How to get what you want at hotels

I travel a great deal for business and book tours, so I spend an awful lot of sleepless nights in hotels and motels.

(What's the difference between a hotel and a motel? A hundred bucks a night.)

I'm rarely happy with the experience. Noises keep me awake. The temperature's wrong and the room smells like feet. Your average motel mattress feels like a bag of hammers. The dark bathroom's unfamiliar and there's often a towel rack placed at just the right height to bruise my shoulder.

Do I complain? No. I expect my stay to be lousy. When I check out and the front desk clerk asks if everything was okay, I stoically mumble and nod and slump off to the airport. What's the point of complaining after the fact? No way to get that sleepless night back.

Turns out I've been doing it all wrong. The way to ensure a pleasant stay is to make demands in advance. Before you arrive, send a list of your desires so the hotel staff can scurry around and make the place feel like home.

Rock stars have known this for years. That's why their contracts carry riders that spell out, in excruciating detail, what foods and beverages will be available backstage and what they'll need in terms of accommodations, including the correct number of groupies.

We can't all be rock stars, but an online revelation shows that savvy business travelers can make precious demands, too, particularly if they're the vice president of the United States.

A website got hold of an official document called "Vice Presidential Downtime Requirements," which listed more than a dozen demands for VP Dick Cheney's hotel suites. Among them: All lights turned on, temperature set to 68 degrees, decaf coffee brewed prior to arrival, bottled water, "Diet Caffeine Free Sprite, 4 cans" and -- get this -- all televisions tuned to FOX News.

Now there's a business traveler who knows how to get what he wants. Taking a page from the Veep's book, I've created my own list of demands:

--Nonsmoking room that has been a nonsmoking room for longer than three days of airing out.

--King-sized bed. Mattress must contain no actual elbows.

--Room must be cleaned of all evidence of previous occupants, including stray hairs and toenail clippings.

--Bottled water that's not secretly $6 per swallow.

--A minibar stocked with pints rather than those tiny bottles.

--Coffeemaker and real coffee that hasn't been freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed, flash-roasted, recycled or stored in Juan Valdez's pants.

--No sirens, garbage trucks, construction vehicles, honking taxis or thundering hot rods anywhere within four square blocks of the hotel during traditional sleeping hours.

--That maid who hammers on the door and shrieks "Housekeeping!" approximately 17 times? She can't arrive before 11 a.m.

--Soft towels, not the starchy ones that peel off the first layer of skin. If I want a loofah, I'll ask for one.

--Basic toiletries, including shampoo that doesn't make one's hair staticky and standing on end all day long.

--Drunken conventioneers laughing loudly in the hallway at 2 a.m. will be shot. Unless I'm one of them.

--If a smoke alarm sounds in the night, there had better, by god, be a fire in the building. If the alarms wakes me from a sound sleep and there is no fire, I get to set one.

--Four cans of Diet Caffeine Free Sprite. Hey, if it's good enough for Dick Cheney …

--All televisions tuned to any channel except FOX News. Preferably ESPN or Comedy Central.

Groupies are optional.

No comments: