Inspired both by Jessamyn's letter to Greyhound, and because she was able to find the corporate address for Westincorp in about one four-billionth of the time it took me to not find it, I offer you a letter written following a road-trip to Ottawa, this summer past.

To whom it may concern,

This summer, I had the opportunity to stay at the Westin hotel in downtown Ottawa. Both the hotel and the room itself were clean and comfortable, the staff was polite and prompt and the view from our room was excellent.

On closer inspection, however, I began to feel as though I had entered the set of the Home Shopping Network. Everywhere I looked I was being nickeled and dimed for something I either didn't want or was shocked that I was being asked to pay for from a hotel.

Five dollars for a chocolate bar that is doubtless four months past it's best before date since no one in their right mind would pay more than three times it's retail price. Twelves dollars and fifty cent for a package of toileteries that I don't need when all I might want is some toothpaste. Four dollars and fifty cents for a bottle of water.

Now, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that you have companies knocking down your door for the opportunity to place their products so prominently in the thousands of hotel rooms you maintain all over the world. And I will further suggest that you are being offered these items at drastically reduced rates or, more likely, for free. If you're not, you may want to have a quick talking-to with your buying agents.

Ask yourself what it is that one hotel has to offer over another. Once you get past issues of general cleanliness and quality of furnishings, it comes done largely to overall experience and atmosphere. These are the things that move people to pay more money for something when they could otherwise get the same offering for less.

I left the Westin feeling like you thought I was an idiot and a sheep. I left the Westin feeling relieved that I wouldn't have to wake up looking at a price tag. I left the Westin joking with friends about the sorts of things we'd be asked to pay additional fees for on our next visit. Assuming, that is, we ever returned.

I left the Westin feeling like decisions had been made by a management that doesn't really care about it's customers and is only interested in doing the absolute bare minimum to give the appearance of superiour experience and quality, while screwing people for another "micro-payment" at every turn. I left the Westin astonished that the same management didn't seem to care that such a callous and institutional approach to life, and business, was so glaringly obvious. I left the Westin referring to the hotel, now, as "The Cheap Bastard".

You are free to run your business as you see fit. If what I have described is, in fact, a successful business model then all I can say is : More power to you. I hope you win a prize for drawing blood from a stone. However, you may wish to reconsider how you run your hotels because I won't be recommending them for myself or anyone I know until you do.