Warning! These falling stars could ruin your next hotel stay

On a recent business trip to Atlanta with my family, it all became as clear to me as the stars in the southern sky.

Just before we arrived, I found out we’d have to split our stay between two hotels. No problem; we’re flexible.

Except that we’d be starting at a “three-star” hotel then upgrading to “four-star” accommodations for the rest of our trip.

Better hotel, better accommodations, better stay, right? Well, no. And what happens next sheds a little light on one of the biggest, and perhaps least discussed, problems in the hotel biz. It’s the stars.

Remember, I said I was traveling with my family. The problems started as soon as we checked in at our second, “higher quality” lodging.

“Mom, what’s the Wi-Fi code?” my oldest son asked.

“I don’t know,” I responded reflexively. “Ask your father.”

But Dad couldn’t help; he was on the phone asking if housekeeping could remove the items from the minibar so we could use the refrigerator. Does anybody really buy $4 cans of Coke these days?

“Where’s the microwave?” my daughter asked, shaking a popcorn bag in front of my face.

No microwave. And, according to the card next to the in-room phone, Wi-Fi is not included.

Had I forgotten to double-check the list of amenities at the second hotel before we confirmed? I just figured the same things that we had in our first hotel would be available, only more convenient and of nicer quality.

But that’s not how the hotel star system works. The star system pays attention to specific offerings, like having a business center, valet parking, room service, onsite restaurants, lobby bar, gift shops, exercise facilities and personal services.

Unfortunately, most of those items deliver very little value to my family and me.

Instead, I’m looking for Wi-Fi included with the room so we can keep up with school; a microwave and small refrigerator because my kids are non-stop eaters; available parking in a safe, well-lighted area, and access to a washer and dryer.

Having breakfast included is a bonus, but not a deal breaker.

My kids would add the swimming pool and fitness center – especially if there’s a basketball court or running track. But, unless we’re at a destination resort, that kind of convenience is really unnecessary.

And I think there are others who agree with me.

Maybe the star system that has worked for generations could use a little updating to keep up with the expectations and needs of modern society? Perhaps one system isn’t enough, but there should be other ratings for those traveling solo for pleasure versus as a team on business or with family on holiday?

I wonder what amenities would be in high demand and which would cease to be offered if there were a better system in place, instead of the rigid, inflexible stars we use today.

Then again, since I’m a parent maybe I’m the one who is out of touch with the needs of travelers and the system works perfectly fine — for everybody else.

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