Strange Bedfellows

In the annals of oddity (and that second n is really crucial), this has to be one of the more curious recent entries.  Tragically, it probably isn’t the strangest.

In a bid for God-only-knows-what, Holiday Inn has announced a new special bed warming service in some of their British establishments.  I thought that this might be some sort of Onion-esque frivolity, but appears to be legit.  Based on the included photo, I have to conclude that the idea is that these bed-warming employees are actually in the bed with you, as opposed to being in the bed until you get in.  There appears to be a snuggle factor here, not simply the warming up of the sheets. 

A few interesting thoughts.  The first article linked above specifies that it is a “willing” staff member who will come and help warm the bed.  What does willing mean?  Willing, as in I’d like to keep my job and they told me to go and do this?  What about I really like the idea of snuggling up to total strangers for short periods of time.  Is this an improvement?  Who is going to monitor the safety of these willing employees, to ensure that their service does not extend longer than the arbitrary five minutes or “until your nightly chamber warms up”?  Are there requirements on what the client must be wearing in order for this sort of service to be provided?  Will a client get to specify whether their bed warmer is male or female?  Should they be able to specify?  After all, it would seem that if the goal is a warm bed, having someone you’d rather not be in bed with you doing the warming would ensure that all parties conclude their warming/snuggling duties as quickly as possible.

Holiday Inn states that it’s like “having a giant hot water bottle in your bed”.  Which seems to demand the question, why not just put a giant hot water bottle in the bed, then!?!?!?!?!   Is the issue of how to stay warm reaching such a crisis proportion that this is the only possible solution?  Are they afraid people will run off with the hot water bottle?  Do they not have electric blankets in Kensington?   Further, I love the fact the article author references a scientist of some sort to help corroborate the promen health benefits of this sort of service.  I feel so much better about this service now.  It’s scientifically vetted.  Unlike, say, a hot water bottle.  Or an electric blanket. 

So I have to wonder why this particular solution.  It would seem to be primarily an economic one.  They already have staff standing around apparently doing nothing.  Why not put them to better use for the measly cost of a few sleep jumpers?  It must be cheaper than hot water bottles and the attendant costs of heating said water to put in the hot water bottles.  It must also seem cheaper than utilizing an electric blanket that the client might accidentally leave on all night, incurring substantial utility costs.  And it’s undoubtedly cheaper than keeping rooms a few degrees warmer. 

At the risk of insulting Holiday Inn, this is *not* just like having a hot water bottle in your bed.  It’s like having an oddly dressed complete stranger in your bed.   This would seem to prove a singularly uncomfortable solution and a rather crass methodology of harnessing body warmth for some sort of perceived economic benefit (assuming this service increases the number of reservations Holiday Inn receives, rather than driving folks away).  It seems demeaning to even the most willing of employees, particularly at a point in time where jobs are hard to come by and people who aren’t in a position to lose their job could certainly be pressured into participating in this service.  Way to go, Holiday Inn.  Customer service takes on a whole new dimension with you.

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