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Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 83

Congratulations To Lodging Hospitality Editor Ed Watkins; Did You Hear About 'Airbnb'?;
A Sows Ears Becomes a Silk Purse; On The Verge; Quote of the Month;
Give This Perfect Gift for The Holiday Season

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC
December 2, 2011

1.  Congratulations to Lodging Hospitality Editor Ed Watkins

At the recent International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show, Ed Watkins received the Spartan Hospitality Business Champion Award from The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.  Ed has worked at Lodging Hospitality since 1974 and as editor since 1980.  What a record! Thousands of sharp-edged, well-written columns about events and trends in the hotel business.  I always appreciate (and envy) his no-nonsense, straightforward reporting ability.

2.  Did You Hear About “Airbnb”?

The New York Times (11/13/11) reported “Airbnb’s Lodging Gets Tested, and a Mixed Bag Is The Result”:

Since its debut in 2008, the company, based in San Francisco has booked more than two
million nights of lodging all over the world.  But it’s not a hotel.  Instead it allows people
to rent out their entire home or apartment- or just a room or a bed- to others who find
Marriott boring or want to see life in a area as a local would.

In three years, Airbnb (whose name refers to bed-and-breakfast establishments) claims to have about 100,000 listings in 19,000 cities and towns in 192 countries. 

Wikipedia reports that Brian Chesky and Joe Gabbia founded the site and that listings include private homes, entire apartments, castles, boats, manors, tree houses, tipis, igloos, private islands and other properties.  The company is well known for its freewheeling company culture, which has been praised by Business Insider and the Wall St. Journal.  For instance, Airbnb employees wear hoodies to press conferences and business meetings.

New York’s state legislature passed a law in 2010 making it illegal to rent out Class A residential space for less than 30 days.  It remains to be seen how this will affect Airbnb’s business.

3.  A Sows Ear Becomes a Silk Purse

The Bowery House, an old rundown rooming house in New York, has been transformed into a chic version of a European youth hostel.  It has such amenities as marble bathrooms with heated floors plus fixtures by Horus, Ralph Lauren towels and bathrobes, Wi-Fi access throughout and a first-rate security system but with communal bathrooms down the hall.  The developers, Alessandro Zampedri (a former Formula One race car driver) and Sanford Kunkel (a real estate developer) said that rates range from $59 to $129 per night and that occupancy is running at 97% to date.  Zampedri said that “Our biggest expense is our cleaning service.  Everything must sparkle 24 hours a day.”  He admits that the Bowery House isn’t for everyone.  The second floor still houses nine tenants from the hotel’s earlier incarnation as a single-room-occupancy hotel.  Zampedri says that hotel “bathrooms actually offer more privacy than the locker rooms in any high-end gym and nobody complains about those.”

4.  On The Verge

The 114-Year-old Belleview Biltmore hotel in Belleair, Florida is on its last legs.  It is reported (by Lori Helfand,  St. Petersburg Times 11/18/11) that “a consultant for the owners is pitching plans to raze most of the hotel to make way for up to 86 townhomes.  The fate of the historic resort may rest in the hands of Belleair’s leaders…. In late October, Richard Heisenbottle, a Coral Gables architect who worked for the hotel’s previous owner, revealed plans of his own to save the Biltmore.  He argued that a hotel on the site could be successful.  And he urged residents to think twice before they let the heart and soul of Belleair be ripped down”.

My new book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York, tells the stories about thirty-two hotels that defied the passage of time and are still in operation.  For eighteen of them, it was the fortuitous creation of the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission in 1965.  The landmarks law was enacted in response to the demolition of the iconic Pennsylvania Station in 1963.  Unfortunately, Belleair and Pinellas County have far fewer protections for historical properties.  The residents should join together and protest because a restored Biltmore could attract world travelers seeking a resort with history like the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan or the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. 

