Sunday musings: Jesters in hotels? Hotel wishes, NY Subway construction


Would a hotel jester change the way you look at booking lodging? What about one of these amenities that Wendy Perrin describes? Then come underground with us to see what is happening beneath the streets of New York City.

Hotel calls for hiring a hotel jester

You might guess that this job opening is not here in the United States, and you would be correct. It comes from Austria, where there used to be quite a history of court jesters amusing royalty. In those days, it was make ’em laugh or it was off with their heads. So, the entertainment must have been rollicking.

This new job is not as dangerous should the jester’s jokes bomb. Their job may be at stake, but not their lives. But, it is an interesting concept to have someone at a hotel to make residents happier and, perhaps, more inclined to return.

Applicants are asked to bring — and play — their musical instrument during the job interview. Also welcome: creative costumes. The successful candidate will earn 1,400 euros — around $1,900 — a month.

Hotel director Melanie Franke says those interested should not think they’re on a fool’s errand in applying. She says the idea is to treat guests like royalty, noting that, “Jesters were a luxury that royal families indulged themselves in.”

18 things hotels could do to be truly brilliant

Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast Traveler’s expert on just about everything, just made a list of things that hotels can do to be brilliant. That seems to translate to things that can make Wendy happy. And, well it should. When the customer is happy, the hotel should be happy. Isn’t that the idea?

Marriott unveiled a new ad campaign this week that encourages consumers to “Travel Brilliantly.” To which I reply, “We beleaguered, nickel-and-dimed hotel guests are doing our best to work with what you’re giving us.”

That’s not a knock against Marriott, which was just rated the number one hotel chain for guest satisfaction in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. It’s a complaint against the many hotels out there that seem to have forgotten some basic rules of hospitality despite being in that business.

Here are the first five suggestions. Click through to see the rest and let us know if you agree.

1. Free Wi-Fi. A strong signal and fast connection would be welcome too, including on the exercise bikes and by the pool.
2. No hidden add-on fees — and by that I mean no “resort fee,” parking fee, gym fee, mini-bar re-stocking fee, early check-out fee, etc.
3. An alarm clock that doesn’t wake me up at 5 a.m. because that’s the hour that the previous guest set it for. Failing that, an alarm clock that I can quickly figure out how to turn off (rather than merely re-set to snooze) in the pitch dark at 5 a.m.
4. An in-room lighting system that doesn’t take a degree in engineering to operate.
5. I don’t need 17 pillows on my bed. It would be nice if one pillow— just one — were the correct thickness.

A look underground at work on New York City’s subway system

In a city that depends on mass transit as much as New York City, the goings on beneath the streets can be some of the most important to the residents who live in buildings that soar above. This collection of photos released by the Metropolitan Transit Authority provides a fascinating look at current construction projects under the Big Apple.