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Archive for 'Thoughts'

I am simply amazed

I have been really working hard to what I call open source my audience on my show. One of the shows fans launched a shop for the show where you can get all kinds of cool clothes, mugs etc.  Today I was made aware that a listener that is a GoDaddy fan, and a fan of the show launched a Godaddy Promo Code and information site that is promoting my shows codes. We will see if it makes a impact but kinda cool to see the grass roots stuff take off.

I read today that the Mayor of the City of Seattle has applied to take part in Google Fiber for Communities. Being Hawaii has so very few broadband choices and the service we do have has not advanced very much in the past 12 years. I think this is exactly what is needed to bring some awareness to what is possible through a very high speed Internet connection.

With a 1gbps pipe I could run a 24/7 live Internet TV station with a lot of bandwidth to spare. Time Warner here in Hawaii has been very very slow in rolling out more bandwidth. Sometimes I feel like we live in a third world country. I travel to Japan and or the mainland and am astonished at the bandwidth speeds my techie friends are able to subscribe to.

I would hope that my friends and neighbors here in Makakilo will submit our communities name to the list Google is compiling for consideration of the roll-out of 1gbps fiber internet connectivity.

Why is it that the only place these days I seem to get any satisfaction is posting in my blog and then waiting a week or so for someone at corporate to respond.

First of all you all know I travel a great deal.  I stay nearly exclusively at Hilton Hotels partially because I am vested there in Hilton Honor Award Points and because I stay more than 60 days a year I get some small privileges as a diamond member from time to time.

This weekend my wife, two of our kids and I decided to stay for a single night at the local Hilton Hawaiian Village so that we could attend my sons Hula contest today. When we arrived there must have been 50 people waiting to check in. Because of my Diamond status I was able to bypass most of that line and only waited 30 minutes to check in at the Gold/Diamond counter versus what had to be a much longer time for the rest of the guest. Check in was smooth, the check in clerk was great. The clerk/computer put us in the Diamond tower which as it turned out the room’s are the oldest as compared to the rest of the towers, we did not get offered a room upgrade as usually happens but seeing how many people where in line to check in I guess they had a full house.

My wife’s comment was quite snarky she said if she was the manager she would put her most valuable customers in the wing that is the most modern? I guess it was my fault for not asking the check in clerk, honestly I did not know there was a difference. Shortly after we arrived we hit the pool at about 3pm, and to say it was crowded was a understatement. They had issued us wrist bands at check in to identify us as hotel guest but I can say that nearly 50% of the people in the pool and using the lounge chairs did not have arm bands and the staff did not seem to care, you could tell by what folks had carried in that a lot of folks had simply crashed the pool for a Saturday afternoon swim with the kids.

Going back to the hotel room at 6pm we wanted to hit the showers to get cleaned up to go out to eat. Surprisingly the room had only 2 bath towels, I had 4 bodies to cycle through the shower.  Calling house keeping it took them 40 minutes to bring us two more towels. As my wife was entering the shower she exclaims honey you have to see this. I go in the bathroom and look at the area above the shower area. The ceiling above the bathtub / shower contained a exhaust fan which was a little odd but what made me cringe was that there was mold everywhere impossible to miss if your cleaning the shower.  Not only that but the fixtures in the tub were not sealed properly. I have stayed in some shit holes before that have had mold in the shower but I never expected it at a Hilton Hotel.

After we got all cleaned up after I convinced my wife not to check out and go home,  I called the manager and discussed the mold situation. He said he would send someone to the room. I explained we were leaving for dinner and they could come in at 7:30.  I expected initially he would have simply moved us to a different room but maybe there were no rooms to give.   When we got back from dinner at 9pm the room door was open and two housekeeping staff and who I assumed  was the house keeping manager in the room with several bottles of bleach and scrub brushes.  The stench of bleach could be smelled all the way down the hallway. The idiots from house keeping  had not opened the patio door to get some circulation going  which compounded the issue. We went on the patio and hung out till they finished. But here is what blows me away. House keeping did not say a single word they just packed up and left, inspecting the bathroom it was a 100% better but the only way they are going to be able to get all the mold out is to expend some more elbow grease on the situation and some paint. The fan above the shower and tub explain to me they have  major issue that they have tried to band aid.

Ok were past mold hurdle, now its time to talk about breakfast the next morning, as a subnote last week I spent 4 days in the San Jose Hilton and as a Diamond member they have a breakfast area where they have a continental breakfast. As I said in the beginning I stay at a lot of Hiltons and the breakfast fare is pretty similar, fruit, juice, muffins, some sort of eggs, cereals, toast.  Nothing very fancy at all but usually a great breakfast that no one can bitch about after all it’s free. The breakfast at the Hilton Hawaiian Village was shit, they had two kinds of fruit, some weird pastries no one was eating that looked a week old, no orange juice, water with lemon in it, and some sort of red juice that my kids liked. Thats it! When I asked the person running the breakfast if they had any eggs or cereal I got this look like I was from outer space.  So much for their continental breakfast I was beyond disappointed and picked some food up at the ABC store a hour later.

