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Confessions of a Hotel Front-Desk Manager

hotel front desk manager

Phillip X., who runs reception at a well-known luxury hotel, dishes the dirt.

“I like hearing people’s stories, but please, keep it brief. We have a button on the phone that will make it ring to rescue us from a boring conversation.

“Not everyone tips, but some tip a lot, so it’s a wash. People have tipped me in marijuana. Brits are the worst tippers, especially families.

And yes, we can hear you when you’re having sex, sometimes even from the lobby. And I can always tell how some people are going to sound.”

Photo courtesy of John Takai / Alamy

The Ritz-Carlton: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

A few years ago, we did a story in the magazine about becoming a housekeeper at a luxury hotel—a fascinating look at the level of detail that goes into this essential position.

Now there’s a new look at the housekeeper, thanks to a series of just-released videos from the Ritz-Carlton; one of these clips features a housekeeper in Hong Kong who would clearly be horrified at how I make my bed. Our friends at the R-C have given T+L exclusive early access to these videos, and we’re sharing them here.

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Is Mickey Mouse Moving to Yellowstone?

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I just got back from the classic American family vacation in Yellowstone National Park and, honestly, I can’t wait to go again. In just a few days, we saw wolves, egrets, elk, mule deer, golden and bald eagles, and at least a thousand bison.

But, enough about the wildlife. Let’s talk about Mickey.

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TODAY Show Video: Labor Day Travel Deals

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Still looking to get away this weekend? You don’t have to spend a fortune to book a last-minute getaway. These five deals, from a luxury resort in the Pacific Northwest to a dude ranch in the Southwest, will let you enjoy your last bit of summer.

Pronghorn, an Auberge Resort, OR

Set in the high plains of central Oregon, Pronghorn is the latest addition to Auberge Resort’s luxurious properties. Its two award-winning golf courses and access to some of the country’s best hiking, biking, fishing, and rafting makes it an incredible all-season destination and a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Deal: Pronghorn Adventures Package
The package includes three nights in a Junior Suite, complimentary transportation to/from the airport, and a choice of any two outdoor adventures (for two people), including golf on the award-winning Nicklaus Course, rafting on the Deschutes River, a microbrew and craft beer tour, a guided half-day mountain biking tour, a spelunking lava cave tour, a Brews & Views canoe tour, or standup paddleboarding on the Deschutes River. Doubles from $199 per night.

Last chance: Vote in T+L's America's Favorite Cities survey

Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, CA

This newly re-imagined 444-room resort’s new offerings include stylish new guest rooms, the signature bluEmber restaurant, the R Bar lounge, and Splashtopia, an exciting water playground complete with water slides, lazy river, and a sandy beach. The resort also features a 20,000-square-foot spa, a 27-hole Ted Robinson–designed golf course, a 25-court Peter Burwash International tennis center, and four pools.

The Deal: The Family Summer Getaway
Good through September 3, the package includes accommodations, a Summer Passport with more than $500 in extra value, two Splashtopia inner tubes (which you can keep), a $50 breakfast credit to bluEmber or Palms Café, and a $28 daily resort charge. An added Labor Day perk includes the all-new “Picnic & Movie on the Fairway” program, with dinners for four from the Palms Café and a golf cart rental to catch a movie on the green, drive-in style. Rates from $179 per night.

Viceroy Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA

Designed as an ode to Palm Springs in its Golden Age, when celebrities like Humphrey Bogart visited, this Hollywood Regency-style hotel underwent a full renovation in 2003. The 67 guest rooms are decorated in black, white, and yellow, and include Italian designer linens and bath products by Aromatherapy Associates. There are varied services available at Estrella Spa and three outdoor heated pools. As a fun perk, the hotel provides bicycles with attached mobile phones that connect directly to the concierge.

The Deal: The Twilight Romance Package
In addition to accommodations, this romantic package includes a 30-minute spa service for couples under the stars in a private al fresco spa cabana between 9 p.m. and midnight and a complimentary bottle of Moet Ice, followed by breakfast for two. Doubles from $200 per night.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, AZ

This is a great family getaway before the kids go back to school. The surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape, strewn with saguaro and prickly pear cacti, is a world away from your typical Rocky Mountain ranch, but horseback riding reigns equally supreme. Other activities include guided mountain bike and hiking tours, nature walks, fishing lessons, and cookouts under the stars. Children ages 4–12 can enjoy horse grooming, riding lessons, and arts and crafts.

The Deal: All-Inclusive Stays
Over Labor Day weekend, get 30 percent off regular all-inclusive rates, which include accommodations, three daily meals, and free access to the entire list of ranch activities listed above, including the kids program. Resort rates from $175 per person, per night.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, SC

Located on a beautiful barrier island just a few miles from historic Charleston, these 500 vacation villas share the same amenities as the Sanctuary Hotel. During the day, take part in a variety of activities including kayaking, nature tours, and bicycling. At night, enjoy the outstanding dining options.

The Deal: Labor Day Weekend Beach and Breakfast Package
From August 28 to September 3, book this deal and get daily breakfast for two and a one-bedroom deluxe villa, just a short walk from the beach with full kitchen and screened-in porch. Doubles from $175 per night (two-night minimum), plus tax and resort fee.

