The Charms of the Hotel Desk Agent

Can a hotel desk agent "make" your vacation? Has anyone read the book "Heads in Beds". It's a funny expose written by a former 5 star hotel desk agent. The premise is that you can get anything if you tip the desk clerk twenty bucks. I don't know if it's true or not, but I know my husband can schmooze a desk agent into giving up a lot, without any money changing hands.

For example, we traveled to Honolulu, to a hotel on Waikiki Beach. This was to please our kids. Traveling Man and I had already been to Hawaii and honestly, once was enough for me. But the kids really wanted to go.

We booked 2 rooms with a "garden view". You all know what that means. You will have a view of anything except the ocean. Some hotel people even think the dumpster is a "garden view".

But that's okay. I've paid for "ocean view" rooms where the bathtub had more water than my view. So I was good with saving the money. We used hotel points for one of the rooms, so the price was right.

After a long flight, we got in line at a large hotel. We're all happy, despite our exhaustion,  because the temperature is perfect, the day is sunny, and the hotel is beautiful and buzzing with people and shops and restaurants and joy.

I'm trying to check in. The desk agent is nice, but I'm not getting anything more than my two garden view rooms because I don't ask for more. Until Traveling Man appears, with the magic touch. For no reason that we can see, the desk clerk says, "Would you like an upgrade?"

"Sure," says TM. "What have you got?"

"How about a suite instead of a single room?"

"That sounds good."

"We have oceanfront available," she adds. (Note: 'oceanfront' is far superior to 'ocean view'. It's the difference between an aircraft carrier and a rowboat.)

"Even better," says TM.

At this point, we're avoiding looking at each other for fear our glee will alert the desk agent to the fact that she's making a gross mistake. You don't upgrade guests from a plain room to an oceanfront suite.

She says, "Is it okay if your kids are on a different floor? It would be one floor down from yours."

I hesitate. I always like them to be next door.

She looks at Traveling Man. "The kids could have the same suite on the lower floor."

SOLD! The kids are teenagers, thank god.

To this day, we don't know why she was so generous. Our suites each had a large bedroom, two bathrooms, plus an enormous living room with a dining area and kitchen. And of course, they looked onto the ocean. It was lovely.

A desk clerk can go a long way to "making" your vacation. I wonder what we would have gotten for twenty bucks?


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