Room With a View
by Larry Mundy
August 2006

The Basic Hotel Shower-Tub Combination - a Relic?


 
One thing is for certain, traveling is a dirty job – even when a guest is just headed from Des Moines to Albuquerque to spend the night and attend a morning meeting.  Airports, taxis, and subways are not held to the highest hygiene standards.  And even a guest who arrives in his own car has probably been in a harsh environment, if his car is like mine and was last cleaned during the Eisenhower administration.  Inevitably, your guests are meeting an important client, or hoping to get lucky in the bar.  They want to change into clothes freshly wrinkled from being tossed around in their suitcases and frozen in the cargo holds of 737’s.  So first, they want to clean themselves.

The basic shower-tub combination has been around, well, longer than me, and that’s a very long time.  It is the standard hotel bath configuration, because the guest can choose to stand and shower, or lie and soak.  But lately there’s been a vicious attack on this historic something-for-everybody institution.  Several lodging brands, at all price points, are declaring the tub a relic and specifying ever-fancier shower stalls.

Let me admit it up front: I’m a soaker.  I think there is nothing more relaxing than a hot bath, at least if the hotel hasn’t decorated the tub bottom with those silly non-slip rubber pads that stick to your nether region.  I don’t really care that I’m steeping in my own “dirty water,” even though I know you get cleaner in a shower, because I’m not really that dirty.  I’m tired, I’m jet-lagged, I’m sore from contorting into an airline seat designed for munchkins, and I’m not interested in traipsing down to the hotel’s lukewarm whirlpool in my skivvies to find it full of partying teenagers.  One of the joys of staying in a hotel is that there is an endless supply of water hot enough to parboil shrimp, with just a turn of the tap.

I am told scientific research indicates 87% of the adult population prefers showers to baths, and therefore that we would make most people happy with a fancier shower and no space-wasting tub.  To which I say, almost the same percentage of Americans are right-handed.  Those 13% of left-handed people are typically viewed as odd and clumsy (and in my case, singularly unattractive), and thus more likely to injure themselves.  Do we design a right-handed hotel, in the hope those odd lefties will move on to the next hostelry down the block?  What would your P&L look like with a 13% drop in occupancy?
 
And while 87% of adults don’t need tubs, 100% of children do.  Ever toss a 2-year-old in a hot shower?  They scream and cry and people from the Child Welfare Office view you with the disdain ordinarily reserved for war criminals.  Little rubber duckies don’t float worth a darn in a shower, and you can’t lean in and scrub your urchin without getting drenched yourself.  You can tell the guests whose rooms only have shower stalls; their kids look like Pig Pen in the Peanuts comic strip.  If there are enough kids like this in the hotel, you will be cleaning your pool filter twice an hour.

The college-age crowd likes tubs, too.  Not because they bathe in them, but because during Spring Break, a properly-sized hotel tub will hold 6 cases of beer and 4 bags of ice.  A shower stall is no match for this.

Many elderly people are a little unstable on their feet.  They are more unstable standing in soapy water.  So we place grab rails in the shower stall, right?  So they can bathe themselves one-handed?  Try that sometime yourself.

A shower stall is not good for leg-shaving, either.  Shower-only hotels force women to learn the “stork dance,” standing on one foot in slippery, soapy water while wielding a sharp object and contorting the free leg into shaveable position.  Guys, imagine playing “Twister” on a greased surface while wielding a Swiss army knife.  Oversized shower stalls with seats are only marginally better, because not all women are the same height, the seats are slippery, and in a shower the shaving gel goes down the drain before it’s of any use.

So if children, young adults, elderly people and women find legitimate uses for a hotel tub, who does that leave?  Dirty old men.  We are designing hotel rooms for dirty old men.  I say, give them another racy cable channel on the TV and let the rest of us enjoy our tubs.



Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas.  His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
 
Contact:

Larry Mundy
LJM2804@yahoo.com

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Also See: Different Views of Customer Service - The Airline “Passenger Experience” vs the Hotel Guest Experience/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Hotel Guest With Half a Brain / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Latest Thing - Fractional Ownership Of Things or FOOT Financing for Hotels / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Floor Surfaces - Hard or Soft? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Bathroom Origami - That Tiny Detail of Carefully Triangulated Toilet Paper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
A Chain, a System, a Franchise, a Collection, a Group, a Brand... / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Forensic Hotel Housekeeper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Exercise Room in Your Hotel - Sweating the Details / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Remembering the old-time Hotel Engineering Department / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Curse of the Hotel Lobby-Dwellers / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
What Do You Do With an Old Hotel? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Hotel Smokers: A Dying Breed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May  2006
The New Food & Beverage – Food “Just Like Home”  / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Guest Privacy – It’s Not Just a Door Tag Anymore / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Soon Every Town in America Will Have an Unused Convention Center / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Hotel Pool Safety 101 / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Where Not To Build a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy
My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006



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