News / USA

    Why Your Hotel Room Might Come Without a Closet or a Desk

    FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2016 photo, a prototype room of Hilton’s new Tru brand on display in Los Angeles. Instead of desks, rooms in the new hotels will feature chairs with large armrests to place a laptop.
    FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2016 photo, a prototype room of Hilton’s new Tru brand on display in Los Angeles. Instead of desks, rooms in the new hotels will feature chairs with large armrests to place a laptop.
    Associated Press

    Hotels are going for a new minimalist look to attract younger guests, but the move has left some experienced travelers angry, wondering how they're expected to get work done without a desk.
     
    Younger travelers, hotels note, just want a clean and efficient space to stay. They spend less time in rooms and like to socialize and work in vibrant lobbies with a sense of community.
     
    So carpets are being replaced by easy-to-clean laminate floors. Tubs are being ripped out in favor of glass showers. And instead of working at a desk, guests are increasingly expected to use glorified window sills or oversized TV trays.
     
    If those "flexible workspaces'' aren't conducive to creativity, hotels are hoping to nudge guests to bring their laptops to the lobby, where they might buy a glass of wine while typing away.
     
    But for seasoned travelers who enjoy working in the quiet of their rooms this has caused major headaches.
     
    "Flexible, I have no problem with. Unusable, is what I have a problem with,'' says Don Wright, 59, a computer consultant from Lexington, Kentucky.
     
    Often, these surfaces aren't "bigger than a sheet of paper,'' he says, adding that a laptop might fight, but not also a binder full of documents.
     
    Wright has spent up to 200 nights a year in hotels and understands that many make changes to cater to younger travelers. But he can't imagine any millennial deciding not to stay in a hotel because the room has a desk. But for older road warriors, a lack of a desk is a deal breaker.
     
    "When you are 25 all is well and you can roll up in a ball and sit anywhere,'' Wright says. "But when you turn 45, 50 or older, your body doesn't like those types of positions.''
     
    It's such a concern that frequent traveler forums online list desk-less hotels to avoid.
     
    Charles Kron, a 51-year-old insurance company training consultant from Atlanta, criticized Marriott in one such discussion for ``moving away from being a business hotel chain.''
     
    On one trip, he used the ironing board as a desk.
     
    Heading to the lobby isn't a solution.
     
    "I'm not on the road to be social,'' says Kron, who spends 150 nights a year traveling. "I'm on the road to get work done.''
     
    Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson says guests no longer want a full dresser, closet and desk. Removing some items gives rooms a greater sense of space. Add a big TV, fast Wi-Fi and they are happy.
     
    "We can go too far if we say no work surface is the approach,'' Sorenson says. "That's not what we are doing. Increasingly, we settle in a place where there is a desk. It's a smaller desk. It might sometimes be a flexible space.''
     
    Sorenson says the goal is to make rooms feel more modern.
     
    Take the bathroom. Historically, it was a small space with a door that swung in. By swapping the tub for a shower and converting the door to slide into the wall, the space feels larger.
     
    "People expect a better bath experience than they expected 25 or 30 years ago,'' Sorenson says. The redesigned rooms are "very much like that experience you have at home.''
     
    While Marriott has taken most of the heat from road warriors for removing desks at some properties, it isn't alone. Several chains have been pushing new designs that upend the traditional room.
     
    At Best Western's new Vib brand, bed headboards double as desks. Closets have been replaced with hooks on the wall and instead of a dresser there are drawers under the bed. Hilton's new Tru won't have closets. Instead there will be an open space with hangers and hooks on the wall. And the desk is replaced with a chair that includes a spot for a tiny laptop or tablet. Starwood's Aloft brand also skips out on the closet, instead offering some hangers behind a curtain in a built-in wall in the bathroom.
     
    While hotels say this is what customers want, there is also a cost-savings. The big hotel chains don't own most of their properties but license out rights to them. And the owners and developers are pushing the parent companies to cut costs.
     
    "They are more concerned about the [construction] cost, because they don't have enough time to make that up if we hit a downturn,'' says Best Western CEO David Kong. ``People can't make the numbers work.''
     
    That's one of the reasons Hilton's Tru will cost about $84,000 a room to build, compared to $110,000 for its Hampton Inn brand. And Best Western just launched a new brand, Glo, which will cost $65,000 per room for construction.
     
    These rooms are also easier to clean meaning hotels can pare down their housekeeping staff.
     
    "This industry is starting to figure out what is efficient,'' says Scott Berman, who looks at the hotel industry for consulting and accounting firm PwC.  "It begins with labor.''
     

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora