The Mr & Mrs Smith Presentation (Winding Down from the T-List – PhocusWright Travel Blogger Summit #ITB09 in Berlin part 2)


It is really refreshing when you are sitting at a conference with presentations and discussions of travel and hospitality and tech types who only seem interested in their good self or their own product or service and are not outgoing and not interested in the guest, their clientèle, or only maybe in the money of the guest, to get a presentation of a really passionate couple. James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy (see also my interview with Tamara) , the husband and wife who founded the Mr and Mrs Smith Collections under the caption: Luxury and Romance meet Technology.

Yes, I agree. It’s all about Respect!

They both come from a completely different background than travel and hospitality. Again their success shows that innovations in this industry frequently come from those outside the industry.

They started out with the production of the Mr & Mrs Smith guides. They described their difficulties with getting the guides published. Never before was a guide produced with one editor and one photographer for all properties. Eventually they decided to pyblish the guide all by themselves. The interesting thing is that added to the guides is a Mr and Mrs Smith membership card which gives the holder some extras as upgrades or a little present from their shop. That gives the brand a tremendous crowd to source from.

They are adamant about the properties being inspected by themselves or a member of their team of +40 in the meantime, because they strongly believe you cannot review a hotel properly without having experienced the look and feel of the place. In addition they sometimes team up with unusual partners for the hotel industry like lingerie brands. They also understand that you sometimes want to stay in a self catering accommodation or luxury chalet, rather than a hotel.

They seamlessly have merged their Blog (in the air since July 2005) into their main site. However Tamara was already out there scoring whatever was said about the brand in 2004: Shortly after I became aware of their guides via a post of my fellow editor Willem Vos at the Dutch language Weekend Hotel Blog she already commented there – note the date of the comment is not correct, as Willem had some problems in 2008 to migrate the blog to his new platform running on Ruby on Rail…whatever that may be, but I know I made the comment already in 2004-.

Here you see some footage of one of the rather unconventional and hilarious ad they presented at the keynote.

If even Gesa Noormann of Escapio says in a comment under Kevin’s Travolution coverage of the presentation:

Thanks Kevin for the fab article. Despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Smith are Escapio’s UK competitor, I can’t deny that their presentation was fantastic!

then you know your presentation was good even if you were dead tired.

Some personal notes:
I don’t understand jot from what Kevin’s caption means: “Corporate Barbarism does not begin at home say The Smiths”, but that could be my Dunglish.

If you are curious to see who the guy behind Escapio is look here. Even if I say it myself, I like the picture.

I think Willem should start talking with the two portfolios mentioned here, Mr & Mrs Smith and Escapio, or alternatively they should start talking with Willem, to see if there are possibilities to team up to cover The Netherlands and Belgium better than they do now separately.

Added March 24, 2009:

Via twitter I got the link of the same video on their site: Mr & Mrs Smith | Get a Room!. It has a bit better quality than the YouTube one

Underway to #itb09 In Berlin

Just a few observations:

  • I drove. I didn’t fly. Why? Because as a Hotelier I can’t fly. I never know exactly when I can leave. There is always something. Now I had to wait for a guest who was tied up in a traffic jam. After checking him in I could leave…and immediately drove into one traffic jam after another myself. Do I mind? Not at all. Nowadays I dont have to commute anymore’so I don’t get stressed by traffic jams anymore. I love driving my French built Limousine (which is something else than a ” Limo” in the USA. In 4 weeks I drove to 4 in Europe: Bern (well I drove past it to be honest), Paris, Londen and now Berlin. I even didn’t have enough time to report here about all thes trips in full. Coming soon.
  • Usually I take my Ipod. But it was frozen again. I have stated elsewhere that I’m always able to freeze an Apple thingy. Underway the Northern German radio stations offered very good music. The last hour was about Kraftwork and how many times Das Modell has been covered. Above some footage of one of the original Kraftwerk versions in English. Simple and still up to date and especially applicable to the travel and hospitality industry as a whole at itb. My association is with Cabaret depicting the Berlin of the late 20ies and beginning 30ies so well. Just after the big Depression ….
  • Speaking of the Depression: I saw train loads of BMW’s and truckloads of Mercedesses being being transported into The Netherlands and many many many Polish Vans transporting second hand cars into the direction of Poland. In addition I have never seen so many heavy transports coming to and fro the direction of Berlin in one evening. In a way it seems to level out a bit: Stock exchanges up a bit. Milan heavily beaten by Liverpool. Lufthansa agreing to pay their cabin crew (16,000 of them) an extra of 3% over 2008, plus a Euro 100 lump sum bonus plus a 4,4 %higher salary over 2009. So they didn’t strike and don’t keep up many who want to be at itb like the fresh snow did last year. I wonder how Lufthansa can earn that back with the big summer rate fight that is immanent now.


