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Not all luxury hotels doing things over the top

By Dian Vujovich

Nothing like the pampering one gets when staying at a high-end luxury hotel. The sheets, pillows and duvets so soft and cozy you want to stay tucked in between them forever. But there’s more to the luxury hotel business than a good night’s rest—like keeping the house full.

When it comes to what’s happening within that world, Ritz-Carlton is now #1 and considered the top hotelier around, according to a 2010 U.S. Hotel Chain Survey. It jumped ahead of the Four Seasons this year putting that brand in the second-position slot. Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria Collection ranked third, the same position it held last year.

That’s nice but kind of what’s-the-big-deal news. I have been lucky enough to stay at a number of Ritz’s and Waldorf’s over the past few years only to find that things aren’t quite as special as they have been in the past, like say in the ’90s or early 2000s. Both brands are skimping on size of the bathroom accoutrements, like shampoos and soaps, for example. Slippers seem to all have vanished from closets with umbrella’s unavailable from your room and the concierge. One has even removed the mini-bar. So while ranking is one thing, these top-tier hotels are skimping in places where a little touch can mean so much.

That said, move over America here comes The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. In an almost unimaginable over-the-top move, this hotelier has now installed the world’s first ever ATM gold dispenser. Now guests at this hotel worried about the changing value of their home country currency can withdraw gold—as in real gold bars—from an ATM.

That’s dazzling enough to make me what to fly to Abu Dhabi just to see how these little mini-bars look and feel. And, stay in one of their three-bedroom suites for 10,000 U.S. buckaroos a night. Wonder if that hotel skimps on its bathroom accruements? I’ll let you know.

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