Something new on the room service menu: ordering online

Room service isn’t new. But not having to be in your room to place the order is.

Ordering room service is now going the way of everything else–online, via smartphones or laptops. And it’s getting more detailed, offering more food choices with photos and daily specials.

Some of the hotels that are making the jump are Omni Mandalay (Irving, TX), Hyatt Regecy (Monterey, CA), and Westin Maui (Lahaina, HI).

Not that a quick phone call was inconvenient, but the ease of ordering from practically anywhere could be a businessperson or busy parent’s dream. And for the hotels, the service means more business–Malibu Beach Inn’s room service orders jumped 25% in the first six months. And Omni Mandalay’s guests have been spending about $3 more per order when ordering online.

And it’s not just food that hotels are offering up online. Other services that are becoming available the same way: housekeeping, valet, wake-up calls, and towel requests.


Time Magazine’s top travel related websites 2008

Lists are great. Especially website lists that have been selected by a reliable body after combing through the abundant clutter on the world wide web.

Undoubtedly, Time Magazine’s list of 50 top websites is one such great list and here are their travel-related website selections for 2008: (no particular order)

  • Wikitravel & Wikisky: After much contradiction on the value of Wikitravel, it’s interesting to see it on here. Wikisky is new for me; it allows you to Wiki the Universe’s sky!
  • Tripkick: Launched in May 2008, Trip Kick reviews hotel floors and rooms of 250 hotels in 12 US cities, to help you avoid getting a crappy room in a good hotel.
  • Gasbuddy: Particularly useful if you are taking a road-trip in the US or Canada, GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas prices in your city.
  • Serious Eats: Is a food blog based on sharing your food enthusiasm with others.
  • MapJack: According to Time, it is an alternative to Google Street View and Live Search Map, with brighter/sharper photos and better navigation tools.
  • Carbon Rally: Specially for those who want to be green, Carbon Rally posts challenges (example: line-drying your laundry for a month) to motivate you to reduce your carbon footprint. (Hmmm…why is this site blocked in Dubai!?)
  • Free Rice: Where you get to learn a word and feed the hungry in exchange, reviewed before on Gadling here.

You can check out the full list of Time Magazine’s top websites for 2008 here.