Monthly Archives: February 2007

Park Hotel. Bangalore, India

it is hard to describe a place when one had no expectations. My room look out the end of a long rectangualr plan which has one end at the street and the other at a marble cutter. I overlook the stones. the yard is a bus parking lot at night. to the right is an office building of sorts. A Destist office with associated lights etc is at eye-level. to the left is another office building, also of 1960′s vintage as well as an apartment building of 1980′s vintage.

the hotel is excellent. room 405 was my first assignment, and it was across from the elevator. room 227 my next. it is a wonderful suite. i wish i had time to enjoy it, but the program here is totally full. there are a few things which i must say are very cool. incense and huge candles. the wireless is sketchy, but functional. the service superb as is the food. every meal has been a total treat. It is hard to jusdge how the Park stands up to others here in Bangalore, but it suits me fine. It once had a hopping bar, but evidently it was raided in December 2006. all consumption of alchohol must cease at 23.30 here. fine by me.

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Great Victoria Hotel. Bradford, England

i had no idea where Bradford was. my heart sank as i strolled out of the fairly tatty train station and saw the sandstone edifice accross the street. it was indeed the hotel. i made my way to the other side and attempted to enter. the door was not to be found, nor any indication where one might find it. i surmized that it could only be the only side that i had not tried. i walked around thinking of my escape strategies. then the entrance dispelled almost all of my misgivings. it was actually renovated almost to its former glory. a fine property that is oh so close to being a fine hotel. check in was easy with the friendly staff. i went up to room 207 at the end of the hall. the hall was well lit with dozens of 50w halogen lights recessed into the ceiling. you could feel the heat in the corridor….what a waste. i wonder how they will retrofit that with lights which dont fry the planet? the room was small. enough space to walk around the bed, but no place to put the roll-on. it just fit on top the tiny writing desk.

i was moved to room 212 a bit later. a wonderful room overlooking the parking lot in between the hotel and the court house. four-poster bed and still no place to put a luggage bag. nice black leather LeCorbusier knock-offs did fine. pity for the leather. the cold water tap didn’t work in the bath, but everything else did – including the four TV stations.

it seems that someone looked in a lot of magazines but forgot that in the end, it is the guest experience that really matters…..if i have to put my luggage on the floor and brush my teeth with hot water….at least there is room for improvement.

http://www.thevictoria-hotel.co.uk/Great_Victoria_Hotel_Home.html

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2010 Global Teach-In New York/The Web

yesterday was amazing. it was a scary thing to sit on a stage and know that there are a quarter of a million people around the world listening to you. When Dr James Hansen spoke about his analysis of OUR impact on the planet, my mind seemed to stop and accelerate simultaneiously. I knew in my gut and heart that Climate Change was a real issue – now my head has caught up and I know that we ALL must act. This was an important moment for me – for all of us. we know that buildings account for about half of ALL of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. we also know that we can reduce this. we must. each of us bear a bit of the responsibility to do something.

when my kids look me in the eyes and ask ‘What are you doing about climate change?’. i want to be able to give them a straight answer so that when i am dead they will know that i did my part to not just stop the damage, but to try to reverse it.

http://www.2010imperative.org/

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Sheraton New York Hotel

Don’t Bother.

good location. but the place is tired. really tired. it is more suited to be a Holiday Inn, and probably once was one. The carpet in the halls is tatty with threads emerging from the seams. the doorframes have all had their seals stripped so that you hear EVERYTHING that happens in the entire hall. the first room i was given [Oh yeah, the Starwood Preferred program is pretty bogus. When I checked in the room type i requested was not available, nor the automatic upgrade for being a 'Gold' member'.] was room 3838. got there and i could still hear the TV in room 3825 down the hall. there was a blue air filter leaning against the wall. I went downstairs and was given 3640 by a grumpy receptionist. further down the hall and still no seals around the door. the HVAC has probably been here since the 1970′s. lift the flap, open the little hatch on the filthy unit and attept to turn the stem of the control that is missing the knob.

I expect more from a Sheraton.

This is not a Hotel to return to. it is clear that they have not figured out front desk service, or even in room service for that matter.

February 2007

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Back to the Future – the Left Foot Company

Can you imagine having your foot scanned? I couldn’t. But, I did in the Left Foot Company sales room in Helsinki. An essentially spartan room with a shelf on one wall full of examples of the styles, colours and soles of shoes that I could ‘mix and match’. The 3D scan of both feet complete I then only had to try on a ‘tester’ pair to fine tune the scan to MY perception of a perfect fit. Three weeks later, a pair of beautiful mass-produced hand made, custom-fit shoes arrived by Royal Mail at my door. And, they were wonderful. Now, all I need to do is to go on-line and order my new shoes to replace my old one in the same style, or another style. I love it. Really. I enjoy shopping – except for shoes. I find it tedious to try on all those stiff shoes that take months to break in. These Left Foot Company shoes fit from the first time and continue to fit. A week after my first pair, I tried to order two more, but got frustrated and bailed out. Now, I have replaced my first pair with a few clicks at the website. A great example of ‘back-to-the-future’.

