Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hotels Reintroduce "Women-Friendly" Rooms

This entry is in pink, because pink is the color of women, right? *wink*

I recently saw an article on Yahoo! about "Women Friendly" floors in hotels. Apparently, "Women Only" floors were first introduced in the 1980's to provide "a safe haven for women traveling alone on business but ended up being considered 'a kind of sexist thing.'" Now, the revival of these kinds of floors aren't completely closed off to men. Men can still book rooms (of course, the policy on when seems to vary from hotel to hotel), but, according to Bill DeForrest, these rooms are simply designed to cater to the needs of women travelers, who are growing faster in numbers than male travelers." They also apparently want to "go the extra mile to make women seem welcome." Yeah, okay. That's another blog entry for another time.

So, how do these floors/rooms for women differ?

It seems that the difference lies in the services and amenities offered. One hotel offers a Victoria's Secret robe and vanity mirrors. The Hampton Inn in Albany offers "cookies, flavored coffees, skin moisturizers and extra-soft socks, plus a half-hour session in the hotel’s massage chair." Another hotel offers yoga mats, bath salts, and wash mitts.

What is most interesting to me about this new development, or "niche market," as the article calls it, is the gender encoding that takes place. How do they decide "what women want"? What makes these amenities particularly good for women? Aside from the issues of whether or not you think this is gender discrimination (and therefore a step backwards), there is the issue of how these things, by being labeled "for women," further ingrain gender difference. What, for example, do the specific amenities offered say about the hotel's (or society's) opinion of what women care about? Do all women care about moisturizers, cookies, vanity mirrors, and fuzzy socks? It's the rigid binaries used to label things "for women" or "for men" that bothers the hell out of me because of the way they perpetuate gender difference.

(Editorial note: Granted, I care an awful lot about cookies, but I also know a guy or two who would care about fuzzy socks. Hell, I care an awful lot about fuzzy socks, too, but maybe I want a hammer in my room as well. Or a drill. That might come in just as handy.)


Jennifer said...

I hadn't heard of this before. How funny!

My opinion:

moisturizers smell funny to me
everybody likes cookies
vanity mirrors scare me
fuzzy socks would annoy me (aren't socks kinda intimate anyhow? I don't think I want to wear public socks)

Do they have a floor for book geeks? Now there's a niche market worth going after.

Michael5000 said...

I know a few guys who would be thrilled to get the Victoria's Secret robe....

The thing is, you (or they) missed a word. Those are the room for boring woman travellers. Make sense now?

Rhetorical Twist said...

Ah ha! That's it. Mystery solved!