Lets talk about Bathrooms, having my kids along as soon as they put something in their mouth they have to use the bathroom, taking my youngest to the restroom 20 feet away from the breakfast place the bathrooms was locked.  So I walked with him to the closest bathroom in the main lobby about 200 feet away. As we went through the main lobby I told the GM on duty about the locked bathroom hopefully he fixed it.But why would you lock a bathroom in a section of the hotel where you have guest running around? I guess they don’t have enough janitorial staff or something.

It is obvious, that Hawaii is considered a vacation destination and that Hilton Hawaiian Village cares very little about having repeat customers at this property.  If I had been there alone on business I probably would have moved to another property, in fact I hear the embassy suites up the street is much nicer. This plays into what I am hearing from people that do come here on business they are largely staying away from the Hilton Hawaiian Village because it is not designed to cater to a business crowd,  just tourist that in my opinion probably probably will not come back.  Maybe I have become spoiled and expect to much from Hilton Properties, there used to be a air of sophistication around the Hilton name. The hotel referenced here is not living up to that expectation.

I have no doubt that a tourist would have likely had the same result from management when it came to the mold, but just think, they go home and tell a 100 people about the mold and you have a lot of lost business.  Or people read this blog post and make a different accommodation consideration.

Here is what would have been a better experience. The staff and management control the number of people at the pool to guests only this fixes the over crowding, When I called and mentioned mold the first thing that should have happened was that a bell hop should have been dispatched to the room to collect our belongings and moved us to another room immediately.  The continental breakfast area at 9am on Saturday should have been stocked with what every other Hilton in the whole country has versus being a cheap charlie.

When we go to the beach we respect hotel properties and we do not crash the pools, we want the tourist to have a great time, if we visit friends at a hotel we buy a pool day pass if they are available and are conscious of our footprint.  I will say this, I have stayed at a number of the hotels downtown as we do these mini staycations on a regular basis, and if a friend of ours is coming from the mainland I am going to recommend some other properties from now on.  As I move into 2010 I am going to closely consider where I have been staying at,  maybe it is time to switch to a different chain of hotels. I never hear my friends bitching about Marriott or Hyatt chains I wonder if they would like the money I spend 60+ days a year in hotels.

If I am being pretentious then so be it. If you think I am spoiled so be it. Here is the deal when you go someplace and you spend your hard earned dollars, the experience is supposed to be top notch when it is advertised as top notch. I don’t expect to get 1-2 star treatment at 4-5 star properties.  If a Hilton Hawaiian Manager would like to talk to me feel free to call anytime 808-741-4923 and no I don’t want my money back, all I want is you to represent the chain you are part of and give due consideration to fact that if you pissed of someone local you probably do a lot more when you piss off someone from the mainland or Japan.

BTW the Cocktails from the bar were excellent, and the wait staff was friendly which was a highlight of the stay. But you need to go into Diamond 1177 and take a hour and fix the bathroom issues.

Maybe it is time to start doing these staycations more so I can go dig around in some other properties and see what the experience hotel visitors are having!

Update: Wednesday Sept 2nd: Today I received a call from the folks at Hilton Hawaiian Village over this blog post, first of all I want to say that they where very gratious and apologetic, I re-voiced what had happened and it was clear to me that our experience is not one that they want other guest to have and have addressed this with the various managers in the hotel. I appreciate the fact that they where being pro-active. He did offer me a credit on my credit card which I declined to take as we recieved fair value for our stay, and even though we had some issues I don’t feel taking the refund would have been fair.

He mentioned that they did have some issues that weekend with rooms that where in excess capacity of what they should have been and that they understood this may have led to some of the pool issues.  I also explained to him the feedback that I have gotten from acquaintances here that one of the reasons they are picking other hotels has in part to do with the breakfast offering, for battle weary travellers that stay in hotels as much as I do, the breakfast that is available in the morning if often the deal breaker.

Also a correction on my part, the hotel staff that was in the room cleaning up, they did speak to my wife before they left, I somehow missed the conversation and after clarfying with my wife today, I want to make it clear that the staff just did not just leave.

While time will tell if the Hilton Hawaiian Village will rectify all of these issues, I am convinced that they do understand  my concerns and we will defnitley go back and stay at the Hotel again in the future.

Beach Access at Ko Olina Resort Impossible

Hawaii has a Open Beach Access law that provides the public access to “all” Hawaii beaches. But over the years different land owners have done there very best to make it very hard for Hawaii residents to get access to some of the premium beach locations.

Over the past month my family and I have tried no less than 10 times to gain access to the public beach at the private resort Ko Olina.  In order to get access you gain entry to the resort by showing a ID to the resort gate sentry and then proceed to the highly limited public parking area.  But over the last two months we have tried multiple times to go to that beach but have been turned away at the gate.  On Sunday I pulled off the road from the entrance and we watched as Ko Olina Resort security turned away 23 cars in a row.