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Royal Plaza Hotel – Hong Kong

NEVER again. rude front desk. when i checked in this time, there was a nice envelope from a senior sales manager welcoming me. nice touch, but it was really only paper not true intent. when i checked in i asked for two things – a room with a view [because i really love Hong Kong] and not near the elevator. the room i was assigned [1007] was at the end of the corridor and had a view of a palm shrouded parapet. i returned and inquired about another room with a view. i was made to understand that i was given a really great ‘free’ upgrade to a delus room on the 13th floor, 1341. went up, and it did have a view, but was right next to the elevator shaft. three floors up, ALL the furniture EXACTLY the same. i returned to the desk again and asked for a different room. i told them i would happily pay for a better room. the receptionist, who asked me to wait so he could go and ask the duty manager about the request, returned and made it clear to me that they were doing me a huge favour implying that my request was all but out of line with anything that anyone should ask. they upgraded me again to a new room 1517. I made it clear how grateful i was and went on up to finally retire in this new ‘executive delux’ room. I get to the room with great anticipation, as this was clearly to be a wonderful room…..and it had EXACTLY all of the same furnishing with the addition of a microwave. nothing was different. a useless thin table built against the wall that no one could really work on, a counter in the room with a sink that made it feel like a studio apartment rather than a hotel……oh well.

A perfect example of how NOT to treat a guest. They made me feel that I was the schmuk AND the so called ‘upgrades’ were bogus. A case study in exactly how to lose business in the increasingly competitive hospitality market.

rating – 1 from 10, only because the hotel sits on top of easy public transportation so one can leave it.

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Mandarin Oriental Hotel – Singapore

harbour view. perfect room. wonderful. moved into my top 10 business rooms globally.

room 1507. in room speakers to connect to your laptop’s music. great roomy desk with plenty of easy energy access. very comfortable bed with duvet. only negative aspect are the old windows that really do not close well; nor do they open at all. the rest of the renovation was VERY successful. and the staff are eminantly helpeful and courteous.

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heating up

the fifth warmest year….ever.

see the visual data at one of my favorite sites from NASA – http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17553

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Don’t Give Blindly

These days, donating is like watching cable television: There are thousands of specialized possibilities. Even after you narrow your field – to one disease, one social problem, one continent – you’ll still confront too many choices. Fortunately, charities have watchdogs and reviewers to measure them against various yardsticks. Want to know how much of your money will end up with folks who reallly need it rather than spent on administation? Or do you simply want a list of non-profits that are best at, say, fighting disease in Africa? These wesbites deliver:

Charity Navigator

www.charitynavigator.org

Boasts a seachable sortable database plus top 10 lists in myriad categories

American Institute of Philantrophy

www.charitywatch.org

Issues letter grades for charities nationwide

Guidestar

www.guidestar.org.

Has a massive database of nonprofit financials.

Better Buiness Bureau Wise Giving Alliance

www.give.org

Identifies charities that spend at least 65% of their money on programmes.

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Hong Kong. 1996-2007

I lived in HK for the calendar year of 1996; the year before the hand over. i love Hong Kong.

10 years is all that it has taken for the once blue skies to turn grey. Even then the development from just north in the ‘special economic zone’ was starting to penetrate into the area. but it seemed that the ocean breezes would flush the nastyness away every evening. now you can barely see the peaks and troughs of Hong Kong.

the bright smog not only stings the eye, but hurts the heart.

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great forsters hotel

wow. what a find! great musty reooms that deserve to be so. elegantly carved main hall greets you as you stoop thru the 16th century portal. a roaring fire gave me a sense of both visual and physical warmth. the first room [43] was a waste of time. in an outbuilding and not worth even considering. the roar of the cars on the highway was only remediated by the earplugs i rammed in prior to sleep. the shower shoved under the sloping roof…..then i moved to the main house. the other end of the scale. you really felt that travelers have been sleeping there for a few centuries. wonderfully layed out room, nothing really fancy; it was simply great. the tithe barn is something to see. a 13th century barn added on to Henry VIII’s hunting lodge. the food was fabulous. worth every calorie!

i would go back in an instant….and next time take time to enjoy the grounds and surrounding area.

1. February 2007

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