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The Mail Bag: Little Bottles of Soap!

John Deiner

We here in Travel Central get innumerable packages, envelopes, postcards, notes on carrier pigeons, etc., and I never fail to be amazed at the lengths to which some folks go to to get our attention.

That brings me to last week's delivery from Starwood Hotels & Resorts of a package touting Sheraton's new bath line. Don't get me wrong: I'm pro-bath. Dig showers. Love that just-washed smell.

But I really question the amount of money that went into this thing: a foot-long wooden crate about six inches high that contained a messy heap of faux grass, a loofah, a tangerine, a sprig of mint stuck in a hydration tube and hotel-room size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and lotion. A swoony press release announced that Sheraton's new signature room amenities, "Shine" (a combo of mandarin and mint), is "one component of a larger effort to revitalize the guest experience at Sheraton's 408 hotels."

I mean, who would take the bait and spread the news about this sort of thing? Oh. Never mind.

It did bring up a bigger question, though: Does anybody care? Does anybody really choose a hotel by its bathroom amenities? Would you go to a Sheraton over a Marriott because you didn't dig the bath gel?

I imagine I'm like many travelers in that I just use whatever is in the room. I rarely travel with my own shampoo or bath gel anymore -- just not enough room for it in that little clear plastic bag that I have to show to the TSA at security. So I depend on the kindness of hotels to provide for me when I arrive.

(And am I the only one tempted to grab a few extra shampoos every time I see that lonely maids cart in the hallway? I never do -- really! -- but, man, there's always a part of me that says I should have some extra on hand just in case.)

So, good luck to Sheraton, and thanks for that sprig of mint. I'm just wondering what sort of results you'll have.

Anyone care to share whether they've helped themselves to that cart in the hallway? I won't say anything. And would you go to a hotel because the shampoo smells minty?

And while we're at it:

By John Deiner |  February 13, 2008; 2:14 PM ET  | Category:  John Deiner , Tales from the Road
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I like the Aveda bath products, but cannot remember which hotel uses them. If they are there, though, I like them!

Posted by: M Street | February 13, 2008 3:07 PM

A place I stayed in Key West used Bath and Body Works lotion (in mini bottles) in one of my favorite scents, so I took an extra one off the cart. We were staying there for 5 days/4 nights, I'm sure I could have just asked for another one.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | February 13, 2008 3:50 PM

So what do you put in the little plastic bag that doesn't leave room for shampoo, since it all has to be 3 oz or less?

Posted by: MB | February 13, 2008 3:53 PM

Wife and I used to bring the little soaps and shampoos home from business trips and put them in the guest bathroom. After a while we had enough soap and shampoo the supply a college dorm. We ended up chucking them all when they began the separate in the bottles.

Posted by: Tom | February 13, 2008 4:11 PM

I stayed at a Holiday Inn for the first time in a long time, and they had all Bath & Body Works stuff. It was a very nice touch. As long as the amenities aren't crap, the brand doesn't really matter, but it does help.

Posted by: DudeAbides | February 13, 2008 4:18 PM

Women's shelters and homeless shelters are usually happy to take donations of the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, etc., from hotels.

Posted by: dkahane | February 13, 2008 5:40 PM

I have friends who love the Bulgari products that Ritz-Carlton places in the bathrooms. But why take them from the cart? The minute you get to your room, take them all and pop them in your suitcase. Go to dinner. When you come back, there are more! After a two- or three-day stay, you've amassed quite a collection.

And I'm sure tipping the "toiletries fairies" is always greatly appreciated!

Posted by: Matt G | February 13, 2008 6:52 PM

I usually use just whatever they provide. I have stayed in some places that have very basic supplies and soaps that I don't like. But that hasn't stopped me from staying again. If the price is right, I can deal with perfumy soap. But I do notice when the amenities are nice The Alexander Inn in Philly has a nice line ( based on blood oranges). The Westin in Denver had nice supplies as well. Holiday Inn Express has a nice shampoo.

Posted by: rja112 | February 14, 2008 2:43 AM

Some hotels sell the toiletries they provde in the rooms at the gift shop. It's a marketing technique. I have bought the fabulous eucalytus shower gel at the Westward Look in Tucson, so the technique worked!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2008 7:51 AM

I'd never choose a hotel based on toiletries. But if I'm spending big bucks to stay at a very nice place I'd be surprised it the toiletires weren't of high quality.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2008 1:10 PM

Besides all the other good reasons to stay at a W, the Bliss products (which are terrific, and pretty expensive at retail) seal the deal.

Posted by: jane | February 14, 2008 5:53 PM

The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego has a wonderful line of toiletries. I gathered a huge collection the last time I was there, but I also bought a bottle of the shower gel to bring home - the smell reminds me of my stays there.

Posted by: Alexva | February 15, 2008 7:22 AM

Hey John - if you don't want the little Shine box o' goodies - I'll take em off your hands!! Yes I am one of those hotel toiletry hoarders - but I only take the good stuff. My hubby just rolls his eyes!

Posted by: Kelli | February 17, 2008 11:53 PM

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