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Say Good-Bye to Sleep-Inducing Hotel Music


You're on a long, tiring automobile trip -- maybe with a car full of kids -- and late into the evening you finally pull up to your motel. Ah, some peace and quiet and a good night's sleep.

Well, maybe not. You see, in an effort to attract a younger clientele, rather than just business men and women and older vacationers, U.S. hotel chains are turning up the volume on music in the lobbies, hallways, restaurants, and gift shops.

And instead of playing just smooth classical or easy-listening instrumental songs -- "elevator music" as we used to call it -- many hotel chains are leaving it up to employees to pick a few of the tunes. Obtrusive tunes, more than likely.

"It's really foreground music," an Omni Hotels executive told USA Today newspaper. "It's meant to be heard." Not background music. Foreground. In the words of a hospitality consultant quoted in the newspaper, the hotels are "trying to make travel more of a personal experience. Not just that I checked in, went to bed, shaved, and checked out."

The InterContinental chain will be launching a music program for which it is hiring what it calls "regional composers" to write original music to match the locale. Perhaps urban sounds for Detroit, grunge tunes for Seattle.

So let's review. In today's hip hotel lobbies, the easy-listening maestro, Mantovani, is out. Rapper Fifty Cent is in.

If this truly is the start of a trend, perhaps mints under the pillow will be history as well. In their place: wads of cotton to stuff in your ears, because remember, the key word for the new hotel music is LOUD!

More essays in Ted Landphair's Only in America series

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