When the housekeeping cart changes the image of the housekeeper
Big, rolling housekeeping carts are disappearing from many hotel hallways, just like the floral polyester linens they used to carry. Hotels say they're replacing cumbersome carts with smaller ones sometimes akin to golf caddie bags out of necessity, in addition to convenience and even appearance. Among those saying goodbye to the hall-blocking carts: The Staybridge Suites Times Square in New York, The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte and the Renaissance Charlotte South Park Hotel. So are the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, and the Sofitel in Washington, D.C. Hotel general managers say there are a number of reasons why smaller is better. • Hotels don't use duvets and bulky linens anymore, so there's no need for large carts, they say. Plus, storage space is at a premium, and smaller carts don't take up much space. • The bags are small enough to take into the room and leave the hallways clear and safe. They also don't nick the walls of elevators and corridors like the large carts did.• But more important, the guests prefer them, says Rich Hotter, general manager of the Staybridge Suites Times Square. "The smaller rolling carts hold fewer items and therefore do not get cluttered, so they offer a better presentation in the eyes of the guests," he says. There's a safety issue, too, says Miguel Rivas, general manager of the Condado Palm Inn and Suites in Puerto Rico, which opened two months ago with the smaller bags. Housekeeping staff would park the larger carts outside and keep the door open while they cleaned. Not so with the smaller version. "Sometimes the guest comes back and sees the door wide open. They think anyone can get in the room," Rivas says. Rivas says linen closets were situated closer to the rooms for easy access, eliminating the need for the larger carts. The housekeeping staff has been more productive with the smaller carts because they can move around more quickly, he says. They're also less prone to injury as the larger carts were heavy to push around."One of the good things that the small cart will be able to do is provide for the safety of the maids and the safety of the guest," he says.
Glenn Haussman, editor in chief of industry publication Hotel Interactive, says he thinks the smaller carts will catch on. "I have just started noticing this more during the last few months," he says. One more reason he believes that: "Items are not exposed to people walking through hallways so theft of amenity items or towels is greatly reduced," he says. Diane Daniel, a freelance writer in Durham, N.C., says that's actually why she will miss the large carts. When she travels for work, she nixes the daily visit from the housekeeper because she often leaves paperwork strewn about her room that she doesn't want touched.She has a self-service cleaning method. "If I run out of toilet paper or anything," she says, "I can just pluck a new one from the cart."Parts of this article have also been published on USA today