Hotel Madness: Bad water pressure vs. Small towels

This intriguing Hotel Madness contest is a battle of bathroom bothers. The #7 seed Bad water pressure tries to drown #10 seed Small towels. Whether you’ve spent your day at the beach or need to clean up before a full day of business meetings, bad water pressure can make your shower useless and leave you a smelly mess. On the flip side, getting out of the shower only to discover that your towels are smaller than a handkerchief is a problem that leaves you wet and shivering.

Read the full bios for each of this peeves below. Then be sure to vote for the one that makes you the maddest! The winner advances to the second round.

(7) Bad Water Pressure
Waking up in hotel rooms can be confusing. You’re not 100% sure of where you are and the comfort of your morning routine has been disrupted. Surely a shower will help you shake the cobwebs out of your head. Not so fast. Your hotel comes equipped with a moderate trickle of water with which to wash off the memories of last night’s corporate team building karaoke or the smell of livestock that has permeated every pour of your body since you hitched a ride in that horse trailer. Hope you don’t get any soap in your eyes.

(10) Small Towels
You’ve stepped out of your quasi-refreshing shower and need to towel off quickly because the default setting on all hotel thermostats is “Arctic.” Before your skin freezes solid, you wrap a towel around your…thigh. You’d like to get it around your entire torso, but, quite frankly, you have napkins larger than this back home. You double-check to make sure that you didn’t grab one of the hand towels or washcloths. Nope, this is the bath towel. You sneak a peak of yourself in the mirror. Sure, you ate a lot at the dinner last night but you’re no fatter than you were when you left home. It’s just a small towel that kind of feels like sandpaper.

So, which bathroom bother gets your blood boiling? Vote now!


First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Hotel Madness: No airport shuttle vs. One ply toilet paper

The first round of Hotel Madness rolls along with a battle between #5 seed No airport shuttle and #12 seed One-ply toilet paper. In the NCAA basketball tournament, the 5-12 match-ups are always ripe for upsets and Hotel Madness may be no different. It’s such a hassle when there’s no airport shuttle. Having to pay for an expensive cab ride or navigating a foreign public transportation system just to get from the airport to your hotel can be a pain in the butt. However, once that’s done, you never think about it again. Meanwhile, the strong #12 seed One-ply toilet paper rubs you the wrong way for the length of your trip, meaning it’s an actual pain in your butt. It tears too soon as you’re tugging at the roll, it rips as you wipe and it shows the hotel’s blatant disregard for your behind.

Read more about these two tournament entrants below and then vote for the one that deserves to advance to the second round.

(5) No Airport Shuttle
Good news: you’re not in a city that requires you to have your own car! No need to worry about parking, gas or drinking. All you need to do is get yourself to the hotel, get settled in and turn that town inside out. So, you’ll just hop on the shuttle bus and be in that jacuzzi in no time, right? Yeah, about that bus. It doesn’t exist. You can take a cab, though. Or public transportation. The hotel is just two bus transfers, six lightrail stops and a four mile walk from the airport. Easy enough for someone who’s never been to this city. Also, public transportation stops at 11pm. Hope you have cab fare!

(12) One-Ply Toilet Paper
Travel wreaks havoc on your stomach. From the strange food to hours spent on airplanes, your GI tract just doesn’t fire on all cylinders when you’re away from home (or, if you’re really unlucky, it fires on a few extra cylinders). When the time comes to use the bathroom in your hotel, you’re already uncomfortable because you’ve lost your home toilet advantage. The last thing you need is toilet paper that you can see through. Amazingly, even the nicest “five star” hotels provide the cheapest, thinnest, one-ply toilet paper available. If you’re hotel doesn’t respect your butt then it doesn’t respect you.

Are you more upset by the lack of airport transportation or thin, useless toilet paper? Will we see a classic upset of a #12 over a #5? Vote now!


