Hotel Intrigue and a Banished Denizen

Travel Blog  •  Alexander Basek  •  04.23.09 | 1:47 PM ET

Photo by ravedelay via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Word came down recently that plans for Denizen Hotels, a Hilton-owned and operated chain dreamt up by two former Starwood execs, would be suspended after Starwood filed a lawsuit alleging that the two execs took trade secrets with them when they left the company. In this case, they allegedly nabbed development plans and encouraged employees to jump ship.

Denizen was slated to be a W-level competitor from Hilton, hence the temptation to nab the info. Corporate intrigue! Skullduggery! Tiny soaps!

Two things stand out here. One is that, presumably, Hilton knows how to operate hotels already, so did these fellas really need to take notes on Starwood’s negotiating tactics, for example? Second, what aspects of a hotel experience can you really trademark?  Ian Schrager invented the “boutique hotel” as we know it today 25 years ago, right down to the cramped but stylish rooms near a happenin’ bar area, lots of furniture with pointy edges and utter lack of floral patterns. Now, just about every cheap chic hotel follows the path he blazed: Thompson is W is NYLO ad infinitum.

The pleasure in many a hotel stay is finding something unique about the place. There can be too much of it at a B&B where they insist the cats sleep in your room, but little tweaks—the light bulbs at the Chateau Marmont for example—make all the difference. Even the boutique chains try hard to distinguish their individual properties. We’re not talking about a Ramada where the bed has to be in the same place so businessmen can find it when they’re half-asleep.

What do you think? Are there certain signatures you like in your hotel rooms, or should each one feel like a hospitality snowflake?

Alexander Basek is a food and travel writer based in New York City. He is the Best Deals reporter for Travel + Leisure. His writing has also appeared in the New York Post, Time Out New York, and Fodor's.

3 Comments for Hotel Intrigue and a Banished Denizen

Chris 04.23.09 | 3:27 PM ET

Clean sheets and the absence of bugs are really my top criteria. Anything else is gravy.

wie bali 04.23.09 | 11:07 PM ET

logo the hotel look similiar with hotel w bali ...!

Pam Mandel 04.25.09 | 7:08 PM ET

With the war on liquids, I really notice the products in the room because I tend to fly carry on only. I also actually notice if the lightbulbs are CFL, if I can find the freakin’ outlets, and if there’s other green stuff going on. We stayed in a place recently that had dispensers for the product, bully for them, no tiny plastic bottles in the landfill.

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