There I was, at the heart of the city that never sleeps. And all I wanted was a good night's rest.
Noisy air conditioners, amorous neighbors, pesky cleaning ladies — getting some solid shut-eye on the road has never been easy for weary execs. But now, a handful of hotel chains are giving the problem more attention.
Crowne Plaza is rolling out the most aggressive snooze strategy. On the advice of WebMD sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, it has upgraded its beds with better sheets and more pillows, and has set aside an entire floor at each of its 110 North American locations as "quiet zones." The promise: no children, leisure travelers, or (between 9 p.m. and 10 a.m.) those friendly folks from housekeeping. The chain even guarantees your wake-up call. All this at no extra cost.
Sound too good to be true? I thought so. So I booked a room at the Crowne Plaza Times Square for a one-night test sleep.
Times Square may be the least soporific place on earth. But within the hotel's 45th-floor quiet zone, my footfalls on the hallway carpet were the only audible noises. In my room, a satchel awaited, stocked with earplugs, an eye mask, and lavender spray. The room was outfitted with a flat-panel night-light and a drape clip.
I settled into the seven pillows, popped in the complimentary sleep CD, and drifted off to the dulcet tones of Dr. Breus coaxing me to dreamland. The guaranteed wake-up call?
It came promptly at 6:30 a.m. But one test remained. Tragically, the first knock came at 8:48 a.m. A half hour later, another. "Housekeeping!" Ultimately, Crowne Plaza and Dr. Breus couldn't keep the cleaning crew at bay.
A version of this article appeared in the August 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.