THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2021 --
We're just hours from a crucial business travel moment: the three-day weekend. Far be it from me to clutter your mind with clever introductions, so let me just get to some items I've been meaning to mention.
EVEN HOTELIERS ADMIT HOTELS SUCK NOW
You've surely read one JoeSentMe contributor or another complaining about their hotel stays during the pandemic. And I warned last year
that lodging would never be the same.
But frequent traveler David Kong was really
pissed about one recent stay. And his complaints, aired this week in front of an audience of hotel executives, is a perfect encapsulation of lodging circa 2021.
"I was a guest at a hotel in Michigan over the summer," he explained. "This hotel normally charges $250 a night. I paid $400. There's no room service. There's no restaurant and no breakfast. No housekeeping. Just bare-bones minimum. And I'm paying $400--$150 more than I used to pay. How do you think I feel? It leaves a really bad taste in my mouth."
"Guess what?" Kong fumed to the collected hoteliers. "I'm never going back to that hotel."
By the way, David Kong is no run-of-the-mill frequent traveler who was lucky enough to complain to a gaggle of hotel executives. He is literally one of them, the president and chief executive of BWH Hotel Group, commonly known as Best Western Hotels.
LAFAYETTE, WE ARE HERE ... WITH DIGITAL PAPERWORK
That Shakespeare fellow sure was prescient. Because if "summer's lease hath all too short a date" wasn't referring to this year's blink-of-an-eye travel period between the arrival of the vaccine and the spread of the Delta variant I have no idea what Bill from Stratford-on-Avon was talking about. This is especially true now that the EU has pulled the United States from its safe list and a few countries (Italy, Sweden and Bulgaria) are already making it more difficult for us to visit.
But that shouldn't dim our admiration for France during this all-too-short summer travel lease. Alone among EU nations, France managed to create a digital "green pass" (or passe sanitaire
) that could be claimed even if you were vaccinated elsewhere. Surf here
for a pretty good primer on how to acquire one. And do acquire one if your travels take you to France. You'll need it to get into most public places, including restaurants and cafes.
LIKE GAMBLING ON A FLIGHT FROM JFK ISN'T ENOUGH ...
The only thing worse than flying into or out of New York/Kennedy Airport is sleeping there. JFK hotels are notoriously, epically awful. Even the 2019 arrival of the TWA Hotel
, carved from the landmark Eero Saarinen terminal, hasn't helped. Av Geeks swoon, but the hotel is brutally overpriced, not particularly comfortable and festooned with cheap fittings masquerading as 1960s chic.
So the arrival of the 400-room Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World
almost exactly one month ago gave weary flyers some hope. The reality, however, is a crapshoot ... literally.
The newly built property is adjacent to an all-machine casino called Resorts World
, itself built adjacent to down-at-the-mouth Aqueduct Racetrack. The hotel is physically discreet, but you cannot ignore the casino vibe because virtually all of the guests so far have been gamblers looking to score off slots, video blackjack and strange crap tables with huge dice under glass.
spacious (375 square feet), quiet and comfortable. Firm but fluffy beds and large, walk-in showers are good. There are in-room coffeemakers and mini-fridges. The workspace and desk chair are fine and there's a gigantic 60-inch smart TV bolted to the wall. The lobby-level Regency Club isn't particularly plush, but the breakfast and cocktail-hour victuals are more than acceptable. Overworked and understaffed employees are unfailingly polite and friendly, if unfamiliar with the expectations and needs of elite World of Hyatt customers.
The problems? Unless you're claiming a stay on Hyatt points--a reasonable 12,000 a night--cash rates are obscenely high, almost always at least $300 a night. Then there's the distance: two miles from JFK's terminals with no direct shuttle service. Hotel shuttles will only take you to Jamaica Station, the distant terminus of the JFK AirTrain
. That makes two miles feel like 45. (Spoiler: It's at least 45 minutes for the bus-to-AirTrain-to-terminal connection.) If you want to stay here, arrange an Uber, Lyft, car service or cab to/from your JFK terminal.
JOE SENT ME MEMBERS ARE GREAT PEOPLE
Joe Sent Me, designed to last 30 days, will mark its 20th anniversary later this month. I keep doing it for one reason: It is a joy to communicate with members like you. You are smart, you are wise--and you are generous. An example: Last week, after I posted an archived Brancatelli File about buying new luggage
, several members contacted me with a message: Our old bags can be recycled and change the lives of kids with nothing. Just as we can donate business class amenity kits
to homeless and women's shelters, we can donate luggage to foster kids who often have nothing more than garbage bags to transport their belongings. Consult this advisory piece
or surf to various charities here
WHY I NEVER REPLACED GROUNDLINK
One of the best discounts I ever negotiated for Joe Sent Me members was the car-service deal with app-based GroundLink. Good prices, good cars, good drivers, good service. But GroundLink folded just as the pandemic shut us down. I never had a chance to test other companies and negotiate a GroundLink replacement. Then a funny thing happened: Uber and Lyft created "scheduled rides." Uber now lets you book 30 days in advance. Lyft has a 7-day advance system. I've tested Lyft and it works flawlessly. Better yet: The advance-booking prices, at least on Lyft, are inexpensive for things like airport rides. So I don't think a separate Joe Sent Me car-service discount means what it once did. Uber and Lyft will suffice. I'll work on other discounts.
HERE COMES THE MY TRAVEL NECK PILLOW ...
Finally, a word or two about Mike Lindell, the one-time crack addict and former bar owner who became the MyPillow entrepreneur. He's unleashed a barrage of baseless, increasingly bizarre charges about a rigged 2020 election. His reckless claims against one particular voting-machine company has bought him a $1.6 billion defamation suit. To fund his defense and continue his supposed "election integrity" campaign, Lindell has sold his private plane
. That should be interesting because, after a few roundtrips flying commercial, I figure Lindell will invent and immediately start hawking a My Travel Neck Pillow. And, you know, maybe it might even be a good
neck pillow ...