First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#7 Bad water pressure vs. #10 Small towels
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

SkyMall Monday: Products rejected by Skymall

Obviously, we love SkyMall and celebrate it every week right here in this space with SkyMall Monday. We enjoy everything that SkyMall has to offer (with only one exception). It’s no wonder, then, that I was recently quoted in a article about SkyMall. Despite being a world-renowned expert in all things SkyMall, even I can learn a thing or two about our favorite in-flight catalog. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the article included a few examples of products that SkyMall has rejected. What horrific inventions would offend SkyMall’s sensibilities so much that they would refuse to peddle such wares? This week, SkyMall Monday takes a look at these rejected items to determine if they truly deserved to be exiled from the skies.

The Frank Former

Pictured above, the Frank Former “turns your favorite hot dog into a smiling “hot dog man” that comes to life before your eyes.” Firstly, I once saw a film entitled “Hot Dog Man” and, let me tell you, nothing about that movie was appetizing. Secondly, unless Dr. Frankenstein is cooking these hot dogs in his laboratory, I highly doubt that they will come to life. Lastly, people love hot dogs because they are simple. Throw one in a bun and eat it with your hands. Cut them up into bite-sized pieces for the kids. No muss, no fuss. The Frank Former appears to be mussy, fussy and full of lies.

Chuck the Yuck

It’s never fun to get airsick (or seasick, for that matter). Thankfully, airlines still provide barf bags for passengers who can’t handle the turbulence and/or “chicken” with “cream sauce.” In fact, those airsickness bags might just be the last free items that airlines still provide. Why, then, would you want to spend your own money on Chuck the Yuck? Perhaps if you wanted to show your style with a “hip line of barf bags, designed to dispose of all pregnancy and kid-related garbage and yuck.” At $4.95 plus $1.25 for shipping for a five-pack, the total works out to more than one dollar per bag. That’s a lot of money to literally throw in the garbage.


Ladies, how often have you envied the fact that men can urinate standing up? We pee on the side of the road when rest stops are unavailable, in the woods on camping trips and in alleys when the line at the bar is just too long. Sure, you can squat in all of those places, but that’s a risky maneuver. Thanks to GoGirl, however, you can now urinate standing up, too! As we typically do, let’s take a look at the product description:

GoGirl is easy to use. Just lower your panties, and put GoGirl against your body, forming a seal. Aim and, well, pee. Pretty simple, huh? GoGirl fits easily in your purse, pocket, or glove compartment…While the concept may be new to you, European women have used female urination devices for years.

So much wrong there. Sure, when you first purchase it, you’ll be caring around a clean GoGirl. After you use it? Why yes, that is a pee-soaked funnel next to your unfinished bag of Combos in the glove compartment (or worse, your purse – as if you don’t already have enough stuff in there). Also, Europeans have done plenty of things for years – ignored personal hygiene, expressed racism openly, kept the mullet alive – that I don’t recommend we embrace as Americans.

The upside to GoGirl? They created a promotional video. Their product may not be good enough for SkyMall, but their video (and the woman in the blazer with some epic 1980s shoulder pads) sure did make my day.

So, at least we have that. And, thousands of products that SkyMall does sell so that we can improve our lives. These products might not have made the cut, but we’re all better off because of it.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Oktoberfest bathrooms (and tips for next year)

With so much beer consumed at Munich‘s Oktoberfest, it’s only logical that urination becomes a world-class activity. The bathrooms at the festival run the gamut from: good, fine, okay, crowded, packed and insane (see below) to convivial, non-existent, trees, bushes, lampposts and grass. Don’t be shocked to find many people — usually men — at the Theresienwiese (festival grounds) discharging in public. Oktoberfest is still a wonderful, memorable experience, but we human beings, well… we do have to go, so try not to be surprised.

Although I was sitting with other “specially invited guests” at of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery on the last night of Oktoberfest, I finally had to head for a much-needed bathroom break. I’d heard about a mysterious “VIP-Pee,” but learned it was reserved for women only. So when the inevitable time came, I boxed my way down a crowded staircase, then out the door and headed for the nearest bathroom.

