Inarguably, air travel has seen the most decline. It must have happened when we traded the term "airliner" for "airbus." A more accurate term might be "air activity bus," as air travel is now reminiscent of a high school field trip.
"Okay, everybody. To begin boarding, listen up for your zone and form a single-file line. Have your boarding pass out. There will be no food during this flight. Stay seated and pay attention as we go over a few rules. Remember, your mom doesn't work here, so remove all trash from the seat pocket in front of you."
On another end, the hospitality industry wants us to think they're adding perks, like supremely plush beds, extra nice showers, and complimentary toiletries that are increasingly "boutique."
Dear Hotel, Here's what I would really appreciate: breakfast. I know you said you had free breakfast, but when I saw people standing in line to make toast, I went back to my room to get the news on the latest stock market crash. Then I realized-that 400-yard breadline was breakfast. I have a suggestion. Why don't you extract the peach strawberry kiwi from some of my toiletry products and serve it up on a nice stack of hot pancakes?
So, while hotels appear to be doing more, they've actually been getting away with doing less. They've certainly figured out how to do less laundry. I'm all for saving the environment, but this scheme is quite self-serving. It convinces travelers that their desire for a clean towel is what's destroying our planet. I watch a lot of documentaries, but haven't seen one yet that attributes the melting of the Polar ice caps to hotel guests' intolerance for towel re-use. In each room now, there's a placard saying something like:
"Re-use towels and save the environment through decreased water consumption and use of detergents. Please hang towels on the rack if you wish to participate in the conservation of water and energy. If not, leave them on the floor."
In other words, "Hang towels on the rack if you have any concern for the planet our children will inherit. If not, throw them on the floor and go kill a panda."
To hotel operators, it's brilliant. It says, "By mindlessly hanging towels on the rack as you're accustomed, we've tricked you into participating in our fake program." It's probably happened to even the most seasoned traveler. You're down in the lobby when suddenly, "Oh criminy!" You just realized you left your towel hanging-again.
But talk about a true mastermind-how did Sunbeam become the exclusive manufacturer of in-room hairdryers? Everywhere you stay, there's that same little white unit strategically mounted to obstruct the only nearby electrical outlet. It has 2 settings: hi and low, by which you choose how noisy a neighbor you'd like to be. Regardless, the average American takes approximately 10-15 minutes to realize a panting dog can dry hair faster.
It's obvious Sunbeam has a monopoly on their production within the hospitality industry-every hotel, resort and cruise ship has them as standard equipment. But just how far have they cornered the market?
"According to a spokesperson, NASA will delay the Shuttle launch until repairs to the Sunbeam 1500 are complete. Only then can supplies and a replacement 1500 be delivered to the International Spacestation."
"Will we be able to hear the Sunbeam 1500 from Earth as it operates in space?"
"Will any air output be detectable?"
"None at all."
But they put all these things in our room like they're trying to recreate our natural habitat. The same way the zoo creates an environment for an animal to make it feel at home. And just like the zoo, the things in the room are fakes of what you're supposedly used to. It's not a real plant, or headboard, or lightswitch. Just a simulation. (I am convinced each room only has one working lightswitch and all the others are just props.)
And now, with names like Homewood Suites, and Residence Inn, hotels go a step farther to make us feel at home. I don't want my hotel to be like my home. I booked a vacation to get away and go some place better. How strange if you got there, and you said, "Hey, Honey? This hotel room is just like our house! It has a dirty toilet just like ours. And soiled carpet, just like our carpet. And the closet here is full of dirty laundry, just like our closet. I feel like I'm back at home. I'm gonna go mow the lawn."
I guess we're always wanting what we don't have. When we're at home, we're attracted to foods-be it salsa, or chips, or fries-labeled, "Restaurant Style." But when we're dining out, we're drooling over menu items called, "Homestyle." Do we want to be at home, or do we want to be away?
"Hey, did you guys enjoy your anniversary? Did you go some place great?"
"No. We really didn't feel like travelling, so we just stayed home."
"Cool. What'd you do?"
"Watched the Travel Channel."