Luxury Hotel Peeves–A Rant in Four Acts

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I’m back and furiously trying to get the three long multimedia slide shows, one for each leg of the jet trip, done and sent off to National Geographic Expeditions so they can dupe them and send one to each passenger. It’s fun working in iMovie and iDVD when you’re totally jetlagged. It makes you feel like you are not as smart as you think you are!

In the meantime, I had a chance to bang off a rant on the plane home. It illustrates just how nasty I can get when I’m sleep deprived, but what the hell, here goes:

It’s been almost two straight months, 18 countries, and countless hotel rooms. Most of the latter in much better establishments than I’m used to staying….much, much better.

By and large, the luxe hotel experience is kinda nice (but I tried really hard not to get used to it!). However, I am stunned at how many things about some of these these places are, well, downright frustrating. Things that much cheaper hotel chains got right years ago.

I don’t want to be whiny, (but I am, ‘cuz I’m profoundly jet-lagged) but there are reasons (besides my lack of income and inherent cheapness) that I stay at regular two or three-star business hotels and not these types of places. Here’s a quick list of my luxury hotel pet peeves.

1. Playing Hide the Plug–With a few notable exceptions, many of the fancy places don’t understand that we travelers need plugs, and we need plenty of them and we need them to be accessible.

I don’t care if the table I’m sitting at in my designer-furnished room is made from rare Burmese teak smuggled out of the jungle on the backs of thousands of specially-trained army ants in the service of Sultan of Brunei and carved to its current state of exquisiteness by a band of blind eunuchs who commit ritual suicide after they finish their works of art.

If I have to crawl on my hands and knees under said exquisiteness to find one damn plug, it’s all for naught. Why don’t they get that? What we need is a power strip with universal plug receptors on the top of the main table in the room. There are a few places that do something just like that in a very tasteful way (yeah, Four Seasons in Istanbul, you go!).

But if I have to get on my hands and knees to look for electricity, I think they should charge the damn interior decorator, and not me or my client, to stay in the room. C’mon! With apologies to Richard III, “My kingdom for an outlet!”

For a look at some of my other hotel pet peeves, and a chance to add a few of your own, hit the jump! (more…)

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The Great Video Dilemma…Redux

It would have been cool to have a video clip of these Shinto priests processing out of the temple after a ceremony, but while my video rig wasn't ready, my camera was! Photo © Bob Krist

Well, my marathon trip is coming to a close in beautiful Istanbul. And one other thing (besides the weather) has been bugging me on the trip.

Whether it’s a speed dating tour like the one I’m currently on, or a more in-depth assignment like my recent city profile of Buenos Aires for National Geographic Traveler, I am having a devil of a time fitting in the time to shoot video, let alone collect audio.

I’ve seen such stunning work from younger PJs who are combining both in beautiful stories. Maybe it’s because I’m from a pre-multi-tasking generation, but I really find it difficult to do both, or all three. I’ve written about this before and it hasn’t gotten any easier since.

I think part of the reason is that, while video-enabled DSLRs produce stunning-looking video, shooting video with them still presents, shall we say, ergonomic challenges.

First you put on your Zacuto viewfinder, then you put on your mic, your mixer, and your follow focus rig, and by the time you do that, the subject you want to video is three towns away, and maybe even retired. When, I wonder, will Nikon or Canon come up with a camera with the same chip, that takes the same lenses, but is actually designed to shoot video and not jerry-rigged to do so?

For my speculation on that and other video ironies, hit the jump.

(more…)

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