Apr052008

Have you ever been experienced? I Have!


Sheraton Libertador, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Presidential Suite stay, June 2007

An article I read earlier this week keeps coming back to my thoughts. “Travel Editors Gather to Rap about the issues du jour.” appeared on http://www.travelweekly.com/ April 1, 2008.

The editors were asked about how the economy will impact travel. Erik Torkells, editor, Budget Travel stated something I keep remembering:
“There will always be people who want to continue to spend money, and if travel’s their No. 1 priority, they will continue to do it. And there will always be people who want a deal, and an incredible part of the experience for them is finding that deal. People tend to do what they do unless they absolutely can’t.”

Last week I was hanging out in San Francisco. I woke up in my lovely hotel room at the Hyatt Regency and read the paper. I read about an old man who was beaten to death around Mission and Fifth Street the day before. The murder happened by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper building, just around the corner from the new InterContinental San Francisco hotel.

When I made the comment in my blog a couple of weeks ago about the InterContinental pushing the slum boundary another block south and west, I was not intending to make a slur against the InterContinental. The fact is the SoMa (South of Market Street) district is a scary place if you wander into the wrong streets. I approached the new InterContinental hotel coming from Sixth Street and Howard and I had to walk the gauntlet at 9am in the morning around hundreds of homeless, some mentally ill, some drunk, some sleeping, some bathing on the curb, but I wasn’t bothered by anyone.

A couple of years ago, I exited a restaurant at midnight across the street from the W Hotel San Francisco, and witnessed a couple of street people harassing tourists in a threatening manner. I was glad the hotel entrance was so close.

Last summer, outside the Westin Seattle, a crazy man threatened my wife and I with a large piece of lumber on his shoulder if we didn’t give him $5. We ran into the street and took our chances with cars rather than risk being clobbered by a nutcase an hour before embarking on a cruise. And this was at noon time on a sunny Saturday.

Westin Seattle

A luxury hotel in the slums is all fine as long as you stay in the hotel. To me it is like being in a Caribbean or South American hotel where the world is kept outside and inside luxury abounds. I’d rather be in the nicer parts of San Francisco and for me that means Union Square (Grand Hyatt, Westin St. Francis, JW Marriott), the Financial District (Hilton Financial District, Le Meridien), or Nob Hill (InterContinental Mark Hopkins, Renaissance Stanford Court, Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton). Fisherman’s Wharf hotels are in a highly touristed area, but unless the price is lower at Fisherman’s Wharf (which it usually isn’t) than downtown, I would opt for the larger downtown hotels. It only takes 15 to 20 minutes by cheap public transportation ($1.50) to reach Fisherman’s Wharf.

Many of the new luxury hotels in San Francisco are on Market Street (Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton Residences) or South of Market (Westin Market, W Hotel, St. Regis, Marriott, InterContinental San Francisco) and it will take some time for this area to develop into a safer location.

Heidi Mitchell, editor of Town & Country Travel, commented that the advantage of travel writers is their experience in having a large inventory of hotel experiences to enable valid comparisons between one hotel brand and another and one location in a city compared to another.

My hotel comments in reviews and blog posts are based on having stayed about 500+ hotel nights over the past ten years with hotels in the major corporate chains in locations around Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Asia, Canada, and the USA. It is not a lot compared to many road warriors, however, as a leisure traveler it is a solid foundation for making hotel comparisons.

And I take travel seriously, even if I don’t take myself and my writing too seriously at times.
“Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones.”
Anne Sophie Switchine

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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