Women Travelers II

USA Today’s travel section notes that hotels cater to female business travelers. That’s a bit like heralding the arrival of private bathrooms. This site noted on March 31st the efforts of hoteliers over the past decades to assuage qualms lady travelers may have when overnighting solo in hotels. It has been de-rigueur for hotels to have hair-dryers, well lit corridors and, in the case of suburban hotels, added security cameras and brighlty lit parking lots to assuage the fears of women (and men).

Nevertheless,at the Hotel & Golf Club in Miami Lakes, the Graham Cos. has introduced the “Patrician floor”, a somewhat incongruous name if taken literally (however, it is named after the wife of the Chairman of the company). The floor has 18 rooms set aside exclusively for women business travelers. The hotel’s “standard extras” in all rooms on the Patrician Floor include magnifying makeup mirrors, special toiletries and blow dryers, and magazines targeted at women such as PINK, a magazine for professional women. Also present are breast examination shower cards and a Cathy cartoon strip in which Cathy advises a resort hotel that if it really cared about women, it would have a basket of chocolate in the room with the sign, “Eat all you want.” The hotel apparently also takes personal preferences of guests into account. ccount the personal tastes of repeat visitors to the Patrician Floor as when 52-year-old Walker-Lee checks in, she finds a copy of the Wall Street Journal— which management has noted she always reads — at her bedside, a robe waiting in the bath, and chocolate chip cookies, M&M’s and diet soda in the refrigerator. Management also leaves a note with the hours of the hotel gym she frequents. And for her reading enjoyment, there will be a copy of the book “If Women Ruled the World”. Management obviously has not heard of either Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto or Tansu Ciller.

Not everyone is (rightly) of the mindset that hotels should set themselves apart as catering exclusively to women. The Mandarin Oriental Miami says it “provides a secure and safe environment for all of our guests and an atmosphere in which they can relax and unwind after a long day’s work.” “We provide the utmost in safety and comfort for all of our guests in everything we do at the hotel.” While women, usually, are more vulnerable then men when traveling alone, it is hard to imagine that men are any less concerned with either safety or comfort. Even at the higher end of the hotel spectrum, individual women surely have different notions of what they’d like in their rooms. One woman’s PINK may be another’s RED and hotels that try to define what women are about are asking for trouble.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.