Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

Sometimes you just want a real shower…

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For those who travel frequently and keep up with changes in hotel accommodations, this column may come as no surprise. Innkeepers from the lowliest Mom & Pop to the highest-flying Flags tout that they spare no expense in assuring guest comfort. Sheets made from Egyptian cotton with thread counts in the thousands… plush bath towels with plush one-size-fits-all (hah!) terry cloth bathrobes… comfy one-size-fits-all slippers (see the last hah!), spa-quality toiletries, in-room snacks and top shelf mini-bar items… and the bane of modern hotel existence…

Rain showers. 

I remember when hotels first started putting in those shower-massage multi-speed shower heads. Those are just great. If you have lived in the Florida Keys for any length of time, you understand how wonderful regular mainland water pressure can be. Add one of those special shower heads, dial in the power jets, and your entire body can be tingling when you step out of that amazing shower experience. I want the fine high-speed jets of water invigorating me with their cleansing power.

The trend in hotel bath fixtures, however, seems to be moving to the ubiquitous rain shower. The shower heads can be over twelve inches wide, and they feature these small water holes where the shower lets fall a gentle smattering of droplets that soothingly caress your skin… and I hate them.

Rain showers have worse water pressure than Florida Keys showers! And they’re designed that way on purpose! It’s just no fun standing under one of those when all you want is a shower with halfway decent water pressure. 

And that brings us to another trend: in-shower dispensers of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I get that it cuts down on waste and those tiny plastic shampoo bottles. But what happened to soap? Hotels were the best places to stock up on little soaps to take home. Some of them were really nice as well — spa-quality soaps with great scents and incredible cleansing properties. Get this straight, hotels: not everyone likes liquid body wash!

Although there was this one soap often found in cheap motels and roadside lodging units: Cashmere Bouquet. Let me make this clear: this was no elite spa soap. The scent was floral and sweet in a very sickly sweet way. That soap’s scent screamed, “I stayed in a cheap motel last night!”

Looking at the individual word definitions is revealing. Cashmere is a fine soft wool from the Kashmir goat. Bouquet means a group of flowers or a specific scent. Put them together and you have Goat Aroma soap. Mmm.

I think that the hotel and travel industry needs to pass some laws or standards that apply to all hotels. First, if a hotel has a rain shower, it must also have a handheld shower massage unit capable of high-velocity water jets at the barest minimum. Second, it must at least offer decent-sized bars of a decent soap, preferably in quantities sufficient to take a few home. And none of those soaps can be Cashmere Bouquet. Third, if the only scent you offer in the in-shower shampoo dispenser is coco-mango, your hotel better have a poolside or beachside tiki bar so that no one confuses your guests with a tropical cocktail or smoothie.

– Except when on break, John performs live Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, Fridays and alternate Sundays at the Lighthouse Grill at Hyatt Place Faro Blanco, Saturdays at the Key Colony Inn, and Mondays at the Sunset Grille & Raw Bar. www.johnbartus.com

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