Cultural Travel (1): Dusseldorf K21 Art Collection im Standeshaus – Katharina Fritsch

K21 im Standeshaus, a beautiful Photo of Joerg Dickmann

I’m a bit sad: I remembered a nice Blog writing about cultural traveling in Europe. I had to dig deep in my memory and remembered my friend Karen had referred to the blog in one of her Travel Carnival posts. It appeared to be in her First Travel Carnival:She had pointed me to High Culture on a low Budget. I’m sad because Olivia apparently ceased writing for the Blog Since June 2008. Curious what’s happening.

Katharina Fritsch: Mouse

I have written on other occasions about our little cultural travel group of friends that we have coined “Art en Route” and travels occasionally to see modern art. Recently we visited Duesseldorf to soak up some modern art. For us Baby Boomers art, design, music, dance, but also good wining and dining are excellent excuses to travel. Therefor I introduce a new category to my blog “Cultural Travel”

Katharina Fritsch: Monk, Doctor and Salesman

I have several posts in my sleeve, but will start with a couple of sculptures of Katharina Fritsch that belong to the K21 Art Collection im Standeshaus. The Standeshaus appeared to be a very nice Museum in the middle of a park. Apart from its facade it had been demolished and rebuild entirely and has a glass roof like some other museums have nowadays. Nowhere on its site is there any information about this renovation after which it became the home of the 21st century art collection of the Art Collection of the German Nordrhein-Westfalen state. I like the building, its location and its restaurant.

Katharina Fritsch: Mouse and Man, Monk, Doctor and Salesman

I am impressed by these sculptures and the fact that K21 devotes a whole room to her.
Katharina Fritsch does not seem to have a website. At present she is a Professor at the German Muenster art academy and there is some info about her on Wiki.
If you search her on Flickr, you’ll get a nice collections of her sculptures.

Motel One: Wrong Name for German’s Ultimate Designer Pod Hotels?

Motel One Logo

Recently, on recommendation of a friend, we stayed three nights in the Motel One Munich City Ost. It is important to mention the “City Ost” part in its name, as currently Munich has three and soon will have four Motel Ones. Currently, in Germany there are already 21 Motel Ones and they are expanding rapidly.

Why do I believe it is the Ultimate Pod Hotel?

Recently I reviewed the CitizenM Amsterdam Schiphol, the first of a chain te be rolled out, and I was really impressed by its philosophy and its design.
However, Motel One has four plus points when compared to CitizenM:

  1. Its double beds are old fashion placed and accessible on three sides. Not via one side.
  2. You can shower and use the toilet in a separate very cleverly designed small bathroom
  3. Has its own car parking in the cellar
  4. Has windows you can open

Motel One Locations
Are preferably inner-city locations or in peripheral areas of cities and then, with convenient access and visually prominent locations, next to motorways and surrounded by arterial routes and/or in busy locations such as commercial, industrial or mixed-use areas.
Motel One’s Lounge

Motel One Chairs

Has designer chairs and a wide screen with a fake fish aquarium program that I hate and have seen in other places as well. At the back of the chairs you see one of the structural columns that have brick or stone strips as wall covering. They have a function as separation of several compartments of the ground floor. They give the whole a bit homey feeling.


Has a triple function as reception, bar and breakfast room, while the breakfast buffet is cleverly hidden when not in use by a folding separation. The people at our place were very friendly and check in is very simple: It is done by real life people and not by computer screens with the usually necessary assistance from people. Check out is very easy: At Motel One you are required to prepay for your whole stay, so at check out you don’t have to do anything else than return your key card. There are no mini bars and you are required to pay cash or by card when you order something from the bar which is open at least till one AM, but I presume you can get something during the whole night as the reception is staffed 24/7.

Motel One Lounge

Here you see the seating area for the breakfast part of the lounge with the folding separation that covers the breakfast buffet area.
Granted The CitizenM lounge is flashier, but this lounge is also okay.

