Monday, November 12, 2007

The Claremont, Berkeley, California

I'm back at the Claremont again. This is the tenth time I've stayed at the Claremont since the beginning of 2007. They've finally awoken to that fact. The last time I was here, I checked in with a colleague who had stayed here once. She got a room upgrade. I was behind her in the check in line. I asked, "Do I get upgraded, too?", thinking, but of course, you're an honored frequent Claremont guest. But no, I wasn't. I had a room in the back overlooking the kitchen dumpsters. More about the Claremont's uh, peculiar frequent guest program anon.

This time, I had a nicer room near the very top of the building. Here's the view at 5:45 this morning.

The hall on the fifth floor isn't nearly as "impressive" in its scope as those on the lower floors. It's much more manageable than the aircraft carrier sized ones lower down that you can view on one of my earlier posts. See?

What you can't see in the photo is that everyone got a USA Today except me. Maybe the management detests that newspaper, and feels like it's performing a service to its frequent guests by not giving them a free copy of it. They did remember to slide the bill under the door, so they do know I'm in the room.

Berkeley is known for its free spirits, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the fire exit sign on my door. On the left of the photo, you'll see the standard "you are here, exit is here, stairs are here, don't take the elevator" stuff. On the right, the Berkeley edition, which is pretty much a "plan your own exit" strategy. That is, you get to decide where you think the fire extinguisher, escape route, and your own room are located. Look! My room's in the staircase, the fire extinguisher in in room 505 under the bed, and the elevator is really a junior suite! Hotel Moral Relativity, I guess.

Finally, the Claremont's extraordinarily bizarre frequent guest program. Most hotels, if you've been there before, will say something like "Welcome back, Misterarthur." If they're not sure, they'll ask "Is this the first time you've stayed at __________?"
Not the Claremont. When I checked in, I was asked if I had a car parked in the lot. Then, when I was given my key, I was handed a piece of paper, which you'll see below.

Note the bizarre nature of the Claremont's "reward" program. 1) You have to stay 11 times to get an upgraded room! If they're going to give you an upgrade after making you stay multiple times, why not make it easier to do so by giving you one when you've stayed, oh, say, 10 times? 2) The letter, such as it is, promises an upgrade for my next stay. You're this close, Misterarthur, to a fabulous upgrade. 3) This is the craziest part. To take advantage of my eleventh stay upgrade, I have to keep this piece of paper. I have to redeem this "original, un-reproduced document to the Hotel Front Desk (sic)." This elegant gift certificate is good through November 2008. So I get to drag it around in my briefcase until the next time I check in. Haven't they computerized this sort of thing, yet? Berkeley, Berkeley. It insists on doing things its own way.

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