The Tactical Traveler

FOR MARCH 8, 1999


This week: Caribbean hotels delay the off season; dirty hotel rooms down under; a passage to Indian food near Heathrow; art-related hotel promotions; and more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: The Off Season's Farther Off
The Caribbean off-season , when tourism slows and hotel rates plummet, traditionally begins around April 15. Not this year, however. Many hoteliers around the islands are reporting unusually strong bookings through the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, so some plan to keep their full-priced "winter rates" in effect until the end of May. The bottom line for travelers: you'll probably have to wait until June 1 for the cheapest rates at the swankiest places in the Caribbean. Even then, prices may not be as low as in previous years. "I've posted a 50 percent rate reduction effective June 1 because that's what the market expects," one general manager told me. "But chances are there won't be rooms available at that price. I'm thinking most will sell for about 25 percent off."

IN THE LOBBY: The Dirt from Down Under
In case you never realized it, hotels watch what you do, take good notes, and are experts at finding out who's naughty and who's nice. The latest to produce the dirt on our on-the-road living habits: the 21 Novotel hotels in Australia and New Zealand. According to the hoteliers down under, men leave their rooms cleaner than women, use fewer towels (one or two daily, compared to an average of three for women), and are less likely to take in-room amenities with them. Men are also better tippers and carry fewer pieces of luggage. On the other hand, men are also more likely to sleep through their wake-up alarms and annoy women guests by playing their television sets too loudly. Men also account for 95 percent of the purchase of in-room "adult" movies, say the Novotel hotel snoops. As for dining habits, women are most likely to choose mineral water from the mini-bar while men tend to prefer beer. Woman order room service slightly more frequently than men. The most popular room-service orders for women are salads and pizzas; men prefer burgers and steaks. Women are more likely to order the "healthy" meal options on hotel dining menus, too.

AIRPORT REPORT: A Passage to India Near Heathrow
For an airport that runs full tilt 24 hours a day, Heathrow in London suffers from a typical English shortcoming: a dire shortage of late-night dining options. Restaurants on the airport grounds and hotel dining rooms on nearby access roads close by about 10PM, forcing many travelers to settle for room service--or the drive-in window of a nearby McDonald's. But a little sleuthing and a few quid in cab fare will bring you to the Heathrow Tandoori in the town of Hounslow. It's everything you expect of an Indian restaurant in London: it's unassuming, cheap, with reliable Subcontinental fare, good beers, and a friendly staff. Officially, it operates until midnight, but serves much later on weekends. Heathrow Tandoori is located at 482 West Road, just a few streets off Bath Road, a major Heathrow access route. Telephone: 0181-572-1772; fax: 0181-577-2145.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
AT&T Wireless, which operates inflight phones on Alaska, American, Canadian, Northwest and Southwest airlines, is offering a free, five-minute call to travelers willing to answer a few travel-related questions. To get the freebie, valid for voice calls in North America, dial *3733 from any AT&T inflight phone. Business-class passengers on most TWA international flights now receive a week's free use of a wireless telephone. With four days advance booking, the phone will even be delivered free in the United States. Passengers are responsible for airtime costs. Check with the airline for complete details. Surf to the web site of the Business Travel Etiquette Club ( for a stylish, interactive update on the dos and don'ts of business travel in France. Besides several quick language lessons--in type and downloadable audio form--there are well-targeted briefings on how to manage business affairs, personal discourse, corporate entertaining, and other basics. A couple of the club's suggestions: don't chew gum in public, don't give gifts emblazoned with a corporate logo, and never call a French executive's home to talk business. Next up for the site's manners mavens: Britain. One negative: the home page and all subsequent pages are extremely slow to load.

WEEKLY WONDER: Sleeping with Art
Four Marriott hotels in Atlanta are bundling weekend accommodations with tickets to the High Museum's big European Impressionist exhibit. Until May 1, the one-night "Impressionist Package" includes lodging, breakfast for two, parking and two passes to the exhibition. Prices are $189 a night at the JW Marriott at Lenox and $139 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta Marriott Suites, and the Buckhead Courtyard. For information and reservations, call 877-ATL-STAY and inquire about rate code "TFBI."

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.