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Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 64

Best Western Finally Makes a Move;
Cuba, The Caribbean�s Hottest Destination

By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, May 17, 2010

1.  Best Western Finally Makes a Move

David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International reported on April 19, 2010 that BW will separate its properties into Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier beginning in February 2011.  This long-overdue action will bring Premier to the United States after nearly a decade in Europe and Asia where it has been synonymous with four-star hotel quality.  U.S. owners of these Best Western hotels have long urged this action so that they could command higher rates.  The new BW Atrea prototype hotels will be natural candidates for the Premier designation.

As Jeff Higley, Editor of HotelNewsNow, wrote on April 20, 2010:

�The beauty and curse of the Best Western system is that all properties are not created equal.  Some are truly roadside motels that hue up to the image of the brand that was founded as a referral group by M.K. Guertin in 1946.  Others are entrenched mid-market hotels that serve airports and suburban locations.  And others are upper-end hotels in urban or resort locations that can demand higher rates then their brand brethren.�
In this important quality assessment, Best Western reports that it has already separated more than 500 under-performing properties in a quality assurance trimming and improved its customer care while developing its new prototypes.

2.  Cuba: The Caribbean�s Hottest Destination

Cuba reports that more than 2.4 million tourists visited the island in 2009, up 3.3 percent from 2008�s record.  Because of shorter stays and discounts, brought on by the global recession, total revenues were down overall.  Foreign visitors generated over $2.7 billion in 2008, a 13.5 percent increase over 2007.

Public opinion polls in the U.S. indicated that two-thirds of travelers, including 55 percent of Cuban-Americans favor an end to all restrictions on travel to Cuba.

The Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which prohibits the U.S. president from regulating travel to and from Cuba and liberalizes agricultural trade, could be brought to a vote in the House of Representatives as early as July 2010.  If the bill passes the House, it will be attached to a Senate appropriations bill and, if approved, would go to President Obama, who already has said he would sign it into law. This would open travel to Cuba for all U.S. citizens starting in 2011.

Back in 2000, my wife and I visited Cuba and during our weeklong trip visited beaches, farms, schools, reforestation projects, hospitals, historic forts and old Havana complete with a display of restored classic automobiles.  The relative scarcity of automobile internal combustion engines offered clear vistas and easier breathing.  Cuba�s per capita CO² output is one-tenth that of the United States.

We even attended a Passover Seder at a Havana synagogue.  We stayed at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, a five-star hotel built in 1930 and toured in new Volvo air-conditioned busses, complete with bathroom at the rear.

�There�s a growing sense in the business community that if we�re going to trade with North Korea, Vietnam, Russia and  some countries in the Middle East, why aren�t we trading with Cuba?� said Thomas J. Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (back in 2001) �People are asking fundamental questions about a policy that�s clearly illogical�.

A Cornell University Research Report * entitled, �Cuba at the Crossroads: The Role of the U.S. Hospitality Industry in Cuba Tourism Initiatives� stated in 2007,

�The process of rapprochement can only start with the lifting of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.  To that end, we encourage U.S. hospitality business interests of all types to urge the executive branch and Congress to eliminate the embargo, which has arguably outlived its original purpose� We see a historic opportunity for profitable investment in a �new Cuba�� we contend that now is the time to advance prescriptive, forward-thinking insight designed to shift the thinking of the U.S. business community about Cuba and, in so doing, shift the thinking of the Cuban government, businesses, and people about their neighbors to the worth.�

*Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly by Sergei Khrushchev, Tony L.
  Henthorne and Michael S. LaTour, Volume 48, number 4.

3.  Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers

  � Question:  How is it possible for the Arizona State government to ignore American history that contains multiple racial occurrences in which newly-arrived immigrants were confronted by the authorities.  Since all Americans (except native Americans) are immigrants to the United States, every family has recollections of their newly-arrived ancestors being harassed by immigration officials.  As I was growing up in a first-generation household, stories were still being told about the Palmer Raids after World War I.

  � Question:  In face of a resurgence of bed bugs (BBs) in hotel rooms, why don�t the chemical companies develop a safe and effective pesticide to eliminate them?  If you read the current hotel literature, you discover that guests carry BBs into hotels unknowingly in luggage, clothing, blankets, and pillows.  Two factors, experts say, are probably the major causes of the comeback of BBs: the banning of DDT and the overall increase in travel, both domestic and international.  The recommended procedure to get rid of BBs is both cumbersome and costly.  The New York State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends that hotels �hire a licensed pest control professional to inspect regularly and quickly address infestations when they occur.  Work with your vendor to make sure the following steps are taken when you receive a BB complaint:

  • Thoroughly inspect the guest�s luggage and clothing, as well as the infested hotel room and the new room to which the guest was moved.
  • If a room is infested, all machine-washable bedding, curtains, rugs, towels, and bathrobes should be cleaned separately in the hottest water and dried on the hottest recommended cycle.  Dry clean materials if required.
  • Scrub mattress seams with a stiff brush to dislodge bed bugs and their eggs.
  • To remove some bed bugs and eggs, use a heavy duty HEPA vacuum on the mattress, bed frame, furniture, floor and carpet.  Pay special attention to cracks and spaces.  Discard the used vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag before using the vacuum in another room.
  • Place infested mattresses or box springs in zippered plastic covers and store them for at least one year before using them again.
  • Securely bag all discarded materials to prevent further infestation.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and loose wallpaper.
  • Seal cracks around the baseboards of the room completely with caulking material.
  • Treat the room with special cleaning products and/or pesticides, if necessary.  (Pest control products may only be used by professionals licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.)
  • Reinspect the room periodically to ensure that bed bugs are gone.
  • Make a visual inspection for bed bugs part of the staff�s cleaning routine every time a room is vacated.�

4.  Quote of the Month

�Be well, do good work and stay in touch�.
                                       Garrison Keillor

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC has just published �Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.� It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters devoted to each of the following pioneers: John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey, Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe and Kemmons Wilson.  It also has a foreword by Stephen Rushmore, preface, introduction, bibliography and index. Visit to order the book.

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
[email protected]

Also See: Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 63: Can Airlines Learn From Hotels?; Memo to Ian Schrager / Stanley Turkel / April 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 62 / Do the Radisson Franchisees Agree with Carlson's billion-dollar Makeover Program? At Last: A Win-Win Victory for Tourism; Congratulations to the Harris Rosen Foundation / Stanley Turkel / March 2010

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