Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Time Has Come for Quieter Hotel Doors

New York Times: The Haggler has been traveling recently, and that can mean only one thing: a column that opens with a rant about traveling. Our subject this time is hotel doors, the kind that go ka-boom when they close.

During a recent visit to the Omni Shoreham in Washington, the Haggler was awakened by the blast of a neighbor leaving his room at 6 a.m. And the racket never ceased, because at hotels — surprise! — people enter and exit rooms throughout the day and night.

A bit of research shows that hotel doors slam shut in part because they’re cheap to install and in part because of liability concerns. Owners worry that the doors won’t fully close, which could lead to thefts and other crimes, which could lead to lawsuits.

But, obviously, a mechanism exists that closes a door fully and quietly. The Haggler encountered it this summer at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque. The question is why these mechanisms aren’t far more common.

Remember when lousy mattresses were the norm in hotels? Then, in the late 1990’s, some hotels started upgrading their mattresses and boasting about them, as a way to stand apart from the competition. (Westin Hotels and Resorts was a pioneer, with its “Heavenly Bed.”) A few years later, good mattresses were the norm.

You know what we need now? A door war. The Haggler wants to see hotels swap out their wretched clangers for quiet doors, and pronto. By all means, give them goofy, trademarked names, like the “Dream Latch” or the “Shhhhh Lock.” The first to take up this challenge will be hailed as a corporate hero in this space.

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