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Craig Karamin and Ezequiel Minaya for the Wall Street Journal:

Marriott International Inc. said Monday that it has agreed to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. in a deal worth $12.2 billion that will create the world’s largest hotel company with more than a million rooms globally.

Under the terms, Marriott will forward 0.92 share along with $2 in cash for each Starwood share, for a total of $11.9 billion in stock and $340 million in cash. The transaction has a value of $72.08 a Starwood share.

I can’t say that I am thrilled by this news. I used to stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively and was never all that impressed. There were a few standout locations that I enjoyed staying at but a number of them were poorly maintained or just poorly built (lots of noise through the walls). My Marriott status was Platinum for quite a while but I never saw much benefit from that status and I actually had to deal with Marriott’s rather quick expiry of points more than once.

At the end of the day, these buyouts and mergers are not about you and I the customers but about the shareholders and the health of the business. We will have to wait and see what this means for the different aspects of the rewards and loyalty programs of both hotel chains.

Over the past several weeks work has been taking me to New York City, specifically, an office in downtown Brooklyn. There are a couple of decent hotels eight blocks away and they are quite nice. My issue is more with the surrounding area and finding somewhere to eat at 7pm. The options are not plentiful and I really do not want to take the subway into Manhattan every night to eat.

My co-workers all stay in lower Manhattan near the Bowling Green subway station. It is a quick train ride from the office (10 minutes) but has the same issue as the hotels in Brooklyn, there really are not a whole lot of dining options in lower Manhattan (unless you enjoy pub food every night).

Why is food so important you ask? For one, I’ve gotta eat, but more importantly, going out to dinner is a way for me to not think about the day’s work but instead focus on other conversation. Even better is if I am able to meet up with some of my friends and talk travel or planes or some other non-work topic.

The last hotel stay I had was at the Four Points in Chelsea. The location is perfect, tons of restaurants around and easy access to the subway. It does take an across the platform transfer to get to the office, but that is really no problem. The downside of this hotel and what keeps me searching for other options is that it is somewhat dingy and not well kept. I do not worry about bed bugs but the hotel has seen better days. The other options I am exploring are the Four Points in SoHo, the Sheraton in Tribeca, the W on Lexington, and the Four Points in Midtown. The last option I have already kind of written off though, I have no interest being near Times Square or dealing with the trains, crowds, etc. there.

But, I am open to suggestions. Any thoughts or experiences with hotels in Manhattan? My main requirements are close to a subway stop (preferably the 4/5 or the 2/3), in an area with a decent number of restaurants, and a hotel staff that likes to keep the property clean.

One of the perks of being a Platinum member of Starwood’s Preferred Guest program is the occasional upgrade to a better room, sometimes a suite. When I arrived at the Sheraton in Brooklyn I inquired about a possible upgrade and was told, “I have a suite available if you don’t mind being on a lower floor”. I have no preference on my room’s altitude but being in NY, I asked about noise levels. The gentleman checking me in assured me that it was quiet and noise wouldn’t be a problem.

I got to the room, unpacked and immediately noticed street noise. Again, being in NY, this is kind of expected and I figured the noise would go away as the night went on. By 10pm it was fairly quiet and I went to bed. Sometime around 3am there was all kinds of noise outside. Not people partying but what sounded like construction or trash pick-up. All I know is that it went on for what felt like eternity (but was probably really an hour).

To top all of this off, I went to get in the shower this morning and was smart enough to test the water before getting in. Am I glad I did. The temperature indicated by the faucet handle was lukewarm at best, but that certainly did not match what was coming out of the shower head. Not in the mood to burn myself or come out looking like a just boiled lobster, I opted to give myself a glorified spit bath.

All of this to say, sometimes, an upgrade is not an upgrade at all. The staff was helpful when I explained both issues to them and they offered to move me to another room, which I accepted. Since no other suites were available, I was downgraded back to the type of room I was originally booked in.

When I checked into my hotel this week I was told that Hilton has moved to “providing the paper in digital format”. I inquired as to what this meant and the person working the check-in desk said, “we are no longer delivering newspapers to rooms”. I then wanted to know what the digital version was, only to be told, “well, you go to usatoday.com”. Thanks. I was thinking that maybe Hilton had worked out an agreement with a paper like the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal to provide a customized digital version.

Now, I cannot find anything on the Hilton website about this policy but the front desk insists that this is a new Hilton policy/program. Does anyone out there have any further information regarding this policy?