Motel One rooms
Are small, no question about that. Hence I’m coining it a Designer Pod hotel rather than a Motel.


But as you can see they are cleverly dimensioned. You can move around. At your left side you see a small sort of cupboard where you can hang some clothes.


The bed, accessible from three sides, with clever easy to clean headboard and no footboard (I’m 6″4). good reading lights.


Photo taken in the direction of the bathroom and entrance. Here you see part of the open cupboard with places for stuff.

Motel One Bathroom


I have yet to find a pod hotel bathroom that has this good lay out and design. There is no bath, but a shower stall that measures 80 by 160 cm. I really like the huge horizontally placed white tiles. The floor of the shower stall is a simple Bette polyester showerfloor. Easy to clean and not slippery at all. It matches fine with the black tiles of the floor and the under side of the sink. You can easily reach for your towel from the shower. Waste basket under the sink where you anticipate it to be. The glass separation is partly glued to the side of the table holding the Philippe Starck designed sink. That gives it great strength. In addition the accessibility is good, even if you are a big fellow like me, and you don’t have to wrestle with a shower curtain while the Bette shower floor sees to it that the floor between the toilet and the sink is not inundated when you take a shower. This is an example of how a small bathroom can be. I really like it!

I have a few minor points of critique:

  1. If everybody wants to have breakfast at the same time the space is too cramped.
  2. The two coffee machines of the breakfast buffets give a unnecessarily bad quality coffee. I believe it is the quality of the coffee or the fine tuning of the machines. That’s not clever, because everybody for breakfast now orders a coffee at the bar from the fine Italian espresso machine. Hence you get lines…In addition they are understaffed when they have to make time consuming cappuccinos and have to serve guests with questions, for checking out or for checking in….
  3. No soap holders in the shower stalls???
  4. You don’t have to pay for WiFi in the lounge, but you have to pay for WiFi in your room.

About Motel One
Motel One
is operated by Motel One Management GMBH, which is 65 % owned by One Hotels and Resorts AG. 35% of Motel One Management GMBH is held by a Dutch BV, MSRESS Motel One Holding B.V., a holding company for Morgan Stanley Real Estate’s Special Situations Fund III that funded Motel One in 2007.

Company history:
1987 Astron Holding GmbH founded as a private limited company.
1993 Astron Holding GmbH converted into a PLC and renamed ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG
1999 Motel One GmbH formed as a 100% subsidiary of ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG
2002 ASTRON Hotels GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG, with 51 Hotels and over 8000 rooms sold to NH Hoteles, Spain
2005 Legal form and name of ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG changed, creating Motel One AG which after the infusion of capital by Morgan Stanley is now known as One Hotels and Resorts AG, which has a couple of hotels left form the sale of its former portfolio to NH Hoteles.

Total number of hotels: 21 Motel Ones in Germany (see : Motel One Site)

Total number of rooms: 3,000.
6 Hotels under construction: München-Sendlinger Tor – 241 rooms opening in 2009; Leipzig – 189 rooms; Hamburg-Airport – 252 rooms; Berlin Urania – 411 rooms; Berlin Bellevue – 248 rooms; München-City – 463 rooms, which will bring the total number of rooms to slightly under 5,000 rooms.
Category – 2 star (rating issued by the German Hotel and Restaurant Association DEHOGA)
Room sizes – Clear room dimensions: 2,72 m × 5,80 m – Room dimensions between axes: 2,90 m × 6,21 m – Net Area per room: 13,28 qm – Gross area per room: 22 – 24 qm
Room prices: from € 49
Last updated 08/2008
Source: Motel One


When I see “Motel” I have an association with seedy worn out US (or Dutch or German) side of the road accommodations too greasy to enter. Therefor I believe the name is ill chosen. I believe it is a pod hotel by the size and conciseness of its rooms, the 3 in 1 lounge, but from the pod hotels I have seen or been in, it is the most complete one.

If you want a bed to crash in, do go with rates from Euro 49 to Euro 89. I am already prebooking a room in a Berlin Motel One for the 2009 ITB Berlin Blogers meet up.

Quote of the Day (3): Heaven and Hell

Heaven Is...
Hilarious Quote on T-Shirt

Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are Italian, the Mechanics German, the lovers French and it is all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is where the police are German, the chefs British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and it is all organized by the Italians.

Unfortunately for the creator I forgot where I found this.