More from Travel + Leisure:
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See more travel deals from Travel + Leisure

Vacationist Hotel Deals: San Diego, Las Vegas, Florence + India

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

Sale ends in 1 day!
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La Valencia - up to 35% off
La Jolla, California
With its blend of Hollywood history and jaw-dropping views, La Valencia embodies the old-school elegance of La Jolla, San Diego's tony enclave tucked against a cove.

201208-b-vacationist-leela-goajpgThe Leela Goa - up to 40% off
Goa, India
Privacy seekers flock to the secluded Leela Goa, ideally situated on a pristine swath of sand between Western India's River Sal and the Arabian Sea.

201208-b-vacationist-hotel-helvetia-and-bristoljpgHotel Helvetia & Bristol - up to 29% off
Florence, Italy
This luxurious 67-room hotel is set in Piazza Strozzi, within walking distance of many of Florence's top cultural attractions and manicured gardens.


Sale ends in 3 days!
201208-b-vacationist-the-signature-at-mgm-grandjpgThe Signature at MGM Grand - up to 65% off
Las Vegas, Nevada
Pamper yourself at this tranquil Las Vegas resort, on a side street tucked away from the noise of the Strip.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

Photos courtesy of La Valencia Hotel; The Leela Goa; Hotel Helvetia & Bristol; and Signature at MGM Grand.

Suite Memories: Maine Inn Debuts Luxury Accommodations for Families

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Come summer, or fall, there’s no better place to be than Maine. I grew up in Vacationland, so perhaps I’m biased, but, it’s hard to argue with warm salt air breezes, overstuffed lobster rolls, and coastal scenery that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a postcard. And while there are some great seaside spots to stay in the Pine Tree State, few come close to offering what Inn by the Sea does—especially for families.

I recently checked into the Cape Elizabeth property with my husband and almost-two-year-old daughter as a way to decompress from a larger family gathering, get in some rare beach time, nose around Portland (just 7 miles away), and see first-hand what may be Maine’s first luxury suites designed with families in mind.

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Cape Town Hotels, Two Ways

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Five days in Cape Town was all it took to confirm its place at the top my personal roster of favorite cities, and T+L readers seem to agree with me—you voted it No. 4 in this year’s annual World’s Best Awards, out this month. The scenic city has no shortage of stylish hotel options, from grand resorts to intimate bed-and-breakfasts, and the two properties where I was fortunate enough to lay my head were a chic study in contrasts: one dramatically glam, the other quietly elegant.

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"It's So Miami": Why the Florida City's New Slogan May Mean More Than City Officials Intended

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With a spritely klatch of scantily-clad models flying around a pop-up pool party, slapping around beach balls and cavorting to a live deejay's techno music, Florida’s most hyperactive playground kicked off a fitting new tourism campaign, “It’s So Miami,” on a recent balmy afternoon in New York City’s Union Square. The slogan is clearly more about reinforcing the Latin-infused city’s authority as America’s preeminent destination for escapism than proffering anything newfangled or undiscovered. But the irony of Miami’s decision to double down on its hedonistic caricature is that the city truly is emerging as a genuine cultural hub with gravitas and depth.

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Berlin's Quirky (and Affordable) Huettenpalast Hotel

Huettenpalast Hotel, Berlin

Sometimes when you live checking in and out of hotel rooms, it can all become a blur, so when you stumble upon one that not only offers something innovative and fun, but also stays with you long after you leave, you take note. During a recent backpacking trip through Europe I checked into a quirky Berlin stay called Huettenpalast Hotel (Hobrechtstrasse 66; 49-030/3730-5806; from $59 per night). Those looking for something completely different and charming will definitely find it here as the place can only be described as an indoor campsite. Six wooden cabins and vintage caravans just large enough to fit a double bed are scattered inside an old vacuum cleaner factory for a "room within a room" experience. The sunny campsite contains various seating options, shared bathrooms and showers (don't worry, they're incredibly clean), and a center dining area where little baggies of croissants, apples, and drinks are hung on a painted tree for breakfast each morning.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Virginia, D.C. + Costa Rica

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

SALE ENDS IN 2 DAYS!

The Homestead Resort

The Homestead Resort - up to 44% off - Hot Springs, Virginia
A historic, 483-room resort deep within the Allegheny Mountains that's Virginia's true grande dame, offering southern comforts (plush beds, elegant dining spaces) along with rough-and-tumble activities, from hiking to archery.

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Hotel Punta Islita - up to 36% off - Playa Samara, Costa Rica
The far-flung tropical vibe makes this a perfect spot for romantic getaways that are both rugged and luxurious—ideal for couples who like to follow a wild gallop on horseback with a dip in an infinity-edge pool.

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The Madison Washington D.C.
- up to 48% off
Washington D.C.
Located less than half a mile from the White House, the 365-room Madison hotel is known for its pedigree: it's been the temporary home of every President-elect since John F. Kennedy.

SALE ENDS IN 5 DAYS!

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El Silencio Lodge & Spa - up to 29% off - Bajos del Toro (Alajuela), Costa Rica
It's all about being out of touch at this 16-suite eco-luxe resort, set in Costa Rica's cloud forest between two national parks. Your lookout deck, complete with a whirlpool and rocking chairs, is the perfect perch for enjoying the view.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

From top: Photos courtesy of The Homestead Rsort; Hotel Punta Islita; The Madison Washington D.C.; El Silencio Lodge & Spa.

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