Here’s a listing of the Biltmore’s famous guests:  President Barack Obama, when he was a U.S. Senator, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George W. Bush, the Duke of Windsor, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Tony Bennett, Jerry Lee Lewis, Robin Leach, Cesar Romero, Billy Joel, Joan Baez, the Temptations, Gene Autry, Peter Marshall, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Joe Di Maggio, Dionne Warwick, Fred McMurray, Christie Brinkley, the Lennon Sisters, George Foreman, Norman Rockefeller, Jane Pauley, Gary Trudeau, Bob Dylan, Caroline Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Dizzy Dean and practically all the golf greats from 1900 through 1940.

5. Quote of the Month

“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is often the bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy.  The turkey is a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”

                                                                                    Benjamin Franklin, January 26, 1781

6.  Give This Perfect Gift for The Holiday Season

I’ve just published my new book, Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York.  It contains 32 chapters, 380 pages, 35 illustrations, a foreword, preface, introduction, bibliography and index.  
In the foreword, Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D. (Divisional Dean, Clinical Professor, HVS Chair at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management) writes:  
Stanley Turkel has gathered information that reveals how history,
the economy, society, technology and entrepreneurship have
created among the most iconic and distinctive hotels in the world…. 

You can order the book on  Just click on the “Buy The Book” link for a reduced rate.


Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC

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Also See: Nobody Asked me, But...No. 81; AAHOA Strikes Back; Would You Believe Such a Study? Independent Franchisee Associations On The Rise; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / October 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 80; Impertinent Questions Still in Search of Pertinent Answers; Questions for 32,500 Franchised Hotel Owners; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / September 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 79; Relevant Brand Management?; Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel; The Magical Americana of New York; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / August 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 78; AAHOA Chairman Hits a Home Run; Universal Franchisee Bill of Rights; HomeSpun; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / July 2011

Nobody Asked me, But... No. 77: Public Relations Trumps Common Sense; Nobody Does It Better; Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room to Close; Pay Attention to State Franchise Laws; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / June 2011

Nobody Asked me, But... No. 76: Empire State Building's 80th Anniversary and the Waldorf-Astoria; "Defying Time: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York"; Impertinent Question Seeking a Pertinent Answer; Wyndham Hotel Group Reports; Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / May 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 75: Blackstone Reportedly Prepping Hilton for Flotation; Things Are Seldom What They Seem, Skim Milk Masquerades As Cream; Quote of the Month; First Announcement / Stanley Turkel / April 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 74: The Triumph of Public Relations; Helpful Hotels; Court Rules Holiday Inn Commits “Reprehensible Fraud”; Quote of the Month / March 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 73: Impertinent Question Still Seeking a Pertinent Answer; The Fountain of Old Age; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / February 2011

Impertinent Question In Search of a Pertinent Answer; Does The Industry Really Need Another Brand?; Hilton’s Hands Get Slapped in Starwood Settlement; China- Based Developers Buy U.S. Hotels; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / January 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 71 - Impertinent Questions Still Seeking Pertinent Answers; The Baseball Business…Where Next?; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / December 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 70 -John Q. Hammons, Impertinent Question, Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / November 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 69 - Large Banks Creating Crisis For Hoteliers; Are Room Telephones Obsolete? / Stanley Turkel / October 2010

Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers; The Best Franchise Website; Free Wi-Fi at Top of Amenity List / Stanley Turkel / September 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 67 : Stanley Turkel's Review of Budget/Economy Hotels Following a Three Week Pennsylvania Road Odyssey / Stanley Turkel / August 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 66 : Recognizing Three Hotel Industry Experts Whose Accomplishments Are Unique - Bjorn Hanson, Peter Greenberg and Richard Warnick / Stanley Turkel / July 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 65: A Well-Deserved Compliment for Steve Rushmore; Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers / Stanley Turkel / June 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 64: Best Western Finally Makes a Move; Cuba, The Caribbean’s Hottest Destination / Stanley Turkel / May 2010

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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