Friday, September 9, 2011

Massachusetts Hotel Ties Room Rates to Temps

MSNBC: A freshly renovated Cape Cod hotel with a creative bent is giving thrifty new meaning to the term “room temperature.”

Through Nov. 6, the Harbor Hotel Provincetown in Massachusetts will use meteorological means to determine the price of 119 standard rooms, usually $89.99 per night. “The rate will be based on the 2 p.m. temperature on the day of arrival,” says hotel general manager Nicholas Mitchell.

With the Saturday high in the region expected to be 67 degrees, that means guests can already expect a daily savings of about $23.But as those who thrill at games of chance understand, Mitchell’s seemingly straightforward declaration is fraught with apparent loopholes.

Is that Fahrenheit or Celsius? Is that 2 p.m. there on Cape Cod or on the slopes in the Himalayas? Nice try, Mitchell says. Like the casinos, the house sets the rules: The temperature will be determined by the local branch of the venerable National Weather Service.

It’s one of the more unusual ways resorts and hotels are trying to lure guests to rooms now that Labor Day has come and gone. The stakes are higher in Provincetown and throughout the Northeast, where Hurricane Irene emptied resorts as guests canceled peak season reservations by the millions.

That’s one reason Mitchell was eager to continue the fanciful promotion dreamed up last year by his predecessor.

It’s about the only thing that may be familiar to guests at the hotel that for the past 17 years was the landmark Cape Inn. Mitchell says new owners lavished a multimillion-dollar renovation to the interior before a gala re-opening last spring.

“The heart of the promotion is to remind people that the Cape doesn’t close after Labor Day,” he said. “In fact, we still have shops, whale watching and great restaurants the whole rest of the year. The only thing missing is the crowds.

And he’s not worried (about) freak temperature swings. “If we have a cold snap and sell out the hotel with rooms going for $42, we figure we’ll recoup the loss with people sitting around the fireplace enjoying an afternoon of hot toddies,” he said.

The hotel gets kudos for creativity, but it doesn’t place in the wacky deal Hall of Fame for most outlandish promotions ever. For instance:

- A London Holiday Inn last winter offered guests a free human bedwarmer to take the chill off the sheets. An employee in a long-sleeved onesie was sent to each room to roll around under the sheets — solo! — so guests wouldn’t freak at the chill.

- In 2009, the Hotel Erwin in Venice, Calif., offered a $100 voucher for guests interested in getting a tattoo at the nearby Sea of Ink tattoo parlor. The package included a tube of Lubriderm lotion, an ice pack and a bottle of tequila. Guests earned a $500 bonus if the tattoo read, “I heart Erwin.”

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