Something is really amiss at Ko Olina. While I know the beach is popular turning away that many people, including us time after time makes me wonder if they do not have a internal policy that has been put in place making to make it harder for the public to gain access. You used to be able to at least scout the parking lot and wait in your car until someone left. But they are not even allowing this. Plus with the number of signs warning people they will be towed if they park anyplace but the designated public parking spots shows they are play hard ball and more games being played. If they would have really wanted to work with the public they would have allocated more parking.

As a resident of Hawaii at this point I feel my rights are being violated and that the Ko Olina resort has some explaining to do.

Even sadder most of the public beaches in the Kapolei area have been over-run by homeless, and personally its pretty sad when I do not feel it safe to take my family to some of the other beaches in Hawaii that are not located on private resorts.

Life and Death the never Ending Cycle

Shortly after my grandfathers death my 97 soon to be 98 year grandmother started to slip fast. Like couples who have spent literally a lifetime together this was no surprise.

Early last month Grandma joined Grandpa and they now are both in a better place looking down on us seeing the things health had prevented them from seeing for so long.

In my moms latest podcast over on CherieCast.com she talks about feeling a weight being lifted when grandma passed and while the event was sad the experience she had with the weight lifting from her really caused some chicken skin when she told me about it.

I still have my grandparents on my dads side, and at my age that is a pretty amazing feat considering that I am fast approaching 45.

Honolulu Super Ferry Fiasco

Over the past two weeks a very small group of protesters have brought to a halt the operations the new Honolulu Super Ferry. The protesters were able to ram rod a court decision that is doing nothing but serving the old guard transportation companies like Matson.

The Honolulu Super Ferry met every state guideline and rule required and yet for the first time a shipping company is being required to get an environmental impact study completed when they have the most green and advanced ship in our harbors.

It makes me sick to my stomach to see the ongoing political games that are going on here. This state is beyond anti-business. Being a business owner it shakes my resolve and confidence in a already over taxed and over regulated atmosphere.

If I were the Honolulu Super Ferry I would flip the legislature, the governor and the citizens of Hawaii the bird and leave. The impact would resonate for years and business here would be crippled.

If they resolve to stay then every company small or large that wants to open up shop here needs to be held to the same standard. See how long companies like Matson, Hawaiian Airlines and others would stay in business if they were required to do a environmental impact for every new ship or aircraft they put in service here in Hawaii.

Seeing how the folks in Maui and Kauai don’t want ships in their harbors, well lets see how loud they squeal when all shipping is halted into their island harbors while environmental studies are undertaken on every other vessel coming into their ports.

One week with no gasoline, no fresh milk or vegetables and other supplies and I can guarantee the small minority of liberal fanatics would shut their traps. When the power plants ran out of oil because of no deliveries, then those protesting can live with nature, by contributing to the environment their human waste as the sewage processing plants over flow with non processed sewage. Let them bury their garbage as well, as their will be no fuel for the garbage trucks.

This states legislatures, and annoited court judges all have failed this state in a significant way, and if the Honolulu Super Ferry leaves It will be their collective fault.

Hawaii School Dilema

Hawaii Schools have long had a reputation of being the worst in the United States year after year the children scores overall paint a very bleak picture. The school my children attend currently is given a grade of a “C” by agencies that grade school performance.

For the most part schools in upper class Neighborhoods are better equipped and teachers fight to teach their, in areas where the Neighborhoods are lower the schools are generally very bad.

Part of the issue here is that their are no local school boards. The state has a single elected school board that is largely political and in no way can keep up with all of the various issues in the hundreds of schools here.

This state desperately needs to switch to a local school board system and the state department of education needs to turn 90% of every dollar that is alloted by the legislature to the schools equally based upon student population.

Parents like me have no choice but to supplement classroom time with outside tutor support. Most people cannot afford the $10,000 per child cost to put kids in private school each year. A large number of military families home school their kids for fear when they return to the mainland that their kids will no longer be competitive and their chances of getting into a high ranked university will be slim.

The sad part is most people here do not care and yet millions of dollars a year are fed into the education system here and nothing has helped. Maybe home school is the way to go for my family but something has to change.

I have been reading the EjectEjectEject.com website for a number of years now and the essays the author Bill Whittle puts together are beyond masterpieces. If you have not read any of the articles on his page you need to prepare for a long evening because once you start you will likely be reading for an extended period.

The articles do not come often but when they do man, he really hits a home run. His latest Seeing the Unseen Part 1 has to be one of his best. [ejectejecteject.com]

Cherie Cast Pilot

My mom mentioned to me shortly after the death of my father that she would like to do a podcast. The Pilot to that show has been created tonight and I must say it is quite riveting. Real Life, Real People, Real Situations is what this Podcast is going to be about giving some insights into what life can throw at you. [CherieCast.com]

Site Re-Design Completed

Well just like the Podcast Connect site I have been busy over here getting my personal blog all fixed up. Next on the list is the big daddy. TechPodcasts.com that will be a huge job as that site design is going to be radically different.