%Gallery-7107%After turning the corner around the exterior beer garden I encountered a dense, swelling crowd of maleness — guys of all ages and nationalities pushing to enter a small white shack labeled, “WC.” Speaking quasi-German now, “I Hav-en-to-pissen,” I joined a group of about 150 pushing hard to enter the one doorway. I was squished from the each side and back as purposeful masculine energy heaved the group forward. Against this tide, guys were attempting to exit through the one door, looking for a seam and slithering out of the onrushing squirming horde. It reminded me of a fullback attempting a tough draw through a stout defense. Most, but not all, of the guys found the situation funny, and I heard lots of German, English, Danish, Italian, Spanish, French and other languages. Some laughed while others swore with words I could not comprehend. Finally getting in, I went and turned around to get out of this insane WC. Finding some big blockers, I pushed hard against the group and popped out like a kidney stone into the fresh air. Whew, this scene was worse than when I saw Johnny Rotten at the Roseland Ballroom.

By contrast the bathroom inside the Hacker-Pschorr tent was a model of German efficiency as you stood up next to — and facing — fellow urinators standing on the other side of a partition. It was a time for light conversation, a time for reflection and a time to pee. Plus it had an actual exit door – how civilized.

Some insights for next year’s Oktoberfest which runs September 17 – October 3, 2011.

* Visit the beer tents early in the event and early in the day. You stand a much greater chance of walking in and finding a seat than in the evening. Then, you can return to your hotel early, or have dinner elsewhere. Normal, non-crazy times around lunchtime or before 4:00 PM are ideal.

* For evening fun, definitely make reservations for visiting Brewery tents. There is no fee for entrance, and again, walk-ins are welcome, but there are times when every single inch at the Oktoberfest tents are full and you’ll be left outside looking in. My favorite tents were the big Paulaner tent, the Augustina Brewery tent (the oldest brewery in Munich, dating from 1328) and my favorite, the beautiful tent from Hacker-Pschorr. Everyone has their own favorite. Ask around and do some research.

* Remember, tent reservations are free but highly sought after around the world. Use this link for reservation information. The owners of the tents aren’t exactly the breweries themselves, but it matters not for visitors. Sign up as early as possible.

* Try and order a glass of water (wasser) along with each beer. I should have had more water, especially the last night.

* Don’t forget to eat enough. It will help with beer consumption issues.

Until 2011 – Prost!

* Oktoberfest by the numbers
* Arriving at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Munich, Germany’s 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest
* Beer logistics at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Oktoberfest: Lots of food and more than 8 million gallons of beer

Bob Ecker is a Napa, California based travel writer/photographer providing worldwide magazines and newspapers with compelling travel, hospitality, wine, culinary, skiing, film and innovative feature content. He is constantly on the go, traveling the world, unearthing new stories and uncorking emerging regions. He is current Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) member and former President of the Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW).

[Images: Flickr | Ethan Prater; mahmut; Herr_bert]


All Nippon Airways to have women-only bathrooms on international routes

Starting March 1, ANA will designate some lavatories on international routes as only for women.

One toilet in the aft section of each plane will be reserved just for women. The signs are expected to go up in March and be completed fleet-wide by the end of April.

Exceptions include A320/B727 aircraft, and depending on the passenger load, the women-only restriction may be lifted if there aren’t enough women on board. (ANA flies long-haul flights from North America to Asia, including Japan.)

There will be no male-only bathrooms, so women can use either. Other than the new signs, there are no differences between the restrooms, though the airline is considering having different amenities in the women-only restrooms, such as special hand soap.

The change comes as a result of customer demand, though spokesperson Justin Massey tells me via e-mail that “there weren’t specifics about seat-down-versus-up… It was determined in general that the females preferred not following a male into restrooms and that males, to some extent, mentioned not feeling totally comfortable with a female coming into the restroom after they’ve used it.”

Considering the line to the ladies’ room always seems longer no matter where you are, this change could help make a long flight slightly more tolerable since women can now access more on-board restrooms than men.