Monday, May 24, 2004

Ritz blog.

When I got to metro Detroit, I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn, which is more-or-less surrounded on three sides by Detroit -- an inner suburb nearly synonymous with the Ford Motor Co. It’s also home to Greenfield Village, the open-air museum that Henry Ford built. Unfortunately, I’ve never been there, but I know it sports an enormous array of historic artifacts, including Thomas Edison’s lab, a working 19th-century railroad roundabout, the complete transcripts of Father Coughlin’s broadcasts... well, maybe not that. I understand that the contemporary Fords and the company go out of their way to disavow Henry’s embarrassing anti-Semitism.

This is the “Property Description” from the Ritz-Carlton website, along with my comments, in italics.

Occupying 6.9 acres, the hotel is a part of Fairlane, a unique business, retail, residential and recreational community in historic Dearborn. [Fairlane is not unique. It’s a mall, ringed by a number of office, residential and other buildings, including the hotel. Of the 6.9 acres, I’d say that half at least is parking lots. But this is metro Detroit, after all.]

The Grill Restaurant, The Lobby Lounge and Two Ballrooms. [The Grill? You’d think they could dream up something, well, ritzier. The Ambassador Grill or Ye Olde Expense Account or something. As for the ballroom, my company held its event there. It was really just one room, quickly divisible by the hyper-efficient and ever-solicitous Ritz staff. It was quite a good place for the event.]

24-hour in-room dining. [Using room service is like buying a jumbo tub of popcorn, a monster soft drink, and a bunch of candy at the movies. Something in me rejects the notion. I’ve only ordered room service once that I recall, several years ago when I was sick.]

Twice daily maid service. [Should be twice-daily. The Ritz did not, I noticed, ask its guests to Help Save the Earth by reusing their bed sheets and towels for two or three days.]

Indoor Swimming Pool and Fitness Center. [No time for these, alas.]

Technology Butler service and full service business center. [Full-service, dammit. You’d think the Ritz could afford to hire someone who understands compound modifiers. As for a “Technology Butler,” I don’t know what that is, but it makes me think of an experimental domestic robot, maybe a Lost in Space robot in a tuxedo that runs amok one night and murders its human master and mistress.]

Cabled and Wi-Fi wireless high speed internet access in all guest rooms and meeting spaces. [Why Wi-Fi is capitalized and Internet isn’t, who knows? If I had a laptop, I could take advantage of these things. I suspect that in a few years, I won’t need a laptop, and this phrasing will be as quaint as “20 degrees cooler inside,” because every room will have a computer built in. Mere access won’t be enough.]

The list also includes “Express arrival and departure services,” which every hotel above Red Roof Inns has; “Personalized wake-up call service,” which actually was a human being, instead of a computer, nice touch; “Complimentary overnight shoeshine,” which I would have used, but the condition of the soles of my shoes is too embarrassing; “Overnight laundry service,” $2 per sock, probably; and “Valet parking,” which at this site, with its generous parking, only the most decadent would use.

One other thing about the Ritz -- and I think I’ve brought this up in the context of office buildings -- why are 18th- & 19th-century fox-hunting prints used so much as a shorthand for posh? Fox hunting is, or was, an aristocratic sport, of course, but so are (were) a lot of other activities. My suggestions for images of upper-class activities: outfitting an Athenian warship; reclining at a banquet in the time of Augustus; watching a jousting match; admiring one’s harem; riding a white elephant; attending poetry recitals by moonlight; using hundred-dollar bills to light cigars. The possibilities are many. Money is ill-used if it doesn't buy a little variety.


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