Hyatt hotels in Boston outsource housekeepers in a dirty deal

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz is a bit disgusted with three Hyatt hotels in the Boston area. As she wrote in her column in Sunday’s The Plain Dealer, the management of these hotels recently had longtime housekeepers train a fresh crop of housekeepers who had been imported from Georgia.

The longtime housekeepers, one who had been with the company for 22 years, thought they were training staff to fill in for vacation leave hours. They thought this because that’s what management told them.

Boy, were those housekeepers duped. They were let go as soon as the new employees were trained. In all, 100 workers were given the heave ho. Those who were brought up from Georgia are cleaning rooms for almost half the salary of the longtime employees, plus they don’t receive benefits. The longtime housekeepers did.

Schultz isn’t the only one who is disgruntled with the management who has tossed out loyalty in the name of the bottom dollar. The mayor of Boston is calling the move “crude business” and hundreds turned out to protest outside the Hyatt Regency Boston last Thursday. This Boston Globe article that outlines the controversy also states that there is talk that people should boycott the Hyatt hotels that practice such dirty business.

Along with not knowing much about fair play, it seems that the management of those Hyatt hotels should consider this: If part of what one pays for at a higher end hotel is great service, cutting corners on salaries of those people who clean drinking glasses and the toilets may not be the best plan. Remember those hotel drinking glass horror stories that came out two years ago?

A look at the Sunday travel sections

There’s quite a lot out there today if you’re trolling around the Sunday newspaper travel sections.

Anytime there is a new story from Tom Haines in the Boston Globe, you know it’s a good Sunday. Haines is simply the best travel writer working today in newspapers. In a typical dispatch, Haines writes from North Dakota — not an obvious travel destination, especially this time of year — weaving the theme of wind into a meditation not only on place and person but on environmental change as well.

The Globe also has a Q&A with Paul Theroux culled from a series of interviews the paper has done with the famed travel writer and novelist through the years.

The Washington Post might have this week’s must-read travel section. Ben Brazil has an interesting take on today’s El Salvador, once Central America’s no-go zone but now a good option for adventurous travelers. But the piece that really caught my eye was the section’s lead story: Staff travel writer Scott Vogel, often wasted on fluff pieces, files a report from Alabama’s Civil Rights trail, no doubt in honor of Black History Month. Such a piece could be formulaic, but Vogel’s isn’t. It’s got an almost Kuraltian pacing and is filled with the voices of locals, who pop up reliably throughout the narrative (it’s always nice when travel writers in newspapers actually decide to quote real people rather than their spouses).

Over at the LA Times, Susan Spano manages to write nearly 2,000 words about vacationing in the French Riviera without seeming to have spoken to a living soul, or at least one she deems worth introducing us to. Thus, a travel piece studded with the dreaded I, I, I….

The Miami Herald has mustered up its cruise gurus — IOW six people who have taken a lot of floating vacations — to answer your questions. This is probably a site you’d want to bookmark if there are some cruise issues you’re curious about.

A few travel sections this week decided to devote space to spring training baseball. The Chicago Tribune has a dispatch from a couple of stringers about the White Sox’s new spring training home in Arizona. The San Francisco Chronicle also dishes from Arizona, specifically Scottsdale, where the Giants and the A’s play in the offseason.

You’d expect the New Orleans Times-Picayune to be pretty much about one thing right now — Mardi Gras — and you’d be right. The paper’s consistently over-performing travel section has everything you might care to read about the city’s carnival craziness.

Lastly, the Philadelphia Inquirer has some good reads this weekend. William Ecenbarger gives us an essay about the various faux pas we commit as travelers without ever knowing it. And I liked this short dispatch from Emily Ward about Croatia’s unheralded wine country. It’s getting to be pretty close to the perfect time of year to head to the Croatian coast, and I have a soft spot for Croatian wine.