ESP to figure out that the 5th floor at a nearby parking garage is free for Hilton guests. After a 7 hour drive from Charleston, SC, I wanted someone to lug around our stuff because we were tired. No luck, we were on our own.

The front desk person was just plain ok when we checked in. But it got more interesting at night when we complained about the A/C. My first call to him about the problem yielded no results. He probably felt that if he did not send the engineering guy up 15 minutes later, that we would just accept our rotten fate and sleep in the sauna like room. My wife as livid again and wanted me to “teach him a lesson”. Well, I just called him again and a very sweet guy who spoke little English came to help. He tapped the unit, opened it and did some screwing around then left with a promise to come back in 10. We called in 5 because the heat still stayed on. That is when Romeo, the front desk guy offered to change rooms, but oh, I had to trudge downstairs in my pajamas to pick up the new room key. And the same engineer was our bellboy now. Stop laughing now ..

The million dollar question: Would I stay there again?

NO. I will definitely eat at The Great American Grill or join them for breakfast. I will NEVER stay there again. This is not even the last place I will stay if I go back to Virginia Beach.

The Hilton DeSoto Review

Posted in Reviews, Roadtrip by Harsha on December 10, 2007

Not all Hilton’s are born the same. This is a clear nature vs nurture situation, with nurture being the reason behind it’s appearance and feel. But I should thank them for providing fodder for the Name Experiment – 2 post.

When we drove up here in SAVANNAH, GA, we were not greeted by anyone at the door. They did upgrade our room to the 10th floor because we called earlier telling them we may be late thanks to the horrible Atlanta traffic. They put us on the 10th floor with fantastic views of the Historic District.

The room itself was nice with an amazing Tempur-Pedic bed. The bathroom was huge with two sinks and well kept. The view was amazing. The air-conditioner did make weird noises on startup but then worked out just fine. The room was decked out well with good clean linen, curtains and sofas.

The staff were generally good and prompt and helpful. The servers at their restaurant were just average and not particular keen on making sure we were having a good breakfast – I guess that is symptomatic of a restaurant in a hotel; they are after all in the hospitality business and not catering. Or is that just an excuse?

The million dollar question: Would I stay there again?

Obviously, there were better hotels in Savannah at the same rate. We just did not know about it till we got there. But I have no regrets and will stay there again if we get that 10th room floor or something above the 7th story. If you’re in town, I think The Hiton DeSoto is a good option.

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The Hamilton Crowne Plaza Review

Posted in Reviews, Roadtrip by Harsha on December 1, 2007

Welcome to a hotel in downtown DC that charges $30 for parking (no option to self park), and un-smiling staff. The hotel sign is easy to miss at the street level. But the lobby is grand and the hallways are well lit.

Our room was cheerful with good linen and carpet. The bathroom was great as well with good lights and clean tiles. The food being served from their 14K Restaurant, is just unbelievably good (read the food review here). The bed was awesome as well.

We had booked a king bed, got checked into a queen bed and then got moved to the right room. When this happens, I’m left shaking my head because the reservation will clearly tell the front desk staff our preference. There are no two ways about it – either you ordered queen bed or a king bed, a smoking or a non-smoking room. There are only so many options. It is like having your tires rotated when you asked for an oil change. It is that stupid.

But, I’ve been in instances where my reservation has been disputed by the front desk folks, but that did not happen here. The room change was made sheepishly by CJ, the front desk person. But not before asking some really brilliant questions like “Would you like to come down to pick up the new key?” and “Do you need help with your bags?”. Take a wild guess, I just drove in from Boston.

The million dollar question: Would I stay there again?

Well, if this were the last hotel available in DC, with every other choice either booked or not affordable, then maybe. Otherwise, never. I will still eat at the restaurant because it is just out of the world fantastic.