A friend who makes a scented product recently landed an account with a broker who supplies amenities to hotels on the Vegas Strip. On the strip mind you, not the budget accommodations miles away from the action or the older downtown/Fremont Street hotels. Within three weeks he delivered annual contracts with four properties for daily stock of her product. Her profit on each unit is twenty-eight cents. Which hardly sounds like it’s worth the effort. But that’s for a total of 3,800 rooms. Per day. For a year. Or in numbers that have a real meaning, she just landed new accounts worth just under $375,000 annually. In profit.
Recently married to her partner of 15 years, I’ve asked that they adopt me. I think it’d be cool to have a pair of lesbian for mothers. Especially rich ones.
Nothing stokes the fires of entrepreneurship like the scent of money; we’ve spent many nights since brainstorming ideas for other unique hotel amenities we could offer to 5-Star properties. A few have real potential. Which may get developed if we can ever get her partner to stop pushing her idea of branded, disposable dildos. Lesbians. They have such a one-track mind. But then mini bottles of shampoo, soaps, toothbrushes, showercaps, and disposable razors have been done to death. And maybe a guest who just lost a few grand at the tables would be happy to find a vibrating friend left on his or her pillow as part of the turndown service. So if you check into the Bellagio next year and find a dildo on your bed, you know who to thank.
While I often joke about how magical the word free is to a Thai, the truth is it works its wonder on all of us regardless of the culture we were raised in or how large our bank account is. And one of the first things almost everyone of us does when we check into a hotel is to look to see what free goodies have been left for us. Realistically, none of those amenities are actually free; their cost has been carefully considered and added into the price of your room. But since they don’t show up as itemized costs on your bill at check-out, everybody considers them to be freebies. And the more you pay for a room, the more free stuff you get.
Of course, being human those free amenities incite greed in all of us. I have a friend who is a bit of a cheapskate who, as soon as he notes what the hotel thought he deserved as a guest, calls down to the front desk to complain that there is no (insert whatever there actually was) in his room, thereby scoring a free set of whatever it was that was free to begin with. Another, who I never considered to be cheap, advised me to never leave an unused bottle of the hotel’s shampoo out during housekeeping service because they would not then leave you another. And whenever I travel with my buddy Dave and we stay at a nice property, when we return to our room after the turndown service, he rushes in to grab up all the chocolates or mints left on the pillows. If my lesbian friends end up marketing those dildos to the Bellagio, I’m booking a night there for Dave and I. That’ll teach the bastard.
I don’t have enough hair left on my head to actually require a daily shampooing, haven’t for years but go through the motions anyway. And though I know every hotel I stay at will have free little bottles of shampoo, I pack a bottle from home anyway. So I seldom use the free shampoo. For years when my niece was young, I’d pack all those free, unused shampoos in my bag and then give them to her in a large box at Christmas. (It was an add-on gift, I’m not a cheap bastard.) She loved them. The year I thought she was getting too old to appreciate that booty and didn’t bother with it, I think I ruined her Xmas holiday. She is now in her thirties and reminds me every year to not forget her box of shampoos.
Not that she ever gets to see any from Thailand these days. Noom considers hotel amenities to be gifts left by the hotel’s management specifically for him. He hordes all those little bottles and package like they were gold. He rates the hotels we stay at by how much and what kind of free amenities are left for him. And that hotel had better not skimp and try to pull a fast one on him. He was quite upset at one hotel’s effrontery of not providing one item, which took a good hour of attempted translation and a round or two of charades to identify. The missing amenity turned out to be those ubiquitous cheap, plastic shower caps. Noom would have had an easier time of explaining what was missing if he knew what in the hell they were. But he didn’t have a clue. He just knew he was supposed to get one. Daily. I empathized with his plight. And then explained what a shower cap was. At the next hotel we stayed at he dutifully put his free shower cap on before taking his morning shower. And then took it off so that he could wash his hair.
I try to act as though I’m above the allure of those free miniature bottles of shampoos and conditioners, that the little bars of soap are not large enough for use, that the disposable razors are so cheaply made they should be disposed of before use. I do grab the toothbrushes though. They make great trick toothbrushes back home – a fresh mouth on the guy you just picked up for the night is a necessity, but you really don’t want him using yours. I’m not impressed by the slippers some hotels provide – I’d rather they properly clean their floors. And in Asia, the robes provided – which are not free or meant for you to take with you unless you stay at a really expensive place – are never large enough to fit my body. But the freebie that is de rigueur in my opinion in Thailand is the daily stock of bottled water. Which from dump to Trump, every hotel in The Land of Smiles provides to its guests for free. Some are just a bit parsimonious about it.
I don’t know what the wholesale price for bottled water is in Thailand, but at 5 baht for an ice-cold one at the Weekend market, it can’t be much. And I get that every satang counts, that they can add up to a significant amount by the end of the year. But then so can the expense of dealing with dead guests who did not properly hydrate. That much the hotel industry in Thailand has figured out. Some, to my dismay, have also figured out a way to make a profit off guests’ hydration needs. Two free bottles of water a day is a standard freebee in Thailand hotels. Which two are free is the rub.
Obviously, if you are gonna take a free bottle of water with you for your day’s excursion, the plastic bottles are the way to go. But some hotels stock both plastic and glass bottle in their rooms. Those glass bottles – which are twice the size of the plastic ones – are free, the plastic bottles of water cost. And often as much as a beer on Soi Twilight. Which novice traveller don’t realize until they check out and get billed for what they thought were free bottles of water.
Noom prefers his water at room temperature. Don’t ask me why. So part of his checking out to see what management gifted him routine includes pulling the free bottles of water out of the fridge. The first time he did, bypassing the clunky glass bottles in favor of the lighter plastic ones, I explained the difference. He didn’t believe me. And checked with a housekeeper. Noom has a finely developed sense of what is right. And what is his due. So you can imagine how incensed he was at that trick. It still pisses him off when he finds glass bottles of water in our room. No problemo. When the hotel has opted to play the free/not free water game I turn a blind eye to Noom stealing the batteries out of the television remote at check-out time.
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